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New Book Explores How Stigma Affects Nevada's Sex Workers

Bree Zender

When you think of brothels, lots of ideas may come up. Some may be based on personal experiences, while others are based on stereotypes. A new book from University of Nevada, Reno researchers aims to look at how stigmas surrounding sex work affect the workers themselves. 

KUNR’s Bree Zender spoke with UNR associate professor Sarah Blithe and graduate student Breanna Mohr about what they found while writing Sex & Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels. Mohr is a sex worker herself and has been working at the brothels to help her through school. 

In the book, Blithe used the term ‘sex work’ rather than ‘prostitution.’

“[T]here is more stigma attached to the word prostitute than sex worker,” Blithe said. “Also, sex worker emphasizes that it’s a job. This is work, and that it was a choice.”

Mohr said that working on the book made her more open about being both a student and a sex worker. She said she made efforts to separate those two identities publicly until recently.

“It really gave me a lot more confidence, honestly,” Mohr said. “Now I’m pretty much out to everyone; whereas, before I was only out to my family and friends.”

Bree Zender is a former host and reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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