Farley is a self proclaimed advocate for abolishing sex work and cites her own research as the reason. I have to ask which came first the chicken or the egg. How can we rely on the so called "research" of anyone who has already before the fact expressed a deeply felt conviction on such a controversial issue as sex work?
I've read many of Farley's papers. I had an email exchange with her. I know she comes to the conclusions she does by carefully selecting the cohort she interviews. In "Prostitution in Nine Countries", She chose only the most marginalized areas of those countries. She almost never interviews an escort or indoor sex worker. She only interviews women who are street walkers. Most of those women are homeless or have pimps. In the US she chose a particularly poor area of San Francisco. In Canada also a desperately poor area of Vancouver. In Germany where sex work is legal in clubs did she interview any working girls at the clubs who were happy with their jobs? Of course not! She collected data for the entire country of Germany by interviewing German sex workers who were part of a drug rehabilitation center. No wonder she came to the conclusion that sex workers worldwide are drug addicts, Molested as children, Pimped and desperate to do anything but sex work.
She selected her participants based on loaded criteria, as opposed to selecting overall participants based on general demographics, and seeing what the data stated afterwards.
The level of imposed bias in her works could only be described as 'dripping'. While I am sure that she believes in her work, and is doing her study with nothing but the best of intentions, even her classification of someone as a 'sex buyer' or 'non sex buyer' had no real rhyme or reason.
It basically lumps in pornography viewers with people seeking out prostitutes. It also asks questions to try and predict potential violent behaviours, the validity of which is highly suspect.
A particularly troubling critique I read pointed out that, realistically, the sample could not have been representative because people who were more likely to be empathetic and non-violent would be prone to a lower level of risk taking behaviours, meaning that people would not volunteer to participate given the impact of people finding out about their private behaviours. The paper pays weak lip service to this possibility, linguistically implying that the impact is minute if existent at all. Very vague.
Unfortunately, this is actually a common meme with the social sciences. Pretty sad.
I believe that while Melissa Farley's studies may have grains of truth in them, they are not overall legitimate. My opinion is that Melissa Farley is an individual with extremely strong beliefs and might have influenced her studies in order to achieve the outcome she perceived to be the truth.
I think that Melissa Farley's studies are not a hoax, and that she put years and years of research in to determine the results of her studies, which she is now trying to show to the public to back her fight against prostitution and pornography that women are being forced into.
Melissa Farley's studies on the sex trade and prostitution are legitimate in that they purport sexual harassment is perpetuated by males and women should rise up against trades that degrade women. Farley is right in that women don't get as good of a deal as men do when it comes to jobs and employment. Her studies aren't a hoax--they are mainstream ideas that were reported decades before their time.
I think that Melissa Farley's studies are legitimate, because she has some valid points to make. In speaking out against pornography, Farley makes some good arguments, and she has a way of framing the arguments in a way that a lot of people have not thought of before. She is a feminist and an activist, and honestly cares to improve our society.
People have been trying to apply the scientific method to the social sciences for over a century, with varying success. The biggest thing to take into account is how partisan somebody is - Melissa Farley has a very clear goal in her studies, so she fails the first test, impartiality.