Generating Discussion: Continuities and Change

Five Centuries of Prostitution in the Caribbean by Kamala Kempadoo 


Kempadoo presents the historical practices of prostitution –the exchange of material goods for sex, organized within the tourism industry in the Caribbean.  Her approach towards the subject is a very professional one, as she remains respectful of those individuals that willingly decide to engage in sex work. The female colored body is thought about as sexually promiscuous and immoral due to colonial notions regarding racial hierarchies. White master’s ownership over black slave women gave them access to the latter’s free labor and body. Rape and sexual abuse over time became institutionalized in the Caribbean as prostitution. The discourse around the female colored body persists today and is disguised under new practices and names such as that of “marriage tours”.

Foreign men view women of the mixed race such as the mulatta or mestiza as sexually desirable and exotic. Women of color in the past have served as both mistresses and housekeepers. Despite that colonial rule has ended women of color continue to perform such labor. Marriage tours have become popular in Colombia since agencies advertise the Latina woman as being warm, loving, and beautiful. American men travel thousands of miles in search of “love” and for a new wife –or they say. It seems that the tourism industry has extended prostitution into the official business of promoting Latinas as housekeepers and sex workers. Kempadoo notes that slaveholders “pimped” women’s manual and sexual labor the same way that the tourism sector and its extensions do today.

It is important to note that the women who participate in these marriage tours do so voluntarily and not all of them seek economic benefits. Nonetheless, a majority of them would like to escape the country’s poor economic conditions. Women of color are perhaps using to their advantage the discourse around the sexuality of the colored body the same way that some enslaved women made strategic uses of their sexual labor. Many enslaved black women achieved their freedom and even attained property –Beckles called this “sexual alliances”. Sex labor within such framework can be viewed as a liberation strategy from the control and domination of white men.

State governments have tried to mark the social distinction between sex workers and chaste women through multiple regulations. In the Caribbean, regulations to contain prostitution have varied from the official listing of prostitutes to the creation of prostitution zones. However, such distinctions are blurred with the romanticizing of prostitution practices between tourist and locals. Marriage tours are a good example being that the women involved are not explicitly selling sex labor making it harder to classify them in a particular way. Many of these women often fantasize about the foreign man and want to engage in transnational marriages trying to change their lives positively or at least they think it will.

Prostitution is a complex subject that entails many shades of gray and is not as simple as the imagined exchange of money for sexual pleasure. It is important to remember that women are subordinated within the practices of prostitution. Domestic work and sexual relations with men are an extension of such practices. In the Caribbean sex work has served to produce and reproduce capital. Sexual pleasure along with domestic labor are used to form tourist packages such as that of the marriage tours where you can go on a one week vacation and find “love”.


Should women that participate in marriage tours be considered as voluntary sex workers? If so, why? If not, how can we describe their participation? It is just “dating”?

Do you think that government deregulation of prostitution would help decrease the stigma surrounding sex workers? What about the idea that sex worker are to blame for the spread of venereal diseases?

Prostitution is often viewed as being solely heterosexual, but what about same-sex services? Do you think that the Caribbean’ sex tourism industry includes or excludes these bodies? Why?


Generating Discussion: Continuities and Change

Summary and Reading Connections of “Continuities and Change: Five Centuries of Prostitution in the Caribbean” by Kamala Kempadoo

In this reading by Kamala Kempadoo, she examines the continuities of five centuries of prostitution in the Caribbean. Initially in the 1990’s, prostitution started as a way of entertaining the influx of foreign visitors to the Caribbean. Soon, the Caribbean became notorious for their prostitution and this form of “sex tourism” was sold to foreigners. The author connects the sex trade and prostitution of the Caribbean with Beckles’ article on the fight for power and control over slaves during the period of slavery in the United States. The white slave owners would demand complete access to the black female slaves, including sexual acts, even if the female slave was married. In this way, sex was used by the white plantation owners as a form of control and a way in order to “keep down” the black male slaves. In a similar fashion, the prostitution in the Caribbean is used to manifest control for white men. White men who travel to the Caribbean feel entitled to sex from the black (and dark) women of the Caribbean. Kempadoo describes that the relationship between the white man and the mulatto “came to be represented as erotic and sexually desirable yet was outcast”. This creates an aura of forbidden lust where the white man is free to satisfy his sexual pleasure.

