If you remember, a couple of weeks back I visited Thailand – spending a couple of nights in Bangkok and Pattaya in particular.
I’m not going to write about the disgusting exploitation of Thai girls (and guys) by farangs any more. What strikes me suddenly now, though, is that back when I just returned and happily recounted my experiences about the sleaze in Pattaya, I’d quite innocently asked if anyone wanted to visit there with me in future.
I’d thought it would be rather amusing to see the look on my friend’s faces as they walked past the beer bars and hookers.
But then today (don’t ask me why) I gave the matter some thought and suddenly came to the conclusion that my horror at the sex-for-sale might not be shared. After all, I have some pretty crappy friends – who am I to say that none of them would actually be one of those farangs eager for a night with easy sex?
I mean, I think my friends share my moral stands, but this is such a private issue it’s really untested, isn’t it? How do you know whether or not someone would hire a hooker? Except if you’ve actually been witness to a situation where you saw someone do it and can say for sure that he/she would, I can’t think of any other reason to think that my friends might be against paid sex (I don’t believe in religion, too many arthouse movies with pervert priests).
And then I thought about strolling down Walking Street (Pattaya’s main gogo bar strip) with my friends – and how amusing my reaction would be if they asked me to go back to the hotel by myself and get another room. And I should expect it, after all, since some of my friends are… more liberal about sexual issues than others, but then… even for the rather conservative friends… are they really conservative because they find paid-sex repugnant, or because it’s the social norm not to engage in it? What if they’re in a place where it’s more the norm than not to fuck a girl for S$40?
I think atheistic morality (errrm… social norms based on purely logical or utilitarian terms) breaks down a little here, in this rather complicated situation. When I was there, P asked me if it was so wrong for the girls to earn a little bit of money having sex with farangs than to starve in their hometowns. It took me a little while to respond that the whole industry was exploitation in that it diverted the nation’s resources to unscrupulous sex-mongers and encouraged the spread of sexually-transmitted-diseases. Doesn’t take much philosophizing that this was an unsuitable response, since it implies that the sex-trade would be morally acceptable in the absence of sexual diseases (or advanced medical means to treat them) and the acceptance that unscrupulous power-mongers appear even without exploitation of sex.
Compound that with a community that actually wants you to prepetuate the act, and already has hundreds more to fit the bill (and the condom) if you can’t, and this becomes a nightmare defence for any non-scripture moral code.
In any case, I feel that an atheist has to be a lot more informed to be able to make moral judgments of this nature than a strict-scripture commandmant not to pay for sex (not that many religions ban prostitution – check your bible). That said, I’m not so sure that most of the farangs lolling their heads in the beer bars would consider themselves atheists. And let’s not forget religion doesn’t have the best name at the moment for promoting healthy behaviour (In the name of God! Boom!).
Given that my friends are mostly moderate in their religous views, I would expect that their moral values are, like mine, more dependant on social views and utility than absolute scripture (though I’ve found it surprising the things for which people will turn to religion). So how many of them would do it?
I’m not so sure, and I’m not sure I want to know.
(unable to write more as imagination goes into hyperactive and face spasms)
In other, completely unrelated news, I was out today when I saw some guys cordoning off an area for crow-culling. When the guy whipped the rifle out people ran for cover like rats off a sinking ship.
Guess Singaporean curiousity has limits.