Readers' Submissions

Darwin In Bangkok

  • Written by Brendan
  • May 20th, 2004
  • 3 min read


I occasionally see on reader's submissions much hand-wringing about the issue of morality and ethics when it comes to paying for sex.

I think if you strip away the religion and societal mores, you get a much more pragmatic understanding of what's going on here:

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea, but there's no getting around the fact that we are animals. Humans and chimpanzees share 98% of the same DNA. We now know from field studies that chimps are anything but monogamous; in fact, bonobos, a close chimp relation and probably our nearest relatives, have a sex drive that is legendary in the animal kingdom. The males screw every female in sight and the females passively take it.

In the state of nature, sex was surely plentiful and varied compared to today. Yes, most of the time I image women had to consent; other times, I don't suppose their (lack of) consent was an obstacle.

So, along comes civilization. For that idea to work, there had to be a strong fundamental element – the family. Since food and shelter are higher on our list of priorities than sex, it was a deal made willingly, I would guess. But it was a Faustian deal that us males could never honor to the letter. Who made all the compromises and who won all the chips? Women got exactly what their instincts tell them they need: food, shelter, security for themselves and the little ones. What did men get? Well, they pretty much agreed to sublimate their very being. A few thousand years of civilization doesn't trump hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Hence, many of us men, most of us probably, cheat on our spouses.

I'm not saying women don't cheat on their partners – clearly they do. But statistically, men are much more likely and more likely to do it more often. It's just part of being male.

What does that have to do with Thailand? Well, think of sex like a crime: you need the motive, method and the opportunity. We all have the motive, and in the West we suppress it on a daily basis. Every time some hot chick walks down the street, we fight a very powerful urge to fuck her brains out on the spot. We all have the method – our johnson. So that leaves only the opportunity.

I'm married, and in my case I had never had sex with a prostitute until my second posting to Asia – when I landed in a place where there was easy access to said commodity. For me, the last piece of the puzzle suddenly fell into place: I had the opportunity.

Thailand is the closest thing on the planet to the Hobbesian state of nature, at least when it comes to sex. Sure you say, but men PAY for it here. I'd argue (and I wouldn't be alone in arguing it) that money is power, just ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. And in Thailand, that wad of baht burning a hole in your pocket represents an exponentially greater amount of power than it would in one's home country. Add to that our penchant for Thai chicks, and there you have it.

[As an aside, I have a theory about this that also goes back to evolution: we're attracted to "exotic" women because our instincts are telling us they represent genetic diversity in our offspring. Since they (Thais) and us (most farangs of European decent) are about as far removed genetically as two human groupings can be, the likelihood of inbreeding is remote.]

This isn't meant as a rationale for our dalliances. I for one love my wife and 10-year-old daughter dearly and would never leave them. I feel a pang of guilt every time I pay a bar fine. My guess is that if ever I return to my conservative country of origin (God forbid), I will stop this practice. The opportunity simply won't exist, or if it does, it will be too difficult to pursue.

Talk about religion and ethics all you want, but we're fighting evolution here, guys. In a place like Thailand, that's a losing battle for nearly all of us.

Stickman says:

Yep, the current situation in Thailand allows people to live a type of lifestyle that is perhaps not available, or at least, less available, elsewhere.