Kempadoo also notes that the sex tourism in the Caribbean focuses its audience to primarily heterosexual males and as a result, a new form of tourism evolved called “romance tourism”. Kempadoo explains that this “romance tourism” seeks to separate itself from prostitution and human sex trafficking as it tends to produce “longer term relationships that are established”.

The author then discusses the racialized and gendered aspects of the sex workers in the Caribbean which leads to the “subordination of women” and to “female sex workers [being] marginalized and disrespected as ‘whores'”. However, for male sex workers, they are not branded with such offensive words such as slut or whore; instead they are referred to as “player, gigalo” and even “hustler”. Thus, their sexuality is not degraded in any way, as they are often seen as “[using] their masculine power to penetrate local economies”. This view depicts male sex workers as hardworking individuals who are using their sexuality in order to move ahead in the specific economic hardships, while female sex workers are seen more predominantly as loose, immoral, and outcast individuals.


How has the difference between the portrayal of male and female sex workers in the Caribbean added to the unequal representations of sex tourism? Why are male and female sex workers depicted differently solely based on their gender?

How would sex tourism change if it not only focused on heterosexuality in the Caribbean?

Would government involvement in the regulation of prostitution and sex trafficking complicate or alleviate the anxiety for the sex workers?

Generating Discussion! Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Summary: In this article, Amalia Cabezas presents several problems with the common conceptions of sex work in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. She takes issue with the term ‘sex work’ being used to define any practice of sex for the exchange of money, as its expression is often more varied and complicated than a simple transactional relationship.
Cabezas points to increased tourism as a cause of increased sex work, and “flexible reorganization of the labor process through the creation of seasonal work, the proliferation of informal market arrangements, and the erosion of boundaries between the formal and informal sectors of the economy” in both the Dominican Republic and Cuba (though she notes that historical conditions of poverty are more consistent in the Dominican Republic, due in part to the lack of social services offered in comparison to Cuba). The increased prevalence of sex work in these areas has contributed to a diversification of the types of relationships between tourists and hosts. Cabezas points to the many instances where what is deemed “sex works” goes beyond sexual acts in exchange for cash.

Both countries have terms which illustrate the variety of jobs available to people who cater to tourists. Not all of these positions explicitly cater to sex; for example, sanky pankys in the Dominican Republic are young black men who serve as tour guides for white women, as well as female entertainers who lead men to recreational activities and sightseeing. In both of these cases, it is often found that both parties are looking for something more long-term than transactional sexual acts, and for the “entertainers,” the work provides the opportunity for advancement, travel, and romantic relationships.

However, Cabezas does note that an increased “officialization” of sex work and tourism through companies like hotels has resulted in prioritization of certain bodies (light-skinned, primarily) over others when catering to tourists. The last half of the article discusses the problems with the term ‘sex work’ in its unequal application; it really only applies to certain “types” of people/work, and that influences the way it has been policed, enforced, and the way only some people have been protected. She says, “desire and affection are defined as “lighter”and prostitution as “darker,” effectively racializing the entire process. This binary opposition presumes relations not tainted by economic dependence, speculation, motivation, and interest, which apparently take place between individuals of the same racial, national, and class background.” As a consequence of these attitudes, it is very common to find mass arrests and sexual abuse of dark-skinned women who are accused of being the “bad” type of sex worker. And while there have been rehabilitation centers who are supposed to be of assistance to the women being targeted as undesirable sex workers, they have often fallen back on ideas of these women as greedy and unclean, rather than addressing the structural inequality that the system is set up on. Cabezas point as far as reform is that we need prioritize women’s sexual rights, while acknowledging the prevalence of racism and classism that exists in sex work.

-What would be an effective way to address the broadness of sex work/tourism? Are more terms required to encompass the variety of relationships between the travelers and hosts in countries where these relationships are common?
-How do we differentiate between exploitative sex work and one that is mutually beneficial for the participants? And, following that, can those differentiations help us determine a better solution to the problem of exploitative sexual trade?
-What can be done to combat the underlying racism/classism when it comes to the lack of protection for some women and the prioritization of others?

