Re: The naked truth about prostitution in Vietnam (Vietweek, Issue 077, July 12 18, 2013)
The Na No Beauty Salon on Ho Chi Minh City's Tran Tuan Khai Street, where police caught three sex workers in the act during a raid on May 29. Photo by Dam Huy
Now that I'm nearer 90 than 80, I will risk one commentary on the world's oldest profession.
Those who are involved in it must be the world's greatest experts on the laws of supply and demand.
Naturally, as in other fields, we have "experts". My usual criticism of typical "experts" is that they are very clever at getting diplomas but nearly all of them lack common sense about getting satisfactory results.
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I don't think one can get a university degree in having sex so presumably these experts are very good at doing it.
The starting point for those who deride the profession is that it's about morality. But as far as men are concerned, it's about opportunity. All the male critics of the profession would succumb to seduction by beautiful young women and are actually only complaining that, for them, it's absent.
Is it God's fault?
The medical profession says that an erection is caused by a rush of blood to the affected part. Actually it's a rush of brains to the affected part.
Power seems to be an aphrodisiac. Some of our best leaders have been womanizers. All it tells us politically is that they are dynamic non-conformists with a wealth of opportunity to engage in the non-conformity. But this is a private matter between them and their wives. So are other politicians (not known for womanizing) highly moral in every other way?
We need to keep religion and sex out of politics but this is not intended as a defense of Berlusconi who disqualifies himself in many ways.
I would suggest that a fundamental part of an individual's life is sex. It is potentially extremely enjoyable and potentially free. Looking back over the last few thousand years, has anything gone wrong? Is there any aspect which is going wrong today? What useful purpose is achieved by making sex a taboo subject?
Collectively, it is easy to detect motivation for resisting challenges to cherished beliefs and vested interests, but individually it is much more difficult to detect the motivation for making this one taboo.
The simple truth is: we like orgasms plus the build-up to it.
No doubt everyone has some personal or second-hand experience of people who have been divorced. It is a major source of insecurity for two people, recognized as a major trauma and has a serious detrimental effect on any dependent children. In how many cases are you aware that differences in sexual appetites or desires played no part in the collapse of a marriage?
I was a 20 year old virgin. This was not the result of inadequate marketing on my part. The female sales resistance was based on a fear of pregnancy or a desire to preserve virginity. The vested interest in this case is more difficult to detect or explain but perhaps it is a desire on the part of men to hide the truth about what they really want.
My father was born in 1899; he was among the last of the Victorians. He and I used to sit up late discussing politics. One evening, when I was about fourteen, I opened the discussion with a new subject, suggesting that I had reached an age when he should tell me about sex. He said he thought he had told me all I needed to know and shot off to bed for his earliest night of the year, leaving me to rack my brains about any occasion when he had ever mentioned the subject. I could only come up with one.
At an earlier age I had been pestering my mother to join me for a swim on holiday. Without any explanation my father told me not to pressurize reluctant ladies. Some years later I discovered that he was referring to menstruation.
My first wife and I were slightly ahead of our time in having some mild sex before marriage. An important element and a lifetime commitment with no experience didn't seem like a good idea. However, as a result of ignorance, she was two weeks or so pregnant when we married because knowing the date took the brakes off.
We lived a long way apart so our limited experience was also rare. I got the impression that the pleasure and enthusiasm was mutual. The subject was still fundamentally taboo so I failed to mention my concept of sex in a married relationship.
Marriage, not unusually for young males, was the opportunity to indulge in sex every day on going to bed with the additional possibility of doing it occasionally on waking up. Obviously the opportunities were improved during weekends and even more on holidays. I discovered soon that my wife did not share this concept of marriage!
Fortunately, we were well suited in other ways and in 43 years never ran out of conversation. I didn't use the service offered by prostitutes, partially because my maximum pleasure was mutual enthusiasm and something told me this might be artificial. Furthermore they seemed to spread some nasty diseases. I have been approached by some very attractive prostitutes, but had a stock answer: "I am wonderful in bed but you couldn't afford me."
However, it is obvious that for thousands of years our regulators have been totally ignorant about the laws of supply and demand. Making the supply illegal while ignoring the demand problem merely creates a bonanza for gangsters; to an even greater extent than the prohibition of alcohol and drugs. This means no health control, no sex slave control and pimps who usually make more money than the prostitutes, usually with nobody paying any tax.
As far as the supply is concerned, what alternative source of income do policymakers have for an attractive uneducated young lady from the poverty-stricken countryside? The old, in this case very old, management idea of legislating the symptoms while ignoring the disease has never worked, and never will.
From a simple common sense management point of view it is a complete waste of time trying to restrict the supply and totally ignoring the massive demand, which is what we have been doing for thousands of years.
There is another aspect of this disease buried in taboo. Ignorance.
God did not actually design this appetite discrepancy between males and females. He, or She, provided more similarities than is publicized. Every 12-year-old male is aware of the fact that this very pleasurable orgasm can be achieved by going solo. This information was not obtained from parents or teachers. It was merely common knowledge.
Actually, exactly the same opportunities to have orgasms are available for females with consequently no risk whatsoever of pregnancy. It is also true that searching for a G-spot can cause a loss of virginity. The motivation for keeping this a secret is a complete mystery to me.
I most certainly was not aware of any of this when I got married. If 12-year-old females were equally aware of the facilities for going solo, the appetite discrepancy would disappear and the possibilities for introducing variety into mutual activity without any risk whatsoever of pregnancy would be vastly improved. The resultant orgasms would in no way be inferior to simple unimaginative intercourse.
As usual I am not suggesting that I know the answers. Removing the ignorance could have a detrimental effect on productivity and promiscuity. I am merely suggesting that if we are not allowed to ask the fundamental questions about collective or individual well-being because they challenge cherished beliefs and vested interests, we will never find any answers or make any progress.
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By Patrick Moran
* The writer is a British expat who lives in Ho Chi Minh City. The opinions expressed are his own.