Ethical Sex Tourism: What It Is and Why We Do It

Black and white image of a womxn lying on a tufted, chaise lounge. Hxr hair  is white blonde, and has pearls hanging from her neck. Shx's wearing black lace and stares at the camera seductively.
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This article is part of the Real As Fuck Collection

Content note: this article contains discussions on sex trafficking and sexual violence. 

If you type “sex tourism” into Google, you’ll get the following definition:

The organization of holidays with the purpose of taking advantage of the lack of restrictions imposed on sexual activity and prostitution by some foreign countries.

This definition doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth, does it? The language – “take advantage of the lack of restrictions” – feels somewhat ominous, creepy, even violent. Sex tourism is a vague umbrella term that conjures many reactions, as its definition includes the abhorrent exploitation of people through sex trafficking. It is a controversial topic that is not entirely understood. Even so, it’s important to know that not all sex tourism is bad or violent, and that’s what I’m here to discuss.

What is Ethical Sex Tourism?

If you’ve been with COTQ for a while, you know that I am an active participant in sex tourism, and advocate for sex workers. You may also know, then, that pursuing ethical experiences is our number one priority. Like the content we consume (see Ethical Porn: Changing the Way We Perceive Pleasure), where we travel and what we do require the same criteria, sex-related or not. Sex tourism includes travelling to a specific destination for sexual experiences or services. When you make sex tourism ethical, your decisions are influenced by the following:

  • You’ve researched the destination (the country or state) and understand how they regulate sex tourism (i.e., sex clubs, strip clubs, sex work, etc.).
  • You’ve researched the destination (the country or state) and understand laws impacting marginalized groups (i.e., laws prohibiting gay marriage).
  • You know whether sex work is legal, and how the government ensures sex workers are protected and working on their own terms (not forced).
  • You apply the same rules to sex tourism as you do to every day life. For example, you communicate in a healthy way, you ask for consent before engaging with anyone, and respect other people’s experiences, boundaries, and space.

As an ethical sex tourist, I do my best to travel to places whose cultures and practices align with my values. For example, a country who prohibits gay marriage has no place on my list.

Types of Ethical Sex Tourism

Most literature speaks about sex tourism as the exchange of money for sex. Although this is a form of sex tourism, it is not the whole picture.

James and I adore the ambience of a sexual soiree! Some of our favourite evenings include sitting at a bar, watching lace and leather donned people dance their hearts out or make love in dark corners of the club! The act of sex itself isn’t a prerequisite for a good, ethical time (although, it can be a bonus)! There are so many opportunities and exciting adventures to be had in the world of ethical sex tourism! Here is an unexhausted list of the types of ethical sex tourism we enjoy or are planning for future vacations:

Why Participate in Ethical Sex Tourism?

This type of life experience isn’t for everyone, and in no way am I trying to convince you otherwise. There are many benefits of ethical sex tourism, and whether you intend to participate or not, remaining sex-positive about these experiences for others is critical! And here is why:

  • By keeping it ethical, you are not violating human rights or participating in human trafficking.
  • Ethical sex tourism empowers sex workers.
  • Ethical sex tourism provides a safe and healthy outlet for people who don’t have access to intimacy in their every day lives.
  • Ethical sex tourism benefits the economy (Don’t believe me? Ask the Netherlands!).
  • By supporting or exercising ethical behaviour, you are practicing your belief in autonomy, and that sexuality is a private and individual experience/choice that governments should not be permitted to dictate.

For me, ethical sex tourism is also expansive. Exposing myself to diverse cultures, people, and experiences only serves me. Having these opportunities offers new perspectives that I can then share with you, in hopes of making this world a little more open, a little more sex-positive, a little more pleasurable.

Incredible Resources for Sex Work & Other Marginalized Groups

Sex workers are some of the most globally marginalized people. Luckily, organizations are working harder towards protecting the human rights of sex workers, and decriminalizing this work.

Because, yes, sex work is work. 

Below are some incredible resources for sex workers, but also individuals who want to educate themselves on the importance of sex work, and the fight these people are up against.

If you know or are a sex worker, and are interested in sharing your experiences, please contact me here. Also, if you have additional resources for sex workers or about ethical sex tourism, please share the link in the comments below.

Until next time,

Fuck well, friends (and keep it ethical)!

Quean Mo xx

So, tell me, what are your thoughts on ethical sex tourism? Do any types of ethical sex tourism appeal to you? Comment below or DM me here.

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