Blithe, Sarah Jane, Ann Wiederhold Wolfe and Breanna Mohr. “Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels”. NYU Press, 2019.
Working the Sex Trade
“Sex and Stigma” is an intimate and original look at the lives of Nevada’s legal sex workers through the voices of current and former employees, brothel owners, madams, and local law enforcement
Nevada is the only jurisdiction in the United States where prostitution is legal. Of course with that there are bound to be stories and these stories always seem to make headlines. These stories along with the stigma of being a sex worker contribute greatly to experiences of oppression and unfair labor practices for many legal prostitutes in Nevada. Here are stories of women living and working in these “hidden” organizations to interrogate issues related to labor rights, secrecy, privacy, and discrimination in the current legal brothel system.
We have interviews with current and former legal sex workers, brothel owners, madams, local police, and others as we examine how widespread beliefs about the immorality of selling sexual services have influenced the history and laws of legal brothel prostitution. The authors gained unique access to a difficult-to-reach population thus allowing us to read about their struggles to engage in their communities, conduct business, maintain personal relationships, and transition out of the industry. The authors also examine how these brothels operate like other kinds of legal entities, and how “individuals deal with balancing work and non-work commitments, navigate work place cultures, and handle managerial relationships.” The book is a resource on the policies guiding legal prostitution in Nevada and provides an intimate look at the lived experiences of women performing sex work.
First-person perspectives combine with feminist scholarship demystify the brothel as a workplace. Here is the groundwork for greater understanding of the everyday routines and work-life considerations of legal sex workers. We attach real faces, lives, workplace, and home issues to these women and learn a great deal from them.