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On the Beach: Sexism and Tourism Essay

Since the 1800’s, tourism has played a major role in the world economy. It has helped improve suffering economies that are unable to rely solely on their exports, and provided poorer nations with foreign currency and foreign investment, which can help to improve the economy of the poorer nation. Tourism has also encouraged development of modern skills as well as new technologies. (Enloe 233) In conclusion, tourism has become one of the most valued sources of income for many countries around the world. However, while tourism has played an important role in the economic standing of underdeveloped nations, it has also encouraged many gender stereotypes, and as not provided to be an equal or a non-discriminatory industry. Two of the major areas in the tourism industry where there are obvious gender differences are in advertisement and employment. When it comes to the issue of tourism and advertisement, the way men and women are depicted in tourist advertisements are based upon people’s presumptions about masculinity and femininity.

Because of history depiction of males as the one’s whore are more likely to travel, and women who travel as being improper, (Enloe 208) the majority of tourist advertisements are directed at men. This is apparent through the use of sex appeal. An example of an advertisement that uses this device is the advertisement for Singapore Airlines, which is mentioned in the text On the Beach: Sexism and Tourism. In this advertisement, there is nothing more but a ethnic woman holding a lily while standing in a misty setting. No information about the airline and its rates are given. (Enloe 222) This clearly demonstrates how women are used for there femininity is tourism advertisements. This obvious use of sex appeal is used to entice men to use Singapore Airlines. When deciding what airline to use, they’re more likely to remember the one that had the attractive woman in its advertisement. Furthermore, it is possible for them to hold a subconscious belief that they will meet a woman similar to the one depicted in the advertisement if they use that airline.

Even in the advertisements that do show males, the differences between masculinity and femininity are apparent. The men will often be shown in police or military uniforms to give an image of safeness and security. On the other hand, women are usually depicted in colorful peasant dress, to give the illusion of them being welcoming and, more importantly to the male viewers, available. (Enloe 222) The way the most ethnic women are depicted in these advertisements gives the illusion that they are wilder and easily attainable, much more so than women back home. Men seeing these women depicted in the advertisements as they are, are more inclined to view them as something to experience and enjoy. (Enloe 216) The gender stereotypes in tourist industries are reinforced by the choice of employees, as the majority of them are women.

For example, in the Caribbean, during the 1980’s over 75 per cent of tourist employees were women. The reason for this high percentage is due to the fact that most of the jobs that relate to tourist industries are viewed as women’s work. The most common tourist industry jobs involve cleaning, washing, cooking, and serving. On of the reasons the female employment rate for the tourist industry is so high is because in society a man who took part in women’s work was seen as losing is masculinity, whereas these jobs were not seen reducing femininity for women. As well, studies have shown that women tourists prefer, and feel more comfortable when other women wait them on. (Enloe 223)

Furthermore, because women are usually passed a lower salary than men, by hiring more women employees, tourist companies are able to cut cost by paying the women employees far less than they would the males. (Enloe 224) The use of gender stereotypes in the tourist industry, as outlined in the text On the Beach: Sexism and Tourism are predominantly used for improving sales, and cutting financial costs. Tourist companies are aware that the depiction of women as exotic and welcoming will appeal to males, and hiring more women employees that men is financially beneficial. As a result, it is likely that these gender stereotypes will remain unless they become the cause of a decrease in profits.


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