Culture and Globalization

Oct 08

This week’s readings look at a variety of “flows” in the context of globalization — the flow of people, ideas, and resources. In your response, discuss some of the ways each article helps us think about gender in transnational terms and in terms of the unevenness of capitalism. Also, reflect a little on your own sense or experience of gender, and how it connects to the readings in some way.

70 comments so far

  1. msirico
    10:16 pm - 10-9-2012

    Aren Aizura, the author of “Romance of the Amazing Scalpel,” writes about gender reassignment sugary travel. The Thai “market” of gender reassignment surgery attracts those interested. It caters to the white market that flocks to Thailand for the surgeries, and the tourists that migrate to the country specifically for GRS (gender reassignment surgery). However, the whites that travel to Thailand for surgery, and pay for private care, seem to be treated much better than the Thai that pay for the same care. Gender, and feminism in males specifically, is seen differently in Thailand. It is seemingly much more common and open, but not as strictly defined. Nor do the Thai feel that it needs to be treated psychologically, so it is much easier to complete GRS in Thailand than most western countries. GRS in Thailand has become a commodity, a surgery industry. This new commodity was aided in growth by the internet, because of its easier communication and advertising ability. This travel, though focused around gender, is also a form of “medical tourism,” wherein those from wealthy nations travel to less-wealthy nations for cheaper healthcare. And many countries, such as Thailand, make glorious profit from this “medical tourism.” Thailand cultivates its reputation as a “place of the exotic, where anything and everything goes,” to bring in all types of tourists every year.
    Mimi Thi Nguyen in “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror,” claims beauty is an important transnational issue. Beauty, or the “attachment to beauty,” is something that can “connect individuals to the world.” Beauty can also be considered a “biopower.” Nguyen claims that a biopower is “concerned with the management of life, and a question of techniques for maximizing life” therefore, beauty can be seen as a health issue, an aesthetic issue, and a political issue, such as the burqa-wearing women of Afghanistan. Beauty becomes a transnational issue in Afghanistan, with human rights initiatives as well as international fashion and beauty institutions calling attention to the burqas of the afghan women. The burqa, and women’s beauty by default, was used by the Afghan Taliban as a political and religious issue. Afghan women created secret, clandestine salons, where they could gather in safety. There, beauty was used as a rebellion, a secret hidden by the burqa. Globalization has facilitated the spread of feminism and women’s rights.
    Amalia Cabezas, in “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic,” focuses on yet more issues about transnational beauty. For Cabezas, neither sex exploitation nor globalization and travel is new to the Caribbean. the region has long been dependent on imports and the global economy, and has also been used for slave breeding, and prostitution. And for Cuba and the Dominican Republic, there are many similarities. Both countries se a great deal of tourism. Both countries benefit from tourism with the “four S’s” (sun, sea, sand, and sex). These countries are both use sexuality and sensuality to increase tourism, through not only sex workers, but also capitalizing on the reputation of sensuality of the land and people. Lack of work forces workers to depend on tourism and resorts to earn a living.
    Gender can be determined based on culture. Not every nation’s ideas of gender are the same. In the modern global western world, feminism and women’s rights have risen to become a major issue, while in Taliban-controlled regions, gender and sensuality is something to be monitored. Gender can also be used and developed as a commodity, something to be capitalized on, such as in case of Thailand, where medical tourism is focused on GRS, or in the Caribbean, were tourism revolves around sensuality of the island, and where workers depend on tourism to survive. Even in the modern western country, gender is still a major political and economic issue. Women in the United States make approximately .75 cents to every dollar a male makes. And in the U.S, there has never been a female president, where many other countries already have, even in under-developed countries, such as Malawi.

    • sarahariri
      12:44 pm - 10-12-2012

      I found Aizura’s article to be very interesting. It’s insane how GDR can become a tourist attraction. It seems that the Thai government allows it but doesn’t encourage it among locals.

    • sbannach
      7:37 pm - 10-12-2012

      Your point that gender is often based on culture is an interesting one. This can be seen all over the world in varying degrees. In some indigenous cultures, for instance, women are the heads of society rather than men. I find it fascinating that even though we as human beings are all biologically the same we can still develop certain prejudices and expectations about gender.

  2. kmilburn1957
    10:39 pm - 10-9-2012

    The articles we read this week were very interesting topics, to say the least. I was very impressed with the article by author Aren Aizura. She exposed a sad disparity between white and non-white patient treatment in a Thai GRS clinic. Although all patients paid the same charge for the surgery, the white patients were treated like royalty, while the local patients were treated as an afterthought. This is explained by the amount of medical tourism this clinic attracts, with the majority of their clientele being non-Thai, but this also reflects the acceptance of a variety of gender in Thailand. They do not feel the need to conform to fitting into one of two sexes. The GRS surgery had been available for years, but as the services were advertised transnationally, by internet and word of mouth, the white clientele grew. The surgery was offered at a cheaper rate than their home nations, and since many of these surgeries were not covered by insurance, cost was a major factor. More and more North Americans, Europeans and Australian patients wanted to experience this last final change from one form to another in a completely exotic getaway. It became a type of pilgrimage to be made by those wishing to change their sex. Because recovery from surgery took up to a month, these patients also participated in typical tourism as well, boosting both the local and private economies. Local patients had to save for years to make the money necessary for surgery, and did not contribute to the tourist dollars that the white people did. Labor is poorly paid in Thailand and positions in the medical and sex tourism trade are fairly sought after jobs. So there was never any shortage of workers to fawn over these surgical tourists. In Amalia Cabezas article, she describes the sex tourism trade in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Her article notes that sex workers in those countries depend less on monetary remuneration and more on “gift” of items, travel, or romance. In both of the above articles it is noted that the native view of sex is much more liberal and open than those of the countries the sex tourists come from. The Thai actually consider the kathoey ladyboys as a “third sex”, and are so accepting of their uniqueness that very few desire the GRS surgeries. They feel pretty enough with minor surgeries like breast augmentation or merely plastic surgery on their faces. The European/American countries are not so relaxed in their gender views and feel a person must be male or female, so we are more inclined to get these surgeries to do just that. Services the tourists cannot get in their homelands, or are frowned upon for doing so, can be had readily and happily in these countries.
    I believe feminism is benefited greatly by globalization. Women around the world can go as far as they want to go. There are female heads of state , scientists, and doctors who are leading the world in research, politics and medical breakthroughs. Women can be inspired by these success stories to raise the bar even further.

    • rafae309
      3:27 pm - 10-12-2012

      Very interesting post! I agree with how there was a disparity between the white and non-white patients in the Thai clinics. I also agree with how females are now heads of state, doctors, and leaders in the global field. Your post helped me understand the topics better!

  3. emyers
    10:52 pm - 10-9-2012

    Looking at the three case studies in this weeks readings, from the Thai GRS patients to the Afghani women and Caribbean jinteras, it is clear that there is a global wide gender discrimination apparent in many societies. The first story shows how the market is biased towards non-thais which brings in a flow of transgender tourism. The culture is also becoming more feminine as a marketing tool and creating more jobs for Thai transgender women to work in the high paying hospitals, but on the other hand, local Thai women are not getting the service they deserve compared to that which the foreigners are receiving. The thai women are seen as less valuable to the market even though they are willing to pay the same price. As seen in the next story, beauty is important and affects the decisions we make and how we act, whether it be moral or immoral so the ignorance to the beauty of these Thai transgenders could have a negative impact on Thailands society in the near future. One quote in the The “Biopower of Beauty” article said “beauty in its ideal form is a morality through which the good and the true are made” which made it seem that beauty can make people happier with themselves and make those around them happier, which would create a less hostile environment, encourage moral decisions, less discrimination, and more acceptance. The Afghan women saw beauty as freedom and democracy, to be able to express themselves fully and not be forced to hide their true selves as if they were shunned which might push them to fight or human rights and morality in the country. In the last story, many of the women were turning to prostitution or simply involving themselves in sexual activity with tourists because their economy has failed to provide them with enough means to survive and they are getting penalized for disobeying the law but what other options do they have? It is the economy after all the is bringing in all the tourism and the demand for sex, but it is not ready to deal with its effects on the local population. The governments were especially discriminatory towards the women sex workers and turning a blind eye to the men. Why is that? What is is that men have that appears superior to women, why do they so often get privileges that women are excused from? I think the fight for womens rights opens up the arena to all other kinds of humanitarian issues that need to be solved and maybe it is women who will bring attention to all of the injustices in fighting for their own and bring about a more peaceful world.

    • ksalvucc
      9:28 am - 10-10-2012

      I thought the way that you discussed the readings was very informative. It gave me a sense of how you saw the readings, from your understanding. I also thought that the questions that you asked were very interesting. It really makes us think about these things, that we never really think about, or discuss.

      • btaborga
        8:21 pm - 10-10-2012

        Its true what you say on women who become sex workers in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. They do get penalized for what they do, however they have no other line of work. Many of these women don’t have husbands to support them and their children so this is the only line of work. I would say however, that law enforcement towards women who become sex workers or any other informal economy is not enforced as much. Governments know what is going on, and they don’t do much about it because they know many tourists come many times for the informal economy aspect of the country.

