In this recent article, in Conducive Chronicle, Eryn-Ashlei Bailey puts forwards three characterizations about one segment of The Thailand Girl Scene – The Reservation GoGo’s and Bars.
Her depiction of The Thailand Girl Scene was challenged by two frequent commenters on the Bangkok Blogs-MongerSEA and DaMan.
Personally, I think MongerSEA and DaMan hit it right on the head– not surprising because they are both long time Thailand residents. Their comments accurately describe reality in Thailand and Ms. Baily just showed that she has never been to or bothered to actually see first hand what she is pontificating about.
The same observation could be made about many of the people who commented negatively about the now deleted content on BigBabyKenny.com. Their comments and characterizations make it clear they never bothered to actually read what was written on BigBabyKenny.com before they expressed their opinion.
That is what the marketplace of ideas is all about—open debate where the smoke blowers and bullshitters are exposed and the truth wins out.
Ms. Bailey’s first characterization is to claim the Thailand Girl Scene and specifically, the bars and clubs of The Reservation are primarily about child prostitution:
Sex tourism is a euphemism for the practice of foreigners traveling to other countries to buy sex. For many Johns, the popularity of sex tourism is to get what can’t be easily procured in their own countries; sex with children. Prostitution is the oldest profession and some feminists argue that it is a system that is inherently built upon the subjugation of women. Prostitution, or sex work, is a means for women and men who use their bodies to generate income. They may be driven to this industry out of financial need, especially in developing countries such as Thailand and Cambodia.
Ms. Bailiey’s second contention is that the girls who are working in Reservation bars and clubs are actually slaves— captured by slavers, forcibly transported to The Reservation, and are not completely free to leave the bar or club if the terms of employment are not acceptable to them.
Human trafficking differs from conventional sex work because the element of deception and or coercion. The term trafficking actually means transporting a person across state or country lines illegally. Trafficked humans are smuggled across borders and forced to work. Sex traffickers are very crafty because they will take their cargo and make them work in countries where they have little connections, chances to escape, and often where they don’t even speak the language. This phenomenon has been described in newspapers and films. The movie “Human Trafficking” described how traffickers will take a victims passport after they are smuggled into the country. This way, the victims are afraid to escape the brothel or denizen where they are forced into sex work.
Ms. Bailey’s third contention is that the girls working in Reservation bars and clubs are routinely beaten and physically abused by the club owners if they do not have sex with customers.
Sex workers in the brothel are often subjected to severe beatings if they disobey brothel rules. Some pimps go so far as addicting the victims to illicit substances to keep their livestock from running away. If a sex worker is addicted to a drug, there is lesser chance that s/he will try to escape. If these drug addicted workers are rescued by sting operations, then they will often return to the brothel because the place where they are exploited is the same place that supplies them drugs.
All three of these characterization were first challenged by a frequent commenter on the Bangkok Blogs- MongerSEA. MongerSEA writes:
This article is so poorly researched and written it becomes indistinguishable from the dreck Professor Ng foists upon the world.
Fact: the vast majority of establishments patronized by Western sex consumers have adult providers who are present of their own free will and have not been trafficked or coerced.
Fact: the greatest consumers, by far, of sexual service from Thai minors are Thais themselves.
Fact: when Westerners consume sexual services from Thai minors, these are almost exclusively homosexual men.
Fact: the foreign consumers of sexual services from Thai minor females are almost exclusive North Asians: Japanese, Taiwanese and South Koreans.
Fact: the Royal Thai Police find it to be quite the cash cow to arrest pedophiles, accept bribes, and release the individuals concerned before charges are filed.
Fact: the Royal Thai Police actively protect some pedophile clubs for monthly cash payments.
And in a second comment after the source for his “facts” is questioned, MongerSEA responds to Miss Bailey questioning his bonafides:
My source is the very thing you lack: practical, long-term experience on the ground in Thailand and other parts of South-East Asia.
If you are citing as your primary sources American television programmes — sufficiently sanitized for broadcast and sufficiently sensationalized to attract an audience — then you’ve already lost the battle over sources.
And what’s more, you don’t seem to be capable of recognizing the fact that statements from NGOs will always be slanted so as to justify the existence of the organization, and that authors will always want to find academic justification and/or sell books. Nobody benefits from a statement that “it’s not that big of a problem” (and I refer specifically to white men buying sexual services from adult Asian women who become providers of those services of their own free will).
So the outcome is invariably what you have pounced on, the facts be damned: That all activities such as I describe parenthetically above must inevitably be conflated with sex with minors and trafficking. It just isn’t so.
Walk into any Thai beer bar or gogo bar which services a primarily white heterosexual clientele and you’ll find, on average, zero cases of anyone being compelled to be there. The girls have sufficient alternate choices for employment appropriate to their generally meagre educations. They simply want more material goos like clothes and cell phones than they can obtain taking a job in a factory plucking chickens, boxing shrimp, assembling disposable lighters or any of the typical employments of the Thai underclass.
My credibility is not staked on the provability of my claims to you. I have acquaintances in law enforcement, private investigations and bar ownership who will all bear out what I’ve written.
