03/02/2010 16:12

Capitalizing on Women: Globalization and the International Sex Trade

Matt Lovett
Duquesne University

Capitalizing on Women: Globalization and the International Sex Trade

This paper examines the phenomena of international trafficking of women and sex tourism in light of an increasingly globalizing world. Globalization, while an amorphous concept, has been defined variously, and with varying degrees of complexity. For Joseph Stiglitz, at least, globalization “is the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world … brought about by the … reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of … barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and … people across borders.” While I will consider in preliminary remarks the increasing ease of transportation and communication, as well as instability resulting from economic transition as significant contributions to the sex trade, I will focus especially on the global spread of free market capitalism. Indeed, for my purposes, globalization can refer, fundamentally, to “the ongoing internationalization of capital.” Following Marx, I maintain that capitalism is inherently exploitative, and, furthermore, with Engels, that capitalism’s mode of monogamous familial relations in fact produced prostitution as its necessary byproduct. Further, in conjunction with Gayle Rubin’s reading of Lévi-Strauss’ The Elementary Structures of Kinship, I argue that the global sex trade is itself a necessary correlate of interwoven global capitalism, insofar as it links countries together in an evolving system of global kinship predicated on the trafficking of women.