Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Jennifer Guthrie

Second Committee Member

Emma F. Bloomfield

Third Committee Member

Carlos Flores

Fourth Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Number of Pages



Critical rhetoricians and legal communication studies scholars have long recognized that rhetoric and ideology are inherent to legal structures, shaping legislation and impacting the lives of those such laws are meant to address. Fewer look to, not just civic discourses, but also the vernacular discourse surrounding such institutions, shaping the ideologies that support it. There is a need, however, for the study of outlaw discourses to both help define ideographs and challenge their very existence through contrasting outlaw and hegemonic logics. Thus, this thesis examines debates over A.B. 166, a Nevada state law meant to alleviate sex trafficking, by establishing the crime of “advancing prostitution” and argues that the civic, vernacular, and outlaw discourses influence the construction of the ideograph of victimhood. Through a critical history of sex trafficking in Nevada, as well as an ideographic rhetorical criticism of A.B. 166, the Nevada Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committee meeting minutes concerning the law, and the relevant local news, I will explain how the ideograph of victimhood came to be and its impact on Nevada. Additionally, I make the argument that the ideograph of victimhood has become a rhetorical tool within abolitionist ideology, making gendered and racialized assumptions about sex trafficking victims that ultimately end up hurting both trafficking victims and sex workers alike. Criticisms such as these are necessary to unpack the hidden ideologies in legal discourse.


Critical Rhetoric; Ideograph; Ideology; Sex Trafficking


History | Law | Rhetoric

File Format


File Size

912 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit