Bounded Space: Islands as a Sex Tourist Site for (Cisgender Straight) Women

Authors: Marina Karides*, University of Hawaii At Manoa
Topics: Sexuality, Gender, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Island Studies, Island Feminisms, Sex Tourism, Ethnicity and Race
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 22
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Global North women who travel for sex tourism typically engage in relationships of pretense in which they purchase food, drinks, clothing, and outings for the men who become their temporary sexual partner. Feminist scholarship has articulated the racial and colonial legacies that shapes sex tourism and how cisgender straight women who travel for sex differs from that of economically privileged men who primarily exchange cash for sex. Through the lens of island feminism, I consider how island geographies may also influence the sex tourism choices of women. Based on the textual analysis of three documentaries—“The Colossi of Love” (2010), “Kuta Cowboys” (2009), “Rent a Rasta” (2006)—each focused on women’s sex tourism in three different regions, I explore the extent to which islandness is a significant factor for mostly white privilege women that travel to islands for sex. Three themes guiding my analysis include: the continental imaginary of islands as permissive and offering escape from mainland realities and how tourist centered economies feed this narrative; second, islands may also appeal to women due to the delimited geographies casting the perception of safety due to a known and contained environment; and the construction of island masculinities or assumptions made by tourists about island men across various regions and the existent socio-economic context of island men. I conclude by suggesting that island geographies permit a gendered perception of space and containment for women sex tourists that intersects with the socio-economic context and the subaltern spatiality of islands.

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