Readers' Submissions

Oh No, Not Another One!

  • Written by Chok Di
  • February 27th, 2006
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

By my reckoning, about every three or four weeks we get an article along the lines of, "hey, you morons, wake up and smell the coffee! These are prostitutes you are sleeping with!" While by no means as bad as some (he is at least trying to be tolerant), when I read Poppie's piece today I was inspired to respond to him and all those others who feel the need to preach.

1: Wake up, you morons!

Let's clear the main point straight away: "these are prostitutes you are sleeping with!"

Guess what? We know. Let me repeat that louder for the hard of thinking: We Know !

When you read a novel, or watch a film or a play, you put aside the knowledge that this is make-believe to more fully enjoy the experience. This is so common that a name was long ago coined for it: "the willing suspension of disbelief."

"(…) it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic , yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith." –– Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

The famous Thai "Girl Friend Experience" (GFE) attracts the same willing suspension of disbelief; we know the girls are with us for the money, but for the duration of the experience we are willing to put aside that knowledge and pretend we are eighteen again. After all, until his body starts forcibly drawing his attention to the reality of old age, no man is ever more than 25 in his head – its still the twenty-somethings that attract his attention, even if his appearance no longer supplies the buying power in his own country!

In his own country . . . there's the point. You can get the same quality of experience in virtually any country – if you have the price of admission. Its just that the price of admission in most western countries is about twenty times what it is in Thailand, well beyond the reach of the great majority of readers on this site. Only when they go to Thailand are they suddenly transformed into wealthy men, by the simple fact that the average wage in western countries is at least ten times what it is in Thailand, so it is only there they can revisit the days of their youth.

Aside : this is also the reason many people think there are more scams going on in Thailand than at home: bunko artists prefer to target those who have money. If they were wealthy by the standards of their own country, they would see plenty of sharks circling their $/€/£ !

It's a powerful feeling for a middle-aged man, being eighteen again. Is it surprising that some people forget they deliberately put aside their usual cynicism to enjoy the experience? If people can become so lost in watching a soap they can lose the distinction between the actor and the character (watch an interview with any soap actor, especially the ones who play villains; they all have stories of people reacting to their soap persona in real life), if people can walk into the location set of The Bill (English police soap) even when all the police signs have been removed (as they must be, by law, once shooting is complete), convinced it really is a police station, how much more readily can they lose the plot when reliving the emotions they knew in their youth?

So it happens, to a few people. But most of us know the score, we just prefer to keep on pretending – keep our disbelief suspended to enjoy the experience better!

2: But they're prostitutes!

One common theme across all the moralists is summed up by Poppie's comment, "But don't act surprised … if you are ripped off. You are consorting with a PROSTITUTE. This is how she makes her living." This is a wonderful example of unclear thinking (I'll be generous and not call it "stupidity"). It is a moral assumption – that being a prostitute makes a woman a bad person, and therefore a thief – masquerading as a fact.

Let's try to get this straight once and for all: prostitution is what they do for a living – its not who they are. They are no less human, their hopes and fears and aspirations are no less valid, they are no more or less likely to be honest or dishonest than anyone else!

prostitute : noun … a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse especially for money –– Merriam-Webster Online

The trade of prostitution is like any other trade, and has nothing to do with ripping anyone off. The girl you take back to your hotel room may steal from you . . . but so may the plumber who comes into your home to fix a leaking tap. Or they may not. Some people are petty thieves and some aren't, and what they do for a living has very little to do with it (on the whole, I have found Thais to be no more honest or dishonest than anyone else)! As Poppie says, "I … never received the terrible mistreatment and thievery spoken of here."

A person who sells the skill of his or her hands, or the ability to think, can be a good person or a bad person. So can a woman who sells the use of her body. Prostitution is a trade, no more, no less, and to look down on its practitioners, or consider them evil, or inferior, or "bad people" is just an example of early religious moralising surfacing. To find the real reason for most of the relationship failures reported on this site, I would suggest looking at the age, language and cultural differences between the partners, not how they met.

I can't blame Poppie – he is, in his own words, fresh off the bus and at eighteen likely full to the brim with other people's opinions to which he hasn't applied any thought of his own.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But, when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. –– Mark Twain (1835-1910)

At eighteen, I was just the same . . . and so were most of Stick's readers, I guess. Come back in a few years, when the women you find attractive are looking at you thinking, "who do you think you are leching after, you dirty old man", Poppie!

Chok Di

Stickman's thoughts:

A lot of sense said here, in my opinion.