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Thread: "My name is Lon..." book review

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    "My name is Lon..." book review

    I read "My name is Lon...' after a friend recommended it and it was horrible. She was just a miserable, conniving, filthy bitch. She blamed everything on everyone else and took no responsibility for her own part in things. She allowed herself to be enslaved by her mother, and the cultural conditioning she so vehemenently condemns in the book. She flip-flops on almost every major position she takes in the novel. At one point, she acknowledges that the current focus of NGOs on sex tourism hurts the girls more than it helps, by forcing girls, particularly young girls, to work instead for Thai clients behind closed doors where they make less money and face more abuse, and then by the end of the novel she talks about starting an organization to end sex tourism. And she perpetuates the same system she condemns. She says that foreigners are pitiful for participating in the sex industry, yet she justifies cheating men who love her out of their money. She wants pity but all I have for her is disdain. It is unfortunate that she does not see that the only way to break this cycle is to stop giving into greed, allow her family to fend for themselves (with the exception of paying for her sisters schooling), and to gain some self respect so that someday she might be capable of accepting someones love without trying to reap some financial gain from it.

    I think it is also important to note that her feelings of low self esteem and low self image, feeling 'dirty' (a term she uses), at selling her body, is also a form of cultural 'conditioning'. Popular Western thought also tends to suggest that it is only natural that prostitutes have a low self image, but this is not always the case. Prostitutes in the Indian red light district, for example, are often proud of their work and lead happy lives.

    Prostitutes are also not always ruthless and uncaring in their pusuit of money. Prostitution in the Philippines is such an example. The girls are often more interested in finding love, than in immediate financial gain. They will often be paid the first night and then offer to spend free time with a client for free if they like him.

    My point is is that prostitution can be a noble profession. That it need not be about robbing old men out of their money, or hating yourself so much that you want to die. That is also the cause of cultural 'conditioning'.

    So what do you think?

    Taiwantroll

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    sinneslöshen Array Unwell's Avatar
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    some kind of link so we can learn a little more about the book?



    "...ever wonder why they kill the weak ones, baby?"

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    http://www.bangkokbooks.com/php/prod..._cate_id=00003

    I'm sorry. I assumed it was a well known book here in Thailand.

    The book follows the story of a Thai prostitute...

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    sinneslöshen Array Unwell's Avatar
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    thanks, never heard of it although books about thai prostitutes are not at the top of my list...

    one question, how does one "allow" oneself to be "enslaved"?

    i once knew a girl who carried out an investigation into thai prostitution for a fairly large british ngo. she spent a week in bangkok and went to patpong for two nights to talk to girls. she went back and wrote a report, as an 'expert'. when my wife offered her a few suggestions as to how she could maybe widen her thinking about the topic my wife was thanked but no-thanked; the girl said she had spent more time with the girls than my wife so she had a better idea about the matter. the 'researcher' had been in thailand for a week...

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Prostitutes are also not always ruthless and uncaring in their pusuit of money. Prostitution in the Philippines is such an example. The girls are often more interested in finding love, than in immediate financial gain. They will often be paid the first night and then offer to spend free time with a client for free if they like him.
    That's quite often the case in Thailand too mate. I'm sure that hookers, like people in general, are a mixed bag everywhere (including the Phillipines).
    Or would you like to swing on a star?

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    wix
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    I think you are being a bit unfair and lack compassion for Lon. Cultural conditioning is very strong. It is easy for us to look at Thai culture from the outside and see some of the terrible aspects of it, but for someone on the inside to be both able to understand and break free of the burden of culture is more difficult.

    You might be interested to know there is a second edition of this book that has recently been published in the US with the title Only 13. I am currently reading it and will write a long review when I have finished. It gives some more detailed background to Lon's life. In particular that she is mentally ill and has been suffering from mental illness even before she started working in the sex industry.

    There is a website for the book's new edition www.only13.net.
    Last edited by wix; 21st August 2006 at 21:09.
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Taiwantroll,

    Are you insane!?! Prostitution a noble profession?

    I have no idea what to say about a statement that is so ignorant. Prostitution--- in whatever country it takes place--- is ALL about self-loathing first and foremost. Then it is about loathing your society for putting you in that situation. Then it is about loathing men who take advantage of you. And then it is about hating the whole world, which chooses to sit back and do nothing!

    I read "My Name Lon" last year while living and teaching in Bangkok. I felt sorry for her at 14 and 15 when she was forced by her mother and Thai society to sell her body to fat foreign men. Remember, most Thai girls from Issarn can't afford to go to school after 12 years of age.

    By 18-19 she did turn into a hardened bitch who swindled foreigners out of money both in Thailand and Europe. Although Lon does bear some responsibility for that, you can thank her money obsessed mother and her greedy society for seeing an uneducated Thai girl as not only useless, but expendable.

    Hating yourself is NOT the cause of cultural conditioning, Taiwantroll. You are confusing cause and effect. One's culture and upbringing will ultimately determine whether someone loves himself or hates herself.