Generating Discussion: – Cyberbrides in the Americas and the Transnational Routes of U.S. Masulinity

sonoma Cyberbrides in the Americas and the Transnational Routes of U.S. Masculinity

by Felicity Schaeffer‐Grabiel


Schaeffer‐Grabiel’s article examines the online dating phenomenon between U.S. males and Latin American woman.  More specifically she seems to be focused on analyzing the benefits American men perceive Latin women have over U.S. women.   She begins with the assertion “that this industry does not merely commodify relationships into binaries of the white male buyer and ethnic female seller, as is often repeated in mail-order bride studies (Villipando 1989; Glodava and Onizuka 1994; Tolentino 1999), but involves a more complex and uneven historical moment of racial formation, nationhood, and understandings of masculinity and subjectivity “(332).  The author looks to substantiate this by arguing that the love and power aspects of the relationship are intertwined “and inseparable form labor relations, race, gender, and the global economy”(332).

Latin Woman’s Perspective: Schaeffer‐Grabiel notes that the woman’s perspective in not their focus but characterizes their attitudes with: “women perceive U.S. men (as opposed to local men) as more equitable companions in marriage, who value women’s contributions to the home and family and who offer women opportunities to enjoy a stable, middle-class lifestyle”(332).  She later on says “Many Latin American women I interviewed were aware that men wanted a woman who was more family oriented than U.S. women supposedly are. In fact, many rejected being labeled a feminist for fear of their association with white women popularly thought to be selfish, sexually loose, or too domineering. This did not mean, however, that women were not strong in their conviction that they wanted a man who respected them and who saw their contributions as carrying equal weight in the family “(341).  However the relationships are ultimately best characterized by one latin woman’s quote: “It’s easier for los gringos to masturbate in front of the computer, where they don’t have to put forth any effort to satisfy anyone. Like many things here (in the US), [U.S. men are] . . . the most individualistic and self-absorbed” (interview, December 10, 2004).

U.S. Male’s Perspective: Schaeffer‐Grabiel’s main focus is on the characterization of the process by white males. The white male views it as a “fresh start” and  better “shopping experience”.   She affirms “many of the men I interviewed repeatedly stated that in Latin America they could date and potentially marry younger and more beautiful women than in the United States “(333).  “They hope for a fresh start in Latin America through their search for better wives and mothers while constructing a heightened moral and class status within the global world order as the “good guys,” heroes, or sensitive “new men” crafted against the macho Latin male stereotype “(333).   Not only do men view their marriage to a Latin as a fresh start culturally, but Schaffer-Gabriel highlights the fresh genetic aspect of the Latin woman.  Many company Web sites and men idealize Latin American women as having better genes than U.S. women or, as Jason described, better “raw materials” (interview, March 2005).  Though ultimately she highlights the demise of these relationships as she notes “while men may enjoy a boost in status in Latin America, they may find this wears off once they return home”(351-52).

No, Schaeffer‐Grabiel thinks it’s much deeper–

“Thus, finding a foreign bride converges with four discourses: colonialism, modern self-help movements, transnational capitalism, and futuristic ideals of flexibility, mobility, and a postracial society. These themes demonstrate the ways technology and ideas about globalization are incorporated into men’s everyday lives as a yearning for a utopian, multiracial, postbody affinity to masculinity and citizenship, regardless of skin color, profession, or class affiliation”(334).

Schaeffer‐Grabiel builds on the theories that “European and Western dominance shaped the formation of a white male national citizenship through the extraction of labor and sexuality from native others”(336).  She states, “I depart from this linear narrative of colonization to globalization by arguing that this new transnational masculinity builds on previous colonialist fantasies and rewrites them by drawing from the discourse of corporate multiculturalism. In other words, masculinity is not associated with colonial constructions of Western whiteness in contrast to racialized, native “others” or with contemporary anti-immigration nativism and white supremacy. Instead, men imagine themselves as the benevolent engineers who racially uplift the moral fabric of the national family by importing a superior breed of women”(337).

