21st Century Brothel


This is Life with Lisa Ling delves deep into the world of prostitution, as it takes a behind the scenes look at one particular ranch on the West Coast. The Moonlite BunnyRanch is a legal brothel located in Mound House, Nevada. Nevada is currently the only state in the U.S. where prostitution is legal. In 2009, State Senator Bob Coffin legalized prostitution in eight counties in Nevada for statewide tax purposes. Through This is Life, Lisa Ling attempts to break the stereotypes surrounding escorts, as she follows a few of the women through their journeys to the ranch. Although controversial, The Moonlite BunnyRanch is seen as a safe, legal place for women who are in dire need of money. It keeps these women off of the streets, and away from the underground prostitution world, while also providing them with an avenue to support themselves. Many of the women stated that they are struggling mothers looking to make ends meet, while others sited that they have college degrees and are choosing to live this lifestyle.

While many of the women were extremely successful in their pursuits at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a few were not. A 20-year-old girl named Catherine came to the ranch after her house burned down, and her family was unable to pay for the damages. The BunnyRanch allowed her to host small parties at the ranch, while also selling her virginity to the highest bidder. Although many view Catherine’s choice as completely absurd, Catherine feels that she is simply finding a way to rescue her family from their drastic misfortunes. This seemed to be a common trend amongst several of the women living in the ranch. Many have traveled hours to the BunnyRanch in hopes of gathering extra money to survive. Zoey, for example, came to the ranch so that she could afford to buy Christmas presents. However, her trip to the ranch did not financially bode as well as she had hoped. London, on the other hand, came to the ranch so that she could make enough money to catch up on her back child support. Unfortunately, the state of Nevada would not grant her a prostitution license because of this back child support. Therefore, London’s trip to the ranch was also unsuccessful.

Throughout the piece, companionship, friend, comfort, and company were the most commonly used words when these women described their work. Many of them feel that they are saving lives and helping the lonely. Despite the stigma that goes along with being a “prostitute,” the majority of these women have fallen on hard times and turned to prostitution for quick, easy money. They have come to the ranch hoping to quickly better their lives, after exhausting all other options. Women like London who are unable to support themselves, have back child support, as well as other debts, turn to prostitution for help. In London’s case, prostitution didn’t even have the ability to save her. This causes concern about the system that is currently in place in the United States. What are women supposed to do to make ends meet when they are denied all other alternatives? Prostitution is one of the only professions where women are guaranteed to make more money than men. Lisa Ling brings attention to the fact that it is extremely disheartening that women must sell their bodies in order to insure that they will earn more money than men in the workplace. Still, these women are constantly judged for their choice to enter into prostitution, but to them, they are simply doing what every other person in the working world is doing: they are working to make ends meet.