Hear Me Out: Legal Sex Work Saves Lives
By Alice Little
My name is Alice Little. I'm the top booking lady at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. A movement was started in our local community called “No Little Girl” to close the brothels in our county; the idea being that “no little girl” dreams of being a sex worker when she grows up. The movement claims to want to protect and liberate legal sex workers under the assumption that we are helpless, trafficked by pimps and participating in the adult industry against our will.
To try to gain momentum for their political movement, NLG has canvassed churches, attended county functions and posted horrible ads that imply that legal sex workers are pieces of meat to be bought and sold. Worse, they have tried many times to discourage the public from communicating directly with us, telling them that what we have to say can't be trusted since we are being exploited and controlled.
These organizations have never tried coming to the ranch to talk to the ladies and ask them about the working conditions there. This entire campaign is simply fueled by questionable religious morality, society's stigma about sex, and misinformation. This is, at its heart, a feminist issue concerning our personal freedoms and our dominion over our own bodies. Their efforts to conflate legal sex work with illegal sex work and human trafficking are simply an attempt to misdirect the public from their moral agenda.
It's illegal sex work that exploits children. It's illegal sex work that trafficks. It's illegal sex work that sees women exploited and abused by pimps. The irony is that the legal system these people are trying to attack actually creates a safe haven from the dangers of the illegal industry; women working legally are able to report criminals and can have an expectation of safety working at a legal brothel. The idea that a group that wants to advocate for the "rights" of women by taking away their right to work and trying to tell them who they may or may not choose to be physically intimate with is irony that borders on deranged. We've all seen what happens when the government tries to control women's bodies.
The legal sex work industry not only solves more problems than it creates, but also we are among the largest taxpayers in our county and frequently make donations and create events for the local community. We are involved, intelligent, conscientious citizens, not pieces of meat.
It’s only been a hundred years since the 18th Amendment and Prohibition; those who believe their morality should be forced on others have forgotten that when you make basic human behaviors and proclivities illegal, you only create crime. Making alcohol illegal only created speakeasies, mobsters and dangerous moonshine. Making brothel work illegal only creates illegal massage parlors, violent pimps and unsafe sexual practices.
Consider that porn is legal almost everywhere in the United States and that it is simply consensual sex between adults with money involved in front of a camera. Taking away the camera doesn't magically change what is going on. What is going on is safe, consensual, documented sex between adults.
Recently, states have been changing their positions on industries like gambling and recreational marijuana. Voters are realizing they create less negative social impacts when they are legalized and regulated. Does anyone really think that if we made recreational marijuana illegal tomorrow, people would stop using it? We would simply create crime again and deny the revenue and positive social impact that is so crucial to help mitigate any negatives brought about by legalization; the criminalization of prostitution is no different.
Legal brothels are heavily regulated; every woman is of age, is there of her own free will, and tested weekly after being registered with the sheriff's department. Are some of the ladies survivors of abuse or trafficking? I haven't personally heard stories, but given that literally every other state of the union forces women underground into an illegal industry, is it really that surprising? Their suffering should be the reason for legality, not the reason to abolish it.
The question in front of us is whether or not Nevada's legal, regulated system creates more problems than it solves, and given that myself and my co-workers are happy, healthy, voluntarily employed and not being exploited, what are we really accomplishing here? Does it make any sense to legislate my choices in sexual partners? Isn't that a basic part of personal freedom?
The momentum of petitions and groups such as these has forced commissioners to place an advisory question on the local ballot as to whether or not the legal brothels should remain open. This sets a terrifying precedent, one in which religious morality can be used to impose moral law on the personal freedoms of others, all under the auspices of the excuse that they are somehow saving us from exploitation.
Being against the closing of the brothels does not mean I am for sex trafficking. That makes no sense. A legal regulated system prevents exploitation; it doesn't encourage it. Legal brothels require the ladies to be of age, pass background checks, take tests weekly to ensure they remain disease free, and allow their income to be taxed and legitimate. Legal sex workers can report problems if they are victims of a crime, and do not need to rely on pimps to keep them safe or manage them.
Don't let fear and stigma write our laws. We need to win this fight in Nevada, and then we need to start winning it elsewhere, as well. Don't let others speak for legal sex workers; if you have questions, ask a sex worker yourself.