Saturday, September 7, 2013

A New Model for the World's Oldest Profession?

Prostitution - when a woman sells her body for sex - is often called the world's oldest profession.  Here's a story about how the internet is affecting the world's oldest profession in Nevada. Indeed, this is a pretty good article with a huge amount of interesting vocabulary and expressions.

Nevada is the state in which Las Vegas is located, and it is the only state in the USA where prostitution is legal (although prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas).

As you'll see from the article, in Nevada they have brothels - these are actual places (buildings) where men can go to visit prostitutes.  However, the internet and the bad economy are harming the brothels.  Men can find prostitutes more easily through the internet, yet the brothels claim that they are safer because their prostitutes are medically checked very often and there is a predictable level of service.

The article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-28/brothels-in-nevada-shrivel-as-web-disrupts-oldest-trade.html

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a brothel - this is the actual place of business where prostitutes can work.  A brothel usually contains several rooms where the prostitutes can meet their customers as well as waiting rooms etc.

to disrupt - to interfere with, to interrupt; if something is disrupted by something else, it does not work as well because of something else.

dim - not much light

a parlor - a room

red velvet couches - velvet is a very soft, fuzzy material.  A couch is a piece of furniture that 3 or 4 people can fit on.

a stripper pole - in strip clubs (clubs where women remove their clothing) there is usually a long pole that the stripper can use in her stripping performance.  She can climb up the pole, spin around it etc.

she is having a sale on herself - this is a humorous or funny way of saying she is dropping the price a guy needs to pay to have sex with her.

an incentive - this is an added benefit a person gets if he does something another person wants.  For instance, if a baseball player can hit over 50 home runs, his team owner might give him an extra bonus.  So hitting over 50 home runs is an incentive for the player.  The prostitute might offer her own incentives - for instance, if a customer arrives before noon, she'll charge him half-price.

brunette - she has brown hair

took root - they were created; a flower or plant takes root before it grows

silver-mining boom -  a boom is a sudden increase in business or activity.  At one point there were many silver mines in Nevada and the miners were primarily men who sought the company of women.  Therefore, women were provided for a price at brothels.

dwindling - dropping, decreasing

a lobbyist - in America a lobbyist is someone who represents a business to members of the US government.  Lobbyists often contact Senators and Congressmen and try to encourage them to pass certain laws or not to pass certain laws.

sparsely populated - not well populated , few people; so many of these brothels are in very small communities.

stretched budgets - the state is not getting much money in the form of taxes but is still trying to offer the same services as before.  This means their budgets are stretched.  To stretch something is to pull it in order to make it bigger.

and marks the end to local institutions -- though not the universally beloved sort - I didn't understand this either.  This is really bad writing.  Can't writers for Bloomberg News make understandable sentences?

flagging - declining, decreasing

decreased patronage by truckers - truck drivers used to use these brothels a lot but they are spending more of their money on fuel now and, therefore, are not spending as much on prostitutes.  A patron is someone who uses some service.

to arrange liaisons - guys are just choosing their prostitutes from the internet now instead of driving to Nevada brothels. A liaison is a meeting.

discretionary income - this means, basically, extra income that can be spent on fun stuff.

the madam - the female boss of a brothel is called a madam

a recession - when the economy does poorly

recent years have not been kind to Nevada - Nevada has been suffering during recent years.

holds a grip on the state - the state still suffers from a bad economy.

density - the number of people or things in an area. If an area has a high density, it might have 1,000 people per x square miles.  A low density might be 50 people per x square miles.

a comptroller - every city has a comptroller.  This person monitors and audits the cities money.

a lineup of women - the women are asked to stand in a line so the customer can choose which one he wants to have sex with.

independent contractors - this means the women work for themselves but use the facilities of the brothel.  Actually this means the brothel and the women are cheating the state out of tax money.  If the women call themselves independent contractors, accurate records of how much money they make cannot be obtained by the government.

$200 to $600 on average - yes, you understood this correctly.  Some guys pay $600 to have sex with strange women.

a suite - a fancy room

a four-poster bed - some kind of fancy bed, I'm not sure.  I didn't feel like looking up 'four-poster bed' because I'm never going to use this term. :P

takes a dive - if you take a dive at a swimming pool, you jump into the water from a diving board.  If the economy takes a dive, it declines/drops/decreases quickly.

less frills - fewer fun things, fewer extra things

the downturn is overdue - some people feel that prostitution is evil or morally wrong.  They feel that it is a good thing that these brothels are suffering from a lack of business.  I tend to agree that prostitution harms women.

profoundly - deeply

a bordello - another term for a brothel

an emblematic industry - an industry that a city or state is known for.  Disneyworld is an emblematic industry for Florida.  Gambling is emblematic for Atlantic City and Las Vegas.  Banking is an emblematic industry for New York City.

a gangster - in the 30s and 40s there were organized crime gangs.  Members were called gangsters.

Bugsy Siegel was a gangster who helped create the gambling casinos in Las Vegas and who wanted to turn the city into a sinner's paradise (a place where people could do immoral things safely)

cultivated a reputation - developed a reputation.  Las Vegas has developed a reputation of a place where a person can come and do things he/she wouldn't be able to do any where else.  Las Vegas wants people to believe they can do dirty things there.

louche - dirty in a fun way

woven into the fabric of -  these brothels were created as a real part of the whole society of that time

the pioneers - the first people to arrive and settle the area

to ban something - to make something illegal

scantily clad - to be clad means to wear clothing, scanty means not having much; so scantily clad means not wearing much clothing

booms - this means the music is quite loud

The spectacle masks the fall of the fleshpot - this event, which seems popular, in reality covers up the fact that 'fleshpots' (strip joints and brothels) are failing.

intermediary - something between two things

outlawed - against the law

escorts - a prostitute can't advertise as a prostitute, so they call themselves something else: escort.  They pretend that they will escort a guy on a date (go out with a lonely guy). In reality they offer sex.

a come-on - a way a woman can attract a man.

vice enforcement - the part of the police department that deals with crimes like prostitution is called 'the vice squad.'

fetish friendly - a fetish is a sex practice that is different from a normal practice.

freelance - working for oneself

a panic button - if a prostitute gets really scared by a violent client, she can push this button and people will come into the room to help her.

a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities - she used to be a social worker. Well, I guess she's still doing a type of social work.

struggling brothels - brothels not doing well economically.

rural - out in the country. The opposite of urban.

the hardest hit - those that have suffered the most

hedged his bet on fornication - the writer is being humorous.  Flint isn't completely confident that he can make money from 'fornication' (people having sex) so he has opened other businesses. To hedge your bet means you don't bet/gamble all your money on one thing - you also bet on something else.

Get off now - receive sexual pleasure now.

timers - apparently they have clocks to make sure that the sex occurs within a certain time limit.

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Questions for writing/discussion:

Do you feel that prostitution should be legalized?  Proponents (those for legalization) say that legalized prostitution in brothels will make this practice safe and provide more tax dollars to the state. Opponents feel that prostitution is wrong and that it harms women psychologically.  How do you feel about this?

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