Female sex tourism: Contemporary sociological study of 'uncomfortable' facts and realities

Aniruddha Babar *

Tourism is one of the most flourishing industries that exist in the global setting. It plays a key role to strengthen the economic health of numerous nations. With the rise in the total number of travellers that move from one place to another, there is also a significant rise in sex tourism, especially, the female sex tourism. One of the key elements of the hospitality industry is the existence of conscious or unconscious involvement of sexual activities by men, women or both.

The terms romance or sex in the tourism industry is not at all an uncommon thing to hear in the current times. In fact, it has been observed in various research studies that when some women, both young and old travel to different parts of the globe; it has become quite customary for them to engage in sexual activities with men from foreign lands.

A fancy term that is used to capture the rising demand for female sex tourism is romance tourism. There have been an increasing number of women from Canada, parts of Europe, United States of America, Japan and also from Indian Subcontinent going on vacations to other countries to buy sexual favours from the local men.

No matter the place, women visitors visit new locations to engage in sexual activities with the men. Such a trend has found to be in high demand in the tourism setting as the women are offered a high degree of intimacy with adventurous encounters that they are looking for in a new place. The reality of the times is that female sex tourism is a subset of the expanding global sex industry which no longer dominated by men.

Female sex tourism is the kind of sex tourism where women travel to new destinations with the primary aim to involve in physical or sexual activities with the local Men. Whether it is an adventure vacation or a relaxing holiday, the female tourists are in search of an added sexual experience during the trip. They have a deliberate quest for foreign men who can satisfy their unfulfilled physical needs.

This kind of sex tourism is mainly made up of middle-aged, well settled females who originally belong to Europe and North America, however this trend has recently been changing since neo-prosperous women from third world countries like India, Brazil, China, Pakistan have made their presence felt as well.

Women who are on the lookout for romantic adventures with willing and exotic males are visiting places to engage in such activities. The female sex tourism concept can be quite varying in nature. There may be some situations where a woman will encounter a male prostitute on a street or a beach and pay him directly for the intended sexual favours.

In other instances, it could be that the men play the role of a tour guide or date with the female and she pays for food, drinks and expects sex in return. A wide range of factors come into play that exists right below the surface of the female sex tourism trend. For instance, poverty or the poor economic conditions of men force them to involve in the sex trade and earn a living.

The short fling could be full of fun and excitement for a tourist, but the locals could be exploited economically, sexually and emotionally. It is notuncommon for women to demand intimacy and sex in a foreign land and fulfil their sexual needs.

The main reasons for the rising prevalence of female sex tourism is the high level of insecurity, emotional suppression, psycho-sexual abuse, social subjugation, domestic violence and sexual void that most of the women experience while looking for new and exciting romantic endeavours in their very own place.

There are other major reasons that encourage women to seek no-strings-attached and promiscuous relationships including the exhaustive nature of normative sex, commitment phobia, self-exploration and also dating wars. There exists a high degree of competition between the genders in various settings such as schools and organizations.

Research found that the dating war is the major driving force behind the female sex tourism for Japanese and Australian women. The female tourists generally give meals, cash, clothes for sexual favours. Some women, who feel lonely, generally go to explore new places and find a guy who can offer the needed emotional and psychological support.

Such a sex tourism trend has been thriving as the women feel that something is missing in their home setting. From the psychological perspective, they can be said to be lonely and on the lookout for young men from new places who can dedicate their time emotionally and physically to rekindle the lost fire of passion by making them feel'young'.

Such an intimate trend in the tourism industry is thriving as women are in search of new physical and sexual experiences with foreign guys to expand the horizons of their experienceable world. They can explore a new environment with a new intimate partner due to the female sex tourism trend which according to sociologists are strangely 'empowering'.

The phenomenon of females travelling to foreign locations with the intention to look for new and exciting sexual relationships with the local men is rapidly gaining momentum in the current times. Many women today travel abroad just to fulfil their erotic desires, fantasies and romantic purposes which is a fact that cannot be ignored.

