Archive

Tag Archives: Asia and the Pacific

Kimberly Kay Hoang, “Competing Technologies of Embodiment: Pan-Asian Modernity and Third World Dependency in Vietnam’s Contemporary Sex Industry”. Gender & Society, Vol 28, Issue 4, pp. 513-536 (2014).

This article illustrates how the circulation of capital and culture in Asia produces divergent embodied gendered ideals of national belonging through the case of Vietnam’s global sex industry. Introducing the concept of competing technologies of embodiment, I show how sex workers’ surgical and cosmetic bodily projects represent different perceptions of an emerging nation’s divergent trajectories in the global economy. In a high-end niche market that caters to local elite Vietnamese businessmen, sex workers project a new pan-Asian modernity highlighting emergent Asian ideals of beauty in a project of progress that signals the rise of Asia. Women who cater to Western men, in contrast, embody Third World dependency, portraying Vietnam as a poverty-stricken country in need of Western charity. By comparing multiple markets, I illustrate how individual agents in the developing world actively reimagine their nation’s place in the global economy through their embodied practices.

Full article available here.

Hwang, Maria Cecilia. “Offloaded: Women’s Sex Work Migration across the South China Sea and the Gendered Antitrafficking Emigration Policy of the Philippines.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 45, no. 1 (April 9, 2017): 131–47. 

Extract

Adelle had just arrived from the Philippines for a short visit in Hong Kong when I met her in the summer of 2011. I soon learned that since 2006 Adelle has been making regular visits to Hong Kong, where she travels as a tourist and works as an independent sex worker in nightclubs frequented by male expatriates and business travelers from western countries. A single mother in her late thirties, Adelle’s primary source of income is prostitution. For her, the ability to migrate across the South China Sea affords her an economic mobility otherwise denied in the Philippines; and expanding her markets to include Macao and Singapore—extending her time in multiple Asian countries—enables her to further maximize the rewards of her sexual labor. Typically Adelle traverses the South China Sea between Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macao for about three to four and a half months before returning to the Philippines. While she finds migrating [End Page 131] as a tourist stressful, she also relishes that she is her own boss and is able to control certain elements of her migration and labor, including going home to her son regularly. Despite such control over her migration, in recent years Adelle has faced increasing restrictions on her ability to work overseas because the Philippine government considers migrant women workers like her vulnerable to human trafficking.

In this article, I describe the migration of freelance or independent sex workers like Adelle and examine the impacts of the Philippine government’s efforts to control their ability to cross borders. I analyze the effects of the antitrafficking policy of “offloading” which prevents suspected victims of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and undocumented workers from leaving the country. I argue that a “masculinist logic of protection” (Young 2003), coupled with gendered and classed assumptions about migrant vulnerability, undergirds this policy. I illustrate how the antitrafficking policy of offloading evinces the state’s logic of “benevolent paternalism,” which is defined by Rhacel Parreñas (2008) as the culture of restricting migrant women’s freedom purportedly for their own best interest. My discussion establishes that even though the campaign against human trafficking is considered a critical global feminist project (Doezema 2010), gendered antitrafficking emigration policies may have the contradictory effects of limiting women’s freedom of movement. ….

Abstract

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.

Choo, Hae Yeon. “In the Shadow of Working Men: Gendered Labor and Migrant Rights in South Korea.” Qualitative Sociology, July 16, 2016, 1–21. doi:10.1007/s11133-016-9332-9.
.
Abstract
.
Based on ethnographic research in South Korea, this article investigates the gendered production of migrant rights under the global regime of temporary migration by examining two groups of Filipina women: factory workers and hostesses at American military camptown clubs. Emphasizing gendered labor processes and symbolic politics, this article offers an analytical framework to interrogate the mechanisms through which a discrepancy of rights is generated at the intersection of workplace organization and civil society mobilization. I identify two distinct labor regimes for migrant women that were shaped in the shadow of working men. Migrant women in the factories labored in the company of working men on the shop floor, which enabled them to form a co-ethnic migrant community and utilize the male-centered bonding between workers and employers. In contrast, migrant hostesses were isolated and experienced gendered stigma under the paternalistic rule of employers. Divergent forms of civil society mobilization in South Korea sustained these regimes: Migrant factory workers received recognition as workers without attention to gender-specific concerns while hostesses were construed as women victims in need of protection. Thus, Filipina factory workers were able to exercise greater labor rights by sharing the dignity of workers as a basis for their rights claims from which hostesses were excluded.
Sex workers report high rates of unintended pregnancy that are inconsistent with widespread reports of condom use. Greater understanding of the implications of an unintended pregnancy and barriers to contraceptive use is needed to better meet the broader sexual and reproductive health needs of this population. We conducted in-depth interviews with 20 women sex workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Findings reveal that most women are trying to conform to societal norms and protect their reputations. They fear pregnancy would reveal that they are having unsanctioned sex and that they are sex workers. This could lead to ostracism from families and society, resulting in homelessness and abandonment by partners. Pregnancy may affect a sex worker’s ability to work and leave her unable to meet financial obligations. All study participants were using condoms but most acknowledged they could not use them consistently. They had all tried other contraceptive methods, notably injectables and the pill, but some noted experience of side-effects, difficulties in adherence and the desire to use other methods. Understanding the context of sex workers’ lives is an important step in informing stakeholders about the range of services needed to improve their sexual and reproductive health.

Julie Ham, Kyungja Jung, and Haeyoung Jang “Silence, mobility and ‘national values’: South Korean sex workers in Australia” Sexualities, vol. 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 432-448.

Abstract:

Korean women sex workers have attracted attention from Australian border security, South Korean government officials and Korean-Australian communities. This article considers how the bodies of these women have become the ‘iconic sites’ (Luibhéid, 2002: ix–xxvii) on which the South Korean government and immigrant Korean-Australian communities perform ‘national values’. Within Korean-Australian communities, Korean sex workers have been perceived as threats to the immigrant project of socio-economic mobility and ‘legitimate’ citizenship. We consider the silence that is desired of sex workers within immigrant communities and how this can be co-opted by anti-trafficking discourses that are still predicated on the helpless, voiceless female victim.

 

Abstract

Japan has one of the world’s largest and most diverse legal sex industries. In a limited female labor market, sex industry work is a stigmatized yet lucrative form of women’s short-term employment and advertisements for recruiting new employees are prominently displayed across urban spaces associated with feminized consumption. In this article, I examine the ideological impasses that adult Japanese women working in Tokyo’s sex industry express when talking about their motives for pursuing this work. Female sex workers commonly justify their work as the necessary sacrifice of filial daughters. This rhetoric of reluctant acceptance for the sake of others, however, obscures the reality that many sex workers are middle-class and college-educated women who find the financial opportunity and flexibility of this industry appealing in contrast to more dominant forms of feminized labor. These women express the ambivalence of their desires for economic self-sufficiency through narrating the dependence of others on them. Examining these ambivalences, I argue that sex workers’ motivations can only be understood through considering the ethical and moral frameworks that define the gendered economies in which they labor.