Legal Prostitution in Lyon County

Posted by Christina Parreira on April 12, 2018

Prostitution has been legal in Lyon County, Nevada for over forty years. In that time, the Nevada model for licensed and regulated prostitution has proven to be a time-tested and remarkably successful social experiment, where, under an umbrella of strict legislation, sex workers operating out of rurally-located brothels thrive harmoniously with their Lyon County neighbors. Now, after all these years, a small group of Lyon County residents have decided that they have a beef with the bordellos.

The group calling itself “No Little Girl” is petitioning to close the legal brothels in Lyon County, and remove the livelihood of hundreds of women who have made an informed choice to work in these establishments. On the “Issues” page of this group’s website, they make claims that the legality of brothels does nothing to make women any safer, and that prostitution is inherently violence against women. However, the page cites data that either has been debunked or has nothing to do with legal prostitution. The handful of individuals that submitted the petition represent faith-based organizations, and seem to be more concerned with pushing their specific moral agenda onto the whole of Lyon County than with the actual safety of the women in the brothels. Let’s take a closer look at the information on the group’s website

Christina Parreira is a legal sex worker and PhD student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The group suggests that large tech companies won’t move to the county and boost the local economy because of the existence of legal brothels, but they neglect to mention that Lance Gilman, owner of the Mustang Ranch brothel, helped bring Tesla to Nevada. The massive Tesla Gigafactory is located seven miles from the Mustang Ranch, proving that tax incentives and smart dealmaking are what bring big name tech companies into an area. Brothels are clearly not a factor in the decision making, especially when one considers that a brothel owner played a key role in convincing a tech giant to choose Nevada for its factory location.

Concerning the safety of women in the brothels, the website cites Melissa Farley, a researcher whose work was debunked years ago. Farley claims to have interviewed 45 women in the Nevada brothels but discounts their comments in her 2007 book, writing “I knew that they would minimize how bad it was” (p. 22). Farley writes that her data does not support her conclusions because women “ignore bad things or they pretended that unpleasantness will go away, or they call the degrading abuse of prostitution by another name that sounds better” (p. 22). Farley did not listen to the women and instead formed her conclusions based on her own moral agenda. In 2011 Dr. Calum Bennachie, a gender studies scholar, sent a 115 page formal complaint to the American Psychological Association requesting that Farley be disqualified for professional misconduct. In his complaint he detailed evidence to show that “Dr. Farley is repeating unsubstantiated rumour as fact” and “is deliberately misleading people” (2011). Farley has a long and well-known history of discounting the voices of sex workers in an effort to push her ideological agenda. The website also cites a 2004 study by Potterat, but the sample is from women working independently in Colorado; a very different group of women with work conditions that are nothing like those in the legal Nevada brothels. Women who work illegally are subject to rape and assault because they do not have protections under the law. Criminalization forces them to work in unsafe settings and unlike in the legal Nevada brothels, they cannot call for help when they are raped or assaulted. This speaks to the harms of criminalization, not of prostitution.

Chance Monet and Tiara Tae from the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Lyon County

On the FAQ page, it states that women are often raped in the legal brothels. This is grossly inaccurate. In my own doctoral research of 53 women working in 5 Nevada brothels, I did not encounter a single woman who had reported being raped by a client in the brothel, and I was certainly never raped during my years working in the brothels. Perhaps the most inflammatory claim on the FAQ portion of the website is that most of the women in the brothels are under the control of pimps. This is simply not true. Of the 53 women I interviewed, 5 reported that they had pimps BEFORE they worked in the brothels but since coming to work legally were able to escape this coercion and freely offer intimate services. One worker told me of the horrific abuse she endured at the hands of a pimp, and she was grateful to have escaped him and be in a place where she could work safely and legally. She credited her newfound safety and freedom to the brothel. She feared that if she went back to her home state, her former pimp would find her, kidnap her, and force her back on the streets.

Roxanne Price from the Love Ranch in Lyon County

The FAQ section claims that legalization does not improve conditions for prostitutes or women in the community. We can look to Rhode Island as a case study: In Rhode Island prostitution was decriminalized from 2003-2009. A study done by Cunningham & Shah (2014) shows that rates of rape and gonorrhea plummeted with decriminalization; 824 fewer rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39 percent decrease) from 2004-2009.

The FAQ section also asks the question “has anyone asked the women what they want?” My fellow workers and I have reached out to this organization over the past 2 weeks, desperately trying to make our voices heard. We tell them that we are happy with our chosen careers and that we do not want to lose our jobs, but they are not listening, and continue to push their moral agenda onto us.

