... so I'm forced to deal only with Bob Herbert's latest column, "City as Predator " [subscription possibly req'd]
I suppose I can't blame Herbert too much. He writes for the NY Times, probably lives in or near New York, and probably doesn't pay for sex -- or at least probably doesn't want anyone to know, if he does.
So it's not so strange that he isn't familiar with who's a reliable writer of the subject of prostitution -- Xaviera Hollander, Carol Queen, Susie Bright and several others -- and who isn't -- Nikki Craft, Katharine MacKinnon, Melissa Farley and many others.
So I'm sure that when Herbert got his hands on an "advance copy" of Farley's latest screed, "Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections," he probably had no idea who Farley was (imagine my surprise to see my own comment here) and why no one who wanted an objective look at the subject would pay $24.95 for her crap.
For those who've been out of touch for the past 150 years or so, prostitution is legal in Nevada except for two areas: Clark County, where Las Vegas sits, and Storey County, where sits Reno. So I'm hardly surprised that Oscar Goodman, mayor of LV, apparently has in mind expanding prostitution's franchise to his own city -- and in the process, taxing the gals' earnings, the brothels' proceeds and the myriad other taxes and fees an imaginative city can impose on a business, especially one which has such a pejorative reputation among the fly-overs (and even a few city-dwellers).
But its sad when Herbedrt states as fact such outright horseshit as, "the horrendous toll that prostitution, legal or illegal, takes on the women and girls involved. If you peel back the thin, supposedly sexy veneer of the commercial sex trade, you'll quickly see the rotten inside, where females are bought, sold, raped, beaten, shamed and in many, many cases, physically and emotionally wrecked."
I doubt there are too many adults, whetner pros or johns, who think prostitution has a "sexy veneer," supposed or otherwise. It's a business where (for the most part) men pay women to have sex with them, and the more outré their desires, the higher the bill -- but there seems to be no shortage of adult women who, for a sufficient retailer, would be willing to fulfill whatever fetish or sex act is proposed. Farley, of course, and her consoeurs (the feminine of "confreres") see the business through their own "moral maps", which leads to lies about Nevada hookers being "bought, sold, raped, beaten, shamed and ... physically and emotionally wrecked," but like the alleged "secondary effects" of adult businesses, such outcomes are the tiny, tiny exceptions; the rule is that prostitutes can make good money by renting their bodies for sexual pleasure -- though I'll be among the first to admit that not everyone who wants to do it should do it. At the very least, some people's early education and sexual development make prostitution an unwise choice, as those people are emotionally ill-equipped to handle the profession. I've said as much about some porn stars of my acquaintance: It's just not for them.
But that's a problem with them, not with the profession.
Herbert follows up his misstatements with:
"Start with the fact that so many of those who are pulled into the trade are so young - early-20s, late-teens and younger. Child prostitutes by the hundreds pass through the Family Division courtroom of Judge William Voy, who views the hapless, vulnerable girls as victims and tries to help them. The girls he sees are as young as 12, with the average age being 14."
WHAT THE FUCK?!?!? How did the subject suddenly switch, in the space of one paragraph, from legal, regulated brothels in Nevada to street prostitution in New York City? I'll agree that it's probably not a good idea for 12- and 14-year-old girls to be practicing prostitution -- but I also don't think they should be operating heavy machinery, performing surgery on people with lung cancer or brain tumors, nor handling their country's diplomatic mission at the U.N.. There are some jobs that adults can do, that kids shouldn't -- but I think it's firmly established in the law that just because a kid can't or shouldn't do something doesn't mean an adult should be barred from it as well!
Sez Herbert: "Ms. Farley was asked to study the Nevada sex trade and its consequences 2-1/2 years ago by John Miller, who at the time headed the U.S. State Department's effort to fight human trafficking around the world."
Good thing she wasn't asked by Randall Tobias, the State Department foreign aid advisor who, while patronizing prostitutes himself, forced grant recipients to sign a pledge that their organizations would not in any way promote prostitution or fight for its legalization in any country where the grant money was being used.
"'We did surveys of people on the street,' said Ms. Farley, 'and nearly half thought prostitution was legal in Las Vegas. Guess why that is? Massive advertising.'
"There are more than 150 pages of ads in the Las Vegas yellow pages for 'college teens,' 'mature women,' 'mothers and daughters,' 'petite Japanese women,' 'Chinese teens in short skirts' and every other variation imaginable. I asked Mayor Goodman about that, and he said: 'We've changed that a little bit. They used to have pictures.'"
Oh; so prostitution is already happening in Vegas, no matter that it's illegal -- actually, I've known that ever since I started going to AVN shows Many Years Ago -- and now that Goodman wants to legalize and license it and make it subject to health department regulation, that's when Herbert gets bent out of shape!
Herbert: "Sex clubs with teenage girls dancing nude and offering lap dances to johns are legal, ubiquitous and widely advertised. Many of those girls are either prostitutes or one short step away."
In Nevada, those
"teenage girls dancing nude and offering lap dances" are 18 or 19, not
the younger ages Herbert implies! If they're younger elsewhere, maybe
the problem is the prostitution laws that outlaw all sex-play-for-pay activities, which occur anyway and because of the laws cannot be regulated by the state.
Herbert: "What is not widely understood is how coercive all aspects of the sex trade are."
Last I heard, adults making consensual business deals with adults, even for sex, isn't "coercion," it's business.
Herbert: "The average age of entry into prostitution is extremely young."
Maybe in areas outside Nevada, and likely in other countries which don't have the same ideas as Americans about what age constitutes the "age of consent" -- in case you hadn't noticed, "18" isn't written on any stone tablets found on a mountaintop in the Middle East; it's a legal construct -- but in Nevada, if you're over 18, you can do it, and if you're under 18, you can't -- legally, at least, and the fact that it may be done illegally in Vegas is one of the problems Goodman's trying to fix!
Herbert: "The prostitutes are ruthlessly controlled by pimps, club owners and traffickers. In the case of legal prostitution, they are controlled by their own pimps and the brothel owners - pimps who have been legalized by the state."
I'm sure that's what Farley's report says -- but I attended the International Conference on Prostitution held at CalState-Northridge about a decade ago, and met plenty of prostitutes there (and more since) who keep what they earn and aren't beholden to anyone. It's not uncommon for the ignorant to think that all prostitutes have pimps, but Farley, if she actually has done research, should know better. And as for the brothels, the sex worker knows what the arrangement will be when she signs on with one -- and if she doesn't like it, she can go elsewhere, or negotiate for a better rate. In either case, it's business, and only possibly exploitation because of the fact that if the woman wants to stay in this country, she's either got to work for a brothel owner in Nevada or work illegally, so her choices are extremely limited. They shouldn't be.
Herbert: "Huge numbers of foreign women are trafficked into Vegas."
Possible, since prostitution is not legal there! Legal prostitutes in Nevada are licensed and undergo background checks; hence, no illegals!
Herbert: "Mayor Goodman said that he is no fan of illegal prostitution, but is convinced the legal variety could be a boon. He is proud of his city's tourist slogan: 'What happens here, stays here.'"
That's the motto of prostitutes everywhere -- though I fully support Larry Flynt's offer to pay to expose any Repugnican politician who can be proved to have patronized one, and I'd urge all sex workers to take advantage of that.
But the point is, prostitutes' practice of guarding the personal privacy of their patrons should fit in perfectly in Las Vegas.To comment on this article, email here .