Victimless Industry Response
I’d like to take a softer approach toward Gecko and his/her recent understandably upset opinion about LOS nightlife.
First, I agree with a lot of what you said. I would hope that everyone on SB.com, and in the world, would be appalled that people would take advantage of the Tsunami disaster to create another humanitarian disaster. Child prostitution is wrong.
I agree that if you don’t practice safe sex, including getting tested, you’re wrong. Most guys on this site do. Not to mention any names, but we’ve periodically expressed our displeasure for those who don’t.
I agree that you shouldn’t partake if you’re married, for a dozen reasons.
I agree that we should have little sympathy for anyone who gets swindled by a bargirl. Treat these ladies well, dinner, dancing, the agreed-upon fee, etc. But use your heads, lads.
One problem for me, and for most of us, is making the connection between child exploitation and adult prostitution. I’m sure there are places in Thailand (in every country for that matter), where young people are exploited and then kept in a cycle of destitution by drugs, dependence and intimidation until adulthood. I know that such a place would have to be underground – your typical gogo bar could not survive for more than a few weeks in such a manner, without being shut down and its perpetrators being incarcerated for decades. I don’t recall any Stickman members being to such an underground place, although I’d guess they wouldn’t mention it on a website. I’d say this though, with all the inexpensive alternatives, I’m not sure why’d they bother.
I made a point to review the two sites you listed, and found them excellent, both in the work they did and the presentation of information about how child exploitation works. I didn’t see anything about how child exploitation leads to adult prostitution exploitation, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any such information out there. If you find any credible information, please email a link to me at the email address below. You can believe I will include it in my next article, as Stickman remarked after “49 Lessons”, I rarely leave out a detail.
As far as the idea of options goes, if the women do have options, they are almost never as lucrative as being a bargirl. (As is custom in Thailand and much of Asia, they do send money back to support their families.) Other jobs back in Isaan probably pay one-tenth, if that. You can make the argument that there is less risk in those jobs. But, and it’s another age-old argument, I think women should be allowed to choose what they want to do with their bodies. You may say it’s too dangerous a risk, but I don’t think that’s for me to decide. Without focusing too much on myself, I’m partially from an ethnic group that’s often accused of irresponsible sex, of having too many children and not taking care of them. Assuming for a second that this is true, I can’t think of a rationale in the world in which one group, culture or government can tell another to stop having so much sex. I can think of rationales in which they promote safe sex and birth control.
Another thing I’d bring up when discussing a grown woman’s “options” is that all of our wardrobes are full of items made by Asians working for a few Euros a day. Millions of these people are under age eighteen. These are tricky issues.
This argument that it’s too dangerous for these women, whether from violence or disease has merits. I’ll tell you this. Before my first visit, I had some of the same reservations. I’m now a little ashamed that I had such a male chauvinistic attitude. I’d thought that these feminine, beautiful women, some weighing all of 40 kilos, couldn’t handle themselves. But the more I spoke with these women, I realized they were a hundred times sharper than I gave them credit for. They are very selective about who they go with. They can be very insistent about safe sex. They get tested very frequently. They stand by each other and, thanks in part to cell phones, are ready to support each other in emergencies. (And, as Simon Templar points out in his “Searching for Mr. Goodbar” articles, these women can exact very harsh retribution on abusive men. Something that deters a lot of violence, I’m sure.) I was also embarrassed that I didn’t give enough credit to people from a “developing nation,” thinking that these women weren’t worldly enough to take care of themselves. Part of the problem my country gets in to is thinking we need to save other countries from themselves.
Another point I’d make ties in with the idea that these women are stuck “spreading their legs for western men.” Here I’d say that, in part because of our Western beliefs, we tend to think this is much worse than it is, and for many women it’s not a negative at all. Buddhist beliefs, and beliefs of many of the world’s cultures, do not have the shame and negativity associated with sex. Many women simply take the attitude that they’re doing their job, and they’re as friendly as anyone else in LOS. For other women, I’m sure it’s more of an act – again you can find insincerity in any business. And, many women enjoy it sometimes. I’m 32, I keep myself in good enough shape, and I think I go out of my way to be fun, funny, respectful and entertaining. I spend almost as much entertaining them as I do on the agreed-upon fees. The point is, I know that at least some if not most of the women I’ve been with have had a really good time, both in and out of the hotel room.
The issue that has the least resonance with me is the idea that we’re a drain on the healthcare resources of our own countries. For me (and it’s just my opinion), there are hundreds of other preventable and often irresponsible behaviors that cause bigger healthcare expense than men bringing back STDs from LOS to USA. Smoking and preventable heart disease are the two biggest killers in my country. Furthermore, you could find hundreds of other questionable decisions made with our tax money. We’ve seen hundreds of billions of dollars spent on a war, which was fought on the pretence there were weapons of mass destruction, where there turned out to be none.
The issue that has the most resonance with me is the idea that the industry spreads STDs. I frequent gogo bars and similar places because I can be reasonably sure they play by accepted rules, in terms of age and testing. The management takes their cut from bar fines and drinks, and the women take theirs directly from the men. But I realize that even if I think this routine has only a tiny fraction of the problems that the so-called “street” or “underground” industry has, you can make the argument that you can’t get a little bit pregnant – either you’re contributing to the problem or not. I may be part of the problem if that argument is true. I may be a part of a lot of problems. I don’t agree with my government’s policies, but I still pay my taxes, so I suppose I’m supporting them. Every once in a while, I’ll shop at one of those American megastores, even though I know they purposefully have most of their goods made in oppressive Asian countries because of cheap labor.
I think I speak for a lot of Stickman lads who are acting responsibly. I don’t blame you for having strong opinions, just because I tend to see the grey areas in everything. I’m glad that you recommended the sites that you did, I’m seriously considering a donation, and will update everyone on this in my next article. I’d suggest to you, if you have the opportunity, to visit some of the places I’ve mentioned. It may sound crazy, but it might actually lessen some of the fears you have.
Anyone else have some thoughts on the original article?