There is no doubt that the sexpat is one of the most reviled beasts of Bangkok. Barstool Barry nursing a bottle of cheap Chang while pontificating on his perversities repulses the most moral of the masses.
With beer bellies as big as their wallets, the sexpat represents the ugly reality of capitalist exchange.
He purchases the bodies, the young, the beautiful, the innocent, and fornicates, sodomizes, uses and abuses, in exchange for what? In exchange for a small fist full of dollars.
Yet the sexpat is in desperate need of defending.
After all he is a consumer and like all consumers he needs to be protected.
Since there isn’t a consumer protection group for foreign Johns here in Thailand — and certainly the Ministry of Tourism won’t protect the stalwart, the brave, the occasionally flaccid — it is up to your honorable white knight of an author to swat away at the moral stigma that pricks at the paying penises and stabs at the sex workers whom said cock visits.
Poor, poor, Barry just needs a little help sometimes and help I shall. In defending him I will look at the way society has a supposed “proper” relationship that is still underscored by money, the way in which all tourists are colonizers, and point at the way the sex industry works.
Sexual relationships are supposed to occur in a certain way. It is shown to us in adverts, in magazines, in movies, and all of our friends talk about it.
It is dating then fornicating.
These relationships must not be tainted by monetary concerns but there is the cost of the dinner, of movies, of weddings, of housing, of cars, there is the cost of make up and the time man must plough through in order to find someone who will spread their legs for him so he can finally achieve that short period of manhood in which convulsions happen.
And as a man how much time have I put into getting rejected, finessing my game? Countless of hours, and in this world time is money!
Sexpats understand that relationships are just another point of consumption. He is a consumer like everyone else in the game of sex.
People lie to themselves when they think that their relationships aren’t buttressed by the monetary system. What the sexpat does is ignore the rules of propriety and goes straight to the point. He pays for what he wants and he gets it, unlike many relationships where the money flows out and the happiness does not flood back in.
For the sexpat there is only the sex and the money given. It is not a pure relation but it is closer to the truth of relations between men and women in capitalism.
Unlike the other tourists of Thailand who gleefully party on the beaches ignoring culture and custom, the sexpat colonizes the body of Thailand. What the tourist does in the abstract the sexpat does in the fleshy fleshy.
And let’s be honest, what would Thailand be without its tourism?
Never mind that tourism is just the chance to go and see what has become routine for the locals. What Khao San worker hasn’t seen drunken farang puke their guts out on the street night after night? It’s a moment of excitement for the tourist, a cliché for the locals.
Tourism is the best that we can get of another culture. We are all too busy with our mundane jobs and our boozy weekends, attempting to go beyond ourselves. The sexpat sees that, he understands it in the depths of his loins and understands that the only real moment of truth between cultures is in the ejaculatory exchange of a monetary transfer.
He buys his happiness nicely wrapped in a bikini attached with a number.
Some might say that sexpats are immoral, and are the high horsed finger waggers wrong?
No. Sexpats are a tainted lot. They engage with an exploitative industry. Who knows how many workers are there because they are willing — because they always dreamed of opening their legs to foreign investors.
The same could be said of the 7-11 workers. How much choice have they had in choosing their jobs? Or the motorbike drivers? Or the hotel receptionist? Choices of occupation are always limited ones and for many women working in a brothel is better than farming rice.
There are certainly trafficked workers but it is difficult to know how many are truly forced into the trade. The cultural stigma surrounding sex work makes self reporting unlikely. Most workers aren’t going to talk shit on their jobs to people in power for fear of repercussions.
If a 7-Eleven worker talks about their subsistence pay they will get fired just as quickly as the prostitute. People still go to the 7-Eleven though despite the way in which the workers are exploited there. After all, everyone needs a late night toasty and sausage.
Just like in a restaurant or a bar, sex work is a service industry trade and just like any other industry boycotting it does little. There is always someone else willing to engage in the industry. There is always someone else willing to make the purchase because buying and selling is all we do.
Is the sexpat a vile creature? Of course he is.
Is he any more disgusting than the rest of us consumers? No.
Like all of us other shoppers he deserves defending because at the end of the day we all like retail therapy.
Featured image is by Daniel Grosvenor and used under a Creative Commons licence