    • rgomez5
      2:04 pm - 10-11-2012

      These women in Cuba and the Dominican Republic face difficult choices because they live in countries with very limited economical opportunities. If they have no formal training and no good connections often they may have to turn into prostitution to subtend their families. And the arrival of foreigner tourists with “money” makes the job more attractive.

    • kmilburn1957
      5:36 pm - 10-11-2012

      Your comment on the way Afghan women viewed being covered up as “forced to cover their true self as if they were shunned” helped me understand the connection the author was trying to make between beauty and freedom. I still thought the Nguyen article was the hardest to understand and follow.

    • ngibson3
      11:51 am - 10-12-2012

      Your analysis was spot on. One of the best ways to invoke thought about what you wrote is to end with a question, and I thought your use of that technique was great.

    • sarahariri
      12:46 pm - 10-12-2012

      I like how you pointed out that genre discrimination is something seen throughout the world. It seems that societies around the world seem to be influenced by misogyny.

    • msirico
      7:36 pm - 10-12-2012

      I agree with your fact that thai women are seen as less important than the white women. I feel that whites in Thailand are automatically seen as wealthy, and asians, whether they are or not, are always seen as less. Thai women automatically get different, lesser, treatment than the whites, no matter what clinic they enter. and I also agree with your statement that Thailand is capitalizing on both gender as well as beauty.

  4. btaborga
    10:57 pm - 10-9-2012

    For this week’s readings, Nguyen, Aizura and Cabezas focused on gender. In Nguyen’s article he writes about “fashion and beauty as processes that produce subjects, recruited to, and aligned with the national interests of the United States in the war on terror”. The United States after the events of September 11th 2001 started a public relations campaign to help many women in Afghanistan who were being oppressed. Women in Afghanistan could be severely punished or their nails could be taken off as Nguyen states, if they would wear nail polish on their nails. George Bush called upon women rights’ in Afghanistan since many of the rights of these women were being threatened. They mention the “burqa” as a sign that these human rights were being violated, by not allowing women to show their faces. An NGO called “Beauty without Borders” was created in order to help this case. This “was an emerging transnational form of intervention and interpenetration between state institutions and social organizations”. This shows us a little transnational US intervention, on trying to get women from Afghanistan a fair chance to be women. They are being oppressed by their governments and the United States took the opportunity after 9/11 to help oppressed women in the area with organizations such as “Beauty without borders”. In Aizura’s article, she analyzes on hospitals in Bangkok that are excellent (like staying in a hotel) where many women from the Americas and Europe go to get sexually related surgeries (medical tourism). Here the unevenness of capitalism is shown when Aizura interviews women that have gone to these expensive and luxurious hospitals in Bangkok. The perspective of a woman from the Western hemisphere is very different than a local Indonesian girl that paid the same amount for the same treatment. Women from America or Europe find it fascinating and think that attention is just wonderful. An Indonesian girl that paid the same amount found that the attention was not as good. The nurses would not check up on her and she wasn’t given the “excellent” service other women get. Also this article talks about young women and their demand at these hospitals as nurses or massage experts. Many young women migrate from rural parts of Thailand to the urban areas where these women can obtain jobs, this could be seen as a “transnational migration” as Aizura mentions. In the last article by Cabezas, she analyzes sex trade and sex workers in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In many of these Latin American countries there are no jobs for women, also many are divorced and they have no man to help them financially. That is what many women in the Caribbean choose to get involved in sex as a job. The article begins noticing the differences of Cuba’s and the Dominican Republic’s economic background and politics but their same demand for sex when it comes to tourism. She later concludes by saying “International mass tourism has led to the erosion of boundaries between labor practices and romantic relationships”. I wanted to comment on Cabezas article specifically because I witnessed this in the Dominican Republic. Many women and even men join the prostitution business to tourists to give them “an exotic and wild experience”. These man and women have no jobs or any way to make fast money to support them so they join this “industry” that has helped them support themselves and their families.

    • btaborga
      8:25 pm - 10-10-2012

      It is true, many women migrate to urban areas in order to obtain jobs at these luxury hospitals. We can see it all over the world, how young people from rural areas migrate to urban areas looking for better opportunities. Something interesting about this is that sometimes in other parts of the world there is no demand for young women or men like in the Philippines. When that happens, everyone that migrates from rural areas to urban areas is left jobless and then we have the creation of “favelas”.

  5. saehwan72
    2:12 am - 10-10-2012

    In all three articles the topic of gender is very prevalent. Aizura’s article goes into detail about the rise of facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation and genital vaginoplasty in Thailand. The way that gender is idealized around the world. The whole concept of femininity is being sold on a global scale. The rates at which these clinics have multiplied in Thailand are astonishing. What’s also interesting is the way that they market and advertise these clinics to those are not from Thailand. In the article it states that a bulk of the businesses these clinics receive are from European, American, and Australian clientele. The article captures the experiences of a couple different people going through surgery at these clinics. The entire hospitality and service of the clinics is geared towards non-Thai people. It shows that even in terms of transgender there are clear favorites. The idea of femininity is being sold here along with the GRS. The following quote describes perfectly how the flows of gender reassignment practices differ. “But just as global capital flows in inconsistent transnational trajectories, gender reassignment practices and technologies are equally diverse, inconsistent, and geographically dispersed.”
    In Cabeza’s article she describes in detail the nuances of sex tourism. In both the Dominican Republic and Cuba, sex tourism is often the center of their economy. “Both tourism and remittances represent the major earnings for the state, signifying a continual reliance on former colonial powers and outside forces for economic stability.” The flow of globalization is obviously still felt in these countries. In these all-inclusive resorts, race and gender play a large role in determining which job the worker may be assigned to. “The racial and sexual ordering reflects the consequences and legacy of colonialism as they play out on this current stage of global capitalism.”
    Nguyen’s article goes into detail about the state of Afghani women in their society. The article is centered on the idea of beauty and the deeper meaning in to the word. “The Afghan woman who desires beauty thus desires a democratic future of movement, choice, and independence, where beauty is imagined to live.” Beauty is seen almost as a human right and the pursuit of it seems to be defended heavily in this article. The capitalistic society of the U.S. is looking to establish a similar sense of beauty to women in Afghanistan who deal with oppression on a daily basis.
    The male bias shown in Cabeza’s article is still present even in U.S. society today. For example, a man who has many sexual relations with different partners is looked at in a more positive manner than a woman who has many sexual relations with different partners. The male is looked upon in U.S. society as just “being a guy” and is even idolized in pop culture. A woman in a similar situation is however frowned upon and often called names such as slut.

    • ksalvucc
      9:19 am - 10-10-2012

      Great analysis of the readings. I thought what you said at the end of this prompt was interesting. This is because we see this all the time, but we never really make that connection in our society.

    • emyers
      11:33 am - 10-12-2012

      I like how you pointed out American culture today and how it kind of romanticizes the idea of men being “pimps” and getting lots of girls when really that view is just feeding more into the problem of oppression of women.

    • ngibson3
      11:55 am - 10-12-2012

      The way you tied it to U.S. society to day was great. It shows the intentional and unintentional bias be attach to gender.

  6. albuquerque
    4:26 am - 10-10-2012

    “The Biopower of Beauty..” says it best in the last two sentences. Stating that fashion and beauty industries traffic more than just image and commodities, but great influence on new cultural economics, which play roles in the greater struggles and systems of empowerment and dominance transnationaly. Though the beauty industry has grown in the last few decades to be more widely spread between genders, it is still predominantly female driven and being that I identify as female I found this article more often true in its statements, through beauty alone women have more power in the world system than we often even recognize. The article on gender reassignment surgery in Thailand also made good points regarding gender in transnational terms. Talking about how people from all over the world travel to Thailand to get the GRS instead of staying in their home countries, thus spreading the market for reconstructive surgery and showing the lines between genders in while vs. non-white cultures. As for the last reading, again I liked the last part best. Saying that we cannot place people into categories without paying attention to how they see themselves. This makes the issue of transnational sex tourism a much harder issue to address, seeing that so many people will not identify as being a sex tourist or sex worker because they see so much more than just those simple terms in what they are doing. Over all, from personal experience, I think gender plays a much greater role in all of the world systems than many would like to acknowledge. Specifically relating to the Biopower of beauty article, it is truly amazing how much the “beauty” of women can affect the prominence of their gender in their daily life. At the risk of being crucially judged, I have learned many times the my appearance and appeal to males has given me greater power in many situations, and to be honest I know of many situations in my life that would have worked out very differently had I been forced to wear something such as a burka thus hiding my “beauty”. I think of it as a sort of checks and balance system of nature. Men are stronger and more physically capable (majority) and women are more “beautiful” (majority). Like the article says “but we should not devalue the seductive nature of a bright eye or polished nail” and the truth is, you really shouldn’t. Beauty is feared and hidden because it has no true boundaries, no national limits or truly controllable aspects. If a women is beautiful, she is beautiful and no matter the lack of makeup or restrictions of skin shown will change it, and that will forever give her some amount of power over men which in turn perpetuates the constant struggle between genders.

