Can I Take Photographs in Here?
It is my third day in Pattaya. So far it has been a good day. I really hope it will continue to be a good day! I am sitting outside the Big C Shopping Centre, in the open air bar area, nursing a cold beer. My young female Thai companion, Tasanee (or beautiful view) is sitting beside me sipping a coke. Tasanee is 21 years old, tall, slender, demure and very pretty. Not for the first time I admire her parents foresight in choosing such an appropriate name for their daughter.
My reverie is rudely interrupted by the appearance of a large shapeless woman with lank red hair and freckles, wearing a billowing tent like dress. She peers at me intently though thick horn rimmed spectacles and then plonks herself down in the chair opposite. She doesn’t wait for an invitation to join us, probably because she knows from experience that no such invitation will be forthcoming. “I want to talk to you”, she commands angrily. Her eyes glare at me in the manner of an owl tracking a vole. I cannot accurately assess he age, nor am I particularly interested in doing so. She could be anywhere between 20 and 45 years old.
I pause to consider my response, which is most probably a mistake. An instinctive “fuck off”, is undoubtedly the correct retort under such circumstances, but I miss the moment. Besides, I do not wish to appear uncouth in front of Tasanee. I resign myself to reality. It is no longer a good day!
“How may I be off assistance”, I respond with over stated politeness. I hope she might detect the irony in my tone, but unsurprisingly she either misses it completely or simply chooses to ignore it!
Sara, for that is her given name, announces without any preamble that she is reading for an MA in women, violence and conflict at the Centre for Women’s Studies within York University. I sense that I am supposed to be impressed, and, or intimidated; but maintain my silence. Sara has travelled to Thailand to conduct some field research before submitting her final dissertation. The title of her research paper will be: “The sexual exploitation of Asian women by immoral, predatory and economically advantaged Caucasian males”.
Sara fixes me with another hard stare, and demands to know what I am doing in Thailand with an Asian woman who is clearly less than half my age. I reply evenly to the effect that I am a nice guy, with a large circle of friends and acquaintances in many countries. “Bullshit”, she responds – probably not unreasonably to my flippant retort! Not much liking the direction this conversation is heading, I counter by asking Sara why she has elected to take an MA in women’s studies.
I have cleverly picked the one subject that will deflect Sara’s anger away from my personal shortcomings – namely being a predatory, white, middle aged male. Sara announces with evangelical zest that she intends to place herself at the vanguard of a feminist movement dedicated to accelerating the transfer of power from men, to women. I ask her how she plans to achieve this. Addressing me as an idiot (which perhaps is fair comment for asking such a dumb question or indeed caring); Sara explains there is already a significant presence of like minded feminists with growing influence to be found in the strategically important fields of politics, academia, law and the media. Sara tells me that men can no longer be trusted to take a leading role in politics and economic management – nor indeed by implication anything else! Sara continues by stating that historically men have maintained control through the exploitation and subordination of women, which can no longer be allowed to continue. Asked for an example of how a feminised political hierarchy would differ in operation from the current mixed model, Sara tells me that a woman leader would not inflict pain and suffering on others by starting pointless wars (any war); which men do routinely for reasons of power, dominance and greed or simply to inflate their own insatiable egos. I think briefly of the famous warrior Queens’ in history such as Boudica and Cleopatra V11; but decide to keep my own council.
I ask Sara whether she hates men. Sara says she doesn’t hate men, just the evil that they do and the power they exert over women’s lives!
Warming to her subject, Sara instructs me that one of the first priorities of the sisterhood is to amend the unjust divorce and separation laws. As she sees things, current legislation is grossly unsatisfactory, in that it seeks to enshrine a father’s right to maintain contact with his children, whereas many women would prefer to move on by breaking off all contact with their unwanted ex-partner. As the law presently stands, women are driven to falsify accusations of partner abuse and, or, to instruct children as to the bad character of their father in order to block further contact. Sara believes that the law must be changed, so that on separation the default position is that all paternal rights are automatically and irrevocably suspended. Turning now to the financial settlement, Sara insists that any assets must be divided in such as a way that the wife or female partner should never be left financially in a weaker position than if the marriage or partnership had continued. Sara appreciates that this may result in 100% of the partnership’s assets, together with a significant charge against the male partner’s future income going to the woman. Sara justifies this on the basis that the average male salary is higher than the average female salary, and that women often lose out financially by taking a career break to raise children.
