Alejandra Lara – Interview
Sex tourism in Bahia, by Erica Williams covers the nexus among racism, commodification, and eroticization. Dr. Williams, became involved with sex workers in Brazil in an attempt to conduct research about sex tourism in the area. The book wanted to provide us with the different perceptions, different actors in the business had. Despite being an interesting topic, the book offered a narrow and very simply insight into this business.
By focusing in chapter four, Dr. Williams interviewed a “young white heterosexual male sex tourist from New York City.” (4) The American argued that sex in Brazil was something he wanted to experience due to the idea of it, the idea of Brazilian women, and how “easy” it was to obtain sex because of his race.
The author failed to give much of her personal opinion when interviewing these people. In class, she mentioned how she did not agreed with the American. Even though she failed to mention this in the book, she didn’t expand as to why she did in class either. It is clear that the level of poverty and lack of education and opportunity in Brazil has had an impact in the willingness of these women to engage in this business. It is by no means an effect of the white race being superior to theirs. If Dr. Williams explained where the “easiness” perceived by the American, came from it would give the book and her speech an overall purpose and frankly, it would have made it more interesting. Without it, even though she also disagrees, we focus on how wrong these statements are rather than what she’s trying to accomplish, to show the strong role race carries.
Nevertheless, it was interesting how she shared her personal story. It highlighted the overview of the prevalence of race in Brazil. Some men approached her simply because of her race, they assumed she was a prostitute. This story helped us understand how important race is and how it is preventing social mobilization as certain races are depicted in inferior ways in society.
I wish she had shared more stories or simply her personal opinion of prostitution in Brazil. It would have helped us understand why prostitution was the way it was. In such a sensitive and profitable business, it would have helped to have an overview of the causes of it. Most importantly, touching on how these different perspectives from either prostitutes or customers impacted the continuation of it, would have helped.
In conclusion, her book just laid out interviews, it failed to provide the issues the industry caused or some sort of conclusions. For example, I wish she touched on the implication it has in tourism overall, is it all postive? On the other hand, her presentation lacked her personal insight of the business and the implication of these interviews. I wish she would have been more open. Further, by giving an overview of Brazil’s society and economy and how these have fostered the growth of the prostitution empire, it would have helped us understand why race and perceptions have the connotations they have.