Long Blog Post #2 “The Commodification of Intimacy: Marriage, Sex and Reproductive Labor.”

Constable, Nicole. 2009. “The Commodification of Intimacy: Marriage, Sex, and Reproductive Labor.” Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol.38, pp.49-64.


            The article talks about anthropological and ethnographic studies of the transnational intimacy and intimate relations. It touches on the challenges that location brings as well as how gender plays a huge role as well as technology.  It covers a few different areas the first deals with migration. At first men were the focus of the topic of gender migration, and women were the main focus when it came to intimacy. A lot of time it is thought that men have more freedom than women, but studies were done to show that in some geographic areas women had more mobility than some men. The article talked about the reasons why some women choose to migrate to other countries.  It is not always just for money or for a better way of living, but to find intimate partners. In a study in the Dominican Republic called “What’s Love got to do with it” it was concluded that women do not actually love the men they are with, but stay with them for beneficial reasons.  The relationships are far from authentic. Technology was another area that was of great importance in the article. Technology makes it easier to establish and maintain long distance intimate relationships.  A lot of online dating sites gain huge profit from online match making.  Some people believe this is a good thing because it broadens the market for men and women looking for something new or different in a partner. There is a downside to the online market; it sometimes is a source for immigrant trafficking.  The sites make the immigrants look appealing, and make them believe they are on a dating site, when in actuality they are being trafficked for work or other things. Women that have been sent from other countries to live and work in other areas were always seen as traffic victims. It is being questioned by anthropologist if this is the case.  It was found that some women in fact choose this life. Adoption from other countries is technically migrating the child from one country to another, but society sees this as benefiting the child.

Gendered Migration

–          At first men were the main focuses of gender migration.

–          Women were seen as “Appendages to men”.

–          An author by the name of Hochschild wrote an Essay called “Love and Gold which said how the love provided by the women in the nineteenth century was better than gold, ivory, and rubber in the third world countries.

–          Love and care was called the new Gold.

–          Intimacy is applied more to women than men.

–          Social location influences mobility of men and women.

–          Ethnograpic research has found that in certain areas women have more for mobility than men.

–          When dealing with gender there is a migratory spectrum with families

  • The elite are called the astronaut families- here the families are divided among regions the father is makes money in one country while the mother takes care of the children in another.
  • The immigrant professional- these families have a choice to stay at home or have multiple homes.
  • The lower class end consists of sex workers, maids, and wives who care for the more privileged known as the “chain of love”.

–          Class identity is a very important factor when speaking about migrant subjectivities.

–          Women do not always move from poorer countries to the wealthier countries and vice versa for work, but often it is to find an intimate relationship or sex.

  1. New Technologies and Consumption

–          The internet plays a major role in new intimate relationships from country to country.

–          It has made it much easier to establish relationships in other countries across the web.

–          Technology also helps workers that keep ties with family members.

–          Organizations such as online dating and match making sites use the internet as a means of profit.

–          Some promoters of marriage say international marriage is the way to go because it offers a broader range of opportunities this known as the “marriage market”.

–          Sex services have inclined because it is much easier to accomplish now with the internet.

–          Marketing and consumption of workers was also impacted.

–          The more appealing the agencies make the immigrants the better the sales.

–          Adoption and reproduction technologies give researchers a reason to question the true definition of family.

  1. Love, Performance, and Authenticity

–          The authenticity of relationships is questioned

–          A key study of Dominican Republic sec workers called “What’s Love got to do with it” explores this.

–          The man who conducted the study said Dominican women and their relationships with foreign men were performances rather than real love.

–          They were in relationships with the men for benefits.

–          Now erotic and so called authentic relationships is being sold via the web.

–          The women gain satisfaction from the benefits and profit they receive from the men, and the men gain satisfaction from the care they receive.

–          Love in this industry is a commercial practice.

  1. Beyond Trafficked Victims

–          Most of the time women who move from different countries either for sex purposes or other purposes are seen as victims of trafficking.

–          It is now argued by anthropologists and researchers that they are not trafficked, but this is a choice for most of them.

–          Children who are adopted from other countries are technically migrating, but society sees them as benefiting from it.

–          When it comes to women society feels as though it is a form of slavery.

–          One analysis gives a couple reasons that women choose to be trafficked.

  • Their morals as what a wife should do
  • Offers from the entertainment industries
  • The opportunities that agencies offer


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