America Vs. Thailand: Is Backwash Puritanism Better Than Dangerous Sex Work?

Are you kinda sick of hearing people debate the morality of Belle Knox? Even the students at Duke are totes over this infamous porn star — when prompted, the most they told us was that she was merely a "curiosity." Call me crazy, but isn't this really frightening issue of education cost coupled with the perils of the American Dream? Despite this, her dreams of a law career are unlikely (sorry) — largely because our society is f*cking uptight and puritanical when it comes to sexuality.

Let's compare.

America!

In case you didn't know, our country was founded by hypocritical douche-bags (also called Puritans). They escaped England — because EHMIGAWD persecution — only to come to America and bicker about stupid sh*t all over again. To put this giant controversy (Antinomian Controversy for you history chicas) in a nutshell, our first settlers proved they were eager to persecute everyone who didn't fit into a narrow definition of what they deemed "right."  (Though "right" in this sense wasn't strictly about sex, the center of this controversy was, obviously, a woman.) Rather, the Puritans displayed their concern for strict adherence to what they believed God wanted — and showed they weren't afraid to punish those who wouldn't follow suit, especially women (remember the Salem Witch Trials?). Even though it was a gazillion years ago (or the 1630's, whichever you prefer), the strict notions (and adherence to an archaic perception of religion) have a funny way of trickling down throughout the generations. Today, birth control access is still hotly debated.

Is it better to be more open? Yes and no. Let's take a more extreme example. Thailand (especially Bangkok) is more, ummmm, rather loose about sex. I met with an individual (let's call him Xander) who has experience with sex workers in Thailand for further insight.

Thailand!

It's well known that Thailand has a thriving sex work culture. Though it's been around a long time, it got super popular during WWII when (get this) American soldiers scampered over to battle. Again, this occurred with the Vietnam War (remember our hypocritical douche-bag settlers? Yup). Oddly, Thailand is pretty conservative in seemingly all other matters. Yet, sex is exempt. Prostitution is everywhere. Xander admitted meeting a fabulous female at a party and taking her home — thinking she was super into his ... personality (awwww). Instead, she demanded a price. Though shocked at first, Xander encountered many other prostitutes throughout Thailand in various social circles (including the token massage parlor). 

All down the street you'd see fat guys in cheesy vacation clothes with gorgeous Thai women on their arms. It just wasn't a big deal. What really sticks in my mind is sitting in a restaurant at breakfast, surrounded by couples. The guys would be reading the newspaper while the girls would be texting or something. Even though they were sitting together, it was obvious there was no connection between any of them. They were playing a part. — Xander

There is some silver lining in all this sh*t however: the AIDS epidemic faced a 90% decline, thanks to a prominent Thai HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. When sex isn't a taboo topic, sh*t gets done. Also cool — trans folk are more accepted. This also means that people fly from all over the world to get sex changes in Bangkok, which is awesome for those gender-swappin' individuals as well as Thailand's economy.

Buuuut it's not all good however. Because they're so open about sexuality, sex work is commonly tied to poverty. Girls as young as 10 are sold into sex work unwillingly. And although the idea of a grown man being sexually fascinated with a young girl isn't unique to Thailand, it is more societally accepted. The fetishization and objectification that occurs in these relationships results in physical abuse, rape, fear and PTSD; an estimated 92% want to leave the field altogether.

So, you can't win. Oppressed America drops death threats on Duke's porno legend; Thailand is bloody dangerous altogether.

My conclusion? People suck. Sex is awesome.

Image: 'Merica, close your eyes. Thailand, welcome. Courtesy of Roland Selivanoff of Flickr

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