My Rants And Raves
It seems much time is spent on attacking the service users and providers of the sex industry in Thailand. The usual stereotypes and negative portrayals get banded around on the internet, in newspapers, by people who come back to Farangland on holiday from Thailand, and people that have just heard something about the place. We so called ‘sex tourists’ give ourselves the hardest time of all, especially when back in Farangland.
We don’t mention to the ‘wrong people’ what we really got up to. The ‘wrong people’ often being judgmental western women who think they have a right to moralise on other people's behaviour, but it’s ok if they trap men for money and security in their own country. Basically a lot of these women are either nothing more than long term investment prostitutes themselves or mentally distorted, angry, abusive feminists, who think all men with a sex drive, should be castrated. For these long-term investment prostitutes it’s all just painted up in a nice pretty civilised western cultural picture. Many of them have no right to blame bar girls for doing the same thing in possibly a far less sophisticated and concealed way. At least a Thai bar girl is honest and what she is doing in the first place.
We customers are seen as perverted, morally deficient and socially inept western males who aren’t worthy of a western girlfriend. Often being imagined as particularly aesthetically and physically challenged we are the scourges of the Western and Eastern cultures. In Thailand the image of a rhino on heat waddling down Sukhumvit Road paints the stereotypical picture nicely. While this may be true for some of us guys who enjoy the carnal pleasures of Thailand, I think the majority of us are somewhat different in appearance. However, I do like to think that when I am of retirement age, and my physique and looks are not quite what they used to be, I will not let other people's opinions dictate what I do for recreation.
As for being on heat, especially while in Thailand, well that’s completely true! I make no apologies for my enjoyment of sex, especially with Oriental women. The Thai women drive me crazy and I love their company, beauty and sense of fun. I treat them with respect and dignity, whether they are working girls or not. I would love to develop a long-term relationship with a Thai woman outside the scene, but it is just not realistic. I do not intend to live in Thailand, it is just a great place for me to rest and recuperate from the responsibilities of my life back home. I would not string a Thai girl along whether in or out of the scene.
The truth is the resentful Western women that constantly criticise men who enjoy recreational sex are often jealous. The Thai girls get all the attention and these women no longer have any allure for Western men. Western women simply cannot compete in Thailand but just won’t admit it. These types usually disguise their envy and resentment behind a mask of feminist principles and some kind of pseudo concern for the plight of the bargirl. It is nothing more than unresolved anger with men in their own country who no longer have any interest in a relationship with them and are sick of their negative attitudes towards sex and men in general. A lot of these women are educated well beyond their own ability to be happy. Very few have any genuine concern for the plight of these girls and completely ignore the plights of men who get abused and conned.
I understand the plight of many girls working the scene. I think a lot of the situations are completely wrong but know there is little I can do. I just try to be the best guy I can if my path crosses with someone who may need a little love and kindness in a life that’s been on the harsh side for them. If they are forced into their situation it is very sad and I do try and avoid those girls. That is why I frequent the freelancer scene for my fun because it is more likely to be about personal choice for the girls there. Many will argue that there is little choice for a lot of the Thai girls because of the poverty in Thailand, but it is still a choice.
All of us at many points during our life have to make choices between selling ourselves for the material pay off or making that important contribution to things for very little. I still get paid little or nothing at times for the many things I do that I feel benefit the world as a whole. At present I prefer this choice as a person. It may well change and I will value money more than doing good. I’m sure English teachers in Thailand can empathise with being underpaid for doing something that contributes to the benefit of others! Thai girls can choose between these things like the rest of us. The life of a working girl can pay well but it isn’t going to nurture your soul.
I know there are many jobs in Thailand and although an awful lot of them are menial and poorly paid, we all have to start somewhere to get where we want to go. That’s what makes it so satisfying when we get there. Our choices expand as we expand our lives and it is up to us. If we are a Thai girl with a poor education then we work to pay for more education to give us more options for a better job and so on. I’m having to do the same thing for myself at the moment. Many Thai girls get offered real chances to build a far better life abroad by farang males and in some senses get even more opportunities then people like myself back in the west. I don’t buy the idea that anyone is a total victim unless they choose to be. Yes, life isn’t fair and it stinks sometimes, especially for a lot of young women who grew up in the rural areas of Thailand and get farmed out to work on the sex scene. No life should be forced on anyone.
