Why I Would Never Take My Daughter To Thailand – or The Mindfuck
When my family and I moved to Thailand, I had just about reached puberty. I was a very innocent and happy girl. Until then, my life was relatively sheltered and pristine. I have much luck: I have class privilege, and white privilege. Now in my mid-twenties, I’ve spent a total of 7 years in LOS. And I have become too angry, and messed up. This is the story about how Thailand has mind-fucked me.
What is the experience of a young girl coming to Thailand?
To me, one of the best responses to HCG was “Old, Fat and Bald” who wrote “Imagine yourself as seeing the Pattaya, Nana, Cowboy, Patpong, or Phuket nightlife scene for the first time. Now […] also imagine that you are uninterested in the girls, and only look at the men you find there. What is your overall impression of them?”
Exactly. Yes, I’ve definitely looked at the men. I too have seen them at the beach, on the street, in shopping centers, in cinemas, hotels and nightclubs. Their Thai girlfriend is clinging to their arm, with her head held up high, lowering it only to give a judgmental look to my pedicure, lest some nail polish have chipped off, giving her an extra little thing to snarl about.
I’ve never been very good at ignoring these things. I have been told: “Just live your life, blank it out!”
Blank it out??
On one hand, the sight of such unbalanced relationships can sometimes be quite comical, but generally, truly burns holes in my heart. The psychological and emotional impact this has had on me, you probably have no idea. A little bit of me died on my first time in Patpong. Nothing had prepared me for the shock of seeing this flesh market. I talked with the bargirls, heard their stories of abuse, and wished I had a Kalashnikov to blow the men’s balls off. You cannot expect a girl to remain indifferent to the sight of women’s bodies put up for sale like any other merchandise.
One the other hand, how is it possible to “blank it out”, considering the extent of the phenomenon? You can’t escape it. Going to your home country, you get asked about ping-pong shows. Living in Bangkok, you get to know things you wish you didn’t. Like the fact that your neighbour, whose wife you adore, is fooling around and she doesn’t know it. You juggle with the idea of telling her and decide that it’s not your place, but then end up hating yourself for being such a hypocrite. You can’t escape it.
I was in Thailand during the years I became a woman. When I started to wonder about having a boyfriend. When I wanted to understand what men want from women. I was being told to work hard at school so I could have a career, but also I saw that career-women were abandoned by men. I was being told that I should be strong, yet I saw men choosing submissive women. In the international school, the schoolyard always buzzed with infidelity and whoring stories, stories that 15 year olds don’t normally discuss at recess. “Did you hear about Teacher Alison? Her husband has just dumped her for a 19 year old whore”. “Did you hear about Jason? His mother went to his dad’s office the other day, by surprise. She caught him red-handed with his Thai girlfriend! So she is going back to the US with Jason”. And you lose another friend.
And you hear this story happening to your friend’s mother. Then your mother’s friend. Then your own mother. Probably, it will happen to you too, one day, you think.
You go on the internet to try to figure out what’s going on. Surf a few Thailand-related sites. And this is the cherry on the cake. You find an unimaginable number of hate speech towards Western women. The poisonous words you read (and keep reading despite yourself) break down your self-esteem. You’re told that you’re a piece of shit, nothing more than a bitchy broad, and so is your mother, your aunt, your sister. You’re told that you’re ugly, stupid and worthless. You’re told that you will never be happy. And this, this is when the anger turns into true hate.
I am not an exception, believe me. I know dozens of girls who were young expats in Thailand, and who are as fucked up as me by this experience. We are not crazy, we are the norm. Why do you think young girls like me read Stickman, why did HCG write a submission- because we love being insulted? No. Because our stay in Thailand as young girls/young women, whether 1-year long or 5-year long, has planted the seed of hatred of men in our hearts. Even girls coming as tourists here feel it- although they might have felt it only for a minute or two. But if they stay long enough, the seed of hate will plant its roots very deep. Asian-looking girls have to deal with unwanted sex demands, and being asked ‘how much’. Western girls have to deal with the hate, the prejudice, and the fear of being labeled as an immoral, despicable beings with no virtues, because you are white, including by Thais. I know many of these girls have developed some form of disorder, ranging from anorexia to drug addiction. I know that some have messed up their life, like my friend who grew up in Thailand and moved to Japan at 17. She found a Farang fiancé who loved her, and she loved him, yet she cheated on him with older Japanese men – she has lost her head, her way, and she is not an exception either.
