Women want sex Cuba

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Cuba is as much a fantasy as a real place. Cuba is a steamy and exotic Caribbean island, with rumba dancing and free-flowing rum. Cuba is a repressive and secretive regime. Cuba is a test workshop for socialist ambitions the world over. Cuba is a fantasy. It was ideas like these about Cuba, Cuban politics, and Cuban people that drew me there in the first place, and the resulting book — built on those months of ethnographic research and on the doctoral dissertation that followed — has recently been released under the title From Cuba with Love: Sex and Money in the Twenty-First Century University of California Press RahulNiviguest poster Dunjaand Pablo will be commenting on it over the next few days, followed by a reder from yours truly.

From Cuba with Love is a book about sex, politics, resistance, identity, freedom, oppression, and happiness. It contains chapters about identity, labelling, and language ; violence and resistance; state power, governance, and love; and identity-formation and new kinds of resistance. It is roughly chronological, in line with my field research, and unfolds through a series of stories about the people I met and the things I witnessed in Cuba.

The book centres around the figure of the jineteraa uniquely Cuban neologism denoting a woman who dates and sleeps with foreign men — a phenomenon and an identity that has captured both Cuban and international attention of various kinds in the last two decades or so. The jinetera emerged in the wake of the Soviet collapse, when Cubans confronted crushing austerity as their economy faltered, and some came to embrace economies of sex, romance, love, and money as a means of survival and escape.

Together, institutions ranging from the police and the Ministry of the Interior to the Federation of Cuban Women created an atmosphere of fear not only for jineterasbut for any woman who fit the popular understanding of the jinetera : young, attractive, Afro-Cuban or mixed race. In Havana, Santiago, Camaguey, and other Cuban cities, I met young women and men who met, dated, and slept with foreign tourists for a variety of reasons, and I spoke to them about their experiences.

More than anything, my informants challenged the notion that they are united by any overarching characteristics in terms of their backgrounds, families, values, or aspirations — that the jinetera even exists as a meaningful or representative category. It is a label that is largely applied from the outside by state institutions, police officers, and the general public.

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The book begins with a history that traces certain thre through the centuries, from the island known to its indigenous peoples as Caobanato the one that Columbus called Isla Juanato the Cuba of today. I tried to resist this, with mixed success, and focus instead on some persistent themes: the elaboration of virile national heroes, the genesis of the mixed-race mulata woman as the predestined and illicit bearer of sensuality, and the in-built sexual morality of the Cuban Revolution.

These, I argue, are the roots of the jinetera today. Turning to my field research, the book then moves through a series of temporal phases. With my first interviews, those that were in many ways the easiest to obtain, I learned about the ideas and life stories that motivated my informants, the relationships they had found, how they defined themselves and their situations, and their hopes for the future.

After delving into these darker recesses of the revolutionary project, I emerged into its bureaucratic heart to investigate some of the state institutions behind the crackdowns and rehabilitative efforts and their policies at the highest levels. Finally, looking back on six months of research, I attempted to draw together the embodied, sexualised resistance and sense of community that I observed amongst young Cubans who sought and slept with foreign tourists in order to understand what it might mean for Cuba.

What is controlled through state repression of the so-called jineteras is not exploitation, violence, or any objective form of harm but rather unacceptable sex and, through it, unacceptable ways of being. The Cuban revolutionary government held certain ideas about the good life, including what counts as a worthwhile career, a healthy relationship, and the right way to live, and it was trying to enforce them.

The people I interviewed flouted Cuban socialist norms by pursuing relationships that challenged conventions and gave them means of supporting themselves outside of the state system. In that light, sex becomes a potent form of resistance to pastoral power that is effective both in its effectiveness, allowing young people to turn away from exhortations to live a certain kind of life, and its form, which confronts prescriptive ideals of sexual morality at their most basic level.

Avenida Zanja in the neighbourhood of Centro Habana. All of that said, here are some of the things that I want this book to do:. That is, that the jineteras instrumentalise their sexualities to buy necessities and are punished for it by the Victorian state on one hand, or that they shallowly pursue material fripperies and eschew the meaningful life offered by a caring state on the other.

This simplistic debate does a great injustice to the people I met, whose lives and relationships defied such easy categorisation.

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It seems hard to believe that such things even need to be said. Most importantly, it collapses the multifaceted history, social context, and frames of reference that have together brought not only jineterismo as an observable practice, but the jinetera as a figure with cultural resonance and disciplinary power, into being. This book was also an opportunity to spend some time thinking through a very difficult and divisive topic for feminist theory and activism: sex work although that terminology has never achieved salience in the Cuban context. What happens if a so-called jinetera really is seeking frivolous luxuries?

Or she just likes sex? Break down the polarised Cuba debate: Cuba has been the centre of intense and hyperbolic debate for decades, and this shows no of abating in light of recent developments. In the book, I tried to challenge that division mainly by, well, ignoring it — by trying to avoid engaging with that kind of reductionist and polarising framework.

Do you support the revolution or the opposition? The resistance I observed in Cuba represents, I think, an opening — but an opening to what, exactly? The answer to that question remains undetermined, perhaps permanently. Some of my informants were explicit about the fact that, by rejecting the care of the Cuban state and whatever safety nets it could still offer, they might be throwing themselves on the mercy of even more volatile forces.

Some were less reflexive. This is not an escape from relations of power but a negotiation within them. The point, however, is that they shouldered those risks willingly. In many cases, they embraced them. On a macro scale, it is temping to pin everything on the now-faltering embargo as a major break, but life in Cuba has been subject to breakneck change for decades already since the Soviet collapse.

