Another message from Melissa Farley

Apparently, somebody set up a counter-blog to our blog-in, a blog for responses from Farley, but to the best of my knowledge, nobody here ever got word of it. I had no idea this blog even existed until accidentally running across it when googling for something else. The blog is at vegasmadam.wordpress.com and apparently is run by a friend of Jody Williams, who (unlike Williams) is apparently not in direct contact with Melissa Farley and isn’t even entirely in the Farley camp, and who doesn’t seem to have publicized the blog, in any event. Why Farley prefers such tortuous routes of communication is beyond me – I’m sure if she just wanted to communicate directly by commenting here and/or sending longer responses to be posted, nobody here would have had any objection.

Anyway, of the two posts by Farley on that blog, we’ve already posted one. Here’s the other, I kind of FAQ-style response to her critics:

Info from Farley to Pro Sexer’s

From: Melissa Farley

Who paid for the research:

Farley’s research for Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections was sponsored primarily by Prostitution Research & Education, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reflect the voices of prostituted women, to advocate for alternatives to prostitution with the ultimate goal of abolishing the institution of prostitution. 30% of the expenses of the Nevada research project were paid for by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. None of the contents of the book has been changed to conform to anyone else’s agenda, including the U.S. State Department. The opinions in the book are Farley’s alone.

Legal prostitution does not protect women from the harm of prostitution:

Despite claims to the contrary, legal prostitution does not protect women from the violence, verbal abuse, physical injury, and diseases such as HIV that occur in illegal prostitution. Many women in the legal brothels are under intense emotional stress; many of them have symptoms of chronic institutionalization and trauma. All prostitution, even that which appears voluntary, causes harm.

There is a dangerous lack of services in Nevada for adult women seeking to escape the sex industry, services such as emergency shelters, and social services, medical and vocational assistance. Since the prostitution of 13-17 year old children is “rampant” according to one police officer, more services for children are also needed.

The connection between prostitution and trafficking:

Prostitution and sex trafficking are linked in Nevada as elsewhere: sex trafficking happens when and where there is a demand for prostitution and a context of impunity for its customers. In Nevada, women are trafficked primarily into the state’s illegal prostitution venues: strip club prostitution, escort prostitution, and massage parlors that function as illegal brothels. There also appear to be instances where women have been trafficked into legal brothels.

The links between legal and illegal prostitution in Nevada, and the profound harms caused by prostitution to all women are much like those in other countries where legal prostitution exists. The parallels between Nevada, Australia (legal prostitution), the Netherlands (legal prostitution), and Cambodia (prostitution is illegal but socially and politically tolerated as in Las Vegas) are striking.

Las Vegas is the epicenter of North American prostitution and trafficking. The sex industry in Las Vegas alone generates between one and six billion dollars per year, according to seven informed sources. Women are trafficked for prostitution from many parts of the world into Las Vegas.

Legal prostitution creates a ‘culture of prostitution’ in the state that is fostered or tolerated by politicians, developers, and the entertainment industry. A sex industry the size of that in Nevada exists because of political and judicial corruption and a willingness to tolerate organized crime including domestically organized motorcycle gangs and internationally organized Armenian, Russian, Israeli, Mexican, Korean, and Chinese criminals. Revenue from prostitution generated by international criminal networks has been connected with weapons trafficking.

Farley’s research methodology:

Farley’s psychological research is methodologically sound. Other researchers have independently replicated her methodology and subsequently published the results. Farley has published more than 25 peer-reviewed publications on sexual violence, prostitution and trafficking. She has spoken with a thousand women, men, and the transgendered in prostitution in 10 countries on 5 continents. In the Nevada study, Farley extensively cites the work of other researchers in Nevada, including Lenore Kuo, Alexa Albert, Barb Brents and Kate Hausbeck. Brents and Hausbeck reported an attempted strangulation in one of the legal brothels in Nevada. They no longer advocate legal prostitution. They now advocate decriminalized prostitution. Farley’s findings in Nevada are carefully documented and explained in detail, with 628 footnotes.

