Case Study : Nevada's Licensed Brothels

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It’s important to recognize these biases because there isn’t much press coverage about this industry and it usually errors on the melodramatic side. On the other hand, Barbara Brents the foremost expert on Nevada’s licensed brothels, has come to very different conclusions about the state’s most controversial industry. Brents is a professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and she, along with her colleagues, has over 15 years of field research studying Nevada’s licensed brothels. Brents, the co-author of The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex, and Sin in the New American Heartland describes those brothels in a very practical and academic style. Brents says, “Sometimes I say I’m shedding light into a dark closet, a place nobody really knows what goes on inside. And then, when you shed the light, you find out that it’s not at all what you thought it was — it’s neither dangerous nor awful, nor is it as titillating.”
The safety of Nevada’s brothels is one of the main elements highlighted by Brents and other researchers. For instance, Brents found that 84% of the women that she interviewed felt safe. “Workers report that they felt safe largely because the police, employers and co-workers were there to protect them,” said Brents. Conversely, it’s important to note how much more dangerous the industry is in Las Vegas. Again, prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but there is a bit of a charade. It’s hard to believe that the city’s marketing campaign, “What
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