I was very excited about starting this blog with my distinguished colleague. I could almost taste it. Then I decided to quit smoking. It's been 19 hours. The smart money is still on me rushing out to buy a pack in the next 24 hours, but that's neither here nor there. The point is the following may surprise you with its incoherence, and I blame that on precipitously low nicotine levels.
Good. A week ago, I stumbled across this blog. And was immediately gripped. It's the story of expats and bar owners in Thailand, with contributions from readers who live or are regular vacationers in Thailand. And spend a lot of time having and paying for sex.
Sample quote: ". . . back in the states and when I was younger I would jerk off if the wind changed directions but in Thailand I feel like self-love is almost a sin. Like I am wasting it when I could be out sharing myself with others."
My favorite detail is when one of the bar proprietors, searching for a copy of Michel Houllebecq's Platform (a great book; also could be described, in a gross oversimplification, as a book about sex tourism), discovers that the bookstore has placed it in the "Thailand Section."
So the blog is, intentionally, gripping on that level -- the encounter with a world of which one knows nothing, the gradual transformation of that world into a semi-familiar place with rules which you, the reader, come to understand (there are all kinds of acronyms like TG, LT, ST that you struggle with but over time, become familiar; you start to recognize the names, etc.). In that way, not unlike Harry Potter or Moby Dick. They're pretty good writers, and, while it's often about sex (and not recommended for workplace viewing per se), it's rarely pornographic. And there's a thrill in mastering (or believing yourself to have mastered) a foreign subculture in that way.
But a lot of what makes it gripping, for me at least, is the whole paying for sex issue, paired with periodic rants about what's ruined American women. Which, apparently, ranges from Oprah to chick flicks and crosses feminism and unattractive lesbians en route (with disclaimers attached about not disliking women).
As an American woman, and a feminist, the latter obviously makes me queasy. And I guess it makes me queasier about the first part as well. In the abstract I'm not sure I think there's anything wrong with paying (a consenting adult) for sex. But when it coexists so closely with contempt for women they consider inadequate as sexual partners, then it seems a little stranger. Women that they don't find attractive don't simply fall into a category of people who are not sex objects (like, say, other men) -- they become objects of derision and anger.
I don't know. I keep thinking I'm going to come to some conclusion about the whole thing. But instead I just seem to bring it up to everyone I know.