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Hey New Guy: It's Not Because You're a Handsome Manadvice bar girls Thailand
I know a few of you are out there reading this and thinking, "Wait, what? It's because I'm a handsome man, right? After all they tell me that every time I walk down the soi." Well, while veteran ladyboy lovers know this isn't the reason – I know, difficult to believe, right? – it may be good for those new to scene to learn just why the girls have chosen the world's oldest profession.
After all, knowing the motivations behind your temporary bedroom friend/adversary can help you avoid some missteps, as well as providing some empathy and respect – without having to walk a mile in her high heels (which wouldn't be easy, but not for the reasons you might think).
Tolerated Yes. But Accepted? Only to a Point
Before we delve into why, let's explore a tangential aspect of bar girl life in Thailand, one that's often portrayed inaccurately in tourist guidebooks about Thailand. This pertains to bar girls and prostitution in general in Thailand and ladyboys in particular. One often hears that Thai culture is much more tolerant than those of the west – transgendered women, or ladyboys as they are called here, are an accepted part of society, and it also turns a blind eye to prostitution, being more open with regard to sexuality.
This is, to a certain extent, true. But that's not to say that Thai people don't look down their noses at both ladyboys – particularly those in the play for play game – and girls who work in bars. But unlike in the West, where prostitution is seen as much more of a moral issue, in Thailand it's a class issue.
If one is forced to work in a bar and "go with customers," to employ the local vernacular, one is of low economic means, and therefore considered by others to be of a lower class, socially. While there is no caste system here per se, there is a definite social distinction between well-to-do middle class Thai people, the elite rich, and those of little economic means, which here typically means those from rural areas. This is why so many girls who work in bars that cater to foreigners are from Isaan or other rural areas in central or northern Thailand.
This is why you'll hear many rural Thais talk about "Bangkok Thais" with a mixture of envy and disdain.
So your average middle class Thai person living and working in Bangkok may not see anything wrong with a girl or ladyboy from Nong Khai coming to work in a bar in Nana Plaza to support her family back home on the farm. After all, one is expected to take care of one's elder family here.
But that same middle class Thai person isn't going to be inviting that ladyboy to join them for afternoon tea anytime soon. Furthermore, in terms of the social strata, farmers in particular are seen as being on the bottom in Thailand. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Thai media, where farmers and those raised on a farm are typically portrayed as ignorant and stupid – what we would call rednecks.
Ever wonder why there is such a preoccupation with white skin in Thailand and Southeast Asia in general? Because if you have dark skin that means you must be an uncouth rural denizen forced to labor in a field – most definitely not hi-so.
Sorry Cheap Charlie, I Got Mouths to Feed. Really
Which brings us to the primary reason the girls and ladyboys we love work in bars: most of them have families to support. It may seem strange to a Western foreigner, but in this deeply traditional Buddhist culture, children are expected to take care of their parents and grandparents, including financially. There is no social safety net here; a family's children are the elders' safety net.
Bear in mind too that the average farm family in Thailand makes $3,600 a year (U.S. Dollars, according to 2008 United Nations survey). Granted, the cost of living in Thailand is much less than in the West, but still, Thai farmers ain't getting rich; there's no such thing as a gentleman farmer here. In fact most are debt these days, because of the cost of fertilizer and recent natural disasters like the floods that plagued Thailand a few years back.
So ask any girl working in a bar where she's from and the odds are good it will be from rural Thailand, commonly somewhere in Isaan. Ask her why and the answer will often be two-fold. First, she's helping support her family back home. Often times the older siblings will go to work to put the younger ones through school as well – this is particularly true of ladyboys, who still have fewer prospects in the workforce, even with a degree, than a younger brother or sister.
Furthermore, for a girl from a poor rural family who can't afford her to send her to university, working in a bar in Bangkok or Pattaya -- among many friends and making more money than she could back home -- while avoiding the backbreaking work of rice farming, is an appealing alternative. Slog away day after day in the hot, muddy fields of Phitsanulok or dance in an air-conditioned go-go in Pattaya, going out partying with your friends afterwards? An easy choice for many girls.
Sure there are a few girls out there who aren't doing it because they have to support their family financially, but because they enjoy the lifestyle and the easy money. But the vast majority of them are in the former category: they are the primary breadwinners for the folks back home.
So keep that in mind the next time you get annoyed that a girl is pestering you for a lady drink or balks at your low-ball offer for a short-time price. She may literally have mouths to feed.
And when you're doing the so-called walk of shame back to your hotel? Grow some balls and turn it into the walk of fame. Take her hand and show her – and more importantly, let her show other Thais – that you aren't ashamed to be seen with her. Your lady, be she GG or ladyboy, will appreciate it – she likely comes from the bottom rung of the social ladder, after all.
Written by: Ladyboy Lust
- Moo Yung, bubba, jurfor and 10 others like this