As a rising economic power in East Asia, Taiwan once served as a destination of sex tourism, now gradually it is becoming a country of buyers seeking sex abroad. Currently, China appears to be one of the most popular destinations. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with 40 Taiwanese male sex buyers and ethnographic data collected by traveling with a group of five men, this article aims to explore how buying sex abroad appears to be the complicated site of power struggles where sexuality intersects with gender, nationality, and global economic hierarchy. By conceptualizing men’s buying of sex abroad as sexual migration, I illustrate the ways in which men’s border crossings for buying sex are complexly embedded in the gender, sexuality, and class relations in Taiwan, and how their sexual encounters with Chinese women are always contaminated by the politics of nationalism which derive from the unsettled political atmospheres across the Taiwan Strait. I argue that sexual migration is made attractive mainly because of the sexual discontent caused by the stratification of the Taiwanese sex industry and the sexual constraints and routineness of heterosexual monogamy. Buying sex abroad therefore appears as a temporary escape from this mundaneness and banality. Conceptualizing men’s buying sex abroad in dynamic transnational contexts, we could illustrate how men actively negotiate sexual desires at both ends of the Taiwan Strait, and go further to analyse how sexuality serves to shape regional migration, and how it interweaves with gender, class and nationality.
Sex work has enjoyed a wealth of sociological interest over the last three decades. However, sexual pleasure experienced by women sex workers with their clients has been largely missing from the conversation. This article seeks to redress this gap by looking at the qualitative narratives of nine women who were working in sex work in Victoria, Australia in 2009. By viewing these narratives through Foucault’s power/knowledge/discourse nexus, together with his later work on ethics of care of the self, it posits that sex worker women draw on and resist various discourses around intimacy, performance, and pleasure in regards to their sex work and their personal lives. With this interplay in mind, the analysis supports the third feminist perspective that sex work is a complex space where dominant and subjugated discourses mingle to produce myriad experiences traversing the exploitation/empowerment binary represented by the feminist sex wars.
In the last decades a series of sexual services that offer company, talk, and more generally, what is understood as a ‘girlfriend experience’, are increasingly offered to a middle and upper-middle class clientele. These services involve a change in the boundaries of intimacy. We argue that they can be interpreted as part of the general process by which late capitalism has subsumed the 1968 critique that demanded liberation and authenticity. Based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with escorts and street walkers, we explore the discourse of authenticity in escort work in Spain and how the line is drawn between an ‘authentic intimacy’ that is sold, and a ‘private intimacy’, which involves the non-commodified affective life of the sex worker. We argue that escorts and street walkers draw these borders differently, the former emphasising authenticity in their service. Both, however, deploy a form of emotional labour.
In 1964 Cuba’s fledgling movie industry collaborated with Soviet filmmakers to create Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a dizzying expressionist tale of four Cubans whose problems were ameliorated by the revolution. One vignette features María, a young prostitute abandoned by her boyfriend after he finds her entertaining a US businessman.1 The film insinuates that sex workers, once victims of US imperialism and capitalism, were rescued and reeducated by the government campaign against prostitution.2 However, Soy Cuba received a cool reception on the island. Moviegoers and critics rejected the dream-like aesthetic of the film and demanded more “realistic” depictions of their revolution.3 This perceived disconnect between cinematic representation and revolutionary reality parallels the disjuncture between the official discourse on prostitution and the complex experiences of female sex workers in early revolutionary Cuba. [End Page 125]
The Cuban government and the standard historical accounts both describe the campaign to rehabilitate prostitutes as one of the great successes of the revolution, a monolithic movement that supposedly originated at the top and was implemented uniformly across the island.4 But this story obscures the lived experiences of state officials, provincial reformers, and sex workers who participated in a campaign that was complex, diverse, and conflictive. The campaign officially lasted from 1959 to 1965, during which time officials in the Department of Social Ills (Departamento de Lacras Sociales) at the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) decided policies, as did regional government officials and members of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), and other state organizations. Policies to combat sex work were initiated in all of the country’s six provinces, and while some provincial reformers acted on their own initiative, efforts at reeducation (reeducación) ultimately complemented the rehabilitation efforts of high-level government agents.
This article examines the revolutionaries’ initial attempts to rehabilitate the island’s thirty to forty thousand sex workers, paying special attention to the rhetoric and strategies deployed by reformers outside of the capital city of Havana.5 It argues that members from groups such as the FMC and National Revolutionary Police (PNR) helped initiate the antiprostitution campaign, often operating without official interference until 1962, when federal officials assumed greater control over the campaign and when penal work farms became a tool of reform. During the first six years of the revolution, official discourse transitioned from viewing sex workers as victims to categorizing them as counterrevolutionaries. Key to this analysis are the methods used to identify prostitutes (prostitutas). Rather than seeking confirmation that women exchanged sex for money, reformers identified sex workers according to their attire, behavior, race, place of residence, and sexual partners. I also demonstrate that the revolutionary campaign adopted a broad and flexible definition of prostituta, one that allowed government officials to target the behavior of all Cuban women, not merely that of those who identified as sex workers.
English Collective of Prostitutes. Decriminalisation of Prostitution: the Evidence. Report of parliamentary symposium, 3 November 2015, House of Commons, 2016.
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