Global Sexualities

Globalization, from an American perspective, has always been viewed as a positive.  It is the way in which we spread ideas and culture and place influence on other parts of the world. However, globalization works to oppress individuals as well.  The power of imperial nations such as the US, has the ability to place its values higher than most and look down upon the values of others.  This has huge implications on the ways in which sexuality is viewed globally and perverted in a way to make money.  Sexuality on a global scale, transforms women’s bodies into commodities in which they can be sold, bought, or exchanged for capital, both in the physical and emotional sense, seen through the perception of virginity

Immigrant female bodies in America are viewed with a price tag and are reduced to how much they are worth.  This is due to a difference in cultures and the sexual objectification of female bodies that are not of our country.  In an interview with Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez she explores the dynamic of Mexican immigrants and heterosexual sex.  She is asked about virginity and the meaning it has in her culture.  She talks about a woman she knew who would “repair virginity” and how that impacted her view of the matter.  The notion that something can be fixed implies that something was broken, which was taught to a lot of the young women of these immigrant communities.  This can be viewed as a scare tactic in which women keep their virginities out of fear of not being good enough.  Their sex now has a price.  The physical presence of virginity gives these women value and has been worked into a capitalist system in which it can be bought.  When women then immigrate to the US their virginity is seen as a novel commodity to be purchased from the dominant male. For example, the culture of sex trafficking is rooted in the ideology of exoticism.  To American men, to still be a virgin or to have the opportunity to have sex with a virgin again is appealing and worth buying; for without a demand, there would be no supply.

Virginity itself then, is also granted value that goes beyond the physical buying and selling, but the exchanging of emotional capital.  In the Gonzalez-Lopez interview, she coins the term capital femenino, which she says, “examines the ways in which virginity may acquire a higher or lower “value” depending on very specific socioeconomic contexts and circumstances…” especially within a patriarchal society (540).  Virginity, in this context, is then used as a means of exchange to solidify a stable life and position within marriage.  It signifies decency and moral integrity and is therefore treated as “a means to an end” for women. These immigrant women have no power over their virginity, yet are bound by the theoretical value placed on their sexuality.  They have no freedom do with their virginity what they please because its value is paramount in the ability to exchange sexuality for a secure life.  Immigrants are even further constrained by this construct in different countries with other values.  They are seen, again, as exotic and the value of their virginity is also something exotic that can be attainable through exchange: Female sexuality for male dominated security.

In Sexualizing Asian Male Bodies by Travis Kong, he briefly touches on the over-sexualization of female Asian bodies.  He writes “if we consider that an Asian female body always embodies excessive sexuality, then we could say that an Asain male body is always devoid of sexuality” (84).  What’s important for this post is the first half of this statement: the Asian female body as exuding “excessive sexuality”.  This is a label that has been arguably placed on all “foreign” bodies from the perspective of Americans.  Again, this is the idea of exoticism that creates these myths and objectifies perceived “foreign” females within this country, further turning their bodies into commodities. This has been abundantly seen in mainstream movies and television shows in America.  Though these movies and shows are fiction and inherently “fake”, they are rooted in the realities of society.  In the ABC show Modern Family, the character Gloria is a young (obviously overly sexed) wife of a much older white male.  She does not work and in many episodes is just the mockery of jokes due to her accent bodacious body.  In one episode Gloria’s husband uses her body as a way to sell closets to a customer.  He literally (knowingly) sells the image of his wife for the benefit of his company.  She is no more than sexual asset to him and her entire value in this episode is tied to her sex.


Sexualities across the globe exist under similar constructs we see in America and in mainstream media.  Women’s bodies are being transformed into commodities in which they are bought, sold, and traded all across the world.   Immigrant populations face even greater tensions in the sense that they must balance the constraints of their new world with restrictions of their past one.  What is it about immigrants and “foreign” bodies that calls for this over-objectification of their bodies? Is the media to blame?  In a society where we gather most of our information and perceptions from the news and entertainment media, are they the ones creating these human commodities?


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