Much as more change is certainly on the horizon, it would be foolish to once again define Cuba by the US anxieties aimed at it. The Cuban Revolution brought with it many things that Cubans welcomed, like socialised medicine and education, but with a distinct moral agenda and an impressive biopolitical machine. As the spectre of US influence looms once again, it is becoming more and more clear that there is no right answer for individual Cubans, who are as likely to be washed away as buoyed up by the flood. We need to talk — and think — differently about Cuba and Cuban politics.

There was a sense of community and even solidarity amongst the people I interviewed that elevated jineterismo above the individual level. In the book, I used the phrase sexual-affective economies of tourism to express this as a space, though not a physical space, for meeting across cultures, borders, and languages.

It was also an opening to think resistance differently. It was not about pushing back, fighting and struggling, contesting, or confronting. Instead of violence, pain, and disaffection, resistance might be more potent when it took the form of affection, laughter, love, fun, and sex — things that for me connote connection and relationality.

Sex, in such a setting, becomes a tool of resistance that counters state power not just with its efficacy but also with its qualitative content — that sexual deviation from prescriptive norms. Cuban socialism comes equipped with its own understanding of what sex, love, and relationships ought to look like.

This book project presented ethical and methodological challenges throughout the process of writing it, from the field research to the early planning stages to the final edits. I have had no meaningful contact with my interviewees sincebut for most, this is exactly how they wanted it to be and how they felt most safe.

When I returned from Cuba, I spent several months struggling to come to terms with the notebooks and recordings in front of me. It had been very difficult field research, both personally and politically, and I failed to see how I could ever avoid the representational violence that I could and surely would do to the people I had met. Ethically, my efforts can only be a failure, really — we all fail when we speak for others — so the question is, how badly?

I am still uneasy about this last question. More than anything, I want this book to spark new conversations about politics, resistance, sex, and Cuba. Many Cubans were often willing to point to obvious i.

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Used in this way, the term bears none of the sanction implied by its use in state newspapers and by law enforcement. For many, jineterismo has become less about illegality per se and more in tune with notions of hustling, struggling to get by, and innovating, or their rough Cuban equivalents: resolverinventorluchar. Many Cubanists decry the reduction of jineterismo to a purely sexual meaning. Reblogged this on psychosputnik. Like Like. Sounds like an interesting book and it certainly has a beautiful cover — congratulations on its publication, Megan!

One thing I wondered reading this blog is whether there are jiniteros: male Cubans who court foreign partners, whether straight or gay? If so, it would make a very interesting contrast and presumably highlight the sexual double standard at work or more likely triple standard since I assume gay jiniteros would also be treated differently. Hi, Lee! Thanks so much. To answer your question, yes, there are jineteros, they do provide a very interesting gendered contrast, and I do cover them in the book. The most striking things about them, to my eye at least, are:.

Cuban women seen with foreign men were assumed to be sleeping with them by police, and that was a reason to stop them, ask for ID, potentially arrest them, etc. So what was the source of the problem for Cuban women was, in fact, the solution to the problem for Cuban men. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole. Reblogged this on From Julie with Love and commented: Sexuality has become inseparable from Cuban national identity. Highly recommended!

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I am looking forward to read it myself soon as well…. Very interesting. Have just got back from Havana, and every trip out we were plagued by jineteros trying to get us into shops or taxis. Loved Havana, but being able to look at a map or into a shop without a crowd gathering is a nice change. Very interesting introduction, Megan.

Or perhaps the solidarity emerges mainly in the sense of a shared rejection of the negative associations of the label jinetera? What forms of politics and paradigms of power mediate these exchanges? Will Jean-Claude be willing and able to have a role in the community beyond that of patron, tourist, and sexual partner? Tourism in Cuba might very well lead to economic benefits, fun, feelings of happiness, and even love, but can it ever contribute to the strengthening of communal structures or shared goals of resistance to power? But as you rightly point out, the image of jinetera is only one variation of the stereotype of the sexually available woman of color, which has a long history and circulates throughout the globe.

My question is whether you have heard anything from the women you interviewed which might suggest how they also resist the negative stereotypes about Cuban women that the foreigners bring with them from Europe or elsewhere. Hi, Patrick! The sense of community and solidarity that I observed came mostly from the shared sense of rejection by the system of ideas in which these people had grown up. It was a loose and informal sort of sympathy amongst people who were taking similar risks, though not necessarily with the same goals or motivations, and facing similar obstacles.

Some bristled at it and how it meant they were subject to police scrutiny, sure. Many embraced it, though — sometimes because they genuinely believed in it as a source of power, and sometimes because it was a tool that they felt they could use to their advantage. Thanks for your reply, Megan. Your remarks gave me a somewhat clearer idea of the solidarity that takes shape amongst people in Cuba whose romantic lives and sexual practices are unjustly restricted by state power and policing.

It certainly makes sense that they would share sympathies, but it also makes me curious about whether more concrete instances of shared struggle could be all that uncommon. For instance, perhaps people share strategies with one another about how to avoid police harassment when dating a foreigner. Perhaps part of my difficulty has to do with the framework of tourism, since to me the figure of the tourist strongly als the precisely the absence of communal sensibility. The communal bonds that you suggest are being formed between Cubans and visitors through sexual-affective exchanges would require, from my perspective, some radical forms of undermining the established hegemonic structures of power, privilege, communication, perception, and knowledge, which lie beyond the immediate authority apparatus of the Cuban state.

This is not what comes to mind in relations of exchange framed by tourism. But even in this case, I would say that the formation of community would still stand only as a potentiality and not as a direct outcome.

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From Cuba with Love: Sex and Money in the 21st Century