The United States has flourishing sex industry which is nominally illegal except in Nevada. But Nevada itself is hardly a libertarian utopia the system of legalized brothels imposes exceptionally high levels of control over their employees. The current controversy about ‘adult services’ on Craigslist has raised these issues. State Attorney-Generals have called for Craiglist to drop this section and criminals engaged in sex trafficking of women have used it. Thus the announcement by Craigslist today that it will close the ‘adult services’ section. It is arguable that allowing adults to contract for sexual services may create an environment in which coercion of individuals for sexual services is more likely. What we have is the characteristic outcome of American hypocrisy, the de facto legislation of sexual services advertising facilitates real criminal activity, as no effective constraints are imposed. The understandable response is to seek to close down advertising altogether. This however impacts on the rights of adults in the industry at a time of very high unemployment levels and is unlikely to led to stronger penalties against trafficking. At least some of Craiglist’s critics simply want a campaign against the sex industry.
On this topic see Marjolein van der Veen’s examination of the relation between different modes of production in the sex industry in the interesting ‘post-structuralist Marxist’ Class and its Others.