As a licensed prostitute and PhD student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I can tell you that what I want is to continue to have the freedom to choose to work in a safe environment, where I can practice a trade that I love, lawfully and prosperously. Sex work is definitely not my last resort or my only option — it is my choice. I’d like to continue to have the opportunity to make that choice legally.

If you really care about us, just listen to us.

Christina Parreira

Christina Parreira

Christina Parreira, M.A., is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to being an instructor and researcher, she is a proud legal Harlot.

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Christina Parreira

Author: Christina Parreira

Christina Parreira, M.A., is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to being an instructor and researcher, she is a proud legal Harlot.

14 thoughts on “Legal Prostitution in Lyon County”

  1. Exceptionally well-crafted counter. Sad that the other side of this discussion (well, that word choice is giving them too much credence, but I’m being polite) isn’t operating with the same foundation of critical thinking. So hard to debate against the dogma-based viewpoint when all you’re fighting with is logic and reason.

  2. I think the brothels are good it’s controlled, the girls are tested, and Men and Women can go there I think the people that are trying to change it need to get over it or go back from where they came from Go look at the streets of Hollywood were hookers are it’s dirty and they are not treated well and it’s just bad

  3. Fight those idiots, crush them. For some of us, this is the only way we can have any kind of female companionship. Their movement will fail because of the money that it brings to the counties. Their website is total crap filled with outdated or laughably incorrect information. Their “moral agenda” is spreading nothing but ignorance, which is dangerous. The people who spearheading the movement are just a bunch of ignorant prudes. Ignorant prudes who if they got laid, would probably reconsider what they are doing.

  4. Why would you not live according to God’s law and submit to his plan for each one of us? Unbelievers and apostates suffer from addiction, disease, and mental illnesses. These days you can’t go anywhere without bumping into an opioid addict. There’s no valid use for opioids, except to keep people in slavery in a brothel. It’s not too late to turn away from wickedness and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    1. Duane, no offense, but for all the good intentions of my fellow church-goers who told me “Give it to the Lord, son,” I found no relief until I stepped into a lovely woman’s arms at a legal brothel.

      Church taught me some good things, about grace and acceptance. But for a very long time I wasn’t accepting myself. Or, I supposed that who I really was (sexual, and hungry for sex) was ultimately unacceptable.

      One of the 20th century’s greatest Christian theologians, Paul Tillich, wrote in “Shaking the Foundations”:

      “Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” If that happens to us, we experience grace.”

      Professor Marcus Borg wrote, “If grace comes with a catch, it’s no longer grace.” In America we don’t like the idea that you might get something for nothing. That’s not the way society works. Thus it’s no surprise that we suppose we have to earn God’s (or the Universe’s) favor by good behavior.

      Sexual mores have for a very long time been part of those “good behavior” codes. “Good people” don’t have multiple sexual partners. “Good people” don’t have sex outside of marriage. Only “bad people,” “dirty people,” do that.

      I’m a man. I’m sexual. I do not apologize for that. Long-term loving relationships and marriage are wonderful, but for right now having paid relationships with sex workers is what works for me. It’s a relationship with different rules. And I’ve had some of the most amazing and wonderful experiences of my life thanks to those ladies. They’re no different than you or me. We’re all just trying to get along in a harsh world. All of us come to the brothels with our own baggage and our own strengths. Hopefully what we all do is to play fair and treat each other with respect.

      I was miserable when I tried to follow the strict celibacy rules laid down by the church. Now, life isn’t perfect, but I would never go back to that lifestyle, and I sure wouldn’t try to put that yoke upon someone else’s shoulders, either.

      If God is up there busily counting up all my sins, voyeuristically obsessing over what I do with whom, yet all the while ignoring the earnest pleas of other humans who want relief from hunger, injustice, loneliness, etc, then really, He’s not worthy of my worship.

    2. Yes because there are no Christians that suffer from addiction, mental illness. Wow, it looks like lying and pointing blame at others is sure there.

  5. Why would anyone vote to raise their Taxes ?
    Without the legal brothels have to raise taxes to make up the millions of tax dollars
    Have to raise taxes for more police and courts to counter all the illegal prostitution, pimps, massage places, strip clubs, drugs etc.
    Turn Reno and Carson City into Vegas with billboards with pictures of escorts services girls plaster every where. Guys handing out plamphet of naked woman “escort services” on every corner.
    Prostitution is the oldest profession it’s not going away it’s time to make it legal in every state just like Nevada has with clean , control brothels with intelligent women that choose to be there.
    Please don’t make these ladies and me criminals, I drive up to the brothels from CA ,because its legal.

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