  7. ksalvucc
    9:14 am - 10-10-2012

    In the article by Aizura, the author discusses how gender reassignment surgery in Thailand fits into the context of “ongoing political struggles for trans and gender-variant self-determination.” The article discusses how people from all over the world travel to Thailand for this type of surgery because it is cheaper and provides a much better “experience” than in their own countries. However, the article also points out that Thai patients feel like they are not being treated as nicely as non-Thai patients at these clinics even thought they are paying the same amount of money. The Thai “Rolls-Royce treatment” has been recognized as a global commodity. The power structures made gender reassignment surgery into a kind of commodity globally. Although, gender reassignment has a great impact in transnational terms, in terms of capitalism it is not the same. According to Aizura, some nations can afford health care, and some cannot. This causes unevenness with respect to capitalism because the affordability of this procedure is dependent on each person’s means.
    The article by Nguyen discusses beauty in an age of terror. The author discusses beauty and how, for example, beauty salon workers take care of their customers even in countries that are suppressed by terror such as Afghanistan. This article helps us think about gender in a transnational way because we see how the beauty industry creates cultural economies in systematic, as well as an incomplete, structure of dominance and a form of empowerment. In regards to the unevenness of capitalism, capital in this industry seems to be growing. This is related to the unevenness of capitalism, because people are paying money at these salons when they get their manicures, etc. In my perspective, it gives them a sense of freedom from the oppression in their country which causes them to go to these salons more often and pay for whatever service that they want done to them.
    The article by Cabezas, discusses how sex, travel, and globalization is not new in the Caribbean region. The author discusses how sex was tied into economic and social processes early on in this region. This includes the breeding of slaves, the women trafficking, and hiring of wet nurses to the use of prostitution and concubines. This reading helps us think about gender in transnational terms because it shows how women are treated and / or looked at in this area. It shows to me that this region is now being known as a place where people come for pleasure, and it is now known on a global scale. This can relate to the unevenness of capitalism because of how this economy can boom because of these tourists. It shows that capitalism fluctuates on the basis of what attracts people to a region.
    After reading these readings, I can’t help but reflect on my own sense of gender. When I think of gender, I think of a man and a woman. Growing up, my family never discussed gender reassignment surgery. My understanding of gender was that God made you either a man or a woman, and that’s it. That you had no need to change your gender, for any reason, that this act was totally unacceptable.

    • jhanse10
      1:14 pm - 10-10-2012

      The way you were brought up of thinking of gender is often disputed in social science. There is nothing to say it is wrong because that is how most traditional views are. However, in modern society we now debate whether there is a difference between sex and gender and I feel this concept effects cultural views.

      • ksalvucc
        2:02 pm - 10-10-2012

        I understand what you are saying, it is just hard for me to think this way, because of how I was raised.

  8. ender91
    10:33 am - 10-10-2012

    Aren Azura’s article, The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel, showed how globalization affected Thailand in terms of race, gender, and the economy. The author points out how the rise of Gender Reassignment Clinics have boosted and shifted the country’s economy into tourism. Its interesting when Azura points out how the popularity of GRS clinics acquired profit through the promise of surgical excellence but also through exceptional service, at least to non-Thai patients. The fact that the attraction of these clinics now lie mostly in the service and the experience foreign patients have also hammered in a stereotype where Thailand is seen as feminine or at least the tourist industry have adopted this feminine allure for tourists. In The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror, the author discusses how beauty as a feminist movement has evolved in globalization. The author explores how beauty does not just result in superficial gains but through transnational movements like the NGO Beauty Beyond Borders, it has become a biopower that gives back power to women like in Afghanistan with the burqa. With globalization, its not just guns that can fight inhumanity but other more peaceful modes like building beauty schools and providing beauty supplies to victims are now weapons too. In Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic by Amelia Cabeza, gender and race also play important roles in tourism and prostitution or “sex work.” Locals who work in hotels are racially segregated by the color of their skin. Light skinned locals are given front desk work while being maids, back kitchen workers, and entertainers are given to dark skinned workers. The laws in Cuba and the Dominican Republic that pertain to prostitution are also racist in that enforcement of those laws are mostly done to dark skinned women. When its women in the upper class participating, then its romance but if its dark skinned women in the lower class then its prostitution and they are taken to jails. Its interesting how in one article, women triumph in that women from different parts of the world united to help those who were suffering in Afghanistan through beauty and then another article contradicts the success with the mistreatment of women in Cuba and the Dominican Republic in relation to tourism and prostitution.

    • grivas3
      9:56 pm - 10-11-2012

      Great response it gave me an understanding on how you understood the readings. I like how you made the observation that these women in Afghanistan are not fighting back with violence but in a different matter and how beauty schools and beauty supplies have become weapons.

    • rafae309
      3:30 pm - 10-12-2012

      Your comment of “Locals who work in hotels are racially segregated by the color of their skin. Light skinned locals are given front desk work while being maids, back kitchen workers, and entertainers are given to dark skinned workers.” was very interesting and true. I also agree with how the women in Afghanistan have tried to take back their power through the use of non-violent means. Very clear and comprehensive.

  9. sbannach
    10:53 am - 10-10-2012

    In her article, “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror,” sociologist Mimi Thi Nguyen argues that the concept of beauty should be considered in a globalized and human rights context. She examines the case of Afghan women under the Taliban regime, who were forced to wear cumbersome burqas–long, black veils that completely obscure the face and body. To combat the feelings of ugliness and shame that accompanied wearing the veil, Afghan women met illegally in secret, makeshift “salons” where they fixed their hair, did their makeup, and generally made themselves to feel beautiful. This feeling of beauty is precisely what Nguyen claims has a “geopolitical dimension” in its ability to foster a sense of “humanity, futurity, [and] morality” (365). Thus, since “barriers to modernity” such as burqas effectively “hobble” the sensation of feeling beautiful, beauty in itself becomes a human rights issue because it is directly linked to perceived dignity (369). By denying women the right to individuality and refusing them the right to express their inner desires for aesthetic appeal, the Afghan government was blocking access to a fundamental human right.

    While Nguyen investigates the notion of the female gender in a transnational context, Aren Z. Aizura analyzes transgenderism and how it pertains to globalization in his article, “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel.” In recent years, the Thai “medical tourism” industry has experienced a considerably large boom due in part to the establishment of clinics that specialize in gender reassignment surgery. Transpeople flock from all parts of the world to these clinics where the care is world-renown (144). However, Aizura observes that non-Thai patients tend to receive more attention at the clinics and overall better care than the Thai ones. He argues this is in part due to the fact that foreign patients will by and large spend more money throughout the duration of their stay; non-Thais are more likely to treat their trip as an extended vacation and contribute to the Thai economy through sight-seeing and entertainment (158). Consequently, gender reassignment surgery in Thailand is made more available to foreigners due to capitalistic competition for their money. Furthermore, the “medical tourism” industry embodies globalization insofar as it is a real-world example of how some people have the privilege of transnational mobilization.

    Amalia L. Cabezas expands upon this idea of privileged global flows of people in her piece, “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.” She contends that the Caribbean region has been “integrated into, and fully dependent on, the world economy for centuries” (987) and that recent growth of the “sex tourism” industry is merely the newest manifestation of globalization. Since the 1980s, the Dominican Republic in particular has moved towards enacting neo-liberal market reforms (988). In this newly-established atmosphere of free trade and competition, jobs have become sparse, and many young people have moved to tourist-centered areas to pursue opportunities in sex trade (992). Furthermore, sex work has proven to be a profitable industry to those involved with it. In addition to immediate monetary benefits, the sex trade also offers the possibility of marriage or long-term relationships with the tourists who come seeking companionship (993). Hence, the regular transnational movement of affluent tourists has allowed for a substantial boost in many Caribbean economies.

    Personally, I have never experienced medical or sex-related tourism. However, the manner in which the authors of all three articles describe gender is quite remarkable. In the United States, transgenderism and sex work is still rather taboo despite our First World emphasis on social progressiveness. Indeed, even the normative perception of sexuality (heterosexual, cisgendered) is regarded as obscene in our “polite society.” For instance, a movie showing exposed breasts will typically receive a higher rating than one that depicts inhuman violence. Additionally, although the U.S. likes to view itself as wholly equal, in practice it is not. Women are still not afforded the same opportunities that men are in their careers, be it in business, military, or even in professional sports. We scoff at countries such as Afghanistan for their “backwards” practices and their “war against women” when in fact a similar battle is still being waged on our own soil, albeit on a smaller scale. As a female, I have witnessed first hand this gender and sexuality-based inequity despite constant reaffirmations by society that such repression is not taking place. Thus, it is my opinion that the United States as a society should take cues from countries such as Thailand and the Caribbean and become more accepting and open about gender and sexuality and admit to the inequalities that still plague our country.

    • albuquerque
      3:16 pm - 10-10-2012

      “We scoff at countries such as Afghanistan for their “backwards” practices and their “war against women” when in fact a similar battle is still being waged on our own soil,” this is said so perfectly! Just because it isn’t as obvious, doesn’t mean it is not still happening. And to some degree I do not think it is even consciously being done, but heterosexual women base their looks off of what men deem beautiful. So US women may not have to cover up but we still “have” to conform to what men want in order to “fit in” with the norms of our greater society.

