Love, Romance, and Sex “without Hang-ups”
Drawing on interviews and participant observation with 15 entertainers in Istanbul, this chapter shows how younger women migrants disavow discourses that would frame them as “victims” of trafficking. Entertainers often see new forms of mobility as creating a possibility of feeling cosmopolitan and modern, and unlike many other post-Soviet women migrants, they are comfortable with the possibilities sexuality affords. The chapter portrays how entertainers flaunt sexuality “without hang-ups”, along with ideals about intimacy, love, and romance, in their effort to provide the authentic “girlfriend experience” that Turkish men they encounter appear to seek. The chapter also reflects on the forms of agency post-Soviet exotic dancers have as they navigate within the constraints of a sexualized sphere of labor in Turkey.
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