For some goddamn reason (well, probably "hey, I can write a grouchy blog post about this!"), I picked up Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant's Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography from the library. I kinda knew what I was going to think just from the title, because "resisting" is a weird and weaselly word for it. "Opposing" makes sense, "resisting" makes it sound like they're valiantly fighting a powerful compulsion to run out and start selling $20 blowjobs on Pac Highway.
Personally, I think legalization is the only way prostitution can be made safe. Prostitution isn't inherently dangerous because it's sexual; it's dangerous because it's marginal. Predators don't attack people in sex shops or strip bars or or swingers' clubs, they don't go where sex is, they go where women with no legal protection or organizational safety measures are. Likewise human trafficking gravitates to prostitution because it's outside the law anyway; they don't smuggle people in to work at Safeway, because that's a legitimate, regulated business.
(Also, streetwalking isn't all of prostitution, and a high- or middle-class escort with high fees and client screening is in a very different business and far less prone to abuse.)
I also think pornography shouldn't be lumped in with prostitution. Porn stars aren't fucking random strangers. Sometimes it's not strangers at all--some porn stars perform with their real-life partners, for chrissakes, adding a camera to what you do anyway hardly seems problematic--and when they are strangers, they still come with a guarantee they're not going to be diseased or abusive.
Finally, I think a lot of objections to prostitution are really objections to capitalism. I've never sold my ass, but I sell my body five days a week--I do physical things I don't enjoy and say things I don't mean because I need the money to live. I risk violent assault and exposure to diseases at my job. I have to touch and be nice to strangers off the street with no right to refuse unpleasant ones. The vast majority of the money I take in is kept by my employer.
But l I provide a socially valuable and economically productive service, and I'm in the same boat with most anybody with a job. (How I differ from hookers, other than the obvious: I have the ability to call the cops, to file an L&I claim, and to sue my employer. And because my employer knows this they provide safety systems. Legalization would save lives, people.) Doing un-fun things to meet survival needs is a condition of life outside the Garden of Eden, and I'm not convinced that selling sex is a uniquely horrible way of doing that.
In short, a vagina job is really just a job, but "resisting" it makes it unnecessarily sketchy and dangerous. That's my overall view, snarky commentary on ridiculous quotes from the book are coming in the next post.