Stickman Readers' Submissions November 16th, 2009

Of Legal Age

I've been a long time reader of Stickman's website and it has brought much joy and enjoyable stories about Thailand and at the same time cautioned us readers about things that we should be aware of. I myself belong to the gay minority and some
might wonder why I bother to read all these stories about punters' experiences. The answer is that it is not that different compared to so called normal relationship between a man and a woman. Believe it or not. It's all about multitudes.
There is plenty. I see little difference, for example, between a barboy or a bargirl. Both have taken a profession that consumes them and changes their perception and makes them somewhat unsuitable partners for anything other than a short encounter
– at least in most cases (maybe 99.99% ?). Although, recently I heard about some high-so Thais that I personally know and they do have good jobs and high incomes but are in for a search to take someone to cleaners. The other has taken advantage
of three different guys in two years having a girlfriend aside. And is going to marry her next February..?! One of the cheated guys was a Thai so not only foreigners are in danger. I basically see no difference except that they do it targeting
higher incomes.

Myself, I am not a frequent barfly after experiencing it for a decade or so in Scandinavia. After finding my partner from Thailand that scene held no more attraction for me – at all. Strange since I rather enjoyed it with all the strange
encounters and visual attractions. And I am a fond lover of the amber liquid – or used to be. Well, perhaps we all change. For the better, I hope…

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I read something recently that made me write this submission. And no, I don't like the subject. It somehow seems important to me, anyway. Child abuse and pedophilia have been constantly in the media headlights and very little of importance
has actually been done about it – in a constructive way, I mean. It seems like something stalls in the brains of the people when this topic comes up and they seem to lower themselves to ape-like rage and fury. It must have been much more
difficult during the times when Vladimir Nabokov wrote his Lolita. As described in that book, I see this issue as something that one can look at but not touch. Touch and bite it and out of paradise you go. It is the last taboo, and as such, not
supposed to be broken or the lines crossed. It is something that is best not acknowledged with clear judgment, a blurred issue with loads of hate and guilt. Somehow it reminds me of all those religious people who are so dogmatic and know all about
everything – until they are found out doing exactly the things that they warn us about. In my humble opinion, it would be much better to be aware of issues and not to demonize them since that only makes them more difficult to tackle. An
approach with a cool head and senses open actually might do something about it.

It is an important subject since it deals with us growing up and letting go of our dream to return to the age of innocence. I believe that most pedophiles are trying to reach out for something in their childhood and by doing that, actually
ruining it all. They may have the perception that they love – and they actually may well do so – but doing what they do they bring children way too quickly to the adult side of reality. I am sick of reading all those 'kill them
and hang them high' messages that we always seem to get when hearing or reading about this kind of people for the simple reason that they are sick. They are fixated, misguided by their dependency and besotted by their own feelings. So, they
are sick and should be treated as such and maybe even castrated (chemically or otherwise) if nothing else helps – Yes, I really do believe that in some cases it is the only alternative. But in the meantime, let doctors and specialists deal
with this. Write to your MP and vote anyone that shares your perceptions and acts accordingly. Give them more power over the issue and more funds. But please, keep it civil. Acknowledge the facts but don't turn into a lynch mob.

To give an idea how difficult it is to fight against the abuse of underage, I give an example of something that I saw in Pattaya. Yep, no need to go further. At that time I was having fun in the bar scene and at some point ended up in Soi
Sunee, which is known to cater for the seedier side of the gay scene. I was quite unaware of things at that time and a newcomer to Thailand and all things Thai. I was having a coffee in a bar and people watching. I love to watch people conducting
their affairs. Anyway, near that bar was another one that got my attention because in front of it were young boys, maybe from 10 to 15 years of age. First I thought they were there for begging or some other activity like that but soon I realized
that they were actually working in that bar. So silly of me! I had never seen anything like it and now I was a witness! What to do? I raised the issue with some of my friends the next day. One of them who was working in a NGO helping orphans told
me that I could do nothing because apparently when a child enters such an establishment, they are mafia run and there are serious questions of anyone's safety ringing the alarm or trying to do something about it. I was told that the right
moment to act is BEFORE the child is sold or taken to such a life. Then it can be settled and the reason for that – normally a small debt – sorted out and the child saved for a better future. Most underage sex workers die very young.
They sniff clue, take drugs, drink and have STDs which make their life expectancy very short indeed. To add a sinister shade of color to this, a school in the corner of Pattaya Tai had a poster paid for by the Americans and it said something like:
'Abuse a child in this country, go to jail in yours'. Very effective, I believe… That school is not very far from the Soi Sunee, actually I would place one side of the school wall seen from Soi Sunee.

