Discussion, news and views on bars, restaurants, gigs, parties and culture in Cambodia. Bar owners can advertise events for free here.
Obviously, I've been writing about prostitutes quite a lot recently, and from that experience I've begun to wonder what to call them. There's a lot at stake in a word or phrase.
Most of the time, I'm not interested in writing about simple sex-for-money transactions. So, I find it useful to employ terms like "hostess" or "bargirl" or "taxi-girl" because they seem more nuanced than other terms. But they don't really apply, for example, to brothel workers, masseuses, or streetcorner meat.
So, what are the options for a fairly inclusive term that will allow you to talk about pretty much all of them? I guess there's "prostitute," and that's fairly popular. But it also has fairly negative connotations. There's "whore," but that's the harshest one of them all. Then there's "sex worker," which is perhaps the most common term in the sociological literature, and the term that I favor, "ho."
I know the word "ho" is another slang equivalent for "slut" or "skank," and that such language offends some people. But I like the fact that "ho" embodies some of the coarseness and crudity of bartalk. Along with "whore," the word has a sort of tonic effect on people whose political correctness has imposed a sort of layer of fake gentility between them and their subject. I find using terms like "sex worker" is similar to putting on gloves before touching a subject "dirty."
There are other reasons why I detest the seemingly neutral term "sex worker." For me, this term brings with it a baggage all its own. So many people who write about "sex work" (from sociological more than psychological or philosophical perspectives) like to look at the issue of prostitution as an economic problem.
A lot of it has to do, I think, with Marxism. But they look at sex as a comodity, and prostitution as labour, and punters as an exploitative wealthy class. I feel that looking at prostitution in this way works, to a certain extent, in the sterile environment of the brothel, massage parlour, or street-corner. But as you've probably noticed, I'm more interested in the interaction between hos and punters in the freelancer and hostess settings.
Consequently, I'm not really interested in looking at girls as labourers, or merchants (though that is, to a certain extent, what they are) because I find it a bit reductive or simplistic. I'm more interested in the human element, when full-blown relationships develop, and all the complications for the concept of "prostitution" that result from the ever so Southeast Asian scenario of falling in love with hos (or at least seeing them as humans, with emotions, for whom sex isn't just a job that they separate from the rest of their lives).
I favor "ho" because it seems more neutral than "whore," less clinical than "prostitute," and more maleable than any other term I can think of. What I mean is that it is easy to "rehabilitate" terms like "ho" by using them in new contexts, and the shock of seeing such words used in unexpected ways functions as a challenge to those who are used to seeing things in simple black and white.
The idea that VC would write a novel, especially about the "madams of the night", obviously.
It'd be a bit as if you or I were trying to come up with a theory about quantum mechanics or a theological essay.
As to wording, I find "ho" no better than whore or "puta". I would not really use the term in SE Asia, where the whole context (at least what's on public display) is more fun and games, opposed to the more hardcore prostitution with hardened hookers you'd find in LA or in Amsterdam. I tend to say bar girl, or just girl, that carries no negative connotation nor implied judgement from a western, bigot point of view. It is laughable to read (sometimes on on this site) ridiculous comments like "they're just prostitutes/whores" , from ignoramuses like Sauss, unable to overcome their dogmatic attitudes.
I must admit the working girls is Asia, tend mostly to be fun time girls that charge for thr fun.
Not as sterile as the $$$ for 30 min's in most wertern countries.
You know what you have purchased, but as long as you don't treat them like second class people, you can have a fun night out and also get laid.
Not all of the money goes home to the family, but in many cases it does.
It's not much different from spotting a girl you like and buying her a drink or two and hopeing she'll hang around, but overall a bit less expensive.
But you have a tendancy to get more emotionaly involved with the girls in Asia, why is that?.
As for what to call them, that depends on where you come from, as a phrase used in one country can be considered quite offensive to a person from another country.
Why not ask the girls, and see what they prefer.
Enjoy life cos you only get one chance at it.
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