Goodbye 20th Century, Goodbye Stickman
I am going to give my take on what has happened in the region over the last 20 some odd years, of course in the context of the western male expat living or visiting the region with a major part of this focus being relationships. “Our guys”, we might call them. Some of us work in the region, some just come occasionally, some are retired. We are impacted by many factors, for example the Asian men like the Japanese tourists, or the Chinese bride seekers. Our guys coming in large numbers, and the nature of our guys has an impact as well.
I first started coming to Southeast Asia about 15 years ago, not Thailand, but Vietnam. And Vietnam still had a feel to it that Thailand was probably already losing. The “wow” factor was still there, and it was strong, and a western man was pretty much assumed to be special. I first found Stickman’s Bangkok about 10 years ago. I had found something interesting and of value to me, and even made some friends who I met through the site. I only rarely traveled outside of Vietnam, I knew where I wanted to be, and it became clear to me what was happening with the changes for the expat men (our guys) living in the region. It is pretty obvious if you live over there, and even if you just read about it you can figure it out. In earlier times, a western man was rarely encountered, and was considered interesting, perhaps unique and even special. As time went on and more of our guys came over and the overall quality of our guys deteriorated. This was probably very noticeable in Thailand, right? In VN, we started seeing western guys who were coming from Thailand when the visa clampdowns started, and these guys really stood out, and not in a good way. Some of the girls I knew who worked in tourism told me that many of these guys assumed all the Vietnamese girls were available for a price. The special way we were looked at by the natives started to change. Instead of being considered special, we started to be looked at as rude, foolish and boorish.
While a guy who is “with the program” can still be successful with a relationship in SE Asia, the better days are clearly gone. Shooting fish in a barrel brings too many shooters and wipes out the fish. Of course, one must factor in the changes in the world generally as well. Rising incomes in Asia make a difference. Certainly the ease of contacting people from abroad using technology has a powerful impact as well. Just 30 years ago, we were still writing real letters to meet ladies abroad, and would get our response 10 days or two weeks later. A letter to a woman in SE Asia might be a special event for her, giving her dreams of a new life, dreams which might come true. A man who made the effort to post a real letter was often a serious man. Now, a similar lady can have a dozen men per day contact her in real time. She will not go long before someone asks her to undress on her webcam (or smartphone now, right?). Perhaps you remember the early days of the internet when owning a computer meant you were smart, tech savvy and somewhat affluent. Online discussions were polite, interesting and helpful. We all see what it is like now.
It is hard to overstate the impact on the ladies from all of this. 30 years ago, you could be the first western man an Asian lady ever talked to or met. Now, if she is connected (and they all are) and seeking a relationship, she can get a lot of contact every day, and most of the contact she gets reflects poorly on western men. This is a very different world, and I am not sure it is a better one.
I found this site to be of great value 10 years ago, I was able to learn about particular places, or techniques, or things to avoid, all kinds of ideas that were of value to a single man living in the region. As the years went by, I noticed less and less good information being shared, and more and more stories from men who made rookie mistakes in their relationships. It seemed that the site had lost its value to help decent men. About that time, say 6 years ago, I noticed my favorite writers on this site had asked to have their submissions removed. I also noticed about then that Stickman would sometimes add comments to some of the submissions that I found to be counterproductive to his business model. Surely he knew the writers were creating content for him for free. While it is his site, I often felt he would have been better off without commenting. Eventually he backed off, but it seemed to me that the best writers had already quit sending in their submissions (even the lower quality submissions fell off as well), and the nature of the submissions sections had changed quite a lot. Instead of browsing his site daily, I fell back to once a week, then once every two weeks. Something special and important to me had become something else, a somewhat sad reminder of what had once been informative and fun and of great value.
I thought about what Stick must be going through. He had seen the days when the foreigner was a special person, respected, given many opportunities for jobs, relationships and happiness. Then, the century ended and the new era came with all its changes. Yes, we can get online, travel, buy cheap alcohol, tobacco and sex (cheaper than back home at least). But that special moment is mostly ruined. If it still survives in a place off the beaten path, you are not going to get me to speak of it. I have seen what the expats did to Thailand, they are doing it to other locations, and we cannot change it. So Stickman’s site, or others like it, which were of value to men who, if not gentlemen, were at least not the dregs of society, now must understand that their real value is to a “different crowd”. A site like Stick’s can actually speed up the degradation of the culture, and I am sure Stick realizes this. Just by advertising what is available and giving advice on how to get it, this information appeals to the best and the worst, and it is pretty clear which is the bigger group.
The average western guy who comes over for “relationships” is very different today, just as the average lady that these guys come in contact with is also different. And while what has happened during this inflection point does not mean every chance is ruined for a decent expat men and a nicer Asian lady, it certainly has an impact. The changes are very dramatic. Whereas a very nice girl with good values, innocence, motivation and beauty used to be easy to find, it is considerably more difficult now.
I suspect that when Stickman started answering submissions with impolite comments he was disgusted with many of the current western expats (or guys, his customers), as well as a lot of the other foreigners who come to SE Asia. I asked Stickman to pull my submissions around that time, perhaps 5 years ago. While I would still see the occasional interesting submission, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to help speed up the process of degradation. Good men can figure out how to find a nice girl. It is not to our advantage to help riffraff come over and lie to nice girls, break their hearts, and devalue the landscape for all.
I think Stickman has never been too comfortable with the idea of the sex trade at all. Perhaps he does not feel too good about his readership, the average western expat in Thailand. He probably finds a lot to not like about the way rules are enforced (or ignored). For all of us, despite the relationships, the low costs, the need for our skills and knowledge, there is a lot to not like about life in SE Asia.
And so, the end has come for his site. In a way, it seemed the end had already come. Though occasionally I still found value in the site, it was not nearly as much as before. I made the decision to quit contributing not just because of Stick’s negative comments, but I also concluded we should not publish reports that would encourage more guys to come over, especially the kind of western guys that seem to come to Thailand. Though I am sure they are not all wretched, overall, we see what they (we) are like.
I think we have clearly lost something important and memorable, not just the site, but the magical moment which was so special for some of us. I have read other sites, trying to find one that was helpful and informative, and appealed to men who would treat the ladies kindly, and with respect and honesty. I do not think that is the profile of “our guys” now, or the big majority of them. So whatever site you find, it is dominated by guys who are mostly boozers, mongers, men who are quite willing to mislead nice girls in order to advance their sexual agendas.
Nothing will change the nature of the progress of the region, the technology we use, the way we abuse it, the kind of guys that come over, the way they are, how they treat the natives, what that does to the natives’ outlooks. The trajectory seems pretty clear. And so, Stickman may actually be doing something positive by closing his site. I am sure the mongers all know where to visit to buy sex, no secrets there in the 21ST century. But there are still a few places where progress has not destroyed or largely diminished our chances to find nice girls for monogamous and mutually beneficial relationships. Smart guys can still find them, and these locations do not need to be advertised to what the online world has become. And so, if you happen to land in that special little province (somewhere that modernity has not quite ruined yet), you might be best served by treading lightly and keeping the information to yourself.
Thanks for your years of help, Stickman, and good luck to us all.
The author cannot be contacted.