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Does an Increase in Sex Tourism Signal Greater Oppression Worldwide?

Indonesia Activism
by Christine DeSadeleer May 5, 2010
Has oppression through money and sex gotten worse, or does the media just make it seem that way?

I can’t help but wonder what the hell is going on.

Is it a crisis of faith? Not knowing who we are anymore? Or are we just moving toward that final straw of humanity’s meltdown?

Recently, 28 “beach boys” were arrested in Indonesia for selling sex to female tourists. An article on Global Post about the arrests, and the rise of female sex tourism worldwide, attempts to dig beneath the surface of “have rich women just become like men?” Author Freya Petersen wonders if the extreme rise in numbers has to do with wanting love more than just sexual favors.

Ok, but when it comes down it, sex tourism is sex tourism, right? In The Shameful Truth About Sex Tourism, author Emily Hansen focuses more on men paying for sex than vice versa, and yet makes a point that is true no matter the gender:

The gratification is not in the sex (for even the married ones have it right up there lying in the bed) but in the fact that they have monetary power, and society supports the idea that money can buy you anything.

I’m not necessarily against prostitution, as I posited in my recent piece, Are Laws Against Sex Workers Sexist?, and yet I can’t help but wonder if looking at the increased ability of western women to buy sex through a more love-based lens is once again only taking into account the person with the power.

Rent-a-Boy, Anyone?

Questions around prostitution aside, I’m very clear how I feel about this:

On April 13, the “rent boy” (whom we’ll call Lucien) arrived at Miami International Airport on Iberian Airlines Flight 6123, after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was soon followed out of customs by an old man with an atavistic mustache and a desperate blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart. That man was George Alan Rekers, of North Miami — the callboy’s client and, as it happens, one of America’s most prominent anti-gay activists.

Yep, a man who has spent YEARS condemning homosexuals and working tirelessly to ban gay adoption took a pretty-boy escort to Europe to “carry his luggage” since he had “recently had surgery”. Of course, the way he found this man was through, but he had “no idea” of the strapping young buck’s line-of-work (yeah, check out that website and tell me if there is any way in hell…).

I know this is not surprising news; the stridently homophobe Republicans are dropping like flies. But I can’t help but look at this situation as similar to the sex tourism question – have we gotten to a point where we’re just so wrapped up in our excesses we can’t see outside of them? Or have things always been this way, and the media is just pointing it out more?

There is of course deep denial and shame wrapped up in either of these approaches. Yet there has got to be a way that people can free themselves without oppressing other people in the process.

What do you think about the seeming increase in oppression through sex and money? Share your thoughts below.

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