      • sbannach
        7:35 pm - 10-12-2012

        I definitely agree that conformity is more often than not on a subconscious level. It’s hard to escape; from every angle, we are bombarded with the message that our worth as females is determined by our outward appearance. Indeed, I’d venture to say it’s even in our blood–we evolved to believe that unless we were appealing to men, us women were useless to society since we wouldn’t be able to reproduce. However, I think we has humans have definitely evolved beyond this stage and should take measures to ensure that this is not the case. We have the power to start breaking down these barriers and work towards becoming a truly equal society.

    • msirico
      7:41 pm - 10-12-2012

      Sara, your comments on how the U.S is also fighting a similar battle with beauty and conformity is so true! I definitely agree. Women in the U.S war different clothes than women in Afghanistan, but both wear the clothes that are expected of them, whether revealing or concealing. I like how you connect beauty and “perceived” dignity.

  10. shusain
    11:04 am - 10-10-2012

    The articles from this week’s readings focus on how gender is influenced in means of capitalism and globalization. The article, “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel “Race”, Labour, and Affect in Thai Gender Reassignment Clinics,” mainly discusses how “foreign” patients who are non-Thai and undergo the same surgery as Thai patients are in a sense treated differently. It’s a problem because both groups attend the same clinics, undergo the same procedures, and pay the same price for the same service. It is stated that 95 percent of the patients that attended this clinic are non-Thai, with the majority of them being American, British, and European trans women. The article explains that global capital flows incompatibly and that gender reassignment practices are, “equally diverse, inconsistent, and geographically dispersed.” Thailand is famous for its large population of “second type of women,” as well as kathoey (male to female gender-variant people). The article also distinguishes the way young gender-variant Thais are accepted by their family and society with the way “transphobic” Europeans and Americans respond to gender variance. The Thai culture is more accepting, excluding violence and disapproval that is often seen in the Western society. I think one of the quotes from the article gives a good perspective of one side’s point of view, “When I come to meet them, they will be very nice to foreigners. But they forget about Thais . . . Because they think foreigners have lots of money, more than Thai. But we all pay the same price! So, we should deserve to have the same service. But we don’t have the right to say that.” Moving on the next article, it goes into depth about beauty and why it is so important in the fight for women’s rights. Beauty is in an entrapment with humanitarian imperialism as well as global feminism. It is essentially the only freedom an Afghani woman has. However that too is challenged with the burqa. The perfect quote in the article is seen here, “a woman [there] is always in a prison.” However the article later assures that the very women who were wearing the burqas would secretly meet with one another in salons located in private homes to discuss life under the Taliban rule. The salons were a place of freedom where the women could use smuggled makeup products as well as magazines that had to be buried in someone’s backyard! I remember while I was traveling in Kuwait, I went to one of these salons. The women would enter covered with the burqa, and as soon as we were inside they took the burqa off. I was amazed because they were wearing such stylish clothing and they’re hair would be beautifully styled. The women were so beautiful; however it was covered from society. The last article summarizes that the sexual labor of women has been planted in the ongoing process of political and economic structures for the last five hundred years. For both Cuba and Dominican Republic, sex tourism is the core for economic growth. The economical and social outcome is seen in tourism through the four S’s (sun, sea, sand, and sex). The article states that the lack of work and also dependence on foreign exchange is what makes young men and women want to, “migrate to tourist areas to earn a living.” Networks are interconnected because of the opportunities that arise in the industry. Sex tourism, according to the article, is a, “contingent and open-ended activity whose blurred boundaries are intertwined with elements of romance, leisure, consumption, travel, and marriage.” It aids women in the Caribbean who are single mothers with no jobs, as seen in the example of Yolanda who was a single mother with three children and met a thirty three year old Austrian engineer at the resort she worked at. They began a relationship, and he in turn would send her money every month that paid for her rent and also helped to support her children. I think, in terms of gender that women are always affected in the globalization perspective. Most of the articles from this week’s readings involved women and their ongoing fight for human and freedom rights. I think this is especially seen in the Middle East and Caribbean, where women have no voice or a sense of liberty. The political and economical aspect of globalization is largely seen in these countries because small groups are run by a larger controlling assembly.

  11. jbleichn
    11:07 am - 10-10-2012

    The article by Aren Aizura discusses the growing market for gender variation procedures, particularly in Thailand. Thailand is becoming a premier destination for these procedures with people coming from all over the world to use their medical facilities, making it somewhat of a tourist industry. The gender reassignment clinics in Thailand are considered to be some of the best in terms of service, hospitality, and comfort. However, Aizura discusses the issue that foreign patients appear to be treated much better than the native Thai people in these facilities. Despite many positive reviews from foreigners, several Thai people have reported that the services that were enjoyed by foreigners were not as available to them. The market for trans-gender procedures in Thailand seems to be catered towards non native people. The Thai people seem to be much more open to trans-gendered individuals than western countries, however, while the issue of gender norms is not a problem; an issue of “racialization” appears to be a major issue.
    The Nguyen article shows the growing desire for beauty in Afghan women, and what beauty means to them. Beauty has become a human rights issue, associated with democracy and freedom. Patricia O’Connor says of the beauty salons in Afghanistan, “This isn’t just about providing lipstick. It’s about restoring self-esteem and independence.” The capitalistic society of the US prizes beauty as a market and also as a means of expression. These values are becoming more prominent in societies that have historically oppressed woman’s rights and the value of one’s appearance.
    The Cabeza article highlights the effects of globalization on the sex trade industry in the Caribbean region. Sexual work in this area has historically been tied to economic profit and the employment of sex workers is common. Even male sex workers are becoming more common as the appeal of profit grows. The attitude towards sex work is clearly different here than in the US, as the services provided are not considered to be appropriate. However, sex tourism can be a major source of income in the places it is offered.
    The treatment of women and sexuality in non capitalist societies shows the difference in gender views across the globe. Many countries still have a male dominated view of the world, suppressing beauty and freedom for women or promoting sexual tourism. The perceived issue of exploitation and suppression of these people is a difficult issue as different societies carry different values. However, it is clear that the ideals of capitalist countries are becoming more widely expressed in other places.

    • hakunanahtata
      6:04 pm - 12-10-2012

      I enjoyed your response about the changing gender views and the un-eveness of capitalism. It is amazing what is brought to light when you look at businesses in different perspectives. I would have never thought that there would be discrimination in GRC’s in Thailand against their own people. The flows of capital and its relation to gender and sex workers takes many forms. The feminization of the service industry in the sense of being catered to emotionally and paying money for the service wether it is sexual or being cared for after surgery.

  12. shanaz
    11:22 am - 10-10-2012

    These articles have brought up issues I’ve thought about in a different context. In Aren Aizura’s article, the author discusses the different care that is given to Thai and non-white patients at Thai GRS clinics. All patients paid the same price for their surgeries, however, foreigners were treated much better than the locals who received this surgery. Compared to the United States, this article shows that the Thai are very comfortable with transgender surgery. Nevertheless, there is a prejudice in the medical field against Thais and non-Thais. This prejudice reminds of me of my trips back to my birth country. Although, I look and dress like everyone else, people pick up that I’m a foreigner. Therefore, I get treated differently and people there have different expectations of me.

    The author of “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialism and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror,” reveals that beauty is a key transnational idea. It seems that beauty connects people, whether male or female. The author uses a simple compliment of calling someone or something “beautiful” as an example of how a person or thing “once an outcast, perhaps—into
    a relation with others, with the world.”

    What I found most interesting in Amelia Cabezas’ article, is that “sexual tourism is more than an illicit activity, it involves socially acceptable behaviors and values.” This activity has blurred “boundaries that are intertwined with elements of romance, leisure, consumption, travel and marriage.” This makes me believe that if a state or country does not have a specific good or factories to profit from, then it makes sense why sexual tourism would be an easy option for locals.

    Reflecting on all the articles, one example I can think of that in some ways relates to them is the same one I used earlier. In my immediate family, make up is seen as something you use for special occasions or very rarely. However, in my birth country, it seems that the more pounds of foundation you have on the more beautiful and modern you are. This shows that beauty has a very loose definition, what one culture or family might find beautiful another won’t.

    • shill10
      12:37 pm - 10-10-2012

      Where is your birth country? Are there any signs that you feel like you give off that show others there that you are a “foreigner”? I also found Cabeza’s article to be interesting, because I think that you really get to look into human behaviors. I found that same quote about blurring the lines interesting. It also provokes thought about why certain cultures semi-accept prostitution. Why is there no law against it if women are put into jail just for being in the streets? And why is it ok for men but not for women?

      • hakunanahtata
        6:12 pm - 12-10-2012

        This interests me too. Why men sex workers are glorified and women sex workers are degraded. Especially with the feminization of the service industry to cater to emotional needs. The flexibility of what beauty is in different countries such as your home country and the effects of capitalism, globalization on the norms is interesting. In Afghanistan I think it is great that beauty is used to connect women and empower them, I just think it is important that the connotation of beauty is used flexibly and is hybridized there.

