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Sex and StigmaStories of Everyday Life in Nevada's Legal Brothels$
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Sarah Jane Blithe, Anna Wiederhold Wolfe, and Breanna Mohr

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479859290

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479859290.001.0001

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The History and Laws of Nevada’s Legal Brothels

The History and Laws of Nevada’s Legal Brothels

(p.55) 3 The History and Laws of Nevada’s Legal Brothels
Sex and Stigma

Sarah Jane Blithe

Anna Wiederhold Wolfe

Breanna Mohr

NYU Press

This chapter examines the ways in which Nevada’s history as a libertarian, “Wild West” mining town interweaves with the legal history of the state’s houses of prostitution. The legal brothels are major economic contributors, yet remain continually under public scrutiny because of moral objections to their work. Women working in Nevada’s legal brothels are subject to state laws, city and county ordinances, and informal “police rules”, all of which serve the primary purpose of promoting secrecy through segregation. Keeping legal prostitutes out of sight and away from the communities where they work allows brothels to avoid some stigma associated with the occupation, but also constrains the agency of working women. This legal and historical background provides important contextual information for making sense of brothels’ organizational practices and sex workers’ lived experiences at work and in the communities where they are situated.

Keywords:   Nevada, Brothels, Prostitution, Sex Work

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