Another criticism of western men who enjoy the girl scene in Thailand is the stupidity of falling in love with the working girls. There seems to be a certain sector of western men in Thailand who have transcended the irrationality of the emotions. Every feeling they have is carefully and rationally scrutinised for its consequences. These men have obviously been practising a rigorous path of devout Buddhism where they have transcended the ego and reached full enlightenment. They are no longer fooled by the illusions of emotions like us lesser mortals and find it amusing to sneer at us from their spiritually realised position. Only us blind fools could possibly fall in love with the wrong girl. How stupid and ignorant we are!
So far I have not had the misfortune to fall in love with a bar girl but am aware I am not immune. I have made the right choices so far and been able to keep my recreational fun at an appropriate distance. Most of this has been achieved by staying honest with any girl I interact with in Thailand. I make it very clear I know what the score is and what I want. I don’t tell her I’m going to look after her for the rest of her life etc etc. It’s just fun, as lovely as she is! However, I am also aware that I’m a human being vulnerable to the ever-changing currents of very powerful emotions when around beautiful women. You can’t go through life with your guard up all the time or nothing good would ever come in. I would find it very artificial and contrived to be permanently on the defensive and in some detached state around my Thai female companions. That’s just the sort of thing I try to avoid, and what makes the Thai scene so unique and fun.
This brings me back to my point about Thai girls being honest about what they are doing in the first place. It goes without saying that it is quite clear when you pay the bar fine and take her home that she is providing a service to you. Indeed this service is often a lot better than anything you’d get from a western girlfriend. That’s what attracts us so much to these girls and even better we can pick and choose to our hearts content. This is also the trap. Thai working girls provide a very professional illusion but it’s nothing more. After all she is just making a living and in her kind of work, the better the job she does, the more money she is likely to make.
Admittedly, the lines can get more blurred in different areas of the scene and many girls from the scene can be very dishonest and cunning. But what do you expect in a sub culture based on sex for money that is forced underground due to disapproval of the society and the world it exists in? A lot of these girls are doing what they can to survive in less than ideal situations. This is why I think the whole prostitution scene across the world should be fully legalised. Keeping it socially unacceptable, and in most countries completely outlawed, does not help matters at all. As they say it is one of the oldest professions, so it isn’t going to go away whatever laws are made against it.
It is well known that legislation could create a controlled and regulated environment in which information on safe sex and items like condoms could be provided freely. There are many people who just can’t get laid because of physical disabilities etc. Are you going to deny them their only avenue of carnal pleasure? What about people who could be potential sex offenders without having a neutral ground to express their sexual needs? Think of the tax revenue that could be gathered in. Some of it could be used for schemes to move working girls on to more productive and fulfilling lives. Prohibition is an impractical and misguided idea that only makes matters worse.
Look what happened with alcohol in the 1930’s in the United States. There were all sorts of dangerous concoctions going around and it was run by mainly gangsters. Similar situations exist in parts of the Thai girl scene and in other countries now. A lot of people continued to drink anyway but it was in much more dangerous environments and with much more dangerous strains of alcohol. The same problem is going on with cannabis in my own country at the moment. Despite very strong evidence of cannabis being far less harmful than alcohol, it remains illegal. Many millions of people use it in my own country and believe me, I’d much rather walk through a bunch of stoned than violently drunk people in my home city on a Saturday night! I do not even drink let alone use recreational drugs, but respect people's right to pursue recreational pleasures if they so choose, as long as it doesn’t cause problems for other people.
We must always watch people who argue from some higher moral position. Throughout human history people have had sex, gambled, drunk and used drugs. This has never changed no matter how much a state or pressure group of moralists has tried to eliminate it. It is human nature to indulge in vices that cushion the harshness of real life. Yes recreational sex, gambling, drink and drugs are all escapes. But does anyone have a right to moralise on any of them? Whether they become moral issues depends on the consequence of them. Many people drink and gamble recreationally. Some don’t and become addicted, and this often affects people around them negatively. Two consenting adults should be able to do what they want with each other as long as they are not harming others.
