Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sex Tours and Mail-Order Brides

I just finished reading an article about sexism and tourism and ended up frustrated, angry, and depressed. These feelings are becoming so common because of all the reading I’ve been doing on women’s studies, which in itself upsets me. By now we’ve all heard of sex tourism, generally found in exotic trips to the Philippines or Thailand and the like. Noteworthy tidbit: many of these sex tourism sites have also served as “rest and recreation” sites for the US military, hmm…

This industry has been wildly successful and many Third World nations depend on it as a way of bringing foreign currency into their economy. In order for sex tourism to work, the government has to view women and their feminine wiles as a natural resource, the women have to be desperate for money, and Western men have to fetishize this foreign woman who will do things “respectable white women” will not. We have linked domesticity to respectability for women and we have not escaped that ideology despite more women entering the public sphere and diverse careers.This
combined with the assumption that “white is right” provides the rationale to oppress these women. These women fall into prostitution because these countries focus their entire economy on tourism. If they fail to develop manufacturing and commercial sectors, all that is left is domestic service (because people on vacation expect to escape daily menial tasks like making their bed), dining service, construction (of more condos!), and prostitution. The only escape from selling her body is to hope a traveler will bring them back to Europe or America so she can sell her body to the institution of marriage. How depressingly futile.

What I keep coming back to is that sex and gender affect everything. Why does it all have to come down to sex? Why are we forced to recognize the impact our sex has on the rest of our life and our every interaction? Why do we keep finding ways to tell people they are inferior? Gender studies classes frustrate me.

Tuesday is “Talk Like a Feminist Day” where everyone can find and express their inner feminist, so go and espouse ideas of gender equality!!

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