But if you must have proof, you can do the research yourself. Take a ten-year sample of online reports from local newspapers in Pattaya, Phuket or Chiang Mai, and please note that the vast majority of arrests for pedophilia involve Western homosexuals. Then determine how many actually result in convictions. You won’t find many arrests of Westerners for preying on underaged females, and you’ll find nothing related to Asian men at all, save the odd disgraced Thai monk.
You’ve swallowed a bill of goods, you’re just parroting what you’ve been taught and what you what you want to believe to be true. And you are perpetuating the nonsense that any appreciable part of the white male populace has any sexual contact with minor females or would even want to. Every time a pederast gets busted in Thailand, the first people to condemn him, and those who do so most strongly, are the participants in the dozen or so internet forums dedicate to the life of the sex-tourist and “sex-pat” in Asia.
We have a moral center, as much as you’d like to deny it. We hate people that hurt kids. And we resent your knee-jerk and brain-dead conflation of issues involving children and trafficking with our relationships with consenting, adult providers of sexual services.
Another frequent commenter from the Bangkok Blog Scene, DaMan, also challenges Miss Bailey’s characterizations of The Thailand Girl Scene:
Put me down with MongerSEA. As someone who has been visiting and or living in Thailand for seven or so years now, I have to say this article is one of the most poorly researched pieces I’ve read in a long time.
The moment anybody even attempts to say that the girls working the bar scene in Thailand are forced to be there, they lose all credibility. Because the truth of the matter is exactly what MongerSEA said, they’re in it for the money. There are millions of young women all over Thailand employed in “normal” jobs. Some work in factories, some work as a clerk in the big department stores, some are maids, some work at 7-11. That’s what’s available to these girls.
But those jobs pay about 7000 baht ($215 USD) per month. Women working in the bars make a salary of around 5000 baht ($150) per month, plus they get 50 baht for every drink a guy buys for them. On top of that they get to pocket 100% of any fees they negotiate with a customer for sex.
So, do the math, a girl who works in the bar can make as much money as a girl working 9 – 5 by going with just one customer (about 2000 baht for all night). If she can land one a week, she’s making about 13,000 baht per month. That’s probably on the low end of what someone with a university degree would get as a starting salary fresh out of school. Plus, we’re not even talking about the lady drinks.
My girlfriend grew up with a girl who works as a cashier in a “regular” bar (i.e. no go-go, no shows, just a plain old bar) so we stop in there from time to time and have a drink or two. Her friend has boasted getting as many as 35 lady drinks in one night. That’s not a normal but I’ve seen the book open when they do the weekly payouts of the lady drinks and I would say 1500 – 2000 baht per week is about the average per girl.
So, that’s 13,000 plus another 8,000 for a total of 21,000 baht per month. That’s about what a university educated woman would get with a few years of experience under her belt would get paid.
Now, here’s the kicker . . . the girl working at 7-11 still finds a way to send 2000 baht per month home to her family. The bar girls might send 3000 and the rest they blow on mobile phones, clothes, eating, etc.
So, is she working in the bar because of poverty? No. She’s working in the bar because there simply isn’t any other way for her to make that kind of income given her lack of education.
And are they forced to be there? Again, I have to laugh. Try getting one out of the bar scene. There are countless guys around the world who think that the 30,000 or 40,000 baht per month that they’re sending to their Thai girlfriend is insurance that she won’t have to work in the bar anymore. Nope. In fact, chances are she’s got maybe 2 or 3 guys who all think they’re exclusive, all sending money, and all think she’s quit working in the bar. Yet, there she is in the bar every night looking to score new customers.
There really isn’t a pimp system in Thailand. Sure, you might have some deadbeat Thai husband who lets his wife work in the foreigner bars so he can sit around and get drunk all day but the vast majority of these girls have no boss to pay other than their own desire for the latest and greatest fashion and gadgets.
And if you want to ask about sources . . . I can take you to any go-go in Thailand and you can see for yourself. That’s what makes your article so ridiculous. I know lots of girls who either currently work or used to work in the bars. Buy them a meal and treat them like a normal human being and they’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the business.
A few years back some woman (I think her name was Suki Falconberg or something like that) wrote an article talking about how most of the women in Pattaya were underage. Even female Thais that deplore the sex trade and hate sex tourists called her on her bullsh*t. She claimed to be an expert because like your author she had been forced into prostitution. She had never even been to Thailand yet she claimed to know everything about the Thai sex industry.
With experts like that, it’s no wonder why so many people get such a distorted view of what it’s about.
I have to agree with MongerSEA and DaMan.
I have been all over the Thailand Girl Scene and the child prostitution, human trafficking, and coercion, Miss Bailey claims, are just not there.
Miss Bailey’s description of The Thailand Girl Scene is a cartoon fantasy not reality.
The real questions Miss Bailey leaves unanswered are:
1. Have she ever been to Thailand?
2. And if she did visit Thailand did she ever bother to actually go down to The Reservation and see what she is talking about?
The answer, obvious to everyone who has visited Thailand and has any experience in The Thailand Girl Scene is …… no way!
P.S. Ms. Bailey also claims BigBabyKenny “has chosen to defend himself on the grounds of freedom of speech, which he is entitled to by the First Amendment Rights of the Constitution.” If she bothered to actually read BigBabyKenny.com that is not the grounds on which I defend BigBabyKenny.com— A Response to the Asian American and Women’s Studies Department.