It is true with the sex industry in Thailand and other countries that there are awful issues like young girls being forced into the profession, abuse by pimps and general contempt by mainstream society. It is areas like these that need to be dealt with most of all. However, I must reiterate the concept that repression and illegality only makes matters worse. In fact in regards to the these and similar issues, it actually produces or at least greatly contributes to those problems. There would at least be a significant decrease in pimping. Girls would not be forced into the industry as much because the state would regulate it. There would be a significant decrease in societies contempt when attitudes had caught up with legislation and a more clear and open investigation of issues like child prostitution could take place.
This brings me to both an incident that occurred some years ago, and a recent email on Stick’s site (Stickman Weekly, last readers email, 1/9/02) that criticised the denial and rants of guilty western men. A girlfriend of mine had attended a debating seminar on the immorality of abortion. She held strong views that abortion for women should be a choice. There was a pro-life religious guy laying his guilt trip on young women about their promiscuous behaviour with men and how abortion was murder. He was arguing there should be no contraceptive pill and that you should only have sex in marriage for children etc. Like the email on Stick’s site, the pro-life guy went on about massive self-justification and group bonding cover-ups. He was particularly condemning of men and women that masturbated! Someone stood up just after he’d made his condemning point about masturbation and shouted ‘So you’ve never had a wank?!’ Which was quickly followed by roars of laughter. That said it all really. The preacher was human like the rest of us and whatever the apparent morality of our actions at times we are all vulnerable to them. Moral ranters should be watched especially, they’ve often done what you’re doing and are probably indulging in far greater vices. Just look at the Catholic Church!
Both the bar girl and her customers make their choices in life. The bar girl may choose to blow all the money she earns on short term things like gambling, drugs or her parasitical Thai boyfriend. She may be wise and use her money to educate herself further and move on in the long term. The tourist on the girl scene may choose to eventually move to Thailand, drink and screw girls from the bar scene every night and eventually end up a complete mess. On the other hand he may come to Thailand and enjoy a night with the girls here and there but it’s not everything. In the back of his mind he hopes to move on at some point and find his next ‘real’ relationship again. He finds ‘real’ relationships far more satisfying anyway. Screwing around is a short-term fix even for the most shallow of us, and of course it is not all there is to do in Thailand.
I like to think I fit into the latter category! The scene is a temporary thing for me. I don’t spend my time in Thailand partying with working girls every night. I love to look around at the temples and monuments. I love exploring the different islands. I love the Thai people and their laid back and tolerant manner. I love the exotic tastes and textures of Thai food. I love the climate except when it’s hot season, or should it be called oven season?! I love the fact I’m temporarily rich because of the exchange rate! And yes I would still come here if there weren’t a girl scene! I would even still love sitting down at a food stall on Sukhumvit Road eating and chatting late at night with my transient travelling friends but with no girls hovering around me. At present, I would miss it, like anything pleasurable that I enjoy, but it wouldn’t be the end of travelling in SE Asia for me. It would just be the end of an aspect of it.
I don’t drink alcohol but I still go to bars and clubs and have fun with my friends. I enjoy being in places I like with people I like. It’s not about getting plastered for me. The same applies to Thailand. Thailand is a beautiful country and part of the Eastern culture, which has always both mystified and attracted me. When I first came here I was quite aware of the girl scene and had heard many tales from friends. To be honest I didn’t think it would be for me. I was even taken out by an expat one night and shown around the bars etc. It freaked me out and I made my excuses and left early. Like many, surprisingly, I have ended up indulging. But like the fact I don’t have to drink in a bar, I don’t have to pick up a girl in Thailand. It has so many other things to offer me, which will keep me coming back.
Maybe I’m deluded and on a progressive spiral of self-destruction which I refuse to see. I will end up falling in love with a bar girl who will screw me for everything! If Nana Plaza didn’t exist you wouldn’t see me for dust and the girls are the only things that truly keep me coming back. Soon I will move to Thailand and start drinking heavily and stumbling around bars every night. Expat friends will comment on how I was doing so well in Farangland but once I got hooked on the scene in Thailand there was no turning back. Maybe one day you’ll be reading my article on how I got completely lost but made it back to reality eventually. I hope not, but I’m only human and I make my choices. I hope in the future you’ll be reading about my phase of indulging in a sub culture I never imagined I would, and how I moved on from it for better things. I think it’s always better to learn from other peoples mistakes rather than make them yourself if you can. It’s also ok to have fun and stop living according to what people might think of you all the time!
