Last week, I wrote Her One Skill about my dear friend who at seventeen believed her only skill was sex. Well this week, she turns eighteen. It is terrifying to think that she is now considered an adult by our state. Besides being able to buy cigarettes and vote, although I guarantee she couldn’t name who is running for office from either party, she can now legally decide to dance in the strip clubs or work in the brothels.
Yesterday she was considered a child, a victim, but today she is considered a consenting adult. It is terrifying how twenty-four hours can completely alter your perception of things. In Nevada, we are often jaded and desensitized by the billboards and taxi toppers advertising sex. We forget that the women taking their clothes off are in many cases still little girls. They all desire to be loved, accepted and cared for. They want a more abundant life, but in many cases have never seen a healthy lifestyle modeled.
Melissa Farley is an anti-pornography and anti-prostitution activist and researcher who has studied related topics world-wide. Through her 2-year research study in eight different legal Nevada brothels, she found that 81% of women working wanted to get out, but had no other means to support themselves. Twenty-three percent, which is far lower than I expected said that they were prostituted as children before they began working legally in the brothel. We as a state have legitimized a way to further oppress women and keep them in a place where they don’t want to be and can’t even fathom actually leaving. If our community stood up for the 23% and gave them love and an education think how differently their lives would look.
I continue to try to wrap my mind around the myth that the girls in the brothels and strip clubs want to be there, that they just like sex, but I can never seem to get away from my friend, who grew up to believe this is where she will end up. For her, this is a lack of a choice and an inaccurate perception of who she was created to be.
This week in honor of her birthday, will you celebrate her with me by not buying sex and trying to see the women behind the façade as real and precious women?