Post by Katie Patterson
For thousands of people, Hot August Nights is a stroll down memory lane, an opportunity to reminisce in the nostalgia of cherry red Corvettes, ’69 Mustangs, teal Chevys with cream interiors, and the golden era of design. Having not been to the event, I was excited when two of my coworkers invited me to walk the streets of downtown Reno and check it out.
Now, I am not much of a car person, but I did enjoy a blast from the past: these classic cars were a sight to see with their enormous trunks, vinyl roofs, crank windows, and goofy air conditioning contraptions on the side of the car; even better than the cars were the proud owners sitting and standing near their ‘baby,’ eagerly waiting to answer any and all questions that an onlooker might have. Time flew by, and we had to get back to work. Heading down Virginia a sobering thought crossed my mind, “How many people, locals or tourists, know about the sex trafficking that would be taking place at this year’s event?”
Illegal commercial sex accompanies most large-scale events, especially ones that are male-dominated. At last year’s event, police did a ‘sting’ operation to target these illegal activities, and nine women were cited for soliciting prostitution. This year five arrests and five citations were issued for prostitution related charges. While these numbers prove that men are paying for sex illegally, they do not reveal to what extent and whether these women are being trafficked. Albeit, Creighton University was commissioned to do a human trafficking study and found Nevada has the highest rate of illegal commercial sex in the nation, 63% higher than its neighboring states. Data supports the fact that when prostitution is legal, such as Nevada’s brothels, trafficking increases; the illegal activity is masked by the legal activity.
As we neared Liberty, I glanced pass work to the Wild Orchid, a local strip club in downtown Reno, and another thought crossed my mind: we “Ooh” and “Aah” at these cars. We objectify them, pay money to see them and to enjoy their classic beauty. We do the same to these women. We “Ooh” and “Aah.” We judge and objectify. We pay money to see, enjoy, and experience their beauty. We marvel at the beauty of a nice car, call it ‘baby’ and invest in it, but to what extent do we value the car more than the woman? Superficially we may treat these cars in a similar fashion as we treat these women, but a very stark difference exists: one gets life from its engine, the other from her heart.
To Note: I want to thank Ashley Ingle, Josh Patterson and Cassie Michaels for reviewing and providing much needed feedback. As well, so many questions came up while writing, such as: Why did the prostitutes get cited and not the men? Can we change our attitudes/misconceptions and laws so both parties are held responsible? If a prostitute has a pimp, is she now considered trafficked because she is no longer working on her own volition? How do these women end up here, and do they (as many seem to believe) want to be in this life? Future blogs will research and dive deeper into these questions. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider.
Guevara, A. (2017, August 15). Behind the Scenes: Hot August Nights Prostitution Sting. Retrieved August 23, 2018, from http://www.ktvn.com/story/36141281/behind-the-scenes-hot-august-nights-prostitution-sting
Ventura, I. (2018, August 12). Reno Police reports final statistics for Hot August Nights 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018, from https://mynews4.com/news/local/reno-police-reports-final-statistics-for-hot-august-nights-2018
ECpodcast. (2018, June 22). Awaken Media Sex | Human Trafficking Reno. Retrieved August 23, 2018, from episode 56 features Melissa Holland, Founder and Executive Director of Awaken.
Harvard Law School. (2014, June 12). “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?” Retrieved August 30, 2018, from https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/lids/2014/06/12/does-legalized-prostitution-increase-human-trafficking/