If you asked the majority of bar girls or their customers how they ended up doing what they do, they would both probably agree it was not something they initially wanted. They got caught up in a scene or sub culture that has met certain needs in the short term. For the bar girl this is mainly financial and for her customers it is mainly sexual. For both it is a cycle of behaviour that is hard to stop once it has started. The bar girl makes very good money in the short term but not many of them use it wisely. The very characteristics that makes her such a skilful lady of the night often go against her in making the wise and prudent decisions of the long term process of life. The very characteristics of the Western Farang customer, that enable him to continually purchase short term sexual fixes, often go against him in being able to form and maintain stable long-term relationships. Both can easily get trapped in a way of life that becomes increasingly harder to change. But both can still make the choice and get out of it.
I am well aware that Internet sites, various literature and the media that have any focus on Thailand often look at the sex industry. It is a very controversial area that is constantly debated and analysed. Of course, it was not until I had some minimal experience myself, that I felt I could comment on it properly. Even so my experience and viewpoint is still quite limited. Before I came to Thailand I was full of western prejudice. I was a bit snobby to anyone who had associated with the girl scene in Thailand, wondering why they were doing what the hell they were doing. In a sense getting involved humbled me. I realised I couldn’t plan or know all of the choices in my life. I was vulnerable to indulging in certain behaviours that challenged my values and beliefs. I am full of contradictions and ambuguities. Some of them may even be in this article! In the short term I hope it will not damage me too much, I hope in the long term I will move on and take some wisdom from it.
I am one of many and I don’t give myself a hard time. I have always been a hedonist of life, it is my nature to live and enjoy everything to the full. I don’t believe there are really very many individuals caught up in the scene in Thailand that are bad people. It seems it is true that for both parties, bar girl and customer, the longer they are involved the more hardened and jaded they become. The very nature of the scene makes it a transient place and hopefully people get out sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, it seems usually they don’t. The bar girl and her customer are two opposite sides of the same coin, caught up in an easy fix cycle that mainly meets immediate needs, but often supplies very little satisfaction or reward in the long run.
For the future of Thailand I hope that prostitution there does become fully legalised and integrated into society. For a country that has so much to teach the ignorant Western countries about live and let live in the moment, it is strange to observe how the scene’s seedier and depraved sides are maintained by it’s illegality and lack of full acceptance in society. I must reiterate that it will never go away. Even as Thailand becomes a more developed country, as long as there are girls willing to make a living this way, they will do it. It is clear by the evidence in my country that the more illegal and less tolerated it gets the worse it becomes. Closing a few Farang girl bars will achieve nothing. It will only make matters worse. A pragmatic and realistic approach of legalisation and toleration is the best way forward.
I would like to close this article with a quick story. I was sitting down at ‘headquarters’ on my penultimate night, before I was to head home from Thailand, at the end of my first trip out there. I got chatting to a girl I was to eventually sleep with that night. One thing I immediately picked up from her was her apathy and jadedness.
You could see at still only 26 years old she had given up. By given up, I mean given up on doing anything other than selling herself. It disturbed me; despite the fact I was and am still in, what my more experienced Thailand nightlife explorer friends call the ‘honeymoon period’. I looked around at all the expats, travellers and other girls. I suddenly noticed how you could almost tell what stage someone was at in this crazy sub culture by the look on their faces, the way they were sitting, and how and who they were chatting to.
There I was, with my excited glaze, buzzing off the anticipation of my hotel bound tantric fix. Sitting opposite was my companion working her magic and warming me to her qualities as a provider of instant gratification. We were acting out the rituals and routines of a deal that had already been closed before we even started to talk to each other. She was such an intelligent and interesting person to speak with. There was a refreshing openness and vulnerability about her. I felt genuinely connected to her. At times, throughout the rest of the night I was to spend with her, a frightening but vulnerable emotional undercurrent would seem to be there. Maybe it was my irrational and possibly wishful imagination, but I sensed both of us were looking for companionship and love in our own ways. Not necessarily from each other but from someone or something. We were both playing our games but in different places in time, space and our individual journeys through this bizarre underground sub culture. Her in the veterans emotionally, mentally and psychologically exhausted inner space, of hundreds of hours spent in the external space of places like headquarters and similar abodes. Myself on the energised, excited and optimistic momentum of the newcomer, in this hedonistic alternative universe of the Far East.
Lots of interesting opinions and thoughts.