In its most recent incarnation on the site, the mighty Stickman has waded in on the debate as to the morality of the pay for pleasure scene. It was not new news as such and I think that the majority of us long-term readers have known for quite some time that the Stick has always veered towards the ‘No’ campaign when it comes to the ‘is it moral?’ question. I suspect that it is not a view that is shared by the majority of his readers, although I equally suspect that it is a view that is at least respected by the majority.
I’ll put my own thoughts forward in this, my first, submission to the site. This site has provided endless hours of interest to me over many years and I feel that the time to give something back has come… in fact it’s long overdue. To start things off I’ll give a bit of background information about myself; this will no doubt taint your opinions of what will follow, but I don’t mind that in the least.
I am in my forties, male, English and single. I have been a frequent visitor to Thailand since 2009 including an extended visit of just under a year. All told I’ve racked up just under 2-years of time spent in Thailand, and almost all of that has been spent in Pattaya. I suppose that still puts me in the honeymoon period according to Stick’s definition, and yes I do still love the place. Time will tell if that is set to change, but I suspect that my values are well suited to Thailand and the joys that it has to offer. I’ve been a regular monger for a fair proportion of my time in the LoS, but must confess to having made the mistake of getting serious with, and being faithful to, a bar-girl that I first met as a greenhorn in 2009… that relationship did not end well. As far as work is concerned, most of my professional employment has been based in the Northwest of England in an Economic Development role and, believe it or not, I draw much of my views on ‘the debate’ from experience gained in that role. I’ll explain the link later.
Now, having stated that I have long been a monger, it will come as no surprise that I do not agree with the ‘No’ campaign. Before you jump to conclusions I should state that I am not firmly in the ‘Yes’ campaign either. What’s more, neither are most people if they stop to give it some serious thought. As with much in life, the simple fact is that there are no black and white answers out there, there are only shades of grey and we all have a different tipping point at which an acceptable shade of grey becomes unacceptable. All this is fairly banal, heard it before, regurgitated pap, and you might rightly be wondering if I’m actually going to weigh into this debate with anything new at all, so I’ll add something new right now…
The bulk of the case against seems to sit on some sort of belief that the P4P scene causes damage to a participating girl’s psychological health; perhaps not to every girl, but to a significant proportion of the least fortunate amongst them. I think that this belief is flawed and that in those cases where an ex-bar-girl has shown psychological damage, that damage was there all along and almost certainly originates in the way that she has been raised since her earliest childhood. Perhaps the damage wasn’t manifested in a visible fashion before a life on the game took its toll, but it was there none-the-less.
I don’t want to dip too deeply into the free-will versus determinism debate, let’s deal with one debate at a time, but what is absolutely undeniable is that a good deal of our values and our beliefs are driven by our experiences. We can no more change our values than we can change the experiences that gave us those values. As an example, imaging that you were born in the middle-east to Muslim parents… there’s a very high probability that you too would be a Muslim and that your outlook on life would be very different. The same logic applies if you were born into any other culture. More importantly, the same logic applies within a given culture and right down to the particular family unit and personal surroundings. I mentioned a link between my previous employment and my views on ‘the debate’, here it is…
The UK department for work and pensions commissioned a report some years ago to look into the effects on children of being raised in households in which there is no adult in employment. What the research from that report clearly demonstrates is that a person’s ‘life-chances’ are severely impacted upon according to the circumstances in which they were raised. For example, in cases where a child has been raised in a family in which no person has worked, that child will itself grow up to have much lower aspirations to work. There will be a tendency to underperform at school, truancy rates will be higher, there is an added likelihood that the child will at some point resort to drug and alcohol abuse, petty crime rates are much higher amongst people from workless families, they will probably be Manchester United fans (okay, I made that one up) teenage conception rates are way higher, and the incidence of prostitution is much more likely. Prostitution didn’t cause any of the problems that these people face; it is more accurately described as being symptomatic of the real cause of poor attainment rates in life.
