It’s Only Sex
I’ve been following the debate on male and female sex tourism with a sense of weary familiarity. Why is it that we need to attach a moral plus or minus sign to all these phenomena? People do a lot of different things for a lot of different reasons. Those things include having sex. Sex is nowhere near the whole picture, but it’s been allowed to occupy a wholly disproportionate position in the discussion of human affairs.
Obviously I can only discuss this from the point of view of a male heterosexual Thailand fan, so here goes:
Men like sex. Without it they go doolally or become Pope or something.
Some men have more trouble with it than others.
Some are born with huge muscles, wallets and other appendages and spend their time fighting the women off with a shitty stick. Lucky bastards. Others, hardly less lucky, manage to find the perfect partner and settle down to fulfilling lives both in bed and out of it. Hats off to them.
But, let’s face it, these two groups between them don’t exactly constitute a majority. Most of us just have to get by as best we can.
Some opt for the safe but unsatisfying long-term marriage: the low-risk low-return approach. Some spend their lives (and their energies, and their cash) trying to make relationships work and bailing out when things go pear-shaped: the high-risk roller-coaster method. Others go for the mongering option: potential for short-term gains with limited risk, but you have to remember to activate the stop-loss mechanism before you find yourself spending your last cent on a subscription to the Pattaya Flying Club. I fail to see why any of these types are morally either superior or inferior to the others (though I would argue that the first option is best if children are involved).
To put it simply, why is mongering a moral problem?
Turning to the women: since the dawn of time women have known that the deal is providing sexual gratification in exchange for provision and protection. Just as some men are born lucky, so are some women: either born with money or equipped with attributes that persuade men to lay it at their feet. The rest have to get along as well as they may.
Clearly equal opportunities in the workplace, protection from domestic violence and rights to child maintenance are a jolly good thing in the countries which have them. But in those places, like Thailand, which don’t, you’ve either got to grab a man and hold on to him (hence the psychopathic jealousy of Asian women), or be exploited, or starve.
So when the puritans say “these poor girls are only there because they’ve got no choice” it’s not quite true. They’ve got choices, just not very nice ones, because that’s life in a poor, corrupt country. And perhaps not only there. What about your job? Is it what you’ve always wanted to do since you were so high? If so you’re a very lucky bunny. Most of us have to settle for a way of making a living which is just about bearable. And that’s what the girls do. If you’ve seen East Asian factories (and I have) you realise that allowing a few distinctly forgettable blokes to mess your body around may well be a positive choice. The hourly rates compare pretty well, and you don’t have to stay sober or get up in the morning. Yes, of course she’d rather be a police chief’s wife or running a chain of restaurants. But that option wasn’t on the menu.
Obviously, if there is real ruthless exploitation, that is bad bad bad. If you suspect lack of consent it’s your duty to keep your hands off the girl and do what you can (all right, in Thailand that isn’t very much) to get it stopped. I have always made it a rule to avoid any P4P operation in which men are involved. I like to know that any money I hand over is going straight to the New Flashy Top, Mobile Phone and Boyfriend's Motorbike Fund.
But I suspect the sex is not a big deal for most of these girls; and so why should it be for the rest of us?
Incidentally, at this point I have to take issue with people who disapprove of sex tourism, saying “if you must pay for sex, you should do it in your own country”. No. In my corner of Farangland women have so many other choices; it does tend to be the desperate or the trafficked and exploited who work in prostitution. I’d rather go to Thailand and find a girl who’s reasonably happy with the deal, even if that’s because the alternatives are so much worse. There’s nothing I can do about the political and economic circumstances of Thailand, except spend my money there, which I am happy to do. What do we want, an Anglo-American world empire to rid the planet of the terrible Third World governments which are the major cause of the problems?
Some women just don’t think men (except for the ones they fancy) should be allowed to have sex. And some men play along with it; if there’s one phrase which makes me want to punch the utterer in the mouth, it’s “I’ve never paid for it in my life”. Of course you have, one way or another. All you’re doing is trying to paint all mongers as hopeless losers.
Yes, some men are very shy, and the sexual world can be very cruel to the shy. Some are too badly hurt from failed relationships. And some are just too honest; in the conventional sexual marketplace women tend to be more interested in “commitment” than men, and so these studs who “never pay for it” tell them a lot of lies to get them into bed. Some just want to limit the financial risk; with a working girl you know what you’re letting yourself in for, whereas with a girlfriend (or, heaven forbid, a wife) the sky’s the limit. And some men don’t like having women hanging around the house much; hence the saying “you don’t pay them for the sex, you pay them to go away afterwards”. (I have had a (non-bargirl) Thai girlfriend from whom I had to hide in the loo to get five minutes' read of my book.) During my life I have fallen into all these categories at one time or another, and I don’t think that makes me a loser or a monster. To put it another way: on the Day of Judgement there will be far worse things on the charge-sheet than my sex life.
So let’s not get worked up about it: it’s only sex. It’s subject to the same rules regarding respect and consideration for others as all other human activity; there’s no reason to give it a special status. If other people like having sex in ways, or in places, or for reasons, or in circumstances, or with people, that you don’t approve of, then cool it, relax, live and let live. It’s only sex.
I agree that while, yes, sex is only sex, the sad thing about prostitution is South-East Asia is the way a lot of women exit the industry in a worse position overall than when they entered it. To me that's real sad. They entered as poor women with hopes and dreams and exited as poor, damaged women with their hopes and dreams gone. Of course there are many who exit it in a vastly better situation.
The morality of the industry is extremely complex!