    • jhanse10
      1:09 pm - 10-10-2012

      Like the person who commented above me, I am interested in where you birth country is. I like you ending of your response where you discuss how the concept of beauty varies within cultures and families and it is very true. I am lived abroad most of my life and you can definitely see how people in different countries have different styles because it is what is seen as beautiful to their people. I also find it interesting that you said your culture values make-up but that differs from your family views. Where you raised in you birth country or do they differ because you were brought up with a different culture in a completely different place?

  13. oliviab
    11:24 am - 10-10-2012

    I learned a lot from this week’s readings. I took a lot from each reading at each one examined areas of an issue of topic in a different way than what I had heard before.
    To start, while I found the article by Nguyen a little difficult to get through, she presented “beauty” in a way that I had not seen before. In the American version of beauty, beauty tends to only pertain to physical appearance and has a “fake” element to it. It is not often that you read that beauty is related to “truth, justice, freedom, and empowerment” and the acknowledgment of beauty has the ability to create a better world. However, when you look at beauty from the perspective of organizations using skills to make women feel more beautiful, and then when the women feel more confident and empowered, they may use that boost of confidence to create change, it gives a whole new meaning the importance of beauty.
    The Aizura article was, obviously, very informative, but it also revealed the unequal treatment of patients just because of where they are from, regardless of the fact that they are getting the exact same procedures done and without a doubt need the same care to heal properly. Not to mention that Thai people are paying the same price for their entire stay as the other patients. This is a clear example of the unevenness of capitalism.
    The article by Cabezas, “Between Love and Money…”, also shows a pretty clear example of unfair treatment and unevenness of capitalism, as well as presenting sex work in a non-judgmental, strictly informative way. (I realize that as a research article, it has to be unbiased, but I still appreciated this viewpoint nonetheless.) I did have trouble following what she was trying to argue or prove, but either way, she presented interesting, informative material.
    All together, these articles reflect things that are happening in the U.S. are also happening globally. I think it is safe to say we all knew this before the readings, but the articles allow us to actually realize to what extent and how people living these lifestyles are treated unequally. As far as my own sense of experiences with gender goes: I think it is important for people to be aware of and tolerant of all the gender roles that are so prevalent today. And these articles provide some insight to how certain people, depending on their views/lifestyles, are not treated they way they should be, especially as they see that it is their own body and their own life—another person or government should not dictate their treatment, or lack of treatment, because of their choices or where they come from.

    • jhanse10
      1:04 pm - 10-10-2012

      I am glad to see that you mention how these issues are present in the United States as well as the countries the case studies take place in. It is often overlooked that we have the similar issues if not the same.

    • albuquerque
      3:34 pm - 10-10-2012

      “another person or government should not dictate their treatment, or lack of treatment, because of their choices or where they come from.” I agree entirely with this it is just so hard to promote this idea in places where governments and cultures are so closely tied together. Its a fine line between helping gender equality advance and forcing their cultures to change, because if we push this idea that governments/societies shouldn’t dictate what say women can and cannot wear, then we would fall in the same category as those who try and dictate how people live through their looks by trying to force people to change their social structures.

  14. jnewman4
    12:10 pm - 10-10-2012

    Down in the exotic realm of the Caribbean, exists a network of “sun, sea, sand and sex” (Cabezas). Sex tourism has grown to be a hot commodity among tourist destinations. With ancient roots tied to colonialism and the hunt for “sexual conquest and exploitation”, sex tourism offers a seductive twist to vacationing. Islands like the Dominican Republic and Cuba have resorted to such means to help with economic stability. Men and women who play these jinetero/jinetera roles hope, in the future, to personally gain economic advantages. Despite Cuba’s desire to continue as a socialist regime, it is forced to adhere to capitalist economic practices. In the case of sex tourism, domestic workers are the favorable over professional workers.
    Nguyen proposes that in Afghanistan, the burqa represents the absence of women’s rights and the presence of the Tliban’s disregard. Beauty without Borders, an NGO, focused on the importance of women feeling beautiful and having a sense of independence through self-esteem. Professionals from all over traveled to Kabul to establish a haven for women to express liberty through acts as simple as applying make-up. This idea of liberating the women of Kabul has brought global feminism to a place ravished by the war of men.
    Gender is accepted differently depending on the country. In the Caribbean, men and women both openly play submissive roles to get ahead in a slow moving economy. In Afghanistan, women are the inferior. However in Thailand a third gender in openly accepted: transgender or ladyboys. Transnationalism plays a role in this ideology because many transgender tourists travel to Thailand to visit gender reassignment clinics, for most feel they cannot be ‘“real” men or women without it’ (Aizura). In Thailand they offer acceptance and lower prices than what is found in homelands.
    Personally, I feel that gender plays a variety of roles across borders. In each country there is a struggle for a particular gender to gain political and civil rights, mostly women, homosexuals, and transgender. Heterosexual men always have the upper hand in any situation especially when it comes to promiscuity.

  15. rgomez5
    12:19 pm - 10-10-2012

    In the article from Aren Aizura about the sex changing industry in Thailand is was very interesting to see how Thailand has become a world class destination for gender reassignment surgery (GRS). I can see that the Thai clinics have found their comparative advantage in providing the best service possible at relatively low prices in western standards. About 400.000 foreign patients go for GRS, this is an impressive number for the Thai economy. However, some local people complain about racist policies from clinics who don’t treat Thai people as well as the do with foreigners, there was even a case of a Vietnamese girl who had a very difficult experience because the bad service. In this case we can argue that the good service is not just for foreigners, but for western foreigners. It seems that clinics worry more about western foreigners because they are known for carrying more money. Thailand has become a very tolerant country regarding GRS surgeries, and this makes also foreigners comfortable about going there to perform the procedure.
    In the paper from Amalia Cabezas the most shocking part for me was how racist police and people can be in Cuba and Dominican Republic, dark skin girl walking with a tourist is considered a prostitute but a light skin girl doing the same thing is considered as a friend, this can be tracked from their colonial origins in which black people were not supposed to mix with whites and always had lower social status, it seems that this prejudices still the rule in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other former colonies in the region. This colonialist way of thinking keeps darker skin people still treated as 2nd class citizens in some of these countries. Another interesting factor I saw in the paper is how male dominated these societies are, in which a female sex worker is punished, but a male sex worker is celebrated.
    From Nguyen’s paper in Afghanistan, sometimes for us it may be hard to understand all the limitations and rules women had to face in these country, simple restrictions such as not been able to freely walk on the streets without wearing a burqa, and so many atrocities done on women just because they wanted to be more feminine. In times of such repression women look over secret beauty salons in which they could feel pretty and escape from the atrocities of the regime.

    • kmilburn1957
      5:50 pm - 10-11-2012

      I thought that the Caribbean issues with race was very intersting. I was dismayed to see how the color of the person’s skin and who they were with can make the difference between being harrassed as a prostitute or being fawned over as a tourist. I felt gratefu to be in the US where this doesn’t happen, but then thought, well I am a typical white female. Maybe this kind of stuff still happens to people of different ethnicities and I am totally unaware.

      • rgomez5
        12:31 am - 10-12-2012

        Yeah, it is sad to see that still in so many places this type of vehavior is still the rule, specially in places where dark skinned people are the vast mayority.

  16. jhanse10
    12:24 pm - 10-10-2012

    The articles assigned this week were very interesting. I feel like it was very focused on the culture aspect of this course, which we have not yet studied a lot about. The articles present very different but extremely intriguing cases where the gender is treated differently in the global world. Aren Aizura, the author of the article “Romance of the Amazing Scalpel”, writes about the market of GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) in Thailand. This article is a perfect example of how there is an unevenness of capitalism in the world, which is formed around transnational gender actions. It shows how the medical tourism market caters to foreigners from wealthier countries opposed to local nationals. Nquyens’s article speaks most of the abuse of human rights as it pertains to women. The article “ The Biopower of Beauty” spends time discussing how the middle East takes away fashion and beauty freedoms with their women and not only is it a human right violation but also touches on political, religious and health concerns that deal with oppression. The author draws attention to the implementation of wearing a Burka and the torturous consequences if women do something as simple as paint their nails. The last article written by Amalia Cabezas, brings light that neither prostitution nor globalization is new to Cuba and the Dominican Republic areas. She speaks of how sex sales support the tourist prosperity as well as the economy of the country. For many women it is their only option for survival but is also frowned upon by society. It is interesting to think about how the women involved in prostitution were being persecuted but the men paying for the services were being overlooked. This is a perfect example of how women are classed completely different in other global countries.
    Studying these differences, it is difficult to not judge a country by comparing it to American standards. It is easy to be judgmental without collecting all of the facts and trying to understand the culture. All of these articles prove that there is a global discrimination against women and is acted out in different ways. The questions that rises is how as a global society do we fix what is going out without interrupting nations sovereignty. I find these case studies fascinating because this is the type of work I want to get into in the future. These discriminations are not new and often dealt with by women for survival purposes. However with globalization, feminism is on the rise across the world because citizens are able to learn about new other cultures and how other human rights are being protected elsewhere in the world.

