Stickman Readers' Submissions January 27th, 2010

With Torn and Wasted Hearts they Smile

When I was nineteen years old my car broke down in northern Australia. I set up camp and met a local guy who wandered by my camp. He seemed nice enough and we went into town to have a few beers together. After a couple of beers we walked back to my tent and had some more. I told him I wanted to go to sleep so he left. I figured that would be the last I saw of him. How wrong I was. He came back to my tent later that night and tried to have sex with me. I told him to get lost. He left but I was soon woken up by his footsteps. I was petrified. He pissed outside my tent and the vilest smell wafted inside. He pushed himself into my tent several more times and I pushed him back out. It got more aggressive after that and his sweat stank like bin juice. It got to the point where I considered letting him have his way with me because it would be easier. I just felt so tired and beaten down by the situation.

I eventually told this guy that if he didn’t leave I would kill him. He smiled at me, as if to say I had no choice in what was going to happen here. I told him to f— off. He was very amused by this. I was so angry that I dragged him outside and beat him senseless. His head split open and I’d never seen anything that looked quite so grotesque. I damn near killed him and I didn’t feel any guilt. It seemed to me that it was my right to reclaim that power that he had tried to take from me. Why should I have felt guilty for hurting someone who would treat me like that? I stared at his body until the sun came up and began to feel sickened by what I’d done. I went to wash myself in the river. The police were there at my camp when I returned.

The cops took the guy I’d bashed to the hospital and were very casual about their dealings with me. I guess they might have had complaints about him before. The main problem occurred later when the guy who tried to rape me came to his senses and claimed that he hadn’t done anything wrong. He apparently had no idea why I’d gone crazy. I was really close to being charged because it was my word against his about the attempted rape but he had a major wound to prove that I’d struck him. I’d already admitted to bashing him anyway. The cops did me a favour though. They told me that they had a stabbing to deal with and that they would pick me up in half an hour. I wasted no time in getting a tow truck to take my car to another town and I hitched my way across Queensland. For a long time I hated that guy just because he made me feel so disgusted at myself. For days after this incident all I could seem to smell was his sweat. I tried to wash him off me but it was no use. The smell still remained and I felt filthy inside. I wanted to scrub myself inside out. All of this and he hadn’t even managed to put his dick inside me! Try to imagine how a bargirl must feel after going with strange men night after night. Being on the receiving end of male sexual aggression is a whole different experience to giving it. It’s invasive and violating in ways I couldn’t have imagined had I not had this experience. Even if the customer is kind to the bargirl it probably won’t change the way she feels about herself and the customer after sex. I would never want anybody to feel like this as a result of my actions and I’m very sorry that I did once sleep with a bargirl who could hardly conceal her contempt for me after we’d had sex.

For those of you who might think I am jumping to uninformed conclusions by relating my own experience to that of the bargirls, I assure you that I am not. There are so many academic books on prostitution available now that anyone writing about the morality of the sex industry has no excuse for being ignorant about the impacts of prostitution. Many prostitutes experience what I described earlier. The major difference is that what I felt lasted for days while for them it is far more extreme and can last for years. Relinquishing their bodies to absolute strangers who are often obese, abusive and disrespectful is not easy. It can make the girls feel contaminated and filthy. To quote prostitution researchers Hoigard and Finstad: We are in our bodies – all the time. We are our bodies. When a woman prostitutes herself, her relationship to her body changes: it is as if she is moving through life inside a boil or clothed head to toe in a rash.

Prostitution can destroy what little real self respect the bargirls had before entering the industry. During sex, some prostitutes often use dissociation techniques that are commonly employed by sexually abused children. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are also common amongst prostitutes who leave the industry. On top of this they are seen as social pariahs. Prostitutes have limited legal protection; it is almost impossible for a prostitute to have someone charged for raping them. <Don't count on this being the case in Thailand, *especially* if the alleged perpetrator is a foreignerStick> If a prostitute does have the confidence to press charges she will probably be made to feel humiliated while the perpetrator walks free. If prostitutes try to defend themselves they risk being described as women of bad character who are not to be trusted. Most prostitutes would not get away with violence like I did. Whether bargirls willingly become prostitutes or are prostituted by cultural and economic conditions is a matter of opinion. Regardless, there is still the fact that prostitution has a disastrous impact on most people involved in the industry – a point which Stick demonstrated in his last column, “Stick Leaps Into The Morality Debate Ring”.

There are better places to get opinions on the issue of prostitution than from Rastus’s wife, who probably has nothing to do with the industry. And just because some mongers have had superficial experiences with various bargirls over and over again over several decades does not make them experts. It would be nice if more people would try reading some insightful books on prostitution or studies by sociologists before coming to conclusions based on what they’ve witnessed first hand. The bar world is an illusion and many of the ladies will try to make it remain that way. You can’t trust what you see or hear most of the time, especially if you don’t speak Thai. Asian prostitutes have occasionally told interviewers things that they would never tell a customer or boyfriend. Let the Good Times Roll: Prostitution and the U.S. Military in Asia by Sturdevant and Stoltzfus is an excellent starting point to learn about prostitution in Asia. Sheila Jeffreys’ The Idea of Prostitution is staunchly feminist and hostile towards mongers, but it does show that prostitution is a job like no other wherever and however it is occurring. I don’t agree with much of what Jeffreys has to say but she does raise some interesting points in her books. Her views will certainly challenge the perspectives of most mongers.

One last thing, Caveman said in his submission ‘Punt’ that it is not advisable for a guy who is under thirty to step into the flesh industry of Pattaya. I can’t speak for all men but I was twenty four when I first experienced Pattaya and it certainly didn’t warp my view of sexual relationships. If anything, it made me wonder what the hell is wrong with all these older Western men. Experiencing Pattaya made me question the world and encouraged me to make the most of my opportunities. Being with a bargirl for two years also showed me the importance of entering a relationship with someone who shares similar values with me. I can’t say the same for many of the older guys I’ve known.

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Stickman's thoughts:

That's a unique perspective for sure and you make heaps of interesting points. I really enjoyed this submission.

Just one point I would raise – and I am not saying I agree with it but it is worth factoring in – is that while you quote two sociologists as saying that "we are our bodies", there does seem to be a notion in these parts, read much of Asia, of the separation of mind and body. It's not something I know much about nor have I given it much thought. It might be codswallop for all I know but it would be nice to hear from someone who does know something about this.

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