Vietnam Rising Dragon: Contesting Dominant Western Masculinities in Ho Chi Minh City's Global Sex Industry

  • Kimberly Kay Hoang


Scholars have produced a substantial body of literature on the lives of female sex workers in the commercial sex industry in developed and developing countries around the world. This literature on heterosexual relations has focused overwhelmingly on the experiences of female sex workers, neglecting to examine the significance of male clients (Chapkis 1997; Prasad Sociological Perspectives 42(2):181–213, 1999; Weitzer Annual Review of Sociology, 35(1), 213–234, 2009). The limited studies that do address male clients focus exclusively on Western men who participate in romance or sex tours. No study has examined sex work as a site for the performance and production of specific masculinities for the increasing number of local, non-Western, business elites in the new global economy. Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research conducted between 2009 and 2010 and informal interviews with 25 clients, 25 sex workers, and three madams in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I illustrate how local Vietnamese and Asian businessmen enact their masculinity in relation to other men through the medium of hard cash. Local elites' participation in local hostess bars allows them to capitalise on Vietnam's rapid economic restructuring in the context of the 2008 global economic crisis in order to assert their place as major players in the world order. In doing so, wealthy local Vietnamese and Asian businessmen deconstruct dominant Western ideals to assert their place in the global order.


Sex work Prostitution Globalisation Political Economy Asia Masculinities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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