    • shill10
      12:32 pm - 10-10-2012

      I think it is awesome that you want to get into work on this subject in the future. I also find it very interesting. I often wonder what makes things ok depending on your gender in certain societies. What makes it ok for men to provide sexual services, but if women do the same they are looked down upon? I know the article discussed those reasons, but as a world I am curious as to why certain gender roles are assigned the way there are today.

      • rgomez5
        2:10 pm - 10-11-2012

        This is an interesting topic, of why male prostitution is not seen as a bad thing there, my opinion is that most Latin American countries are what they call “machista” which means male dominated societies, in which mostly man infidelity is seen as a strong characteristic that gives more value to men.

  17. shill10
    12:28 pm - 10-10-2012

    I really enjoyed this week’s readings because I find human sexuality fascinating. The first article I read was written by Amalia Cabezas and was about sex tourism in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The author told of different personal accounts where women and men were given gifts or money from tourists for providing sexual acts, friendship, or companionship. I thought it was very interesting that in this culture, the workers never discussed money with the tourists, but rather were grateful for any gifts they received—even if those gifts were clothing or meals. The article related to globalization and capitalism in that tourism was the main economy for these countries. Visitors from other nations were paying for services ranging from hotels and spas to sexual services. It was interesting that many of the people that were not wealthy enough to work in the tourism industry were poor and didn’t gain anything from the tourist economy once all-inclusive vacation packages became popular.
    The next article was by Aren Aizura, and this article focused on medical tourism in Thailand, mostly highlighting transsexual people. Thailand has created an economy that profits from selling the idea of femininity through offering gender reassignment surgeries along with excellent care. This has become a global commodity. The interesting part of the article was that only non-Thai women who had received the surgery in Thailand felt that the experience or “journey” was magical. Thai women who paid the same amount were not treated the same way and the foreign women in the facilities.
    Finally, Mimi Thi Nguyen’s article about the biopower of beauty was mostly about a US NGO called Beauty without Boarders that aims to educate women that were previously under Taliban rule on how to be beautiful. This article was interesting in that the idea of what is beautiful is different in different cultures. Also there is a certain sense of imperialism when the West wants to spread their ideals on beauty into the Middle East. As a woman, I think that beauty is a matter of personal preference. I don’t always wear make-up, but the article seemed to relate make-up to being “alive” and having the self-esteem to stand out as an individual with power. While I understand the theory, I think that might be a little too much.

  18. ngibson3
    12:45 pm - 10-10-2012

    All three of these case studies discuss the issue of transnational beauty and how that’s being used to combat gender inequalities. Aren Aizura article “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel.”, Discusses the medical tourist that flock to Thailand from wealthy nations because of the cheaper healthcare and because of the symbolic journey, a pilgrimage of taking the final step of changing your gender in a new exotic place. The boom of medical tourism in Thailand and many other countries has been aided tremendously by the internet, because of the new means of communication and advertising, where Thailand plays up its reputation as an exotic place where anything goes. In Thailand there is a large disparity between the quality of the private treatment of the tourists and the much worse private treatment of the Thai citizens, because they are less valuable to the Thai market. This is an example of uneven capitalism. Specifically the article looks at the huge industry of medical gender reassignment in Thailand. Many people from around the world travel to Thailand for gender reassignment which has become a commodity there, not only for the cheap price, but also for the cultural acceptance of it. In the Thai culture gender lines are much less defined and more fluid, a result of this is how the Thai feel that the want/pursuit of gender reassignment is not a psychological disorder, and that it does not need to be treated, unlike most people in western countries. In Mimi Nguyen article, “The Biopower of Beauty”, she defines biopower as that beauty can be seen as a health issue, aesthetic issue and as a political issue. The author states that beauty has become an important transnational issue because a trait that all humans share is the want to be near and possess beauty, in all its many forms. An example of how beauty has become a transnational issue is that after the September 11th 2001 attacks, the Bush administration put a spot light on the issue of women’s rights and the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan with the backing of the human rights initiative, and many international beauty organizations. This was represented by the wearing of the burqa. Women started to create secret salons where they could express themselves fully, exposed and loved without fear of being shunned. Beauty was used in Afghanistan to rebel against tradition and politics. In Amalia Cabezas article, “Between love and money,” discusses the economy of the Caribbean. Their economy depends on sun, sea, sand, and sex and all the beauty that these islands have to offer in those arenas. The citizens there, because they cannot make a living and support their families in other ways, capitalize off the sensuality of the land itself and its people. The sex trade, which caters to tourists, is not new to this region having originated back during the slave trade. The government there cracks down on the women for participating in the illegal trade, but not the men, because they are pumping money into the economy.

    • oliviab
      7:36 pm - 10-10-2012

      I’m not really sure if I am understanding what you wrote correctly, but I do not agree with your last line. You wrote that the government was/is tougher on the women who participate in sex tourism, while the men or not bothered as they are pumping money into the economy. I guess the way I see it, both men and women are pumping money into the economy..
      If I am understanding what you wrote correctly, could you explain what you’re saying further?

  19. hakunanahtata
    12:45 pm - 10-10-2012

    In Aizura’s article about Anglo-Europeans going to Thailand to receive gender reassignment surgery is a great example of how people and resources flow. Thailand is a medical tourist country that provides services catering to affluent people that are not Asian. The examples given in the reading demonstrate the differentiation of quality of care based on nationality. It also shows the affective labor in terms of feminization of labor in the sense of third world women workers catering to the emotional needs of foreigners. The flows of capitalism within the country and into the country are because of rural women going to the city to work for money that is coming in internationally. This in turn changes the flows of capital within the country and outside of it. Nguyen’s article about humanitarian imperialism and global feminism shows the intricate relations of beauty, humanitarianism and imperialism. Women in Taliban controlled Afghanistan are required to wear burkas, and hide their “beauty.” As the war in Afghanistan raged humanitarian efforts were made by “the west” to bring beauty schools and products in to Afghanistan to liberate the women. This is a complicated relationship that has greater effects. For example the Taliban is very protective over their woman and by “imperialist” bringing western style and dress for the women it creates further conflict. Not that women shouldn’t be able to dress as they please but the fact that it is western ideals of beauty adds fuel to the fire. And the perspective of beauty changes based on culture and identity. There is nothing wrong with the burka as long as it’s the woman’s choice but by the west’s beauty standards it’s a sign of oppression. Feminism is different across borders and there needs to be caution when trying to feminize women in Afghanistan as a humanitarian act. Cabezas article discussed the role of men and women in the sex tourism industry in Cuba and Dominican Republic. It is interesting how women are marginalized if they are in the sex industry but men are not. The countries have rehabilitation programs for women in the industry because they believe it is there fault of having low morals and values but don’t divulge into the root of the problem which is poverty. When I think of my experiences of gender it brings me back to my trip to Amman Jordan. While there I always wore pants or dresses below my knee and covered my shoulders and chest in order to blend. Being a western woman in Amman I noticed a lot of differences between our cultures. For example the only time I saw Jordanian women out was when they were shopping, going from point A to point B or accompanied with male relatives at restaurants. When going to hookah bars to watch the world cup there would be large groups of men socializing but never women. Only women who would be out socializing are western woman and we have a different status/expectation with in the country than Jordanians. The dress of Jordanian woman varied too. Some women would wear hijabs over their clothes, others the full burka, or long sleeves and pants and others dressed in western clothes and just a scarf. We need to take a careful look at the cultural aspects of people and identity before we go setting our own standard of beauty in other countries, referring back to Nguyen article.

  20. grivas3
    12:52 pm - 10-10-2012

    This week articles brought up ideas that we usually don’t link in relation to globalization. Aren Aizura, “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel: ‘Labour, and Affect in Thai Gender Reassignment Clinics” discussed the treatment giving to Thai and non-Thai patients after their GRS surgery. The author explained how Thailand is now a a common place for foreigners to come and get those types of surgeries. Furthermore, in goes into the hospitality and care that is giving to non-Thai patients but the same luxury treatment is not offer to natives from that country. This is a problem because both customers are paying the same price and having the same surgeries but foreigners seem to be receiving better treatment by these clinics. Moreover, this is a good example of unevenness of capitalism through transnational gender because Thailand prefers rich foreigners than natives from their country for GRS surgeries. I can relate this to my past experiences where I have visited El Salvador and people know you are not from the area and you get a sort of special treatment.

    Mimi Thi Nguyen, “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in the War on Terror” explained how beauty has emerged in context to globalization. She studied the case of Afghan women and how them being forced to cover completely is violating their human rights. To fight against this, transnational movements like Beauty Beyond Borders have been established to give women those powers back. Afghan Women have secretly been establishing Beauty schools and using supplies to gain that sense of beauty and empowerment. This article helps us think about gender in transnational terms because women through beauty empowerment are using globalization to stop oppression in their nation.

