Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A New Twist on Kenya's Sex Trade

In a new twist on the sex trade in Kenya, middle-aged and older white women have begun flocking to Kenya in search of young male lovers, complete with tourism companies selling packages on the premise. According to Nottingtan University's Julia Davidson, part of the promise is a
return to a colonial past, where white women are served, serviced, and pampered by black minions.

On the one hand, and unlike the prolific and illegal child sex trade that operates in Kenya, these women aren't doing anything illegal - the Kenyan young men are of consenting age. And, some argue, they're doing what older men in their own countries are free to do without stigma - take younger lovers, and use their finances as a means of securing those lovers. As one of the women interviewed for the Reuters article said,
It's a social arrangement. I buy him a nice shirt and we go out for dinner. For as long as he stays with me he doesn't pay for anything, and I get what I want -- a good time. How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?

On the other hand, in a country where nearly 7% of the population has AIDS, a situation where it's common for a 22 year old young man to have slept with over 100 white women, and where the "exotic" fantasy shuns condoms, it's simply not a safe arrangement. This isn't How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and while yes, you want to say "yay, it's empowering" for older women to acknowledge and act on their sexuality, encouraging a return to a sexualized, colonialist, Orientalist attitude can't be a good thing - health, or otherwise.


Lyndsey said...

The unfortunate thing is that not only are these women causing problems for themselves and for the people whose services they are employing, but they are exacerbating the very problems in their own country which they attempt to flee.

Anonymous said...

I always find it interesting when we justify behavior we formerly condemned as sexist, racist, or immoral when we or "our group" have the opportunity to partake and impose that behavior on someone else's group. Sounds a more than a little bit like prostitution to me, regardless of who is buying. Personally I find the well to do male/female using his/her money to "date" or induce younger women/men to date them as a pathetic excercise in self deception, it seems a little different than hiring an "escort" or prostitute, but not much.

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