"On one side were radical feminists like the writer Andrea Dworkin and the lawyer and legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon. They were the early abolitionists, condemning prostitution, along with pornography and sexual violence, as the most virulent and powerful sources of women’s oppression. 'I’ve tried to voice the protest against a power that is dead weight on you, fist and penis organized to keep you quiet,' wrote Dworkin, who sold sex briefly around the age of 19, when she ran out of money on a visit to Europe. Other feminists, who called themselves 'sex positive,' saw sex workers as subverters of patriarchy, not as victims. On Mother’s Day 1973, a 35-year-old former call girl named Margo St. James founded a group in San Francisco called Coyote, for 'Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics.' Its goal was to decriminalize prostitution, as a feminist act. In its heyday, Coyote threw annual Hooker’s Balls, where drag queens and celebrities mixed with politicians and police. It was a party: In 1978, a crowd of 20,000 filled the city’s Cow Palace, and St. James entered riding an elephant. By the 1980s, Dworkin’s argument condemning prostitution moved into the feminist mainstream, with the support of Gloria Steinem, who began rejecting the term 'sex work.' St. James and the sex-positivists were relegated to the fringes....."
From a long NYT article by Emily Bazelon, "Should Prostitution Be a Crime?/A growing movement of sex workers and activists is making the decriminalization of sex work a feminist issue."