Morality, and the Eternal Trade Offs
I have read a great deal of articles here on this site, and enjoyed most of them even when I don't exactly agree with the writer. On my own blog, I document the more mundane aspects of life here in Thailand primarily for the benefit of friends and family back home. It's just my way of letting them know I'm still alive and kicking without writing a hundred emails. Stickman's website covers some of the more "interesting" topics that I'm probably not going to be discussing with my mother back home. I hope to contribute in some way here.
First of all, let me qualify myself by stating that I live and work in northern Thailand. The night life here in Chiang Mai is quite lively and extremely tourist oriented. I myself work as a musician, entertainer, and part time concierge in various night clubs and venues. This gives me the unique opportunity to watch Thai people as they interact with tourists and expats alike.
The most interesting and often puzzling aspect of the night life is the "sex industry" and the women who work in and around it. It's an often controversial (but always entertaining) subject. Whether I'm at work watching the girls as they fleece the customers or dodging ladyboy hookers on my way home, it's an ever present phenomenon. Much has been written here on morality recently, and many valid points have been made. I consider myself to be a person with some fairly decent values, but no one is perfect. I've never paid for sex, but I have taken advantage of a few opportunities here in the land of smiles. Working around the bar girls and freelancers for many months pretty much ruined them for me. Many of them are indeed attractive, but watching them work night after night gives you a new perspective. That little hottie in the short skirt starts losing her appeal when you see her barfine out 3 or 4 times a night. Suddenly the image of throwing a pencil down a hallway comes to mind. I don't harbor any resentment towards these girls, but I am certainly wary of them and wise to their game. They are wise to me as well. I don't interfere with their business, but they know I understand how they operate. At first I felt a little pity for them, but that faded quickly. I've probably heard every sob story in Siam from them by now. Some are true, but many are not.
In my mind it comes to what I call the great M&M debacle. No, I'm not talking about the candy, but many do come in some very nice wrappers. It's the Money and Morality trade off. For many Thai people, the sex industry is shunned and frowned upon, but even the government overlooks most aspects of it due to the tourist trade. I nearly fell off my chair laughing the first time somebody told me that prostitution is actually illegal here in the Kingdom. The law is written rather loosely (pun intended), but there is a law. Everything has its price, and it's all just a matter of negotiation to make it appealing enough to all parties. For enough money, a decent girl will start working in the bar and if that same price is low enough, the men are sure to follow. Both parties involved trade a bit of morality for a monetary value. Let's face it, if all the girls cost 10,000 baht "short time" many guys would gain a little more morality. Likewise, if they all cost only 100 baht, you would see a great deal of these girls gain some morality as well. Just food for thought.
My own personal situation at the moment isn't ideal, but involves a trade as well. I have opted for the "Gig experience". She has a boyfriend who is accepted by her family, but treats her badly and is often out of town. I'm habitually single, but do get lonely sometimes. I don't have any interest in paying for sex, and I lack the ambition to chase a legitimate relationship. Under our current arrangement, she stops by once or twice a week, spends the night, and stays for most of the next day. The best part is that she usually brings me a pack of smokes, a few bottles of beer and something to eat. (Does that make me a prostitute?). Either way, I get the GFE and she gets the BFE. I always treat her with the utmost respect and care when we are together. In return I get the same. Most of our time is spent curled up like a pretzel either sleeping or watching TV. The sex isn't too important for either of us, but let's just say that needs get met when they arise. Yes, it's all just temporary, but both of us get that little bit of human touch that we crave without all the usual strings attached. Oddly enough, she claims to be "Christian" and I spend my free time studying Buddhism. Go figure.
It's not my place to judge anyone or impose my own values. Experience has taught me that trying to change people's minds on anything is generally a futile attempt. I'm just emptying the contents of my head into my keyboard, and hope you enjoyed the reading.
Interesting perspective. I can just imagine that some bargirls would consider YOU to be immoral for failing to pay the lady who comes to see you.