Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sex Tourism...for Women

I knew there was a plethora of books about 'the single girl traveling the world', which was code for 'single girl, go get laid in France or possibly even somewhere more exotic', but i never really thought of it as 'sex tourism'. This phrase conjures up the image of overweight, middle-aged white men going to Cuba or Asia to pay for sex from pre-teen girls. Well, looks like the ladies are getting in on the act:

People who have been part of the crowd -- Belliveau, for example -- point to a definite gender gap in sex tourism. Women travel for romance, men for prostitutes, they say. And unlike men, female sex tourists usually steer clear of teenagers and other child prostitutes -- a huge difference.

But whoever they sleep with, men and women who travel for sex aren't all that dissimilar, some academics argue. It's what they do that counts, not how they go about it.

In an article in August in Le Monde diplomatique, French anthropologist Franck Michel argued that global tourism and the sex trade have "turned the world into a gigantic theme park" for both men and women from developed countries. Eager to reap the "strong sensations" of sex provided by the poor of the south, they become masters of slaves -- at least for the time of their visit. "The new popularity of female sexual tourism shows that women are walking in men's footsteps, repeating the same representations of power, dominance and exploitation," Michel wrote.

Whether the master is male or female hardly makes a difference, other scholars agree.

Thankfully, women apparently don't prey on young boys, which does seem to make the female-controlled brand of sex tourism a least a little less destructive than that of their penis-wielding counterparts.

Listen up feminists. Time to start denouncing How Stella Got her Groove Back, and all those other books about intrepid women travelers who need to conquer the penises of the earth.

Actually, I will admit there does seem to be more risk for women travelers, at least in terms of physical security - not to mention risk of infection from HIV/AIDS, but just walk into Barnes and Noble / Borders / Books-a-Million any day and gander at the newly-released straight-to-paperback books for the single female traveler and try to keep down your double-espresso. It sounds like the titles were written by a politician who knows exactly how to pander to the crowd - lavishing the single female book buyer with glorious adjectives relating to their 'bravery', 'independence', 'fearlessness', etc. Blah.

English anthropology-type article from Michel. Michel's book. And what appears to be Michel's home page.

Peter Smith - linking the web, so you don't have to.

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