To remind readers what we are talking about it is that at the same time it's LEGAL to have sex in some European countries with people 12 years old. Yes! Legal. In my own country the age of sexual consent is 16. You can buy strong alcohol
when 20 and you are LEGALLY adult (testaments, legal framework in some cases etc.) when 23! Sometimes age limits really seem a bit artificial. Although, one normally is abided by the laws of his originating country. And not to mention that not
all laws are always obeyed. Like the one concerning drinking alcohol. I wonder why that does not bring up so strong feelings? Well, I know I know…

In the not-so-long-ago history a female was considered ready to become a wife when she had her first period. I am not suggesting that it is okay but simply pointing out that there are views that do not comply with ours. Or am I wrong suggesting
that there actually is an 'us'. I feel that those most upset are the loudest ones and not always looking at things from a very broad perspective. Recently there have been voices raising concern about the rising extremism in Europe, particularly
Islam, that is very devoted to the scripture of their Prophet. One might know that Mohammed took Aisha as his wedded wife when she was 9. And the marital fulfillment took place two years later. This is just to show my point that there are some
strange perceptions. This however, would not have been an issue a couple of centuries ago, even in Europe. One must understand that childhood as such is not a concept of a very long history. Children were seen merely as small adults rather than
thought to have a right for something as ridiculous as a secure and loving childhood. As soon as they were able to perform tasks they were adopted into the adult world. I hope we have come far from those times…

Now comes the more personal perspective and I hope very much that readers take this as it is – a personal view.

I was born criminal. I was sick until 1981 and now I can register in partnership with a same sex partner and actually soon it is possible to adopt children into a gay family. We already have the right to adopt the child of the partner if
there exists one previously. We, as far as gays go, have come a long way. I know all these issues are highly emotional and there are several arguments made f.e. to see that the best interest of the child is protected. The reality however is that
these families do exist and therefore there should be legislation to protect all parties involved. I am sure that somebody does not share my view but I would urge that person to give me a reason why some would be protected by the law with all
rights and some other should dwell on the grey area. I think the biggest hurdle is the mentality in most cases.

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But how did it actually feel living in a somewhat closed society that licked the arse of the Soviet Union at the time? I grew up knowing nothing about gay people since it really was not accepted by the majority at that time. Actually, the
town I grew up in had a very right wing atmosphere (During that time politics played a major role. Some cities were seen as 'red' and some 'white') and things like this were never discussed, nor even whispered.

So when I started having feelings that were aimed at the same gender, I felt very scared and alone. There was nobody to talk to. All the information I got was from books and movies and they were quite hidden hints when it came to understanding
it. I knew no people that were like 'that'. I actually had a crush as a schoolboy on one of my teachers, a very masculine sports teacher who was extremely religious and had at least five children. This, of course, was all innocent and
probably I would not have had the courage to even accept the truth myself – not to mention telling other people. It didn't much help when the HIV came to public knowledge. AIDS was seen as a gay plague and all sorts of rumors circulated
around it.

Why I write about this is because when we suppress our sexuality and feelings, it causes enormous emotional stress and guilt. And later may come uncontrollable behavior. Sexuality itself is the most direct way to one's guilt. It is such
a strong part of what we are that denying it can cause a mental breakdown. This is why I feel that everyone should address their own selves and make clear what their feelings rather than trying to please others. This includes people with perversions
as well. It is always better when there is a possibility to address issues without being labeled and being pressed. Openness and acceptance is the only way. And in some rare cases a treatment with proper conduct. I, myself, suffered years from
the mentality of my native land. I've always been an open person and simply can't understand why so many make a problem with what two adults do voluntarily in private.