Her claim is the white male’s “nationalism is founded on the preservation of an invented traditional past and a future vision of modernity”(338). “Men access a multicultural patriotic manhood through adherence to the ideal American values at the foundation of the immigrant’s assimilation into the nation: hard work, traditional family values and gender roles, and notions of benevolence couched in romantic ethics of chivalry and the saving of women”(338).  The idea is the white male believes these are all modern cultural ideologies, and in adhering to these in helping the Latin woman, he substantiates his masculinity.  He considers himself a modern man.

Final Frontier-

Schaeffer‐Grabiel believes Cornell and Hooper miss-step in saying the U.S. male’s masculinity and dominance is a product of being a “business entrepreneur” in a “global marketplace”. She  has a different view regarding the nature of the white males masculinity.  She first asserts that many of the men expressed feelings of being “alienated in some way from U.S. culture and society”.  She goes on, “he realized he was replaceable in both his professional and intimate life”(338).  The white male claims to be a victim of the feminist movement: his modern wife lacks culture and tradition, with a job she is not dependent on him and therefore he is not necessarily dominate.  He highjacks the feminist movement,  “men imagine Latin American women as the last pure frontier, bodies that promise to rectify a crisis in U.S. masculinity and the breakdown of middle-class family structures. They moralize the need for new genes and bodies and for a postnational family structure that will rejuvenate not only the U.S. domestic sphere but also their own inner journeys to selfhood”(339).  In other words, these men feel emasculated by the feminist model, and seek the “less liberated woman (340)”  Male participants claim to want someone who is less spoiled and materialistic.

“Latin American and other “foreign” women are naturalized as having the right biological makeup and cultural grooming, making them more feminine, traditional, docile, and better mothers of the family. Unlike nineteenth-century constructions of racial mixing as degenerative, in this instance foreign genes are constructed as regenerative. This shift in racial construction connects with individualistic ideals of multiculturalism in the global marketplace. Once again, diversity and race are advertised as products that promise to bring one closer to nature, toward one’s “true self,” and to contribute to the making of “natural” gender and racial hierarchies.”(341).

What I think Schaeffer‐Grabiel is saying is that men seek to obtain their dominant, masculine-self, or “true-self”, in marrying a Latin woman whose culture he believes is conducive to gender and racial hierarchies.  At the same time this evokes feelings of nationalism as the the white male feels he is a “genetic engineer”, bringing in “raw materials” that are less tainted but the U.S. culture, or more specifically, the feminist movement.

Wendy Kline has no sympathy for the emasculated man. She argues David Popenoe sounds just like his father Paul Popenoe who lamented about the decaying of racial hierarchy, the difference is David laments about the decaying of social hierarchy through the feminists movement (342).


“The self-help model of individual transformation hijacks the feminist model of consciousness-raising, evacuating its radical potential through personalizing social transformation, and makes evident self-help’s genealogical roots within Christianity and Western individualism”(352).

“Many men’s groups convey feeling disempowered by feminism and advocate empowerment, coming to self-actualization through the collective sharing of oneself”(347). She goes on, “Divorced from the original goals of consciousness-raising—which were to critique how social structures affect the individual, to make the privileges of race and class visible, and to connect the personal worlds of women with larger structures of power—men focus on the individual and ignore rather than reveal these privileges”(347-48).  I think Schaeffer‐Grabiel’s main point is that men claim to be the victim of feminism and complain of how they are affected individually, rather than highlight how gender hierarchy negatively affects woman collectively.  The fact is gender and class hierarchy is the very driver in his ability to “bride shop” online. He fails to recognize how the feminist movement has contributed to the creation of the self-help ecosystem he enjoys, and later how his Latin wife will react when she assimilates with the feminist model.

She goes on “men blame consumption, materialism, and even greed for high divorce rates, for the fact that women leave them for wealthier and younger men, or that women seek their own empowerment through entering the work- force”(352).  “Through their desire to improve the culture of national family, they are caught in the dilemma of embracing ethnic, gender, religious, and national differences while maintaining global hierarchies”(352).  She argues that inevitably the relationships that are structured on heightening the U.S. males sense of masculinity, fail when the woman assimilates into American society.