The female sex tourism that exists in the hospitality industry can take many different forms. The first category is the traditional sex tourists where women travel to poor countries with a low level of wages and engage in sexual activities. The women enjoy the key tourist attractions and try to have a jolly time by having exciting sexual encounters with young local men.

The situational sex tourism is the next category of female sex tourism. In this specific case, the sexual engagements with a local male sex worker can be considered as an extra amenity in addition to the existing motive for travel. This kind of sexual and intimate scenario could arise when the foreign tourist is actually not interested in establishing the physical relationship with a local guy but she gets romantically involved due to the circumstances.

The male sex workers who are involved try to mainly influence women who seem vulnerable to them such as obese women or aged women with low esteem, abusive partners and/or disturb marriage. The romance tourism is the final category of the female sex tourism trend which involves a different kind of relationship as compared to the female sex tourism. The relationship that arises between a female tourist and a local man solely because of romance is romance tourism.

In such a scenario, there exists no form of exploitation of either of the parties as the women involvedo not label their sex workers "prostitutes". The local men and the tourists understand their roles in the relationship. The primary difference in definition of a local man to a romance tourist and a local man to a sex tourist is the emphasis the romance tourist places on passion instead of a transaction of goods or money for sexual favours.

The concept of female sex tourism can seem alluring at first to both the male party and the female party that is involved in the process. As per sociologist Joane Nagel who is from the Caribbean, some white women find black-skinned guys with dreads highly attractive. They could have the higher sense of liking as there is the settled stereotype that men of African origin/Blacksare highly masculine, erotic and can last much longer in bed than other men.

The men, on the other hand, get involved in sex tourism as they believe that western women can help them to lead a better life by helping them uplift themselves from poverty. The sociological construct of the men and women shows that both the parties involved in sexual tourism have different expectations from the sexual encounter.

Men believe that just a few physical and intimate encounters can help them to have their very own rags to riches stories whereas women see themselves as 'Adventurous Huntress' who can hunt any man they desire by ruling them with their money, sex appeal and social status.

When middle-aged women travel to new destinations, the main factor that acts as the catalyst and encourages them to go on the trip includes finding the perfect sexual and romantic guy in the local setting. It acts as the main attraction for women tourists to explore foreign lands. In order to get a complete idea of how this trend is flourishing in the tourist industry, it is necessary to take into consideration the psychology of the individuals.

The major destinations for female sex tourism include Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Jamaica, Barbados, Kenya, Thailand and Malaysia. These countries are also known for their 'Female Friendly' special hospitality. Due to the varying needs of the female tourists who are on the lookout for exciting physical and sexual encounters, the female sex tourism industry is thriving.

It can be said to be a different form of male prostitution which has its own unique features. The men take part in this sex tourism and sell themselves with the intention to improve their economic condition. The women tourists who are willing to spend their money in order to have a night of pleasure with the local men are used as a means of support by the males. Its exploitative nature is highly debatable, but the fact is female sex tourism is one of the key features of the tourism industry.

Moreover, it may be noted that in the male dominated society where "Phallic Rule" has been a norm;so called 'sexual transgressions' of female tourists acts as a key platform where women feel empowered by establishing physical and sexual relationships without being conscious, feared, exploited at all. Is this new trend a challenge to the Man who has been ruling the 'VAGINA' for ages?

There was a time in the history when Men would set their feet outside the comforts of their homes in search of new world, adventure, knowledge, prosperity and exotic women of distant foreign lands for 'Sexual Gratification'.

It seems; now the 'time' is taking a 'Historic Revenge'. A woman who demands SEX has been perceived as a 'threat' to any civilization, a woman reclaiming her 'fundamental' existence has been 'conveniently' termed as 'Whore' by insecure 'masculinity' and therefore, maybe she was made to follow the moral code of conduct written by Men for the sustenanceof their 'own' patriarchal society against which she finally revolted.

* Aniruddha Babar wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a PhD at Tetso College, Dimapur
This article was webcasted on January 26, 2019.

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