    “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic” Amalia Cabezas studied the connection of sex tourism to the economy in both Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The natives from these regions focus on building a relationships with the tourist in order to hopefully gain long term relationships that can bring their a better economic stand. We can relate this to the unevenness of capitalism because through these tourist that visit the area we are seeing a economic boom and people are gaining a better living through these type of “work”. This article also focused on gender because it explained how women have trouble finding jobs and many times are single mothers so this becomes their only option in order to support their family.

  21. scamp3
    12:52 pm - 10-10-2012

    All three articles I read this week dealt with sexuality and gender as it pertains to Globalization. All three articles in someway incorporate the fact that neoliberalism is a strong force in the global market. The first article I read, “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel” by Aren Z. Aizura, mainly discusses transgender surgery in Thailand. This is not to say however, that the surgeries occurring in Thailand are aimed specifically toward the peoples of Thailand. The article claims that the clinics are promoted toward tourists more than the native people, but that is not to say that natives are not catered to at all. The article discusses that these clinics effect the global market by aspiring to attract more people through good business, and good customer service. The next article I read, “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminism in an Age of Terror” by Mimi Thi Nguyen, discusses how some women are being oppressed (Afghan women’s lack of rights were the main issue brought to light) by not being able to express their gender freely, and how this affects the global market. I especially liked how this article built up the cosmetic industry to be a good thing, “a concept of beauty informs in some important way how human rights are understood” (10, Nguyen). Beauty does not only provide a person self confidence, but expanding this knowledge helps create a new wave of business for those who did not have this information before. The third article I read, “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic” by Amalia L. Cabezas discusses prostitution in Cuban tourism and the effects it has globally. On one hand it is frowned upon for women to sell their bodies, but on another it is a booming business and for some, sadly, a way of survival. One of the issues that bothered me was the acceptance of male sex workers, “male sex workers are perceived as national heroes, their female counterparts are considered deviants..” (22, Cabezas). This somewhat frustrates me. Although I do not believe prostitution is the best form of work for a woman to be doing, I absolutely do not understand why women are continuously put down for doing the exact same thing as a man. This form of tourism is not healthy, whether it be male or female, and is not the form of beauty that should be passed around. Although, this type of work does contribute greatly globally.

    • oliviab
      7:47 pm - 10-10-2012

      I like how you connected the idea of beauty (from the Nguyen article) to the sex tourism ideas in your last few lines! It is unfortunate that so many men and women have to make their living in these ways. I think it was interesting though, that one of the ladies who was put in the rehabilitation centers felt so strongly about what she did and was okay with it as it’s “her body” and she is able to support her family with what she does. Because of her attitude, part of me just wants to say “Good for her!” despite how unhealthy (both emotionally and physically) selling sex can be.

    • acoreas12
      12:54 pm - 10-12-2012

      The issue of male sex workers being accepted over women also frustrated me as I was reading the article. I agree with you that it shouldn’t matter what sex you are because the risks for both (health, social and economic) is very scary and one shouldn’t be seen more deviant than other. As if the circumstances weren’t hard enough, the pressure by society and harassment by the police towards darker skin females makes it even worse.

  22. acoreas12
    12:58 pm - 10-10-2012

    The article by Aren A. Aizura, about gender reassignment surgery (GRS) procedures in Thailand was definitely a new to me. In this article this idea of “medical tourism” is emphasized as the growing and profitable market in Thailand. This “niche” is a product of successful advertising online and exemplary treatment by the staff towards international patients. People from around the world choose Thailand as their GRS destination, because it offers luxury, comfort and above all tolerance from the society as a whole. This “magical experience” the tourist use to describe their visit is not the same for locals who want the same surgery. Even though they are willing to pay the amount assigned for the GRS, they are not treated as well as the tourists.
    This idea that one sector in the global market can bring so much profit into a country like medical travel in Thailand is not uncommon. In Cabezas article, she talks about sex tourism and its positive impact on the economy of countries like Cuba and Dominican Republic and its people. Poverty levels in these areas continue to be very high, so locals look for other ways to obtain money for basic essentials. Tourism in these countries has brought with it new forms of employment for “beautiful” young men and women. Tourist who arrive look for companions to spend time with, and usually the staff workers of the resorts qualify as the perfect candidate. As in Thailand, the staff tries to make the visitors feel comfortable and satisfied during their stay but in the Caribbean this involves in many cases sexual services, but not necessarily for money. The idea behind providing these services is to take advantage of opportunities like gifts, potential travel and even marriage that may arise.
    Nguyen’s article takes a different approach toward beauty and globalization. I found it interesting to see beauty as a human right and that many of us take for granted. In my life beauty ideally was one’s personality, but due to the influence of the media, trends and peers it’s hard not to try and look good from the outside as well as within. Seeing beauty as a form of “restoring self-esteem and independence” while also “connecting individuals to the world” is an idea that impacts everyone but is not necessarily exercised the same way.

  23. sarahariri
    1:00 pm - 10-10-2012

    Gender, especially female, is under scrutiny throughout the world. In Aren Z. Azura’s article, “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel: ’Race’, Labour and Affect in Thai Gender Reassignment Clinics” the studies being discussed were male to female gender reassignment surgeries and the accompanying cosmetic procedures to produce a feminine appearance. The plastic surgery “scene” in Thailand is known for attracting customers throughout the world. Thailand’s plastic surgeons are best known for their male to female gender reassignment surgeries who have even coined the term “ladyboys” due to their impeccable skill. Thai patients who were interviewed in the article claim that they were not given the same treatment as “farang,” or “foreigners.” One patient even believed it was because foreigners were thought to have more money. This unevenness of capitalism due to the global “hype” surrounding plastic surgery in Thailand causes trouble for local patients in transition, as they receive an inferior treatment to foreign patients in transition.
    The mistreatment of women in transnational terms is not a new phenomenon. Amalia L. Cabezas’ article, “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic,” discusses “sex, travel, and globalization” which she uses to define the tourism industry of today. During imperialist war and conflict, women were often taken as “booty.” The sexual exploitation of women to establish dominance over a region also brings up the point that humans are reusable sources of income (up to a certain point), where as drugs can only be used once. This means more money and more power as human beings are being enslaved throughout the world to this day.
    In my personal experience with gender in transnational terms, as a woman with Middle Eastern roots, I have noticed that “western” or “white” beauty is highly valued. With dangerous products being marketed in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent to bleach ones skin.

    • jnewman4
      8:57 am - 10-12-2012

      Your comments about “white” beauty being superior is an important aspect of globalization or “americanization” that I completely missed in the reading. By the industry leaders “helping” these afghani women they are pushing their western beliefs of beauty. Im really glad we discussed this issue in class because its an interesting phenomena, it just shows how single minded westerners are. To them everyone else is uncivilized. I did realize that the western perception of beauty has crossed borders through media, but it astonishes me how deep the subject truely is.

    • shusain
      8:45 pm - 10-16-2012

      I like how you connected all three of the readings together, they all kind of had the same focus and topic. I also agree with your last line about beauty because being a Middle Eastern woman myself I know how much fairness and beauty is almost worshiped in those areas, and how woman will go through anything just to look like perfection.

  24. ncockril
    1:00 pm - 10-10-2012

    In discussion of this week’s readings on Thai and non-Thai trans-gender surgeries, it is of note that the foreigners are treated much better than the native Thais that come to get the same surgery. Having worked with foreigners for over 95% of the procedures, this disparity is not easily accounted for when it turns out that every patient pays the same price for the procedure. In my view, it has everything to do with economics and this specific flow of consumers in the developed world to this specific business in Thailand- if 95% of your market comes from outside, those that head back to the developed world are potentially your greatest source of income in portraying your handiwork there. To me, it is illogical that these doctors harbor any sort of ill-will or problem with Thais getting their treatment except that they will just remain in Thailand. It could be reputation thing as well; the doctors want their clientele to remain almost exclusively foreign- especially when these foreigners always have large quantities of money, it may be a status or pride thing among the doctors. However, the ultimate reason remains economic, as a better reputation means more high-end clientele. The cause behind Thailand’s gender “flexibility,” if you will, is probably multifold and complex. In the United States, these procedures are probably more looked-down-upon, possibly correlated to the resurgence of evangelical Christianity (though by no means due to it). The disparity of how men, women, and trans-gender individuals are treated in different cultures is also apparent in the religious and social contexts within. My mother was grew up in the late years of the Soviet Union; from what she has told me, there existed a state-mandated (which morphed into a societal) equality of men and women. For the most part, a woman can do what a man can do, and the Soviet Union recognized this with much of their work. The heaviest lifting was reserved for men because they could do it perceptibly do it more effectively, just as women still partially raised children. Yet both held absolute education equality, which is something that didn’t exist here in the United States until surprisingly late in the 20th Century. It is an interesting topic overall and made for good reading.

    • grivas3
      10:06 pm - 10-11-2012

      I agree with your opinion that people find it much easier to have does types of surgeries done in Thailand because they might looked down upon in this country and how individuals are treated differently in other nations. I think this is very important because the article described a lot of how people enjoyed the service giving to them after the surgery.

