Just read a great piece from the San Francisco Chronicle called “Diary of a Sex Slave” . It details how the young woman got in trouble financially in Korea, thought she was going to the USA to work in a hostess bar and found herself in the sex trade. Just wanted to write down my personal thoughts on this.
Let me start by saying that even writing on the subject seems quite taboo in the USA. There is this nagging voice in my head asking me, “Are you sure you want to write about this?” I mean we have quite a lot of viewers and people may want to know just what I know, and how I know about all this!
Well, before I answer that, another question has popped into my head. I wonder how many people put on a show, pretending to be something they are not. I think that many of us hide behind a metaphorical curtain, we have an image we want to project to others whether it is our true self or not. This occurs normally in business, people put on a smile, act as though they are working in your best interest when they are really just out for personal gain. They would not write a post like this because they would fear that others would think they have some experience in the flesh trade. Thus when should the topic come up, they have absolutely nothing to say at all.
Or perhaps they simply believe this is a topic best swept under the rug, to be ignored because it may make others uncomfortable including themselves or it might tainted the image they believe others hold of them?
Thus, are most people just putting on a show in their daily interactions? Or perhaps topics like these are only to be reserved for very private conversations with an intimate friend. Perhaps most of the people we know, we simply do not know very well. We know them in certain contexts such as business, casual friendships, nothing too serious. How many people could we say we honestly really know and understand?
I wonder how many men portray the image of being sincere, upstanding and sympathetic when they are actually the opposite? The same goes for women. They would not discuss a topic like this for fear of sullying their pristine image but deep down inside they have all kinds of impure thoughts racing through their heads.
I’m quite certain a post like this will get a lot of hits. People will read from the anonymity of their computer screens but how many would actually stand up for prostitutes in public if the topic came up? It is much safer to just condemn and be done with it so as to remain the upstanding gentleman/woman so many others think they are.
As you can see I find many people to be quite hypocritical. I hear the religions speaking about “love thy neighbor” yet those that attend the sermons would be very quick to condemn a prostitute. The thought just occurred to me that Mary Magdalene was portrayed as a prostitute in the past but doing a quick check it seems the interpretation has been reformed and that she may not have been one at all.
A perfect reason for all the “holier than thou” types to throw all prostitutes under the bus. The next thought that just occurred to me is “love the sinner but not the sin.” Well, that is fine and dandy but how many organizations out there are sticking up for the women who have found themselves in this trade and helping them to find a way out? I have only heard of a few and they get very little press. Much easier in the public eye to just condemn the person as well as the sin.
Well, that was quite an intro. You are all probably dying for me to get to the meat of my story and how I may have personally been involved no?
I hate to disappoint you but it is not as exciting as it seems. Let me begin my story in Ohio.
I grew up a typical Midwesterner and my opinion of prostitutes were drug addicts, or otherwise very messed up women who were doing bad things.
This all changed when I went to Vietnam and at certain night clubs found prostitutes all around. On my first visit to a bar called Apocalypse Now a buddy of mine said hello to a passing lady and to our surprise she turned right around and engaged my friend. We were both blown away as this had never ever happened in the USA. It took us a little while to figure out what was going on and we were a bit shocked.
Well, over my two years of living in Vietnam I actually got to know a few of these ladies on a platonic level. Saigon is a very small town and you’ll see the same people over and over again. I learned that most of these girls were simply from poor villages throughout Vietnam and doing what they could to support their families.
It is amazing how much you can learn when you actually sit down and get to know someone. As I’ve mentioned most people go through life projecting an image they want others to believe is their true self. In fact, here in the USA I think I could count less than ten people I could say I know very well and I know a LOT of people.
These prostitutes did not fit my previous image of crazy drug addicts that I had been taught they were. In fact, if they were shown a bit of kindness such as buying them a hot dog (Yes, Apocalypse sells food) they were very appreciative and would really open up if I asked them about their lives.
In fact, that was the case, I bought a hot dog for one of the ladies I had seen just about every night I ventured out and through her limited English I learned why she did what she did and saw her as a person, someone to be shown sympathy and I felt very sorry for her life situation.
Like a lighting bolt it hit me. I could have a more meaningful, personal discussion and really connect on a human level with a prostitute in Vietnam than I could with just about anyone in my own always “arms length” culture.
Yes, for the more jaded readers I already know what you are thinking and that wasn’t the case at all. I just wanted to call that out.
The truth is I felt more sympathy and a platonic, almost innate human love for these girls appreciative of just a hot dog than many others for whom I had treated to a more luxurious dinner in my own country.
Again, I know that many of you are thinking they are just trying their best to make some money off of me that night for “services” but you would be wrong. I saw them in different bars around town and we were able to recognize each other. After that, we spoke and when they learned for the fourth or fifth time I wasn’t going to be a customer they dropped the sales pitch. Then, when I offered them some food or water I could say we could just about consider ourselves friends.
So, when I read the article from the Chronicle it really tugged at my heartstrings. It did so because in my culture we treat these people like trash. On one hand we hear that we should be “loving our neighbor” (insert crude joke here) but I find that very few people actually do. After seeing how sweet these girls really could be and how horrible their life situation does it bothers me tremendously to hear so many people condemn them without a second thought. They condemn them so they can feel righteous, so they can feel upstanding and pure!
Imagine that, promoting religion by hate and condemnation. It would seem that the religious teachings have been seriously distorted. I know there are many good people out there but from what I see in the law and in culture is a bunch of phony people pretending to be righteous by either condemning these girls or refusing to speak about the issue at all when a good percentage of them are secretly wondering the price for a night.
The worst of the worst is when guys think they are being manly with degrading talk amongst their buddies.
In fact, I wouldn’t talk about this topic here in the USA because I know all the crude jokes that would come out. Actually, I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone because I’m pretty sure there are very few people who would understand. Friends with a prostitute? How silly, how preposterous! If I did take the chance and bring up the topic I already know how it would go depending on my conversation partner.
1. Regular guys = Crude jokes and lots of laughing to make them seem manly
2. Expatriate guys = Make fun of me as though I’m trying to be “holier than thou,” or just sucking up to the women in the hopes of getting it for free.
3. Regular women = They would think I was some sort of scum bag.
Therefore, that just leaves you, the readers of this blog. I just wanted to share my sincere sympathy for these girls and my experience of really understanding them of human beings in need of help.
Also, that I am not feeling very positive about humanity at the moment and regard most religions as hypocritical in them not following their own teachings.
Yes, it was another life lesson for me and never would have happened had I not traveled abroad. These are the things you learn should you travel far and wide and being a blog called “The Global Citizen” I thought I should share this international experience with you in the hopes of helping you see these girls as human beings.
Well, that was a good paragraph to end the note on but I just wanted to share one more experience. I like a good (clean) massage and I had the good fortune to meet “May” who is Chinese and works in a (clean) massage parlor in Tokyo. She studied Economics and we had a nice chat about FOREX and how different currencies are exchanged between countries. She found it impossible to find a job in economics in China but that she could make decent money giving massages in Tokyo.
It is amazing how much you can learn about people if you are kind and allow yourself to open up to them. Do not judge a book by its cover and do not underestimate how far showing a little bit of kindness can go.
We are all trying to do our best in this life and some come from worse circumstances than others.
Friendships can be found with the most unlikely of people if you just learn to love.