    Lon was blamed for her father's death, and shown very little love from her mother. How's that for cultural conditioning? Yes, so many others in so many other countries are in Lon's situation. But given these circumstances, and many other circumstances that we may not be aware of, is it any wonder she turned to the life she did?

    Have a heart, Taiwantroll, and a bit more understanding.

    Steve.

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    steve, why do lots of girls in thailand go into the trade voluntarily, do it for some time and don't go and do something else? like get a 'proper' job?

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    I don't know, Unwell. Why?

    Steve.

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Quote Originally Posted by wix
    In particular that she is mentally ill and has been suffering from mental illness even before she started working in the sex industry.
    Any mention of what particular mental illness she was diagnosed with? Just curious.
    -----
    Errr..money? Just a thought. I know of one that did it because she was a proper nymphomaniac.
    Last edited by jimbo; 22nd August 2006 at 08:25. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    I don't know, Unwell. Why?
    because, in the many cases where it's voluntarily, it's easy. it beats a real job; good hours, hanging around in bars all day, being bought shit, staying in hotels, getting money for doing nothing, maybe catching a dumb foreigner who'll start up a longer term financial relationship.


    i'll save my sympathy for the poor girl who works in a factory twelve hours a day or sells noodles on a dirty bangkok street to make a living. people who actually work hard...

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    Completely Laa-Laa Array Mister Fixit's Avatar
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Quote Originally Posted by Unwell
    because, in the many cases where it's voluntarily, it's easy. it beats a real job; good hours, hanging around in bars all day, being bought shit, staying in hotels, getting money for doing nothing, maybe catching a dumb foreigner who'll start up a longer term financial relationship.


    i'll save my sympathy for the poor girl who works in a factory twelve hours a day or sells noodles on a dirty bangkok street to make a living. people who actually work hard...
    You took the words out of my mouth, Unners.

    The fact is, that it's an easy life in many respects. The girls get decent money, get fed by their customers, get drinks, can have a laugh, can gossip with the other girls, get to stay in nice hotels, as you say,. and all in all, it's not that bad.
    We would rather be ruined than changed
    We would rather die in our dread
    Than climb the Cross of the moment
    And see our illusions die

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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Unwell,

    I also feel sympathy for those factory workers and noodle salespeople, but they are the real unsung heroes in Thai society. Taking the menial jobs so they WON'T have to sell their bodies. Now there's a decision worth respecting.

    Yes there are times when prostitution in Thailand is voluntary, but in most cases it's not. And this is the real problem. There are a lot more Lons out there than we care to admit. It's the underage girls that I was speaking about, and that we should have a lot more sympathy for.

    "Good hours? Hanging around in bars all day? It beats a real job? Getting money for doing nothing?"

    Where is all this coming from, Unwell? I taught English in LOS just as you have. I asked many of my female students what their dream job was. Businesswoman was one of the answers. Doctor was another. Nurse, lawyer, and teacher were others.

    I asked this question to at least a couple of hundred hopeful female students, and not one said, "Hey I'd like to work on Patpong. The hours are good. It beats a real job. I get to hang around in bars all day, and I get money for doing nothing."

    Give me a break, Unwell! Surely you have more intelligence than this! I used to live in Pratunam where I saw female college students carrying books and studying on a daily basis. This, in spite of a society which consistently undervalues its female citizens.

    I'm not sure what this reality gives you, Unwell, but it gives me hope.

    Steve.

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    sinneslöshen Array Unwell's Avatar
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    thanks for the reply steve.

    Yes there are times when prostitution in Thailand is voluntary, but in most cases it's not.
    i'd really dispute this.

    Surely you have more intelligence than this!
    probably not you know...


    don't really see your point mate; some people don't want to be ho's, some do...that's the way i see it. it's good to see that lots don't, i hope they have more self-respect.

    anyhoo, i stand entirely behind my first post.



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    wix
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    Re: "My name is Lon..." book review

    Quote Originally Posted by Unwell
    steve, why do lots of girls in thailand go into the trade voluntarily, do it for some time and don't go and do something else? like get a 'proper' job?
    It is true that many women go into the sex industry by choice. However, I think it is better to understand their reason as a lack of choices or that the sex industry is just the best available option.

    After slaving away at a sewing machine for 60 hours a week and earning 5,000 baht a month working in the sex industry becomes an attractive option. That doesn't mean it is a good choice. There is little chance for most of these women to get a "proper job".

    Taiwantroll, as for you saying prostitution can be a noble profession, it is not possible as long as these women are scorned and disdained by the society they live in. Paulo Coelho, in his book Eleven Minutes, alludes to there being times and places in history where prostitution didn't exploit women and allowed both men and women to celebrate their sexuality. Unfortunately these examples are rare and don't match the reality that exists in Thailand, or just about anywhere else in the world today.

    For teenage girls, as in the case of Lon, they should never have to make that choice. They should be in school and being cared for by their family.

    jimbo, I am not sure of the exact nature of Lon's illness. I suspect it is probably bipolar disorder.

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