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Learn About How Prostitutes Settled the Wild West on Adam Ruins Everything

Adam Ruins Everything is doing a lot of solid ruining these days. The show, which features the host dismantling commonly held ideas about drinking water and lie detectors, has also taken on heavier topics like myths about virginity and a recent episode about the horrors of the American prison system. It’s not Ava DuVernay’s 13th, but Adam Conover’s show works as a great starting point for anyone to learn about these ideas.

Recently, the truTV show took on the ways we perceive the Wild West and pushes against the romanticized, misogynistic, and racist narratives that fill mainstream notions of this time in history. In “The Awful Truth About Cowboys” the host brings up how “Cowboys VS Indians” should really be called Native American VS the government and how propagating that false image ignores that history.

For another clip, which you can watch above, Conover points out that western camps became bustling towns largely because of female contributions and sex work. While the segment doesn’t shy away from the downsides of prostitution in those times, it celebrates the women who seized that economic opportunity and improved the towns with their money. Did you know women in Wyoming could vote a half century before the rest of the nation, and when that right was threatened they resisted becoming a state? This clip isn’t just full of “fun facts” about history, it acknowledges the role of sex workers in American history and gives them their due credit.

Conover also anticipates pushback from this history lesson by incorporating a misogynistic cowboy, and responds to his frustration by explaining how “saying women are good doesn’t devalue the contributions of men.”

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