Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sex Tourism Reversal

Reuters reports about older white women joining Kenya's sex tourism. It's always useful to remember to take stories like that with a grain of salt, because they might be part of the business which makes up faux trends with no real statistical evidence to back them up. But supposing that it indeed is true that older white women travel to Kenya in order to have paid sex with young Kenyan men, what should a feminist say about it?

That would probably depend on the feminist. My first step in analyzing stories like this is to do a gender-reversal. If you do that all the article tells us is the old and nasty story about colonial oppression and prostitution or about the power of wealthier individuals to buy sex from poorer individuals who have few other alternatives. Perhaps the advantage of the actual story is that these other aspects become much clearer when the entitlement aspect of being an older white man has been removed. Older white women are usually not regarded as entitled to sex, after all.

My second step was to think how I would feel about the article if the older women went to, say, Florida, for their sex tourism and if the younger men working in the industry were of the same race and with other alternatives to escorting as a way of making a living. Would the arrangement then be just fine? After all, it is mostly viewed as just fine when it is older white men who do this by paying for mistresses or casual sex. I'm not sure.

My final thoughts had to do with wondering about how all this would be explained by the misogynistic section of evolutionary psychologists. Women aren't supposed to do this kind of stuff, and certainly not older women.