Is There Life After Prostitution
This submission is in reaction to a link Stick provided in his last column of 2012 (Stick, please put the link HERE ) about the woes of a former sex worker's ill-fated attempt to re-enter the normal world.
I admit it relates to Thailand only marginally in that Thailand has its fair share (or a lot more) of prostitution (in various levels and disguises, etc., smirk smirk), but I will go with my gut here that Stick will indulge me given that he was inspired to present that link in the first place. Given the rampant and widespread phenomenon of women's extracting money out of men in exchange for sensual favors in this country, the issue of leaving the trade would seem to be particularly interesting in this cultural environment, as well. However, the linked story was about a freelancer in the United States. She decided at some point to engage in the honest profession of schoolteacher, for which she did have a degree (in part financed by her body, as she herself professes), and at which job she was good, which I am willing to believe, only to find herself "tossed back on the street" boohoo after her self-revealing blog about her past attracted some unwanted journalist attention. In her article, then, she tells her "poor me in a hypocritical world"-type story whose intent I can not really fathom, perhaps to jerk my tears?
Now before you judge me as judgmental, closed-minded, unsympathetic, and hypocritical myself, please allow me to give my full, and surprising to myself, rather strong inner reaction to her story:
First of all, what the hell was she thinking? Really? A f*$#ing blog? I have no problem with her decision to "go clean," even laud her courage, but sorry, this is just plain stupid. She of all people should know the realities of her environment and should have been aware that in the US she would be mercilessly crucified if her past got out, and I might add, especially in a profession of schoolteacher in contact with innocent impressionable children. And again, believe me, I have seen my share of "shit," e.g. that women are very adaptable and can make 180's like this, and I am convinced she really was a good school teacher, and did not corrupt her charges with stories from her past or any allusions to it whatsover. But there is a lot of wisdom in Clinton's mantra of "Don't ask and don't tell." If she felt she needed to process her past, well, hell, it can be done a little bit less publicly than in an internet blog.
But my reaction does not stop there. I also find her sympathy-craving description of psychological damage and self-help groups of former sex workers quite repulsive. Sure, I have no doubt that a father's beating or sexual abuse might have helped along on a woman's road to prostitution, but please, not "my father was emotionally distant, and those rare occasions when he won in the horse races and showered us with gifts gave me warm and exciting feelings that I later relived at the obscene windfalls of cash after my craigslist-advertised shags" (only slightly paraphrased, smirk smirk). I don't even apologize now when I say this is precisely the well-known typical women's bulls*&t of abdicating responsibility. Please, let's keep it real here. Though her first time of turning tricks was prompted by a situation of acute financial need (and one might stop to ask how she actually got herself into that situation in the first place, but of course we are deprived of this gem of her self-examination), freelance prostitution (and let's please call the baby by its right name) continued to finance luxury and lifestyle well beyond paying bills and school tuition. Look, I don't for one moment look down on her for having found a lucrative business for herself. Hell, I would do it myself if I could (though of course, very discreetly). But then don't try to pass yourself off as a victim. After all, let's not forget that as a successful freelancer free of life-or-death financial pressures, she retained a lot of control over whom she would pillow, and please let's not pretend that that there wasn't some carnal pleasure involved on her part as well, the variety and rape fantasy and all.
Baby, many of us here are victims of capitalism's simultaneous lowering of wages and raising of prices, and many of us come from less than ideal family backgrounds. Why exactly should I feel sorry for this lady, especially when she continued her sex business well past the financing of a minimally dignified lifestyle while getting through university, thus avoiding the dreaded nightshift at McDonald's? How about just being an adult about it and – to herself (not in public, duh !) – owning up to her less-than-duress-induced decisions of the past? Sure, there is no need for self-loathing, and it is all about self-forgiveness and all the other warm fuzzies, but trying to evoke sympathy is really pushing it. Frankly, in my opinion, she does not belong at all in a class with the typical proper victims of prostitution.
Before circling back to Thailand-related, I would like to also interject that if you find yourself penniless in Mexico, well I'd wager there are still quite a few steps to take from there to arrive at strutting your muff while pole-dancing in the buff, and at each step one might perhaps stop to think and consider a phone call to the embassy instead. Ah, the pearls of good judgment and responsible decision-making!
Ok, so this essay still doesn't relate much to Thailand, but I think I can at least say this. I'm no Korski and haven't taken any respectable sample of bargirl or freelancer interviews to the level of an academic study. I have had my brushes with different levels of Thai society, and based on my own experiences of women's characters, I'd say that given similar test sample conditions to the extent possible across cultures, a Thai woman would handle a transition from The Trade to respectable business in a much more mature fashion than this American lady, i.e. with due discretion and minus the self-pity.
I really think you've been unreasonably harsh. OK, so maybe she made a mistake getting in to the industry in the first place, or maybe it is simply that she now regrets it. But does she have to suffer for the rest of her life because of it? I think it's really disappointing that someone who wanted to be open and honest about past mistakes is going to be vilified for them. She has tried to be open about her past so she could put it behind her and move on with life. This woman has my respect for being open and brave for the way she has tried to be honest about things so she can move on. I think it's a terrible shame that she lost her teaching job over this even though at the same time I realise that parts of the world, especially the developed world, are becoming more and more puritanical.