Thoughts On The Great Debate
I quite enjoyed the last Stickman weekly column, at least the early part of your memoir of dipping into the game, which very much paralleled my experience. It is extremely likely you and I eyeballed one another in the Thermae without ever having met. I remember being in the joint one night back in the day when it was principally a farang venue and counting 13 girls I had slept with there at the same time. Perhaps we more than just eyeballed one another – our paths undoubtedly crossed.
I always went for the newer girls. They were just sweeter and uncomplicated whether from upcountry or from their day jobs of from university. I, unlike you, never grew tired of the scene but after a little experience I settled on going with the rookies-they
were never tattooed, never hard, and I always treated them like any other girl I might meet anywhere with loads of respect. I used to explain to them that I was too old for them and that lots of younger guys would want them because they were sweet
and pretty and you know, they knew I wasn't lying to them. Over time they always nodded a hello to me or stopped for a brief chat if they could while they were still trading. But one by one, whether in the gogos or in Thermae, they fulfilled
their dream of meeting a farang, having the look kreung and settling down. I still used to run into a few now and then, fatter, mothers, and still got the acknowledgement from them if hubby wasn't around. Like you, most of my younger friends
grew tired of the scene and eventually found a girlfriend. They were young romantic bucks without the experience of much disappointment in their lives and a belief that out there was someone who was going to love them back as much as they loved
the girl. I have no judgment about that-it is generally the way of the world. But one day they will be older and then we'll see exactly how their romance turned out-most relationships, for a host of reasons, don't go the distance in
life but that really doesn't matter. Life is nothing if it is not about change and experience.
Well, Stick, you have taken a lot of stick in the past little while and provided us with all sorts of views about the only morality left in the world-sex (lying, taking advantage of people, cheating, greed, avarice, killing through unjust wars have been dispensed with these days-they get in the way of capitalism and politics). Everyone has a sexual nature and if you want to control your population through guilt and punishment, especially your male population, lay down rules for appropriate sexual behaviour. Sex, as is seen from the readers' submissions pushes everyone's hot buttons whereas not everyone can relate to sub prime loan defaults, wars against tribal peoples far away, exploitation that makes our jeans cheaper.
Have you noticed that your writers, almost to a man, when they want to denigrate the P4P male players always describe someone as old, fat, ugly, drunk, smelly and who wants to do something to a young, pretty, innocent girl that is unspeakable. The writers never talk about young, handsome, fit, funny, likeable guys. Strangely, none of the many girls I have known over the years have complained about the first group. But the second, my oh my-liars every one, promise breakers, cheats on the money-these guys make the girls cynical and hard, not the sex. Of course, every one of your correspondents who now has a wonderful relationship they are satisfied with presumably belongs to neither group, are great lovers as far as the women are concerned, nay, the best lovers their women have ever known, true of heart, in control of their woman and their romantic lives, sneering at the losers who haven't got what they have. Personally, I think they should count themselves lucky, not because they are somehow amongst that elite group of life's social winners who have found their soul (sole) mate, not because they are terrific, sensitive, ever creative lovers, but because a woman has decided they possess enough, perhaps not all, of the characteristics and material wherewithal, to make her life beyond the passing of her fertility and beauty sustainable.
Never underestimate women's intelligence or their nature to get life's job done (which is the business of life, not pleasing some man). And any man who believes he is in control of his woman because he has set down his rules fails to understand who is really in control in any relationship (that is why men must always ask before having sexual intimacy with a woman). From my personal point of view, and I admit this is because I pretty well have only been with new players on the scene who have yet to be hardened up by my fellow man, the P4P scene has given me a far greater respect for women in general than I had prior to engaging in it. I learned everything I need to know about women's nature and how different they are in their outlook on life from men. I love their indirectness compared to the linear thinking, task driven male approach. I love the way women socialize with men and, in contrast, how they socialize with women. I love their hunting instincts and how easily they can read men as the men are caught in the headlights of their beauty. I love what they have taught me about my male nature, especially my sexuality (I don't mean technique here) and how to accept it for the natural thing it is, beyond the guilt of Western culture.
Because there has been nothing at stake for either the girl or me beyond the encounter, there is no possessiveness, no jealousy, no accountability (where were you last night?), no money issues, no promises unfulfilled-I leave all of that to the men who come behind me. I have seen many a girl I have known with her edgy date or boyfriend or now husband risking all for her as she winks over his shoulder at me. And later, I might meet her sister on a recommendation from the pi sao and engage her in my riskless situation as she begins her own stint on the game. Mind you, I speak from a position of strength. I have been married in my life, lived with someone in the West who bore me two children (now adults) and have absolutely no reason to want any more. I have had Thai girlfriends from outside the bar scene (too much trouble, lovely though they were). I also accept myself including my faults and I know that I am not anyone's gift, Mr Perfect, the greatest lover to hit Bangkok, and I am too old to waste any young girl's fertility years waiting in hope for the look kreung and the house upcountry. But I know how to get along with the girls-they remember my name and I remember theirs and I don't go with them more than once or twice and I do this in the early stage of their work so that as they get stale in delivering their services, they get stale for and from my fellow punters and I never experience it (I learned this early on). If their experiences with my fellow men are bad or corrupting it isn't from me. I would add to this that while I understand the concerns in many quarters about the damage that is done to these girls one shouldn't forget that in the early stages of working there can be a lot of fun for them. Keep in mind that these girls have never seen or been intimate with anything other than the black on black pattern of boys/men in their hometowns or villages. Suddenly out of the rice paddies into big bad BKK, sleeping with white skinned blue eyed farangs throwing money at them and telling them their little noses are cute as anything beats anything they could have back home. If they are smart or lucky or both they leave the game early, marry a guy from France, or Sweden, or even New Zealand who is sincere and loving and it all works out beautifully, or even 50% of the time like real marriages in the savvy West. This is not supposition on my part but experience – I was a frequent flyer in the bar scene for ten years.
