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Thai Bar Girls
If you've had a few years cumulative or long term experience in Thailand, you'll have little to learn from this article. It's just my opinion and not intended to be completely authoritative. However, I'm sure most long term visitors or expats will agree with what I write.
You've probably read many other web pages that state you should not fall in love with a Thai bar girl. You still remain convinced yours is different. I'm going to tell you in detail just why you are wrong and what you should do about it. If you take my advice you will thank me for it in years to come when you're wiser.
Perhaps we should first address the question as to just why so many apparently decent guys from the west end up married to a prostitute they met in Thailand. Nearly all of them would laugh at the idea of marrying a hooker back in their homeland because they're considered filthy sluts and only losers would take such a woman home to meet their mother. However, a pretty smile, tiny tanned body, raven black hair and a cute arse in short cut off jeans under a tropical sky is all it takes for a guy to lose his morals and common sense. The reasons are complex but in my opinion it is largely to do with the fact that so many are openly socialising with and hiring the services of prostitutes in Thailand that it quickly becomes normalised in the visitors mind.
For the single male traveller, it is difficult to resist experimentation with a sexy young woman and after the first time, it becomes very easy to do it again and again. Don't listen to anyone who says they come here without being tempted because they are lying. Couple this with a fun, party like atmosphere, the happy-go-lucky attitude of the girls, who know how to push all the right buttons with lonely men who have had difficulties with demanding relationships with western girls... their fate is sealed and they will all too often fall in love with the lifestyle, the atmosphere and the first bar girl that smiles at him.
In truth, many bar girls are truly lovely women, even after years of selling themselves to fat losers who travel here only for sex. They often go on to make good wives but even then you will have problems. More on this later.
There is some weight to the argument that most of the girls in the sex industry are from impoverished backgrounds and have to do it for their family's survival. In fact, such are the comparative rewards for bagging a western husband that their parents will often encourage them into the sex industry in the hope they will meet and marry a westerner who they think will then go on to lift the whole family out of grinding poverty. After arriving to start her first job as a bar girl (and possibly her first time away from the village), she will likely have so little money, that the bar's mamasan may loan her some money, perhaps to buy some sexy clothes (as she will probably only have worn out clothes from her agrarian village), so she is already in debt and has to work to pay off that debt.
There will be little hope of the girl finding well paid work in her hometown as average wages are so low and the possibility of a good education for farm girls is just too far out of reach for them. Another driving factor is the fact that as she was growing up, she may have seen other girls from the village, or even her own older sisters, returning from tourist areas with good money, nice clothes, jewellery and maybe even a handsome western boyfriend. This fuels the migration to tourist hotspots as they hope to bring back similar riches for themselves and their family. Everybody in their home village knows they have been working in the sex industry but nobody mentions it.
It's important to understand that Thais don't take sex as seriously as we do in the west. They are a conservative society with strict moral standards but often, particularly in the poorer rural parts of Thailand, sex is something to joke about and the natural Thai sense of fun is manifested in their attitudes towards sex. This is another factor in the attraction of Thai girls to the westerner. Not only are the bar girls easy to meet and fun to be with, they actually often enjoy the sex, as many young, good looking westerners visit this country for sex tourism. While there are older gentlemen who may be past their best, the image that is painted by feminist groups in America and Europe that sex tourists are fat old perverts is quite simply a myth and a fabrication.
The idea that the girls need 'rescuing' from prostitution is also simply not the case, as those working in the western oriented sex industry are usually there by choice, are making more money than they could otherwise hope to, often being supported by at least one foreign boyfriend who has decided to sponsor them. These foreign boyfriends, who usually met their 'love' while visiting Thailand for a holiday, will most likely be completely unaware that she is continuing to work as a prostitute, that she may have several other boyfriends sending her money and that she may even have a local Thai husband (who himself is happy for her to work as a prostitute because her income is so good, he no longer had to work himself). It is not unheard of for some good looking bar girls, who have skilfully won the heart and trust of a string of westerners overseas to be receiving over a hundred thousand Baht per month.
The fact of the matter is, that if you are in love with a bar girl, are still living apart from each other and sending her an allowance to keep her out of the bars, it is almost certainly the case that she is still sleeping with customers, perhaps has other men sending her money and you are being taken for a fool... no matter how convincing she is. If you are honest with yourself, you know that already in your heart and if she tells you she's only working in the bar to serve drinks, you need a reality check. If you are comfortable with her continuing to sleep with customers while she waits for you to return, then good luck to you.
In spite of all this, you have found a girl that is different. You make your way up to the family home in the middle of nowhere and meet the family... perhaps even live in the family home for a while. It will almost certainly be a poor farming location in the northeast of Thailand, where most bar girls come from. After a few months, you will begin to realise the inevitable, that you are seen as, and always will be seen as, a free money machine.
