Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It is the only thing they know.
Before I arrived I had heard stories about prostitution, and not to exclude anyone - women, men and children. But I really had no grasp on the prevalence and sadness of the business until I really saw it all in action. You can not miss it here, it is everywhere - in the bars, outside the bars, the women behind the bars, the young men in the gay bars, the older women on the front steps, the (cliche) women in the massage parlors, the transvestites on the corner, and the young girls that strut the streets of Patong with the attitudes of women who have experienced more things than a 13 year-old should know about.
Within the first couple days here I had not done much, so I was getting up early to take advantage of the 12 hour time difference back home via the internet. I would sit on my front porch (from about 6am to about 9am) and one by one watch the Thai girls, most appearing younger than I myself, emerge from different rooms in my complex. Each situation was a bit different, one from the room of a retired gentleman who was here on vacation for a month, two from the suite the young Italian guys occupied, another from the room occupied by the European who visits every year, and the list goes on. Yet they all seemed to have something in common, they all walked out with no hesitation, with no appearance of shame, all the while in heels and clothes better fit for a friday night out on the town (not sunday morning church). There was something else I noticed - frequently BEFORE the women left I would see their customers (because to give them any other name would be wrong) enjoy breakfast or a coffee on the front porch before returning to send their "friday night fun" on her way.
Then last Friday I joined some friends in Patong, which if you have been there it is every part of the title SIN CITY you can imagine. These must be the nights that to turn into the mornings I had seen at the begining of my trip. Every bar was packed with Thai women - more "employees" than customers. You couldnt even get half way through one beer before a small Thai woman, who must have forgotten to put the rest of her outfit on before heading to work, was thrusting another in your face shouting "One more, one more, you drink one more!" "Shot! You take shot!.. I take one with you!"
Now let me explain to you I was out with two new friends, one who has lived here for several years and has an understanding of how the world works in Patong, telling me "Don't sit down - don't do it, just to spite them - It drives them nuts," the other anice looking, clean cut english guy (on vacation for a couple weeks) who at 6'4" really stood out especially with his sunburn. Take a guess where those Thai ladies flocked. Let me assure you what I am writing in not of jealousy it is pure annoyance paired with sympathy. The entire night I was fighting off Thai women just to be able to hold a decent BAR conversation (which we all know doesn't consist of much) with my english friend. I watched as these 4 foot Thai women threw themselves at him, well let me rephrase that, threw themselves at his money. I had to watch carefully and count what they were charging us to make sure they weren't drinking on our tab - offering shots to others on our tab and most of all touching you places that are just uncomfortable.
I am not a male and so I can only assume it must be a bit different, but these women become a bit overwhelming at some point throughout the night and you just can't be nice about it any longer. I can't tell you how many times I was asked if he was my boyfriend and thinking maybe a YES would fend them off proved me very wrong. These were SOME of the responses I got
"You very lucky"
"He VERY BIG - You need help?"
"He going home with you?"
"He very good looking with lot of money"
There were a few in particular that favored both of us and our money - and to one who continually touched ME and hung all over me I finally had to make it clear to her that she was to leave me alone. I start with....
"Look, you understand english?"
"If you touch ME one more time I will hit you HARD"
(this was paired with some very clear sign language)
"Ok i get him one more drink"
She didnt come back much after that.
While I think about some of that night and laugh, as i am sure you did too, I also think about how bad I feel for these women. This is the life they know. They let these Westerners come and pay them money to throw them around and treat them like trash, but it is okay because thats what their mother does and their sister and their best friend. In a country that is so traditional and conservative in their morals and beliefs this is the underworld into which our western culture feeds. The westerners make this socially acceptable in a sense, well as long as they continue to pay the bills. These men (I only point to them directly because it is what I have seen) scream at, embarrass and demoralize these women and do not think twice about their behavior, be it in public or private. No one stops to intervene, to see if the woman really deserves the public lashing she is receiving, but its because they show no emotion in return.
Its bewilders me to think a woman can let a man talk to her like that, to repeatedly treat her like that. To take that blatant abuse and think it is acceptable. It is foreign to me, as a young, well traveled and independent American woman to understand this way of living. I think, "why wouldn't she just leave, there are other men, better men?" Unfortunately though, like I said these 20 year old women think they have to take it, think that they can't leave, think that if they do leave "then what? what will happen to me? what if no one else would want me?" And when you are repeatedly told this and it is repeatedly impounded into your head that you are no better than the trash on the side of the road, what more would you believe?