As for some girls getting 'damaged' over time, one could never dispute it. What damages them is another matter and why some are damaged and not others would need a sociological study to determine. Why some Westerners are druggies or alcoholics I do not know, let alone Thai bargirls. Why some Westerners turn to crime I do not know. Why life is unfair in terms of what birthright it doles out, what environment we all grow up in, I have no idea. I do not know why I am the only person in my entire extended family to live outside my original culture and experience things that would make them afraid. But one thing I am pretty sure about. Frequent sex with many different partners hasn't harmed me. I am the same moral person I ever was-I don't lie, cheat. steal, or envy anyone's money or success. I am not interested in taking advantage of anyone, male or female, and if I detect anyone is not happy in my company I absent myself without complaint. I am not a gossip seeking to harm others reputation. I am quite happy in my skin. Now, why should I presume frequent sex would corrupt a woman? If she is married to a sex hound who makes love to her seven days per week, will that corrupt her? Or is it only the fat, drunken, smelly guys who are not like you and me who ruin her? I'd actually wager, from what I know of this scene that it isn't the sex per se, but the broken promises, the drugs introduced by friends, the too much money thrust into hands that have never been taught much responsibility, and the general disappointment that life may hold for all of us when our dreams don't work out. They could get this just as well in a divorce settlement with the right foreigner abroad.
There are some. of course, who would characterize these serial relationships of mine as shallow as if a man owes it to himself to plumb the depths of every woman's soul to find some great hidden truth and love about her. That view may betray a host of things about its holder rather than me-lack of experience in life, social conditioning beyond a level I would accept, religious conditioning beyond sense, or a romantic heart beating strongly in a lonely chest. In the course of a human life a man will meet hundreds of other men, call them acquaintances if he sees them more than once, or some guy I met in a bar if he sees them once. There is no social or moral obligation to know everything there is about such men, nor any moral code that says a man should take any as his best friend for life. There is nothing in the natural law that says a man should have only one best friend for life. Aaah, but when you get to women and have sex with them, out come all the emotional and romantic caveats about propriety, sin, obligation and the like.
The truth is, though, that it is possible to have a girl in your bed and have her as an acquaintance for as long as she is around in the orbit of your world. A man can make more of this than is there but he is not thinking about what the girl feels. And if the two of us share something intimate for a brief period of time, it is sharing nonetheless and who dares to call it meaningless or immoral. In every relationship, from acquaintance to The One, something is exchanged, for if not, then there is no relationship. The man gives something, even if it is a promise for the future and the girl gives something, and what she gives, never mind all the intangibles, is access to her body for male sexual expression. Otherwise, there is no mutual falling in love. Everybody trades, even the guy in the bar trades his story with you and you must trade something back even if it is simply paying attention to him. But the real point here is that human beings, both sexes, make decisions about the depth of the relationships they want to have with each other and you cannot get sanctimonious just because you avoided one type all your life in favour of another.
And as for damage, yes it occurs. It occurs within marriage-physical violence, verbal abuse, divorce, asset stripping, but we don't ban marriage, do we, no matter how unhealthy it gets for some of us. Why, some men even return to it time and again as if they had learned nothing from their first encounters. You can see, too, that there is practically no sympathy for the true hearted men whose hearts have been broken by some wily wench – we are men and expected to soldier on dry eyed. This is our double standard, one of endurance for us men sometimes bolstered by sniggering contempt or schadenfreude for our fellow man who got caught by deceit, and the loss of innocence by an upcountry girl who knows nothing of the wickedness of men, with more contempt for our fellow men who are fat, drunken, smelly etc. What an impossible state of morality we have created for ourselves and how well the social/religious compact knows how to oppress us with it. Why in Sweden and Norway, a man commits a crime by offering money for sex; the prostitute is proclaimed the victim. There is not a thought in men's heads that perhaps man's quite natural sexual nature is being exploited by women for money, and even if the man is willing to be exploited, he is a criminal. Like I said, sex is the only morality now in the West and it is directed at only one sex.
Speculation about the ways to rid this country of prostitution are specious. The richest countries in the world have prostitution. Go to the Middle East and you will find Western women in the bars on a Thursday night plying their trade with Arabs. Money, not education or moral teaching has anything to do with it. Which country has the biggest porn industry in the world-why, son of a gun, don't tell me its the richest, the the leader of the 'free' world. And which small, modern, democratic, enlightened country in the West has no laws against prostitution yet many of its citizens come to Thailand to play – Australia is a good guess, but not on the money. Prostitution exists and has existed throughout the ages in every single culture the world has known. There is an imbalance in the sexual nature between the sexes and women can exploit it for money. I know your readers can cite all sorts of examples where there has been coercion, trafficking, rape and so on, but just as some bears can ride a bicycle in a circus, they prove nothing about the nature of the beast. Prostitution will always excite moral outrage in many people and countless explanations about who is responsible for it and how it can be controlled, but it never goes away until, like in that small country mentioned above, we stop saying it is wrong or illegal and let those women who would engage it get on with what they are willing to do.
Having said all of the above, I have no view on any man's morality when it comes to sexual intimacy with a willing partner of an age determined by society to be capable of making that free choice. We would all be better off if we concentrated on those other, old fashioned moralities like not killing others, not stealing from them under corporate logos, or cheating them of a decent life because we who already have a lot of money want cheap goods to consume. But, ah, you just can't get people excited about that stuff these days.