All science is infused with values, whether it’s stem cell research, research on the psychological effects of colonization of one people by another, or research on the effects of incest or rape or prostitution. The issue is not whether research is permeated with values – it always is – but whether those values are made explicit as opposed to being vaguely stated or deliberately concealed. Baral, Kiremire, Sezgin and Farley wrote a decade ago: “We initiated this research in order to address some of the issues that have arisen in discussions about the nature of prostitution. In particular: is prostitution just a job or is it a violation of human rights? From the authors’ perspective, prostitution is an act of violence against women: it is an act which is intrinsically traumatizing to the person being prostituted.” Farley has always made her perspective and hypotheses transparent. She also made her methodology and the ways in which her hypotheses were tested sufficiently explicit for others to replicate the study. Findings from Farley’s research has not always turned out in the direction she predicted but she still reports those findings.

As other researchers of prostitution have noted, it is not possible to obtain a random sample of people currently prostituting. Investigators therefore use a variety of techniques to learn about the experience of prostitution for those in it. Generally, smaller numbers of interviewees limit the generalizability of results. We have reported data from a large number of respondents in different countries and in different types of prostitution. It appears that Farley’s critic Ronald Weitzer in Washington DC has never interviewed women currently prostituting in any research he’s done. He’s a policy analyst, not a research psychologist.

Rape rates in Nevada:

The rape rate in Nevada is extremely high, as documented by some fairly devastating statistics from the FBI. On page 240 of Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections, Farley writes:

BEGIN QUOTE FROM BOOK: I asked Kelly Langdon, the Nevada State Rape Prevention Coordinator, how she understood the relationship between legal prostitution and the high rates of rape in the urban areas of Nevada. Emphasizing the inequality of the prostitution transaction, whether legal or not, she said that legal prostitution “creates an atmosphere in the state in which women are not seen as equal to men, are disrespected by men, and which then sets the stage for increased violence against women.”

A Las Vegas rape crisis counselor spoke bluntly about the relationship between the sex industry and the city’s high rape rates. ” Men think they can get away with rape here,” she told me.

Data from the 2004 FBI Uniform Crime report validates these analyses and raises the possibility of an association between legalized prostitution, the state’s prostitution culture, and rape rates in Nevada. The Nevada rate of rape was higher than the US average and was twice as high as New York’s rate of rape. The rate of rape in Las Vegas was three times greater than that in New York City.

Rape Rate per 100,000 Population by State

Nevada 40.9
U.S. average 32.2
California 26.8
New York 18.8
New Jersey 15.3

Rape Rate per 100,000 Population by City

Las Vegas 44.7
Sparks-Reno 41.3
San Francisco 24.5
Los Angeles 23.2
New York 14.0
END QUOTE FROM BOOK

28 Responses

  1. I think the fact that Farley is making a fundamental correlation/causality mistake in her case about Nevada rape rates goes without saying. And that’s not to mention not even looking at what other factors might correlate as well.

    In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I seem to remember that Avedon Carol wrote about a very similar study done in the 1980s with similar conclusions. It claimed correlation between sales of skin magazines in different states and rape rates, and I believe Nevada was one that scored high for both. An important factor that wasn’t looked at in that survey? The states with both high rape rates and high skin magazine sales were also ones which had high per capita populations of single men and/or a relatively high skewed sex ratio of men to women.

    I’ll have to see if I can dig this cite up.

  2. I am VegasMadam and I attempted to post the above as a direct request from Farley but this Live Blog is new to me so it never went thru then I got stressed out and forwarded it to someone else to post it. Why didn’t they? Farley reads all this stuff and is interested in conversing but not in Smack Down style with everyone trashing her all at once, it’s too overbearing as you can imagine. Farley was disappointed in my error and that made me feel like I should apologize for having been sent to prison instead of computer school so I asked if she would get another person to post for her, someone who has 8 yrs of computer experience instead of prison. Yes, the tortureous route of communicating was an abrupt surprise to me as well, confusing, so I went to wash laundry instead.
    VegasMadam@hotmail.com xxx

  3. Oh, well, no worries, VM, its posted here now. Sorry that technical glitches here made it difficult to post here, and that led to further stress on you from Farley. (Sounds like Farley needs to work on her people skills, in any event.)

    I can understand why Farley didn’t want to participate directly in the conversation with all the anger directed towards her and all, however, there’s no reason she couldn’t have just sent communiques to the contact address for this blog (boundnotgagged[@]gmail[.]com) or to any of the individual authors listed under “We Are Bound, Not Gagged”. Nobody here is going to respond with hateful email for merely sending a response.