Schaeffer‐Grabiel concludes “while many men turn to Latin American women and culture in hopes of living a life outside of the tyranny of capitalism, materialism, and rugged individualism, many simply seek a fantasy-ridden image of women as the object of change they seek to import back home without having to change anything about themselves”(353).

Her point is men seek a relationship that maintain their gendered hierarchy when in reality this is the very aspect of the relationship that is hardest to preserve in along side the feminist model.  The male claims his dilemma arrises when the Latin wife assumes his social class when they marry and later develops her own sense of self through the modern feminist model. In blaming feminism he seeks to directly target it. Rather than address the person change he may have to make to make his relationship work, the white male instead looks to handicap the woman’s ability to be independent from him. Specifically, he seeks a woman that he has ultimate class and gender hierarchy over. – crazy


Are U.S. males wrong in assuming Latin woman are culturally more submissive? Or is this simply an assertion that changes as Latin women experience the greater equality of rights they are afforded America?

In what ways is this dating culture reflective of the greater social views held by the American adult male?  How does this play into American policies on immigration?

Generating Discussion: Between Love and Money:Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Sex work in Cuba and the Dominican Republic has become a diluted term used to describe the relationship between citizens and tourists. Amalia Cabezas goes into much detail describing the similarities in both countries, and the misuse of the undefined term, sex work in her article “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic”.

In the early 1900’s, the Dominican Republic and Cuba were under the United States’ control. While Cuba was able to successfully separate itself, the Dominican Republic struggled, leaving most of it’s citizens in poverty. Both nations were and still are heavily reliant on tourism, allowing their citizens to work in tourist areas to receive an income to provide for their families. This is where the term sex work came into use. Although many people associate this term with prostitution, these two countries perceive it in a different manner.


In Cuba the word jineterismo, meaning hustler, is used to label those who work directly with tourists for money, such as selling them small goods, helping them with directions, sightseeing, and occasionally sex. The men are referred to as jineteros, where they assist visitors with restaurants and other tourist attractions. Women, also known as jineteras, are the ones creating sexual relationships with the travelers. In fact, jineteras are seen as dominant sex workers who do this not as a form of work, but for pleasure instead. Pingueros is the term used to describe men who construct sexual relations with tourists. Although most of the pingueros are straight, they mainly had sexual relationships with men rather than women. When several interviews were done with pingueros, the men stated that they did not see the money or clothing given to them as payment for their services, but instead as a gift from a friend. The terms stated above are typically used on darker-skinned Cubans, where lighter-skinned Cubans are exempt.


Similarly in the Dominican Republic, the phrase sanky panky, also known as “beach boys” or gigolos, is used to describe those who are involved in sex work. These men and women used to cater to both male, female, gay and straight tourists, whereas now it consists mostly of middle-aged women. In the Dominican Republic, the “beach boys” do not seek sex from the visitors, but instead try to build a relationship. The term one-night-stand is viewed as unproductive. Instead, the sanky pankies shower the visiting women with extreme flirtatious behavior, take them sightseeing, out to dinner, dancing, and try to create a friendship, or a romantic relationship to encourage future visits.

In some cases in both Cuba and the Dominican Republic, creating relationships with tourists can be dangerous, especially for darker-skinned women. This is due to the fact that police officers will arrest women leaving discos, or other tourists-filled areas alone at night. In the Dominican Republic, sometimes the arrests will happen with no justification, and other times because they were “bothering” tourists. Women who are arrested are thrown in jail with murderers, and drug dealers, and are harassed and occasionally raped by police officers. They are typically not released until they can pay the fine. In Cuba however, the Federación de Mujeres Cubanas created a rehabilitation program. Women who have been arrested once are let off with a warning, and once they reach three arrests, then they can be sent to the rehabilitation center for up to four years, depending on “the degree of risk to society that the woman represents”. (Cabezas, 1006) The rehab center has not always been successful, but still continues to be used.

In both countries, the creation of a friendship between a citizen and tourist is seen as an overall beneficial relationship between the two. Often times, the tourist will pay for their boyfriend or girlfriend’s flight to visit them, or help provide for their families.