As I mentioned above, I as a child, had feelings towards an adult. I believe it is quite common and normally does not lead to anything. There are psychological studies about children's behavior and why they do things. It is called growing
up. They push limits, they try to conquer their parents' place, they want to be on the top of the world and sometimes they fall in love. Let's call that practicing for life. What we must understand as adults, is that we lay the laws
and limits. That is what makes children feel safe. Without restrictions and well-based rules, it creates an unstable situation where a child is not having the best surroundings to grow up. I also oppose overly strict and extreme limitations –
there has to be a clear reason for limits. Otherwise who would ever respect them?

And what comes to this particular topic…er…some seem to be delusional that there is somewhere a 'child' that before turning to 18 years old – or whatever age is acceptable in various countries – is totally an unsexual
being. That view is totally flawed. Below we can see a list of European countries and their ages of consent. It varies from country to another, and it varies so very much!

I myself have been a teacher of students from 5 to 17 years old and adults of various age groups. At any given age a human being is a sexual being as well. Like it or not, that is what we are. We can discuss it and have different opinions
but the reality is not always how we want to see it. This is NOT to say that it is acceptable to have sex or anything like that with children but in my experience teachers sometimes get underage students that “fall in love” with
them. It is a well-known issue and something to be aware of when you deal with kids. I consider myself an adult with responsibility.

What I have written is not so much about Thailand but in regard what kind of nonsense is being said I try to point out that there are different views over this when it comes to the legal age. Maybe one of the reasons why I wrote this was
that when I last visited my family in my native country, I participated in a lovely cruise including a lunch on board and in the middle of enjoying my food a relative dropped a disgusting question. It went along these lines: “Since you
have been to Thailand so many times, have you met many pedophiles there?” WTF!!! I almost dropped my spoon and for a moment I was speechless. Then I replied that yes, they do come in hoards with a tattoo on their forehead! And added that
since there are about 700,000 trips from our country to Thailand yearly, there must be awful a lot of them! I was so angry but later realized that it must be a perception of some to think like this. To be clear on this, the person in question
has never been to Thailand or South-East Asia for that matter. Well, obviously she had ideas that people who are attracted to Thailand are attracted to some kind of perverse sexual appetites as well. I hope that this is not the image of Thailand
in the minds of larger public and hope she was just a stupid person not watching over what she said. Hope so…

This probably is the reason why some seem to think that we who actually live here do nothing but party all night long and have furious sex. A similar attitude can be seen in TV series or soaps depicting gays. They never seem to show what
those people do for work! Funny that is. At least from my own side I must disappoint these people and tell them that my life is very much the same that it would be back home. Work, sleep, social life, family and of course my beloved partner. This
goes as far as some expecting me to cater for them while they come over and have their fun. When refusing they do not seem to understand that this is home for me! Not an eternal holiday bliss destination! And I am quite realistic about things
going on here. Unfortunately, I have seen things that have been discussed on this site and things seem to go downwards. I have recently visited friends in Phuket and Samui and didn't like it much. It was unfriendly to say the least! Somehow,
though, I do not see it like that where I live. I stay in a university town of Isaan and quite like it here. Maybe the money grabbing mentality has not yet reached people here? Maybe? Heard some stories but they all involved something to do with
the bar scene so I don't really take them so seriously. On that scene the buyer be aware!

