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Archive for the ‘12 seX spaces in Singapore’ Category

 

Introduction
By Terence Chong

Sex spaces in global cities are transnational ones. In much the same way the service sector in the metropolis is laden with labourers and workers from the Third World, so too has Singapore experienced the globalisation of sex work. Global economic trends, geopolitical shifts and national insecurities have led to international and regional labour migration which, in turn, has had impact on the feminisation of the informal market. The sex industry is one such example. But while transnational, these sex spaces are simultaneously nationally or ethnically segmented. From the PRC Chinese ladies strolling along the streets of Geylang, to the Vietnamese girls spilling out of the karaoke bars in Joo Chiat, to the Thai and Eastern European women slinking in the pubs in Orchard Towers, sex spaces in Singapore have evolved in tandem with the leisure activities, consumption habits and clientele that have converged there.

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Social Visits and Special Passes: Carceral Spaces of Migrant Sexual Labour in Singapore

Sallie Yea

 

Introduction

The relationship between sex and space has been a subject of increasing interest by geographers of late. In Singapore, the normative sexual spaces – officially or unofficially – include Geylang, Orchard Towers on Orchard Road, Desker Road and Joo Chiat Road. Such spaces may be spatially regulated through local council zoning, health, and criminal justice provisions, all of which enable the spatial management of this threatening sexual population. These spaces contain deviant sexual laboring and help contribute to the place identity of those districts as migrant sexual labourers work on the street, in regulated or in unregulated brothels.

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Is Joo Chiat’s ‘Little Vietnam of pho and sex’ a Thing of the Past?

  

Nicolas Lainez

 Walking along Joo Chiat Road during the day, one is immediately struck by the co-existence of two contrasting worlds. Dotted along the quiet street are design studios, art galleries, fashion and home accessory retailers, vintage furniture shops, patisseries selling delectable cupcakes, ice cream and chocolates catering to trendy young Singaporeans dressed à la mode. However, between Mountbatten Road and the Kahlid Mosque, Vietnamese eateries sporting functional plastic seats and tables serve cheap Vietnamese food to an insider clientele – Vietnamese residents and Singaporean visitors from all over the island. The atmosphere is casual and low-key. In front of the eateries, Vietnamese women sit and chat with each other over tea. But as twilight approaches, Joo Chiat undergoes a transformation – from a quiet middle class neighborhood to a vibrant entertainment venue. The fashionable young Singaporeans leave and are replaced by older Singaporean men who arrive alone in taxis and leave in the company of women. These men sit in the pubs, karaoke lounges and Vietnamese diners, eating, drinking, shouting and flirting with scantily dressed Vietnamese women.

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Public Morality in Sex Spaces

 

Vanessa Ho
Introduction

As a small country with limited natural resources, Singapore is heavily reliant on foreign direct investment, foreign talent and global trade. This is the narrative that we have come to be familiar with. Such reliance has made it necessary for the city-state to be seen as ‘clean’, both physically and morally, and to maintain this image, the government has poured in large sums of money and effort to ensure certain “moral standards” are upheld. This essay argues that the laws and practices surrounding sex work not only reflect state morality, but also impact negatively on the fundamental human rights of sex workers. On one hand, the state is of the pragmatic opinion that sex work is a ‘necessary evil’ but, on the other, faces public pressure to maintain the squeaky clean image of Singapore, thus resulting in policies and practices which shape sex spaces in Singapore.

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Imaginary Frontiers and Deferred Masculinity:

Singapore Working Class Men in Batam[1]

Terence Chong

 

Introduction

Dan lights his cigarette as he climbs to the upper deck of the ferry to Batam. It is a cathartic act that marks his departure from straight-laced Singapore into the imaginary frontier of the Riau islands. In less than two hours he will be massaged, pampered and desired. He will feel like a real man once again. The economic ties between the metropolis and the Riau islands have strengthened and deepened since the early 1990s as part of the sub-regional ‘growth triangle’, which includes the Malaysian state of Johor. The metropolis, however, spills over more than just capital, skills or tourists to the hinterland, but sexual desires and masculine identities as well.

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Ethnographic Sex Work Research in Singapore: Who gets to speak?

Lu Huiyi

 

Introduction

Perhaps one of the greatest draws of cultural ethnography is the thrill of venturing into fearful and taboo spaces. The red light districts of Geylang and the “Four Floors of Whores” at Orchard Towers have earned themselves a seedy reputation in Singapore. The significant concentration of the sex industry in these spaces sets them apart from other local districts. Furthermore, Singaporean conservative attitudes against prostitution mean that sexual spaces carry a certain stigma and are excluded from the socio-cultural imagination of more mainstream Singaporean spaces. In addition to this imagined distancing by locals, these spaces become especially distinct due to the fact that while Singaporeans and foreigners alike patronise Geylang and Orchard Towers, a significant proportion of the sex trade appears to be carried out by foreign sex workers.

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