  4. VegasMadam did try to post these the day of the live blogging, and they were posted the next morning. I got an email from her asking for technical assistance, and I offered some. I did not hear from Melissa Farley directly, at either my address or at the boundnotgagged@gmail address, both of which are easy to find.

    The thing is, VegasMadam does believe in dialogue, but Melissa really does not. I want to support the VegasMadam in having this conversation, but I hold out no hope for direct communication with Farley, let alone a fruitful conversation.

  5. “VegasMadam did try to post these the day of the live blogging, and they were posted the next morning.”

    One of the messages was posted, somehow the one in this post didn’t make it through at the time.

  6. >Sounds like Farley needs to work on her people skills, in any event.

    mhm…

  7. I am really, really, really getting sick of seeing “prostitution is legal in Australia!” posted by people on both sides of this debate. It’s the equivalent of saying “prostitution is legal in the US!”. We have different states with different legislation too.

  8. “I am really, really, really getting sick of seeing “prostitution is legal in Australia!”…We have different states with different legislation too.”

    True, but the situation is still different from the US. I’ve read that escorting is legal (or at least not criminalized) pretty much everywhere in Australia, but this could be erroneous. And brothels are legal in about half the states, including in Australia’s largest cities, a situation very unlike the US.

  9. Something else that may factor in the Nevada rape stats is that Nevada (statistically speaking, of course) consumes GALLONS of alcohol per person per year — way ahead of any other state. (No, I don’t have that stat on hand, but I know it’s floating around.)

    That might have just a wee little effect on violence toward women. Maybe. Perhaps.

    XX

  10. Yes, VegasMadam was trying to post on Monday pm. She and a few others who’d been added as contributors had problems posting that evening, I was working on it.The errors certainly were not VM’s fault.

    “Farley was disappointed in my error and that made me feel like I should apologize for having been sent to prison instead of computer school so I asked if she would get another person to post for her, someone who has 8 yrs of computer experience instead of prison. Yes, the tortureous route of communicating was an abrupt surprise to me as well, confusing, so I went to wash laundry instead.”

    It was very kind of you to volunteer to act as a messenger for Ms. Farley. We appreciate your efforts!

    I am very sorry that you went to prison rather than to computer classes. You suffered an enormous injustice. I’m glad you’re here with us now. And it’s great that you’ve got your own blog going! You should have told me sooner, I’ll add you to our blogroll.

    It’s so important for the story of your life and your incarceration to be heard by people on all sides of this issue. It’s an inspiration to see that you’re getting yourself back on your feet and working to educate people. I’m looking forward to seeing you post more at your blog and telling your story to the world. I believe the kinks have been worked out with BNG, and you’re welcome to post anything that you’d like to over here. If you need any technical assistance or if you’d just like to talk, you have my contact info, please feel free to get in touch!

    “Farley reads all this stuff and is interested in conversing but not in Smack Down style with everyone trashing her all at once, it’s too overbearing as you can imagine.”

    Hi Melissa, welcome to Bound Not Gagged. We are sincerely interested in making peace and collaborating on solutions. If coming to this site for discussion is not comfortable for you, then we’d be happy to meet/converse in a space of your choosing. Just let us know where and when.

    sincerely,
    Stacey

  11. Here are the rape stats from the 2004 UCR for some other cities Farley chose not to mention in her study

    Anchorage, Alaska……………..…92.4

    Augusta, Georgia…….……………48.3

    Battle Creek, Michigan………….102.7

    Boise, Idaho………………………60.5

    Charleston, South Carolina………44.8

    Colorado Springs, Colorado……..60.8

    Columbus, Ohio………….………..51.8

    Corpus Christi, Texas…….…….…63.3

    Dover, Delaware…………….…….54.2

    Fairbanks, Arkansas……….……166.9

    Farmington, New Mexico………..110.4

    Flint, Michigan…………………….62.7

    Jackson, Michigan…………..…..106.2

    Jackson, Mississippi………….…..54.3

    Muncie, Indiana……………….…117.5

    Norwich, Connecticut………….….73.3

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma……….50..1

    Redding, California…………..…..64.2

    Rapid City, South Dakota ……….101.2

    Salt Lake City, Utah………..….….51.5

    Santa Cruz, California…….….…..48.7

    Santa Fe, New Mexico….…….….54.1

    Springfield, Massachusetts….…. 48.3

    Springfield, Ohio…………………55.0

    St. Cloud, Minnesota…………….51.9

    Tacoma, Washington……..……..51.4

    Tallahassee, Florida…….…….…..76.1

    Tucson, Arizona………………….52.3

    Wichita, Kansas………………….51.3

    Not really sure what the hooker scene is like in Muncie, IN, but I guess it must be pretty hoppin’ going by the rape rates. And here are the states that beat out Nevada in 2004:

    Alaska…………85.1

    Arkansas……..42.4

    Colorado……..42.5

    Delaware…….41.5

    Michigan……..54.2

    Minnesota……41.6

    New Mexico….54.6

    Oklahoma……44.2

    South Dakota..43.8

    Washington….46.1

    Idaho and South Carolina had the same rape rate as Nevada (40.9).

    I wonder why Farley left that information out of her report?

  12. Doh! Make that Fairbanks, Alaska; NOT Arkansas.

  13. >Something else that may factor in the Nevada rape stats is that Nevada (statistically speaking, of course) consumes GALLONS of alcohol per person per year — way ahead of any other state. (No, I don’t have that stat on hand, but I know it’s floating around.)>

    floating around, huh?

    mm, i dunno as i’d point that as the root cause either, tbh. there’s a lot of similarity between Prohibition/War On Street Drugs and the War On Sex Work. in fact i’d been meaning to write about the early Temperance movement for quite a while now. meantime: google Carry Nation sometime. you might find it…interesting.

  14. I put the possible problem of alcohol in here because it could well be a factor in the Nevada rape stats. It’s not the only one I can think of, just an obvious one. Other POSSIBLE factors: a high tourist population, the ratio of single males to [all] females, the willingness of women to report the rapes (possibly because they don’t know their rapists socially), an “anything goes” mentality, lower risk of getting caught for a rape, and other factors I’m sure I missed that are unique to Nevada.

    After working in bars for a few years, I’d be perfectly happy to get rid of alcohol and legalize pot. But that’s a whole different issue and is just my personal opinion.

    XX

  15. It’d be interesting if someone did a real study on that.

    but yeah, that’s sort of basic research 101 as well as a prime logical fallacy: if you don’t account for other possible common causes, your conclusions are not reliable.

  16. IACB: I think we all agree that the distinction between legalised and decriminalised sex work is quite significant, particularly from a sex workers’ rights perspective.

  17. In the section on research methodology in Dr. Farley’s reply she mentions,

    “In the Nevada study, Farley extensively cites the work of other researchers in Nevada, including Lenore Kuo, Alexa Albert, Barb Brents and Kate Hausbeck. Brents and Hausbeck reported an attempted strangulation in one of the legal brothels in Nevada. They no longer advocate legal prostitution. They now advocate decriminalized prostitution.”

    A couple of points on that one paragraph…
    –For the record, Brents and Hausbeck have never changed our views on the matter. I would love to see legalized and/or decriminalized prostitution considered as a policy options. Anything that provides basic rights and doesn’t criminalize the prostitute or client ought to be considered. I do not advocate any single policy option.
    –Dr. Farley may extensively cite the research mentioned, but she consistently takes points from all these works out of context. The description of attempted strangulation in the Brents and Hausbeck article was the only case in all the interviews where any worker ever talked about experiencing violence in the brothels. The larger point of the article was that the women did not report violence as a problem.

  18. can’t you sue her in court? Get an injunction against her or something?
    Go after her funders or take away any accredidation that she holds?

  19. Sue her for what? I see no basis for a lawsuit for simply misrepresenting Brent’s views.

  20. “Despite claims to the contrary, legal prostitution does not protect women from the violence, verbal abuse, physical injury, and diseases such as HIV that occur in illegal prostitution.”

    True enough, legal prostitution doesn’t protect women from these things. Her own choices can protect her from those things, and that’s why the state shouldn’t take away her choice. Why is it so hard for people to understand the difference between morality and ethics?

  21. Every person on this planet is susceptible to Harm at any given time in any place including churches which cannot be “prevented/protected”. Hospitals are full of non-Sex Workers as evidence of this common sense. They are all Legal people doing Legal things yet they get Harmed..

