Is this the New Face of Sex Tourism?
They fly to a foreign country to find sex. They pay young locals to fulfill their desires during these vacations. They pay for hotel rooms, food, rent, new clothes, and electronics. They are engaging in sex tourism.
And they are women.
Did you have a picture in your mind of a middle-aged man with a bald spot and a potbelly hanging over his swim trunks trolling the beaches of an exotic locale for sex with young girls? That certainly happens, and probably more frequently than women going on a sex tourism trip, but that may be changing.
A fascinating and depressing article in the U.K. Daily Mail delves into the world of Britain’s female sex tourists. The men who have sex with these women have different names in different countries: “bumsters” in The Gambia, “Rastitutes” or “beach boys” in the Caribbean, and “sanky pankies” in the Dominican Republic.
According to the Daily Mail article, “Most of the women are white, middle-aged or older and come from Europe and North America. They travel alone or with female friends and often have a history of unhappy relationships with men at home.”
These women are looking for “romance.” Some of the women do not realize these men are prostitutes, and the women are dazzled by the attention of these much younger, very attractive guys. Even when the women end up paying all the bills during their “romance,” they still don’t get it or don’t want to admit it.
The article mentioned a study done in 2001 that found one third of the 240 women interviewed had sex with local men in Negril and the Dominican Republic while on vacation and, of those 80 women, 60 percent “admitted there were ‘economic elements’ to their relationships, but they did not think of themselves as sex tourists, or their sexual partners as prostitutes. Only 3 percent said their relations were ‘purely physical,’ and more than half considered them to be about ‘romance.’”
The local men getting paid for having sex with women seem to view this relationship quite differently. One man said, “They stink, have rough skin and look like old dogs. No wonder they have to pay for a man.” Well, that description has to sting.
Another Daily Mail article from April 2013 tells the story of Sarah. She began a “relationship” with a Turkish waiter while on holiday. Before she knew it she was flying from England to Turkey five times a year and sending him money in between trips. She estimates she spent 20,000 British pounds on her boy toy. She wised up after she surprised him with a visit only to find him in bed with “an elderly, white woman — like me.”
“I know people will think: ‘How could you be so stupid?’ But you have to realise just how seductive it is, if you feel fat, old and ugly, to have a beautiful young man saying he cannot live without you and making love to you as if you were a stunning creature.”
Well Sarah, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Does the pathetic nature of the stories these women tell change the fact that if these stories were about men flying to other countries in search of sex with young, local women they would rightly be viewed as predators or exploiters?
While the stories related in the two articles do not mention exploitation of the male prostitutes, as is seen in countries with legalized prostitution – Germany and The Netherlands to name two – the demand that drives the legal prostitution markets also creates a prime market for sex trafficking. When demand exceeds supply, it is filled with people forced into sexual slavery.
As the first Daily Mail article points out, most of the boys and men selling themselves for sex to female tourists are poor, illiterate, and see prostitution as a way out of poverty. This scenario is no different from the countless ones we’ve heard about where the john is male and the victim is female. In one scenario, the exploiter and exploited are easily identified, but in the other, the line between exploiter and exploited is blurred, perhaps due to how we view traditional male/female roles.
For those organizations like Concerned Women for America that fight the plague known as the commercial sex industry, we cannot see these women sex tourists in a different light. When they pay men for sex, they are part of the demand that feeds the commercial sex industry and sex trafficking operations.
How many times do we read stories of young girls doing things with boys to try and earn their approval only to find they are the subject of bullying and scorn? It seems these middle-aged women are still falling into the same trap. In the articles, most of those interviewed seem desperate for positive male attention. They think they are getting it, only to come to a rude awakening later and find they are being used for their money.
Women who are looking for love with men they pay for sex are going to be sadly disappointed after they’ve been sufficiently fleeced of their money. Women sex tourists will learn they can buy sex, but they cannot buy love or happiness.
(First published Sept. 2013)
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