I would like to add that my life has improved much since I started to live on this glorious country. I have traveled quite a lot before entering the Kingdom but never experienced similar feelings for a country. Thailand is different! It must
be. I do acknowledge that here are problems and it is not all perfect but then tell me where is? I love this country as I suppose do all who linger here most of their time. I am not aware of dealing-wealings in Bangkok's or Pattaya's
naughty scene since I very rarely take part in such anymore. So when I read about the bad outlook of things, I stay happily with my adopted Thai family. They are from Isaan and I do love them. Maybe some of you now have a stereotypical idea what
an Isaan family is like but probably you are wrong. In this family everyone works their asses off including the 60+ year old grandmother who is up at 6 every o'clock morning cleaning the company floors. I really appreciate her since she has
had a very tough life after two husbands leaving her for another lady. She has worked all her life in construction which has not passed without effects on her health. Now she could easily stop working and relax but that is not her. When I tried
to give her some spending money she blatantly refused asking what does she need money for. She is not too keen on relatives either. When she was faced with the hardship some of them turned their backs on her. Now when she is a lady with means
she has been asked when some of these backstabbers could visit and she replied that the toilet was available for a stay. In Thai standards that is very rude (and a big loss of face to those people in question) but I believe some get what they
deserve. I have never been asked for more than I have agreed to and never there has there been an dishonest moment and I have been here for 5 years. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I did not find my partner from a bar? I just love
it here…most of the time.

I do acknowledge that the subject of this submission is quite serious but I do hope that we all can better ourselves and see things from various sides. It is always hard to solve the problem but so easy to be part of it.

I have included here a list of European countries age of consent:
– Show quoted text –
Andorra 16

Austria 14

Belarus 16

Belgium 16

Bosnia and Herzegovina 14

Bulgaria 14

Croatia 14

Cyprus 17

Czech Republic 15

Denmark 15

Faroe Islands 15

Estonia 14

Finland 16

France 15

Georgia 16

Germany 14

Greece 15

Hungary 14

Iceland 15

Ireland 17

Italy 14

Kazakhstan 18

Kosovo 14

Latvia 16

Lithuania 14

Luxembourg 16

Malta 18

Moldova 14 – 16

Netherlands 16

Norway 16

Poland 15

Portugal 14

Romania 15

Russia 16

Serbia 14

Slovakia 15

Slovenia 15

Spain 13

Sweden 15

Switzerland 16

Turkey 18

Ukraine 16

England and Wales 16

Scotland 16

Northern Ireland 16

Gibraltar 16 (18 for gays)

Guernsey (Including Alderney, Herm and Sark) 16 (except male gays 18)

Isle of Man 16

Jersey 16

Vatican State 12

The whole details can be found at Wikipedia.

I wanted to attach this list since it gives a good idea how different ideas are legislated in various countries about what is the proper age to engage in some sort of sexual relationship. I did not myself know that there existed such low
legal limits concerning age. I, like probably so many that have given little or no thought to the matter, supposed that the age of consent was somewhere around 16 and 18.

I myself remember when I was about 14 or 15 seeing one girl in our class with a boyfriend about 21 years old. Nobody did anything about that until the guy was known to abuse and hurt her. She really did not remind me of a fragile little girl
but obviously the circumstances were not the best. I just want to remind readers that things are not always what they seem. Some youngsters might very well be ready for some extracurricular activities while some other might not even when reaching
the age. I, myself, was very shy and childish until about my 21st birthday. We all are different, I suppose.

So, how about 12 year old girl? We see that it could actually be legal in some European countries. What do you think about that? I would hope to see more balanced views than these 'kill the fuckers' which seem to be somewhat a no-brainer

I know that this is a hot potato for most of us but my intention is not to upset anyone but to make people see also the very rare angle over things. Not enormously acceptable view in politically correct terms but seeing the list above, there
is something to think about for each and every one of us. There are really multitudes out there and we truly live in a paradoxical world.

Stickman's thoughts:

I have to admit surprise that the age of consent in some European countries is so low.

I think you summed up things nicely when you said that some people are ready for sex at the age of consent and others are not.

It is my opinion that Thai teenagers mature a little later than Western teenagers and hence I think the age of consent being set at 18 is about right. In fact I have met some Thais in their early 20s who I felt were still just not ready for a sexual relationship, at least in terms of their mental and emotional capacity to deal with it.

Having been a teacher in the past, I am strongly against anyone getting involved with a Thai woman aged under 18. Young Thais are just not ready for it – and when you factor in that the guy is likely 10 years or more older than her and thus has a certain intellectual advantage, I have very serious reservations about it.

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