    The difference with Sex Workers is that they have NO PLACE TO REPORT TROUBLE TO!!!! Especially if it is police abuse. They are merely put in jail for not Remaining Silent about the guilt of MEN’S GREED!!! 100% of the tme it is MEN harming hookers.

    As for protection from disease – why don’t they push this exact concern on Match.com where people change partners like socks and don’t use condoms, nightclub meat markets where all are drinking alcohol, and also in all work places across the nation which are usually seen as Peyton Places, married couples cheating all over the place, no condoms. Professional Sex Workers are highly educated and skilled on condoms. xxx

  22. I don’t think they can sue unless what Farley wrote was factually false and can be proven false. There’s a difference between being false and misleading. They can’t sue Farley just for providing some information while leaving out other important information, or for taking their study out of context. Irealize this can be misleading, but they can’t sue her just for being misleading.
    Even though just one strangulation occured, that’s horrendous that it occured at all and no level of violence against sex workers should be tolerated. However, it’s important to keep in mind that people in various industries, even outside of the sex industry, have experience workplace violence. The Virginia Tech tragedies in April were a tragic example of this. Those mass killings didn’t occur at a brothel, but on a college campus. We’re never guaranteed to be perfectly safe in this world no matter where we are our what type of work we do.

  23. I think the researchers ought to get some class action/injunction against her or misrepresenting their findings.
    I think they ought to just try it.
    It would good for the publicity which is what this blog was impart to being light to her unethical ways.
    Who cares if it gets thrown out.

  24. No one has sued her for misrepresentation of their interviews in any of Melissa’s reports – now have they?

    Probably BECAUSE SHE’S NOT DONE SO.

    Believe me in this lawsuit happy world – if Melissa had misquoted one woman – she’d have been sued by someone by now.

    I’ve been interviewed by her and never been misquoted.

    I know many women who have been interviewed by her and have seen their exact stories and wording written word for word in her research.

    I’ve seen her interview women who are very happy with being in the sex industry and I’ve seen her talk to retired sex workers like me.

    She hears BOTH sides of the issue.

    If you don’t like what she’s reporting – you can’t just accuse her of making up false stories without any proof.

    Remember the book A Million Little Pieces? The truth came out about that book and lost a lot of people money and reputation.

    If Melissa’s work was false – someone would have brought it to light or lawsuit by now.

    Maybe you ought to just realize her research is true and if you don’t like what it says – you can’t hold it against her.

    You guys sound like those people I see on Intervention when they are told they have a drug problem and the person says “oh no the problem is with you guys” as a means of not hearing the truth.

    I thought the days of shooting the messenger were over.

  25. BARBARA BRENTS – MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

    You are so desperate to find something to attack her for I just can’t believe it.

    First you say that Melissa said you are quote “in favor of decriminalization of prostitution”.

    Then you say that’s wrong – but then you say you ARE in favor of decriminization.

    You are upset that she quoted a piece about a woman being strangled in a brothel. But she did report what you wrote. You reported it and she quoted you accurately.

    It is also NOT the only case of violence ever to happen in a brothel either. Or murder for that matter.

    I know PERSONALLY of murder and violence that has happened in legal brothels. The fact you haven’t heard of more is why I question YOUR research.

  26. “You guys sound like those people I see on Intervention when they are told they have a drug problem and the person says “oh no the problem is with you guys” as a means of not hearing the truth.”

    Yikes! This is the problem that so often comes up when debating with people coming from a “12 Steps”/Recovery perspective. You all have way to much of a tendency to confuse opposition to your perspective with addiction or mental illness. Its a cheap argument and perhaps you should give it a rest.

  27. “BARBARA BRENTS – MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

    You are so desperate to find something to attack her for I just can’t believe it.

    First you say that Melissa said you are quote “in favor of decriminalization of prostitution”.

    Then you say that’s wrong – but then you say you ARE in favor of decriminization. “

    You might try reading people’s statements a little more carefully rather than just responding in the heat of anger.

    What Barbara Brents saids was that Farley has wrongfully stated that Brents changed their position on legal prostitution. Their view is that legalization or decriminalization, depending on the circumstances, are both approaches they support. That’s a clear, coherent stance.

    I don’t know what shouting at them to “MAKE UP THEIR MINDS” accomplishes.

  28. By “them” I mean Barbra Brents and Kate Hausbeck – should have clarified that.

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