    • ender91
      12:07 am - 10-12-2012

      I think another economic reason that service is better for foreigners than locals in the clinics in Thailand is because they do earn more money from them. I mean I think the surgery and rehab are paid by both foreigners and locals at the same price but the locals go home afterwards. The foreigners stay and pay for other services and they might even pay or gift workers that they interacted with.

  25. rafae309
    1:02 pm - 10-10-2012

    The articles we read for this week were very informative and eye-opening and various issues were discussed. In Aren Aizura�s article, I was very surprised to see their �Rolls Royce� treatment of transgender patients. Previously, in reading an article about kidney trans plantations where operations were often botched or mistreated, it was a different feeling to read about the �care packages� patients in Thailand received. The successful operations have also attracted a lot of foreign tourists and this whole thing has become known as �medical tourism� which I found to be very interesting. However, we also find out that many of the patients are non-Thai, majority of them are affluent America, British or European. We also find out that there is a lot of prejudice. While paying the same price, these foreigners get treated a lot better and also have better quality service than the local Thai women, who are seen as less valuable to the market. That�s how we can see an unevenness of Capitalism, where you are treated differently even when you are paying the same price. We also see that gender in Thailand has a very different concept where people can change their gender to whatever they like or feel comfortable with and do not feel the need to be restricted by society.
    In Mimi Thi Nguyen�s article, The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in an Age of Terror, we read about the women in Afghanistan who have been repressed and forced to wear Bhurkas. My interest in this article is with the demonization of the Bhurka. It is true that in many areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, there are women who wear veils because the men or society order them to, and that is indeed terrible. However, there are also many areas, and countless women, who actually wear Bhurkas because they actually feel comfortable wearing them. They feel protected, knowing their identity is something they can protect even in broad daylight. We read how Bhurkas are �Implicated as the absolute negation of life, the burqa�a regressive and premodern remnant, a metonym for a barbaric Islam, a shorthand for the subjugation of women, a violation of the �basic principles of international human rights law� according to the U.S. Department of State 2001. It is true that there are areas where women are forced to wear them, but it�s simply not the only fact. There are many whose husbands or family members have no issues with what their women wear as long as they�re decent; however those women still PREFER wearing Bhurkas and veils. They LIKE protecting their identity in society and enjoy this sense of anonymity that comes with it. It also has a lot to do with variables like culture, upbringing, religion, and thinking. These are factors might prove challenging to understand or comprehend by other people who�ve lived completely different lives in atmospheres completely different to the ones in question. That said, FORCING Bhurkas on women is terrible and indeed a way to enslave and repress them and their identity. However, I just wanted to clarify that there would be many women who would argue the complete opposite. This is another way we see the unevenness of Capitalism, contrasting the rights women have different parts of the world.
    In Amalia Cabezas�s article, she analyzes the sex trade and sex tourism in Cuba and Dominican Republic where unemployment and poverty has given rise to this industry. As long as there is tourism, globalization, and travelling, there will never be a shortage of clients and customers for sex. The sex trade has been structured into the economic system where they are linked with many other legal businesses. With the rise and consistency in tourism, unemployed people will always try to make quick money or financially support themselves and their families when their own government cannot. The term �commodified sexual services and companionship� was very interesting and the method of payment as gifts and clothes instead payment for their services was also something I had read for the first time. These readings for today�s week were all very interesting and made me think and understand the issues which have been ongoing for the longest time.

    • ender91
      12:01 am - 10-12-2012

      I agree with what you said about the burqa. The burqa itself is not evil because there are women who are perfectly fine with wearing it. Its just wrong when its forced on them and it was also wrong when the punishments for not wearing them or even just taking them off for a bit were severe.

  26. msaddat
    1:12 pm - 10-10-2012

    Reading through the three articles from this week, has made me realized that there is so much more to globalization then what most people see. Sure it’s the movement of ideas, people, and goods, but in what context? Generally we focus on the benefits of this theory, idea, or even era of a world without borders, but have we zoomed in on all the things affected? The first article “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel,” by Aren Aizura looks at gender reconstruction in Thailand. It describes a top-notch clinic that has incredible results but then reviews different perspectives and how they felt the clinic was really run. Affluent transgender individuals from around the world raved about the service and results, while its own people of Thailand complained that it was quite different for them. They felt ignored and uncomfortable but did notice the quality offered to foreigners. So would you consider this globalization from the top? Is this just another benefit for the rich because they seem to be the ones capable of this “medical tourism?” Many don’t really think twice about the idea of “beauty,” but today beauty, is what connects the world. It was discussed that beauty brings comfort and with comfort one can easily “move.” In “The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialism and Global Feminism in an Age of Terror,” Mimi Thi Nguyen the simple idea of beauty allows people to connect around the world. With the NGO “Beauty Without Borders,” allows a suppressive group of women in the country of Afghanistan to be able to express this right. With the strict political regime of the Taliban, this article proves the importance of this simple idea. In the last article “Between Love and Money: Sex, Tourism, and Citizenship in Cuba and the Dominican Republic,” Amalia Cabezas describes that’s the idea of “global sex,” is nothing new. Slaves, and human trafficking are a long-standing issue that many countries still face. Although many may see conclude that this is an issue, the two countries use this to their advantage to increase tourism and capital gain. Thus, through theses articles we can see how the idea of gender and beauty mean different things around the world because of globalization.

    • jnewman4
      9:08 am - 10-12-2012

      I completely agree that beauty is defined differently across borders, yet the idea of globalization is to share ideas eventually eliminating borders. But its no surprise that ideas of dominant cultures are the ones being circulated more freely, and are being accepted or even forced in more and more countries.

    • acoreas12
      12:46 pm - 10-12-2012

      I agree with you that globalization from the top was seen in Thailand, because as you said only the affluent were benefitting from this “medical tourism” in every sense (cost, treatment and degree of comfort). I really like how you connected beauty, comfort and movement, because we can see this in every level of society. Within the US families can move from one neighborhood to another due to comfort and beauty of the area. Internationally, immigrants move from one country to another and usually it’s because they aren’t comfortable with their government or standard of living back home.

    • shusain
      8:35 pm - 10-16-2012

      I really liked your post, especially the questions that you asked. It’s interesting because beauty isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of globalization. The articles helped in a way to look at what exactly globalization is from a different perspective and how gender is connected as well. Great job!

  27. njelvani
    1:41 pm - 10-10-2012

    In a society that is obsessed with looks and where superficial beauty is idolized the pressures on both genders to maintain timeless beauty within the confines of capitalism is insurmountable. As mentioned in the reading the perplexities of supply and demand of people fluctuates in response to the gender imbalances and stereotypical norms that are manifested due to obsession and indulgence with unrecognizable material, which breaches the privacy and personal possessions that are God given to each existing entity; whether it be someone’s body, intellect spirit, clothing, property or human rights. The value of life depreciates as supply exceeds demands of the general population and causes not only and inflation in the world markets but it is also reflected in the psyche or everybody regardless of them being cognizant of it or not, yet this occurs in varying degrees. However, it is mentioned that the worst cases of these transitions have to do with the physiology and psychology that has the greatest impact on gender identity and roles that correspond to social norms and the status quo accepted by the general population of certain territories. The case of Thai gender reassignment surgeries as brought recent attention to the public, since it is becoming so acceptable within the confines of enabling the expansion of their economy. This however, has caused more dissatisfaction and disappointment than anticipated for the patients that undergo this procedure because their ideals are not achieved and the gender is ambiguous to themselves more importantly. The disproportionate reaction to the transformations in regions suffering from oppression and gender imbalances has nothing to do with covering oneself but with the confusion behind what beauty really is. Is beauty a blessing in disguise? Is it a burden? Should all people look the same? Diversity is a mercy and the rate and price people are willing to pay for what is beautiful is alarming and unprecedented.

  28. hsingh4
    6:32 pm - 10-10-2012

    All 3 of the articles discuss gender in great depth. The Nguyen article talks about fashion and beauty as processes that produce subjects. It focuses mainly on the state of Afghani women in their society. “The Afghan woman who desires beauty thus desires a democratic future of movement, choice, and independence, where beauty is imagined to live.” This article helps us think about gender in a transnational way because we see how the beauty industry creates cultural economies and a form of empowerment. By denying women the right to express their inner desires, the Afghan government was blocking access to a fundamental human right.
    Aren Aizura, the author of “Romance of the Amazing Scalpel,” talks about the disparity between white and non-white patient treatment in a Thai GRS clinic. Foreigners have left numerous positive reviews, yet the Thai natives reported that the same services were not available to them. The market seems to be catered towards non-natives. This shows that there is a prejudice in the medical field against Thais and non-Thais. This could also be considered a flaw of capitalism.
    The article by Cabezas, “Between Love and Money…”, also portrays an example of unfair treatment and unevenness of capitalism. For Cabezas, neither sex exploitation nor globalization and travel is new to the Caribbean, as the region has long been dependent on these things. Both Cuba and the Dominican Republic use sexuality to increase tourism. The flow of globalization is obviously still felt in these countries. Both race and gender play a large role in determining which job the worker gets assigned to. She concludes by saying “International mass tourism has led to the erosion of boundaries between labor practices and romantic relationships”.

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