Brents: The Nevada brothel industry is small, but it is one workable alternative to criminalizing prostitution. Bindel’s conclusions fly in the face of the majority of the evidence we have. If we want to help sex workers, we should support better working conditions.
Bindel: Brents talks the language of workers’ rights, but without backing up the rhetoric with data of her own. In fact, there is extremely low membership in prostitutes’ unions in the legalized regimes of the Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand. Furthermore, labor unions can’t offer what most women want: economic alternatives to prostitution.
The legal brothels of Nevada, dotted amid expanses of deserts and mountains, have existed in the state since around 1870 and are seen as part of the fabric of society by some, though they are loathed by others. Today, though, this Nevadan institution—unique in the United States, where prostitution is otherwise illegal—is under threat from a proposed change to the decades-old legislation that permitted it. A great deal is at stake, for the brothel owners are powerful, wealthy men, while their legal brothels—hailed as safe, benign, and desirable—work as a propaganda machine for the much larger, illicit sex trade in Las Vegas.