Lisa Lines


This paper explores problematic Western approaches to women working as prostitutes within the ‘sex tourism’ industry in Thailand through an examination of how their situation is portrayed in the various English-language fiction and non-fiction narratives written on this topic. The first half of this study focuses on the context, practices and working conditions of the Thai sex tourism industry. This is then used as the lens through which to analyse the approaches to Thai sex tourism in Western mainstream literature.

Four books were analysed for their depiction of Thai prostitutes, with a focus on the plots, themes and characterisations of the women they depicted. Troublingly, it was found that the fiction often dismissed or glossed over the problems faced by Thai prostitutes, going so far as to glamourise the profession and demonise the women. Conversely, the non-fiction works are less romanticised and provided more nuanced and complex pictures of the women working in prostitution. It is important that this dichotomy is addressed. The fictional works serve to perpetuate myths and negative stereotypes about the industry and the women who work in it, ultimately contributing to their further subjugation by normalising sex tourism.

Author Biography

Dr. Lisa Lines holds a Ph.D. Social Sciences (History) from Flinders University and a Ph.D. Humanities (Creative Writing) from the University of Adelaide. She has tutored and lectured at all three South Australian universities. Her research interests include the Spanish Civil War, modern Spanish history, women in war and revolution, and plagiarism. She joined the University of New South Wales (Canberra) in 2014.