It doesn't matter how it is dressed up, the family will be after your money. It may come in the form of 'My Father asks if you can give 3000 Baht for new water pump because now him old and cannot pull water up well'... or ... 'This year, rice not so good, Father ask if you can give 10,000 for buy fertilizer' ... and once the thin end of the wedge is in, the requests for money will never end. You will also most likely be expected to pay for meals if invited to a restaurant, large donations to the local temple, 'Some cheap land down the road has become available, we can buy for family', 'so many people in family and not enough cars so can you buy new moped for only 30,000 Baht?'...
... It goes on and on and on until you finally understand that you will never be seen a part of the family and will always be seen as the 'farang' or foreigner and an easy source of cash.
This may not necessarily mean your sweetheart is a bad girl, or that she doesn't love you. It is a big thing for a country girl to take you to meet her family because the neighbours will gossip terribly about the fact she has brought a westerner to the village and if you decide to disappear from the scene, she will lose a lot of face in the eyes of the other villagers. That said, she will find it very hard to slap the hands of her family away when they come begging for money, as these poor folk simply have no concept of where your money ends. Even if you have only 2 Baht to your name, they will always see you as a man of limitless means. Nothing will change that.
Now lets assume you will be living with your bar girl girlfriend in a city like Bangkok. Will you be contenting yourself with socializing with fellow expats, or will you long to integrate with Thai locals? If you're seeking to raise your game and spend time with what I term 'normal Thais' i.e. ones that have no connection with tourism or the bar scene, you will begin to realise that they will have little or no respect for you. Furthermore, if you take your bar girl wife to socialize with your local colleagues, it is likely you will lose your credibility and perhaps even your job.
The reason for this is that it doesn't matter how long she has been away from the bars or the sex industry, people will instinctively know about her and her language, style of conversation, and overall appearance will always give her away. If you're in love with her though, don't let what other people think change your mind. It's only fair that you should be aware of what you're letting yourself in for... in fact, it's really not that different than what you would experience if you married a prostitute from back home... is this making any sense to you yet?
You are marrying a prostitute. You will have complicated problems in the future involving your own perception of your wife. You will very likely be taken advantage of by her family. You will be ridiculed by your Thai friends and colleagues and probably your expat friends also. If you are not yet married, sooner or later you'll come to your senses and realize you are not the only 'love' in her life. If you are sending money to her, join the club. She will probably make a crap wife, obsessed with Thai comic books, card games/gambling, and suffer jealousy problems when you go drinking with your friends. If she told you she doesn't have any kids, they will probably show up years later when you're already tied down.
Years later, when you begin to get a grip on Thailand and its culture, you will very likely regret your mistake and become jealous of those who married a respectable Thai woman and all that brings to them.
All of the horror stories of broken hearts and lives involving bar girls are NOT urban myths. They are all being played out day in, day out all over Thailand.
If you're one of lucky ones who's met a bar girl that really loves him, them I wish you all the best and sincerely hope you are both happy.
Thai Bar Girls - The Real Reasons They do it
First, lets establish the myth: According to many blinkered tourists, missionaries, feminist organisations, parachute journalists, NGOs, some guy in a bar... Thai bar girls are there because they have no choice, or they are doing it to rescue their family from grinding poverty. You might even hear sex tourists etc justifying their pursuit of paid sex by claiming they are helping the Thai economy!
Now for the reality: Thailand, one of the region's strongest economies, actually has very little real poverty. Food is plentiful, family cohesion is strong. Rural life, while simple, is livable and usually quite tranquil. Starvation doesn't exist. The climate is warm year round, in all regions, so cold/exposure is not an issue.
Employment is plentiful. There are actually huge numbers of migrant workers in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok. They come over the border from Laos, Burma and Cambodia, often illegally, but they are tolerated because they are a source of cheap labour. The maid cleaning your hotel room, or the guy cooking your meal may not be Thai at all. The reason I mention this is to make it clear that with very little effort, any Thai national can walk into a job in Bangkok, wait tables for example, and make a living wage...
When you start to grasp this, it will start to become clear that the real reason girls go to work in the bars of places like Soi Cowboy, is because they are unwilling to work in a factory, or wait tables in a restaurant. They are looking for quick, easy money and they are the specific type of trollop that is willing to do it on their back with a stranger.
No amount to rhetoric from Christian religious nuts, foreign charitable organisations and women's rights groups will change this immutable fact... i.e. any Thai national willing to work, can walk into a job in Bangkok and earn enough money to live on. Bar girls are in the bars because they are lazy, seeking foreign sponsors and gullible men that believe the girls have no choice... and they have made the decision that accepting money for sex is preferable to actually working for a living.
Site Editor's note: See also:- Relationships with Thai bar girls on the forum.
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