Furthest Right

Lowest common denominator, path of least resistance

“Prostitution causes deep psychological harm,” says Melissa Farley, Ph.D., a research and clinical psychologist and founder and executive director of the nonprofit group Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco. “The words that are said to these women on the job, the names they are called by their [customers] and pimps hurt them emotionally. They are frequently abused physically. Not to mention that the shelf life of women in prostitution is short — if women manage to stay alive in it, they don’t last a long time.”

Farley, who spent two years investigating eight legalized brothels says, “Nevada brothels are scary, scary places.” Her research, which was supported by a U.S. State Department grant, found that 81 percent of the women in brothels don’t want to be there.

Other researchers disagree with Farley’s findings and contend that by legalizing prostitution in the form of brothels, women in the sex industry can gain a modicum of legitimacy.


Open up a new lowest common denominator, and society expands to fill it, because it’s the path of least resistance.

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