Before I continue I should clarify that I’m not saying that Thai bar-girls do the work that they do because they grew up in workless families, it may be that both their parents have worked, the point is that whatever their upbringing was like, it is their experiences in childhood that will have caused whatever ‘damage’ has been done to their psychological health and once done, it is more often than not irreversible.
I’ve yet to meet a bar-girl that chose a life of prostitution because she didn’t fancy a career in medicine, law or the stock-market. They choose it because their realistic alternatives are worse. If you could take away the P4P industry it wouldn’t be likely to improve the lives of the girls themselves, they aren’t going to suddenly become business tycoons instead… they are more likely to face abject poverty, resort to petty crime, drug abuse and all sorts of undesirable activity. Ah but, I hear you say, the alternatives to prostitution of which you speak can be better, it is only worse ‘perceived’ alternatives that make the girls prefer the P4P industry. Well, you’re absolutely right in the majority of cases, but that perceived alternative is self-fulfilling and there’s not a thing that any of us can do to change it… some people, whilst not being born-losers, are certainly raised to lose!
Getting back to my Economic Development role as an example, in light of the aforementioned DWP report, we spent literally millions of £’s on projects geared at raising ambitions and life-chances for people brought up in workless households, and I honestly can’t point to a single success. That’s not to say that all of the people raised in these circumstances are destined to fail, some do manage to break the cycle, the point is that we were totally unsuccessful in increasing the rate at which people break the cycle. The roots of the problem were far too deeply entrenched to be overcome by any feasible action that we could take.
Karl Marx referred to a ‘Lumpenproletariat’ and I’d encourage you to look the term up for a definition; it certainly appears to apply here but I’d take away any negative connotation to the term. People are what they are and without bar-girls and their ilk there’d be no mongers… what a sorry state of affairs that would be!
If you take away the P4P scene, you don’t do a thing to help the girls or solve the underlying problem. As sad as it is, some people are simply set to fail in life no matter what you do to help them. How many times have we read about, or been told of, some loser winning a fortune and then a few short years later they’re penniless and homeless? That’s the same sort of issue but in different clothing.
Now, you might think that since I’m arguing that there are no real adverse psychological effects associated with a life in the P4P scene that it is only logical that I ought to be sitting firmly in the ‘yes’ camp, with the opinion that it is perfectly moral to engage in this sort of thing. Well, I suppose that I am closer to the yes camp than the no camp, but I can’t really commit to it 100%. There is a long list of other arguments against the scene that I haven’t touched upon here and don’t intend to. You might wish to carry the debate on yourself and add your points of view, but the one question that bugs me a little is this one: If you had a daughter, would you want her to work in the P4P scene? It’s a tough one to reconcile with being in the yes camp… the answer to the question is most definitely no, I wouldn’t want anyone I cared about to work in that line of employment. I didn’t want it for the bar-girl that I got involved with back in 2009. Unfortunately, my values were not her values and she could not be separated from her occupation. I think that there’s a lesson in there somewhere; it was my values that made me want her to leave the scene, but if my values had been the same as hers then maybe I wouldn’t have minded.
What’s the answer… there is none that I can see, and that’s why I have no firm opinion as to the P4P morality debate. It’s just too complicated to solve in an absolute way that is right for everyone all the time, so I simply argue that the correct and moral thing to do is to go with your own feelings on the matter and respect the right of others to do the same. That’s not an endorsement to partake in the industry, it’s a recommendation to stand by your own values whether they suit your desires or not. If you have no objection to it then party on. If you feel it is immoral, then don’t get involved. What bugs me is when a third party comes along and tries to stamp their moral judgements on other people… this of all things ought to be solely up to the two consenting adults involved.
Where I think that we can all agree is that, if you are going to partake, you should always treat the girl with the utmost respect – she knows that what she is doing is considered to be the work of very low people, but it is often the case that she is doing it for the benefit of others. There’s honour in that and whilst you might not know any particular girl’s motives, it doesn’t harm to give her the benefit of the doubt and behave like a gentlemen.