Social anxiety and feminism vs. free food

Compared to how I used to be, I think I’ve become quite an antisocial person over the past year. Of course, that partially comes with age but I’m not really all that old so for that reason, I decided last week that I’d change my increasingly anti-social ways. I managed to make myself feel guilty about how much I love not going out, and that guilt pushed me to decide to go out to a free beach club dinner with a group of women.  In retrospect, mistakes were made which clearly need to be documented on this blog.

Mistake number one was made when I decided that free food trumps social anxiety. As soon as I decided to go, the dinner showed me what a social recluse and weirdo I can be at times  [insert sweaty armpits and awkward handshakes]. That’s probably made pretty obvious as I sit here writing a blog post about my experience leaving my house (HAHA). But hey, leaving my house got me a free 3-course meal right? The restaurant even boasted decent vegetarian options, so it was kind of a no-brainer that I had to do it. All I had to do for my free meal was wear a “little black dress.” Mistake number two was when I decided that free food trumped feminism. I was subjecting myself to something which goes against what i’d like to believe are my feminist principles. Whatever though, it’s hard to turn down a free 3 course meal and a chance to try to somewhat redeem myself socially.

The host of this event was an aging Italian man whose jokes were just tip toeing the line of sexism the entire night, but, did I mention it was a free meal? If someone were to write a story about my life the title would be “Woman puts up with sexist and misogynistic behavior for free food and drinks.” Just kidding that wouldn’t be the title but close enough.

So I attended this free food event and won my meal by wearing my little black dress. I tried with all my might to go against the grain as much as could. My little black dress was high necked, long sleeved, and went down past my knees and was probably more suitable for a funeral than a sexy girl event. Take that, that man, or….. umm whoever i’m trying to stick it to by looking as unsexy as I can.

I guess the purpose of this free meal was to promote the newly opened beach venue that it took place at. The prize for the girl in the sexiest little black dress was a bottle of champagne which served it’s purpose of getting us all really fired up . The price of champagne in Thailand is exorbitant. This little event/competition has been running for a few weeks now and we were told that the winner was determined by the host based on who he thought looked the sexiest in their dress (usually the tiniest dress). I think this may have been a little family un-friendly so they changed up the rules and decided to go the more um…intellectual route you could say.

So, he [the host] handed us small pieces of paper and asked us in 20 words or less (groan) to write why we deserved to win the free bottle of champagne prize (double groan). I decided that i’d be nice and oblige the man because he was about to feed me.

I again tried to go against the grain, as much I love champagne and as fired up as free things get me, there was no way I wanted to stand up in front of a group of sexy and scantily clad women and accept my shining champagne bottle award. I played with the idea of writing “I don’t want to win, please don’t pick me,” but then I thought, “No, don’t do that, maybe it will back fire.” So I went with something a little less out there and said “I won’t share the champagne with my friends if I win.” That answer was nice and rude so it was a sure loss for me. Thank the sweet heavens above his favorite choices of the winner were entries such as…..

“I’ve got a tiny black dress and longggg legs so pick me”

“I’m the best looking one here and i’m a princess, who doesn’t want to pamper a princess”

“Just look at me, i’m the most beautiful”

“I want to win, I want to win, I need to win, I win”

the list goes on.

My submission was clearly sub standard compared to these gems and thank goodness for that.  I can just imagine my champagne bottle acceptance speech now “Um hi everyone, thanks for being here tonight. I bought this dress for my future as the most boring woman in the world so it really means a lot to me that my submission about not sharing was able to beat out the, “I have really long legs” entry. I will cherish this bottle and um…um *bursts into tears for dramatic effect.”

Or something along those lines. Shame I wasn’t able to win this one. Alas, there is always next week as this lovely new restaurant bar club conglomerate thing has decided that this a weekly tradition.

This event just set me on the path for over analyze-ation of myself and everyone around me. I’ve been preaching lately (to my journal) about how much I hate that people base everything on looks when *cue cliche saying* really it’s what’s inside that counts. It’s actually a scary thought. I’m going to end this one here because I feel i’m about to waffle on even more.

Thanks for reading

Oh yeah, P.S. – the food was super good

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My first experience with the sex industry

If you know anything about SE Asia, you know that sex industry is big here. So surprisingly it did not take me long to have my first encounter with this industry which taught me some valuable life lessons.

In Phnom Penh Cambodia there is a street called street 51 which is a place where a lot of tourists hang out. It is full of bars and restaurants, and a lot of western faces. One night my friend and I decided that we wanted to head out to take advantage of some happy hour specials after school and not knowing much about the city we decided that street 51 should be the place to do that. We sat down in this open air mall sort of area with lots of different bars. As we sat there and had a few drinks and some food we noticed that this particular area was full of prostitutes and old western men. Seeing this was not all that surprising however we did not realize that the place we were in was known for that sort commerce; we were pretty much in the center of the main area for this business. Seeing these interactions between these very young women and quite old men was just not something that we were used to seeing every day.

As we sat there we noticed a couple across from us which was made up of an older British man and a younger Korean woman. They were looking at us with very strange expressions on their faces and we’d noticed it a few times but did not think much of it. A little bit later the man walked up to us with his wife and asked if she could sit with us and talk. He said “this is my wife Jay, is it alright if she sits and talks with you for a little bit, she doesn’t have any friends. She was sitting with a group of girls over there before but maybe she can sit with you girls now.” I knew that something was off about this situation but at first I did not know what exactly. Not wanting to be rude, we let Jay sit with us and we spoke to her for about 5 minutes. She looked very scared and nervous and kept saying how stressed she was about her new job. We were so confused but after a few minutes we kind of concluded that she was working as a prostitute. Her husband was clearly facilitating this and he thought that we might show her the “business.”

As one can probably imagine, I was not happy about many parts of this situation. I decided to ask her husband exactly what was going on. He said to me “Well this is my wife’s first night on her new job and she just needs some help. We are looking for safe places to go.” I asked him what business exactly he thought we could help her with and he looked at me and said “she is in the ‘hospitality’ business,” and then winked. We made it clear that he had made a huge mistake thinking that we knew anything about this and politely made our exit.
I walked away just feeling scared and horrible. I felt awful for Jay knowing that her husband was doing that to her, and I just couldn’t shake the feeling of disgust. The whole next day I couldn’t get the situation, or Jay off my mind and it really upset me. I actually took some time to sit and reflect upon the whole thing that happened and was able to kind of come to terms with it. I realize that people around the world live different lifestyles and I cannot be the person to judge someone for doing things that I would not. I felt bad for Jay and at the time I felt hatred towards her husband but I realize now that it is the way of the world. All I can do is hope for the best for people.

Since this encounter during my first week in SE Asia I’ve seen countless other incidents involving the sex industry and I am completely desensitized to it now. In some places in Thailand it is practically thrown in your face and it just becomes a normal part of life. I’ve befriended people working in this industry and doing so has helped me to become a lot less judgmental and suspicious of other people. In America it seems like we are meant to think people who are involved in this industry are bad in some way but I know now that they’re not. People are people are people are people and we are all the same in a sense no matter what sort of line of work we decide to go into.