Unsurprisingly, Sara reserves her greatest venom to rally against the UK’s rape laws. She quotes a conviction rate of only 6.5%, against 34% in general criminal cases – source The Guardian newspaper. Sara believes one of the main reasons the conviction rate is so low, is that such crimes often have no witnesses and without any collaborating evidence come down to a man’s word against a woman’s. The sisterhood believes that the law should be changed so that the woman is always believed, and that her word alone is sufficient to secure a conviction. Additionally, a man should be convicted of rape in cases when a woman consents to sex taking place at the time, but then subsequently regrets her decision. Similarly, sex with a prostitute, or with an economically or socially disadvantaged women (relative to the man), should also be treated as rape. In the same way that under UK law, minor’s under the age of 13 are protected in that they are deemed to be unable to consent to having sex, so Sara believes the same principle should be extended to these vulnerable groups of women. Similar to the act of murder, Sara would like to see UK courts assuming jurisdiction to try any British national accused of rape abroad – in cases where no charges are brought in the country where the crime is alleged to have taken place. In case of conviction (probably a racing certainty), Sara states that rape should carry a mandatory life sentence, and, or physical castration.
In order to curtail the activities of sex tourists, Sara believes that males should be required to obtain travel permits before travelling to certain favoured destination such as Thailand, Cambodia and The Philippines. They should additionally be subject to search and invasive questioning on departure and return to the UK. As an aside, Sara suggests that foreign prostitutes engaged for sexual activity by British nationals should be given a statutory right to complain to the British Embassy. Naturally, where such a complaint results in a conviction (presumably on the word of the girl alone), then the aggrieved bargirl will be in line for a compensation payout!
In a desperate attempt to restore some sanity to our conversation, I tell Sara about Stickman’s Bangkok website, and recommend she take time out to research some of the excellent articles written by Stick and his readership on Thai-centric matters. Sara counters that she would learn nothing as it is plainly just a forum for white middle-aged whoremongers’. I explain that Stick’s contributors’ encompass a range of different viewpoints, including some female submitters. Also that Stick himself is not a fan of the “Farang” serving sex industry – I decide not to complicate matters by mentioning the much larger sex industry servicing the needs of Thai males. Perhaps Sara might even like to pen a submission describing her visit to Thailand? I am confident that her views and behaviour will illicit some thought provoking feedback from the readership. Sara is having none of it! It is clear that Sara is sold on a revolutionary agenda, with no capacity to consider viewpoints and opinions that are contrary to her own mindset!
Looking for a way to offload this crazy woman before I lose my mind (and also my temper) I thank Sara for sharing her “vision of the future” with me. After assuring her that her goals and aspirations are indeed most noble, I broach the subject of what she plans to do next (i.e. leave me in peace to enjoy my beer).
“I will now visit some gogo bars to take photographs of the degenerates’ who frequent these places, together with the innocent young Thai women they are exploiting”, Sara announces primly. Perhaps I should have let this ride, but instead I tactfully point out that photography is not usually allowed within the gogos. I advise her that even where there are no signs expressly forbidding the taking of pictures, she would be wise to obtain permission from the bar manager and also anyone else she wishes to photograph within the establishment. Sara looks doubtful, so I explain that the girls’ and their customers are now very much aware that any photographs taken may end up on the Internet, remaining in cyber-space forever and potentially compromising both current and future relationships. Any girl with one or more foreign sponsors’ will be especially sensitive to such an eventuality. Sara thinks about this for a while, and then states tartly that she doesn’t need to obtain permission from the rapists and paedophiles – otherwise known as the customers, but being culturally sensitive she would like to consult the Thai staff. Sara then asks me if I could instruct her as to how to request permission in Thai.
It was Tasanee rather than I who responds to Sara’s request. Tasanee explains that the Thai language is gender specific and because of this there would need to be a slight variation in the way Sara should phrase her question, depending on whether the addressee is male or female. Tasanee first couches Sara on how she should address the bargirls, having her repeat the phase several times until she has mastered it – much to the amusement of several Thai drinkers sitting nearby. Tasanee then teaches Sara an extra word, to be added when speaking to a male Thai gogo bar owner, manager, or any security staff working at the establishment. Being the helpful girl she is, Tasanee writes down both phrases on a piece of paper, lest Sara should forget them.
Soon afterwards Sara departs (at last) eager to practise her Thai with the locals, Tasanee’s piece of paper clutched firmly in one podgy hand. Glancing over one shoulder, she waves happily to Tasanee – ignoring me completely!
A few minutes later my wife and her sister (Tasanee’s mother) join us, laden down with the proceeds of a busy afternoon’s shopping. On our way back to where we were staying, I think about how Tasanee has kindly helped Sara to conduct her field research. I suspect Sara is about to receive a real life Thai lesson on women, violence and conflict, for on the piece paper Tasanee had given her is written the following:
For Woman – “Mung dum bah gah-ree”
For Man – “Mung dum bah luke gah-ree”.
I believe this roughly translates as:
For Woman – “You (derogatory form of address) black, crazy whore”
For Man – ““You (derogatory form of address) black, crazy son of a whore”.
Although I try to treat them all equally, Tasanee will always be my favourite niece!
Can't say I have come across any women like Sara, but feeding them some inappropriate Thai would deal with them nicely.
* Your translations use the right words but the syntax is off.