Archive

Tag Archives: Sexuality

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Showden, Carisa R. “Theorising Maybe: A Feminist/Queer Theory Convergence.” Feminist Theory 13, no. 1 (April 1, 2012): 3–25. doi:10.1177/1464700111429898.
.
Abstract
.
In this article, I examine the seemingly incompatible epistemologies of sex offered by dominance (‘governance’) feminism and queer theory. While these bodies of work, especially when applied to US legal and political activity on prostitution, are commonly viewed as divergent sparring partners, I propose a ‘convergence’ of the two in the form of a revived and enhanced sex-positive feminism. If dominance feminism is the ‘theory of no’ to heterosexuality’s male gender power, and if queer theory is the ‘theory of yes’ to the defiant possibilities of sex, sex-positive feminism is a ‘theory of maybe’: it examines practices of gender and sexuality in multiple contexts to find the ways in which heterosexuality can sometimes reify, and other times resist, the transfer of eroticised dominance and submission to political practices of patriarchy. After tracing the split between feminism and queer theory and arguing for a ‘sex-positive queer feminism’, I use the example of prostitution to consider some theoretical and practical implications of this shift in feminist lenses.

Abstract

The primary goal of this study was to evaluate similarities and differences between exotic dancers and non-dancing female university students on demographic variables, self-esteem, aspects of personality, attitudes toward sex and sexuality, and attitudes toward exotic dance and exotic dancers. A total of 230 predominately English speaking females participated. A one-way multivariate analysis of covariance was conducted to examine differences between students and exotic dancers on the dependent variables. After adjusting for level of education, Wilks’ criterion confirmed a statistically significant effect of group. Follow-up univariate analyses illustrated that exotic dancers reported significantly more sexual permissiveness than their non-dancer counterparts, reflecting a more casual, open attitude toward sex. Students endorsed sexual practices that may be perceived as more responsible, such as their higher scores on a measure of birth control use. Further, students scored higher on a scale of sexual communion, indicating an endorsement of sex as the ideal or “peak experience”. Consistent with expectations, there were no significant differences between groups in perceptions of exotic dance as a normative activity or as a matter of choice. As well, there were no differences on measures of self-esteem, extraversion, or neuroticism. These findings suggest that exotic dancers and female students reveal similar characteristics on measures of personality, self-esteem, and attitudes toward exotic dance.

Don Kulick, “Sex in the New Europe: The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration”. Anthropological Theory June 2003 vol. 3 no. 2, 199-218.

Abstract:

This article is a critical discussion of the 1998 Swedish law that made it a crime to purchase or attempt to purchase `a temporary sexual relationship’. It discusses the cultural context in which the law was proposed and passed, and it reviews newspaper articles and government commissioned reports that assess the effects of the law. The point of the article is to argue that the law is about much more than its overt referent `prostitution’. Instead, the argument is made that the law is a response to Sweden’s entry into the EU. For a variety of reasons, anxiety about Sweden’s position in the EU is articulated through anxiety about prostitution. The Swedish case is one where we can see that sexuality is one site where boundaries and roles in the new Europe are being imagined and negotiated.

Full text available here.

Women’s studies, anthropology, and international health all share an intellectual and, albeit in different ways, an activist or applied interest in prostitution/sex work, and this interest has recently intensified amid concerns about the AIDS pandemic and global “trafficking” in women. These three fields have also shared an evolution in the terminology naming their object of study: from prostitution to sex work to, most recently,sexual networking and survival sex. This evolution reflects a desire to shift the discursive fields surrounding monetized sexual exchanges from moral to economic terms. In other words, while there has been heated debate both within and among these different disciplines about how prostitution should be understood, whether and how national and international bodies should intervene in its practice, and who should represent it or speak for it, there has been some basic agreement that of the various terms to choose from, sex work, in particular, is a better label—better in that it may more accurately represent what women feel they are doing when they engage in monetized sexual exchanges (i.e., working) and their reasons for doing so (i.e., economic need).

It is questionable whether researchers within these disciplines mean the same thing when they use the term sex work. For some it may simply seem a more culturally neutral term than prostitution, which may conjure up images of nineteenth‐century streetwalkers. For others, the term sex work is a political assertion that monetized sex is a kind of labor that—like other forms of labor—should be remunerated, safe, and legal. Still others prefer the term sex worker because, unlike the term prostitute, it suggests an income‐generating activity rather than a totalizing identity. And finally, for some researchers, the term sex work speaks directly to causality; it implies that women resort to the exchange of sex for money because of the structural violence that feminizes poverty and prevents women from engaging in other financially viable ways of feeding their families.

Full article available here.