  • Do you find the relationships or friendships created in Cuba or the Dominican Republic to be sex work?
  • Do you think the rehabilitation center in Cuba is beneficial? If so should the Dominican Republic create a similar program?

Mail order brides

This video kinda reflects the reading we read for thurs on Planet Love. Interesting to hear that divorce rates are not higher for these couples and also reminded me of reality TV shows in the states such as bachelor and Million Dollar Matchmaker.

Generating Discussion: The Meanings of Transnational Motherhood

This article by Avila and Honageneu-Sotelo seeks to establish and explain a new form of motherhood that has arisen in modern times of immigration. They differentiate this mother hood from those immigrant mothers who have their children in the states and the normalized version of motherhood that is held in both white and Mexican society. This type of motherhood they explain is one where mothers cross borders in search of jobs(Usually domestic) in order to care for their children who reside and are being taken care (usually by their own kin) in their country of origin. The interviews in their research seek to show how the meanings of motherhood are transformed and how this new arrangement often contradicts the norms of motherhood in both American and Latin society. They posit that the norm comes from this idea of a “cult of domesticity”; they explain that this ideal was made possible by the industrial revolution because the man was able to go to work to make enough so that he could provide for the entire family while his wife stayed home with the children. But what is pointed out is that when race and class are thrown into the picture this norm cannot be upheld because women of color have to work to maintain the livelihood of their family. This in turn creates a demand for an alternative idea of motherhood the “Transnational Motherhood”.

As we would assume of anything that deviates from the norm, this new arrangement and ideal creates a conflict not only from the outsiders perspective but also internally for these women who come from a culture that hold the Virgin Mary as a model of “maternal femininity” while at the same time condemning autonomous women with the figure of La Maliche. Due to their status these women cannot afford the luxury of choosing not to work so some women come up with ways to integrate their work with interactions with their children. We see this is possible with immigrant women who work as house cleaners and to some extent those who work as “live outs”. Our transnational mothers are born out of “live in’s” of domestic work. This work is high demanding of these women’s time that they could not care for their family if they were to be near them. Out of the sample they researched half of these women had children back home and out of the three types of work “live in’s” had the lowest percentage of children living in the US.

Although this type of motherhood deviates from the norm and is seen as “least compatible with conventional motherhood” these women showed that they continued to maintain strong emotional ties to their families and children. By maintaining this emotional bond and maintaining them economically they are fulfilling their duty as a mother. Tensions of deviation of motherhood are further lessened  by leaving their children behind with kin (preferably with grandmothers) because they are given peace of mind that their children are being cared for and raised in a familiar manner as opposed to by strangers. The authors seek to explain how “impermeable nation state borders shape the nature of these women work”, they show how the global economy and policies and laws on immigration have real life implications on families so much so that they create and shape ideals of motherhood. These mothers are “transnational mothers” by force not by choice.

The first impressions and questions that I had while reading this article had to do with the difference in pay of the 3 types of domestic work, why are these women who are working more hours and investing their lives being paid significantly less?

I also found it interesting when he mentioned the deviation from the norm on both sides of the class/race spectrum but still how the deviation manifested differently for both ends. Elite women deviate because they have women of color raising their children and women of color have their kin raising their children this dynamic reveals a difference of culture. The authors mention it as a collectivist vs. individualistic approach. White women trust strangers to raise their children so they can maintain the same amount of autonomy they had before they had children. Women of color are depend on family to help them raise their own with an immense amount of gratitude in part stemming from the negative experiences they receive from their own employers who display jealousy instead of being thankful.

Connecting this short article to the reading how does the work of these women effect the gender roles and rights of American women?

The article also mentions these women as breadwinners and compared their work to that of Mexican men in Bracero Programs. Where men’s work in these programs was seen as positive fulfillment of gender roles and these women’s work is seen as mostly negative can we assume that gender roles of women remain unchanged or have they earned and moved closer to equal rights in their own culture especially now that they are earning income? Furthermore, why are the men absent in this research piece? Was it intentional?

Lastly, how does this idea of “Transnational Motherhood” complicate or compliment the concept of “anchor babies”?