Commodified Sexuality and Mother-Daughter: Power Dynamics in the Mekong Delta

Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 2012, 7(1): 149-180

This essay explores how the family commodifies the sexuality and emotional labor of the daughter for the interests of the family. The case study presented above illustrates the ways in which a commodified sexual economy occurs in the context of an indebted and economically vulnerable household in An Giang Province (Mekong Delta, southern Vietnam). In this family, “transactional sex” is one of the resources employed to ameliorate the debt incurred. The study shows the ways in which the mother provides, initiates, and maintains the conditions for the sexual commodification of her daughter through the power situated within the mother-daughter relationship and the narrative of gratitude and duty.