Mark (from Scotland)
People are often defined by their jobs. A Thai bar girl is defined by her job more than any other; prostitution, which marks a woman out for being prepared to sell her body. As we all know, it’s a very controversial profession, and there is a general condemnation of prostitution across the world.
It almost becomes easy to forget that prostitutes are human beings. We chastise them for objectifying themselves, but in the process we end up doing the same thing ourselves.
I have to admit that I have slept with a Thai bar girl.
You’ve heard the classic excuse, ‘I didn’t know she was a prostitute.’
Well mine is a variation on that, ‘I forgot that she was a prostitute’.
Basically, I only very vaguely remember the experience, and when I woke
up with the girl in my bed I couldn’t remember who she was. Having
remembered an association with bar girls in Patpong, the previous night,
one of those girls suddenly became the front runner for the identity of
the girl in my bed. Sure enough, when she woke up, she charged me for
the privilege of having her there.
The more interesting part of the experience however was her friend who hooked up with my friend – but not at any cost. These blogs are normally anonymous, but in the spirit of humanising and not objectifying bar girls, I’m going to give her a name: Amy. The girl I slept with barely spoke English and I certainly couldn't remember her name when I woke up that morning.
We, my friend and I, met Amy in a go-go bar in Patpong. It was the kind of place that I’m not so happy to visit now, having changed my morals over the past few years, but I would probably encourage tourists to go and see. After all, how can you comment on such a place without observing it? The ill-informed tourist would probably deride go-go bars for being the same as the strip clubs that they know more about back home. Go-go bars shouldn’t be compared to Western strip clubs; they are much, much worse (or better) than that.
At a strip club in the Western world, you pay to see the girl strip. At a go-go bar, you are there to essentially rent a girl’s body for the night. The nudity in the bar is simply to show prospective clients some of the goods before they buy. Quite a few go-go bars have numbers on the girls, so that you can go to the people in charge and pay to take her home. That’s basically how a cattle market works, and a cattle market is probably a better comparison to a go-go bar than a strip club. (Guru Note – the number is there to assist you when enquiring about a girl; if the girl doesn’t like the look of you, she won’t go with you regardless of what the bar manager says.)
I had no intention of bringing a Thai bar girl home, it was merely part of the Bangkok experience, but I guess everyone probably says that. I don’t particularly have a moral issue with prostitution in itself. What I do have an issue with is sex trafficking and exploitation of women, and you can be certain that numerous, if not all go-go bars in Thailand are guilty of it.
If I were to begin selling my body, from mere boredom of working life,
simply because I enjoyed sex and didn’t have a problem engaging in the
activity with whoever was prepared to pay, then I would deem this
acceptable. I don’t think that it applies to the majority of Thai bar
girls, however, Amy could be an exception. The bar we were in closed
fairly soon after we got there, and she invited us for drinks
afterwards. Somewhat bizarrely for a Thai bar girl, she paid for the
drinks. We met her again the following night, and she spent roughly
15,000 baht on drinks and various other things for myself and three
friends. Upon meeting us, she had claimed that she had no interest in
money, as she had money, she merely wanted friends.
I wouldn’t trust a Thai bar girl at the best of times. In Vietnam, I was offered a free blowjob by a prostitute that I politely declined. Not deterred, she grabbed at my crotch area a couple of times in an apparent bid to convince me to take her generous offer. I was pretty drunk at the time and I must admit, although I didn’t want to cheat on my girlfriend with this girl, I wasn’t terribly offended by having a woman grab my junk. Not my fault right? After a few minutes following me she gave up after one final grab at my groin area. It was then that I realised that my rather feeble rejections had cost me. My phone was missing from my pocket. She hopped on a motorbike that had pulled up just at the correct time and sped off. Fortunately I kind of wanted a new phone anyway.
The type of life your average Thai bar girl leads is one I couldn’t possibly relate to, and it’s not surprising that there is an absence of morals in girls that work in the sex industry. So when Amy claimed she wasn’t interested in money, I didn’t take it at face value. Unfortunately alcohol kills instincts such as suspicion, and it wasn’t really playing on my mind that she could run out of an establishment she had no links with at any time, leaving us with a huge bar bill that she had run up on our behalf. It never happened though, Amy footed the bill.
My friend informed me that we had forgotten to express our thanks for her generosity towards the end of the night; perhaps Amy was feeling a little under-appreciated. I think I had simply forgotten how the world works and wasn’t really considering where the drinks were coming from, or who was paying for them. At the end of the night, with any under-appreciation forgotten, she demonstrated the lack of sexual inhibitions that make a life as a Thai bar girl one that is clearly palatable for her by snogging me, and two other guys, in front of a friend of mine that she was hooking up with.
She was funny, though sometimes it was hard to work out
whether it was intentional or unintentional. She made this drunken
announcement to the entire Sunrise Tacos restaurant that we were in. “This my
boyfriend,” she shouted, gesturing to my friend, before adding, “he fat
like cow.” The expected ‘break up’ soon after was equally hilarious as
one of Amy’s friends pulled my friend’s pants down. The reason how the
break up happened from there? Amy was furious with him for apparently
enjoying the moment.
Perhaps Amy was in pursuit of a more normal life with a ‘farang’ (foreigner) boyfriend. The difference between her and most other Thai ladies of the night was that my friend didn’t have any money. Unashamedly so, we weren’t kidding anyone. I was only 23 at this time, while he was 27. We didn’t look like we had any money, and given that Amy was paying for everything, she knew this. After falling out with my friend she invited me to meet her at a nightclub. After chatting to me and introducing me to a couple who only had eyes for one another, she started doing her rounds at the club. I guess that’s her line of work; I wasn’t prepared to wait for her to come back though.
So, if Amy didn’t need money, why was she a bar girl? Is it simply who she was? She basically left me hanging to go do her job. Had she been groomed for such a profession from such a young age that she didn’t know what else to do with her life, even if prostitution became unnecessary? Did she just enjoy sex, regardless of who with? She was clearly a bit mental. I didn’t fully work out her character from an experience that lasted not much longer than a weekend.
What I did learn is that Amy certainly has a unique and interesting personality. I hadn’t really given much thought to the human behind the Thai bar girl before, having spent most of my life doing what the majority of people do, judging them from a safe distance.
I can’t agree with the idea that any more than a handful of bars are guilty of trafficking and/or exploitation these days; maybe 30 years ago I might agree but the bars these days hold very little control over the girls. That's because of supply and demand factors – any given bar needs its girls much more than the girl needs that bar. That said; it is true that there are increasing numbers of Burmese and Vietnamese girls finding their way into the Thai bar scene.
I had to smile at the news of the Vietnamese grab and run; I’ve never been to Vietnam but I have heard similar stories about the motorcycle girls there.
With regard to Amy, it is likely that she genuinely liked you. It is a little known fact that many a Thai bar girl will spend money to be with men that they like and that make them feel good about themselves (usually these are Thai boyfriends). With you being 23 at the time, she may well have considered you to be a worthy suitor rather than a customer. That’s not to say that she would have made a good life-partner. As far as the money thing is concerned, when she said that she had money she may well have meant that she had enough money right now; bar girls are renowned for living life in the moment without care or concern for the future.
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