I have met many Western women who have been my lifeline here. Who, on the streets, give me a true smile of understanding and support. Whose amazing words of wisdom have sometimes saved me from my own irrational anger. The Western women who manage to stay strong and whole in Thailand are those who came here with an already strong sense of their identity, of who they are as a woman. But, I also have seen several grown Western women break, like little girls. Some have been dumped by their husband in the cruelest ways and are laughed at for it. Such is the story of my friend’s mother, who one evening received a phone call from her husband saying: “I am out in a bar, having fun, with several young girls all over me! You are ugly and I don’t need you, see!” Afraid and alone, she began wearing heels and miniskirts, and taking pills. Western men stared at her with contempt, Thai women derided her. And for this I am angry. And that is just one of the reasons why I’ve become a feminist.
I’ve met a few of my father’s girlfriends and our meetings have been courteous, although we didn’t have much in common. I like talking politics and books, and she likes soap operas and beauty parlors. We didn’t receive the same education, clearly. But what really grinded my nerves was getting my ass licked with the same techniques she uses to get Western men, i.e. putting on cutesy-putty faces and saying “oh you so pretty! So smart!”
But I’m no sucker. I know why she wants me to like her, yet I am sure she will happily advertise to whoever-is-willing-to-listen how much alcohol I drink and how late I came home last night. The layers of hypocrisy in this country make me feel sick. I’ve witnessed my father trying to change these successive girls, in the way Western men often do with their Thai girlfriends: take her to the beach/Disneyland to ‘broaden her perspective’, enroll her in whatever classes to ‘educate’ her, take her shopping to get her to dress as you like. This last enterprise, I did think was quite a good idea, because I am always queasy around women who wear the same pink Kitty ribbons in their hair as when they were 8 years old.
My worldview is probably forever fucked. I don’t know if I will ever really be able to trust men. I feel poisoned and damaged. I wonder if this mindfuck will ever be reversible. My only reassurance is that the world is changing fast, and women are going fast forward. Men are not keeping up so their privilege will soon end. Look at the US: most jobs there are now held by women, most college graduates are women. This is proof that men are adapting well. So until they get the adaptation skills necessary, they will run off to Third-World countries, until those too, won’t take anymore of their bullshit. As Thai women see their opportunities growing, they won’t be as likely to enter a trade which destroys their souls, bodies and lives.
Please don’t give me a Dalai Lama speech about tolerance and opening your heart. I am not like Mrs JTG of “Dear sister”, I am no angel of virginal innocence and won’t brag about the ‘purity of my heart’. I am not going to try to understand how unjust the life of the sexpat sitting on the Pattaya barstool might have been. He would not show such compassion towards me if I were beaten before his eyes. A bad divorce doesn’t entitle you to abuse women. So, for my part, I am getting the hell out of this country. This will be better for all parties involved. And I strongly recommend every foreign family, any parent thinking of moving to Thailand, don’t take your teenage daughter here. Maybe that way a lot of heartbreak, hatred, and mindfucking could be spared.
I feel your pain. It's sad to hear that you feel Bangkok has not just been bad for you, but has damaged you in such a way that you're not confident you can easily overcome that damage. For sure, there are many victims of Bangkok and they're not limited just to the working girls and the guys who use their services.
Your perspective as a Western women is very welcome here and even if you disagree with much of what happens in Bangkok, I strongly encourage you to pen your thoughts. You bring a unique perspective and I found in particular your comments of some of the schoolyard banter particularly interesting. By sharing similar stories you could help the readership better understand some of the consequences of what happens in the bar industry.