Sex Tourism for Men and Women

Alex Apkin:

The readings Sex Tourism and Fantasy Islands show the complex multi layered facets of sex tourism from the perspective of both men and women. Sex tourism is largely looked at through the male scope, but when women are sex tourists they act on similar tendencies as the men do. This discussion includes many intertwining factors that go beyond gender, including sex, economics, and race.

Female Sex Tourism discusses the challenges facing women today that have to do with the controlling expectations that have been pushed on them for years. Women are respected when they are pure and innocent and yet they are supposed to claim some sort of heterosexual identity. She goes on to say that the female identity is largely claimed in the body. Through the media the only way in which women are represented is through their body. These women are always sexy and attractive to men. They are pushed to be economically independent but still to be good mothers and wives to men in this patriarchal society. Women must find their perfect male partner who embodies the characteristics of both men and women. Female sex tourism appears to be a contradiction of these many societal beliefs that have been created and really they are just the same as the male sex tourist. It’s hard for many to allow things to flip and see women in the position of power as they travel to these foreign lands. The reading discusses the women who enter relations with Caribbean men. The Caribbean men present a more romantic and appealing nature to the women who seek them. This reading provides a unique landscape in which to examine economics, race and sex, along with women who enter the power position typically occupied by men in the relationship. Some of the men in these countries who had relationships with women would feel used after being dumped and simply missed the role of economic distance and the amount of distance that was clearly visible to most in this type of relationship. However men who had a better grasp on the situation took advantage and understood that sex was not for pleasure but rather a business. Women are capable in these cases of sexually exploiting men, without the same consequences that they would have for these sexual encounters at home.

Next we turn to the elements of race in these relations. Taylor speaks to the coolness and hotness associated with black males, and the fantasies that some women enjoy playing out with these men. While women deny their racism it does exist in these interactions. The racism exists in the way that people view the foreigners as others and seek them out. While we seem to focus on gender too much in these relations, Taylor argues the more important dynamic is race. The black men that play into these stereotypical beliefs many regard them with, earn them economic gains but in the end keep them viewed in the same manner and context as they were previously by the white woman. The richer privileged people of America are able to take advantage of those foreigners who in turn make what they can of the tourism by receiving the outsiders that enter their home with open arms. The closely connected factors of sex, race, and economics outweigh the importance of gender in these scenarios.

Fantasy Islands first explores male sex tourism. In the ideas surrounding prostitution the men’s appreciation of control over these women is an important factor. In many cases the male tourist can interact with a woman that may not be considered a prostitute, at least in his mind, but still exploit her. The men can accept their action in this exotic land because these girls he finds there are not really prostitutes, but rather as Davidson and Taylor say this is just a, “way of life” for these women. As men travel to these places sex tourism is their reclaiming of their Westerness, as they show their dominance over the others. Then as the reading moved towards the discussion of the female sex tourism generally in the Carribean, a similar theme cropped up. Women also feel the lack of consequence for their actions as the authors say that the line blurs on prostitution in their travels abroad. When women and men leave the US and experience a partner in various sexual and non-sexual interactions they lose the tight constrains of society and judgment that they would feel if they were in their homeland. As they move into another country and experience that new world both men and women are able to take advantage of those others living their and assert themselves economically, sexually, and racially. This sex tourism system is one that allows men and women of a certain class to act out fantasies but also pushes men and women from these foreign countries to live up to the stereotypes that have been created for these groups of people.


4 thoughts on “Sex Tourism for Men and Women

  1. Sophie Furman

    I was interested when you mentioned the point on economic status and racial status when it comes to being a part of the industry. You said, “The richer privileged people of America are able to take advantage of those foreigners who in turn make what they can of the tourism by receiving the outsiders that enter their home with open arms.” Like we talked about in many discussion it’s another scenario in which people can prove their wealth and racial status and it’s disgusting that they’ll go this far in order to do so, and at that point it’s not even about gender anymore it’s about proving who has the higher power.

  2. Bianca Scofield

    I liked how you brought up the general double standard for all women. Show your body, yet be conservative. To be honest, I had never even heard of sex tourism before, let alone women participating in it as well. I think a large portion of why women are not thought of as participants in sex tourism is because this contradicts our society’s perception of women completely. In some ways sex tourism gives women more autonomy over their sexual relationships, much more than if they were not paying for the sex! They are in control of all aspects of the relationship really.

  3. Zoe Halpert

    You bring up some interesting points from the readings about who has the power in situations of female sex tourism. We are socialized to believe that when it comes to sex, men are in control. However, these women come from a more privileged background, and therefore able to exploit men in a way that we don’t generally think is possible, because of the confines of gender. It’s framed very differently, however, when the sex tourist is a woman as oppose to a man. Books and movies perpetuate the hypermasculine exotic other, and suggest that women are reclaiming their femininity and sense of power through these encounters. They do not show the other side, how degrading this is to the male prostitutes and how these women are engaging in an act that is enabled by their racial, economic, and cultural privilege.

  4. Karen Cardona,
    I believe that the aspect mentioned of “showing your body yet be conservative” only applies to a certain group of women in this context. I am sure this doesn’t really relate to the women who are conducting sex work , since these women are seen as objects before they are seen as people. I think we should really think about who these both articles are reffering to when they use the term women.

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