OVERSEAS & OVERSEXED
That is the title of a recent article in the Financial Post 12th February 2008 by Karen Mazurkewich. Her aim is on the sexual indiscretions of expat men posted abroad. She writes:
“Infidelity happens around the world, but for expatriates on assignment in Asia, the combination of cultural isolation, career-obsessed spouses and a pervasive sex industry adds further pressure to a marriage. The city of Hong Kong has been called the "graveyard of marriages" and exclusive Bangkok nightclubs targeting foreigners, such as Pent Exclusive Club, have been dubbed "weapons of mass destruction for families" by local journalists.
An specifically about the night scene, Mazurkewich observes:
”The temptations in Asia are greater than elsewhere. In cities like Taipei, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok, the sex industry centres on business districts and hotels. A single man will almost always receive unsolicited calls in his hotel room, and local bars like Pent Exclusive Club in Bangkok have developed an exclusive clientele by inviting university-educated women seeking foreign or "fareng" (sic) husbands to flirt with the men at the bar.”
The article has churned up a number of controversial views on Thaivisa forum The consensus on the forum was the author didn’t do her research.
Mazurkewich’s article is nicely balanced against a recent review titled One Man’s Odyssey into ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. Rolf Pott takes aim at this best-selling trans-global travel. What Pott’s does is switch the gender of the hero in Eat, Pray, Love from a woman to a man, and asked whether such a book would have received the same acclaim. In other words, if the books had been written by a guy about a guy (rather than the woman) who dumps his spouse, and takes up with women as he travels through Italy, India and Bali, there would have been massive outrage. Assuming anyone would publish such a book in the first place.
Potts then asks: “Do you think American women would embrace this book and turn it into a bestseller? Or do you think American women would react with hostility at such a self-absorbed, culturally oblivious and vaguely sexist narrative? No doubt it would be the latter reaction—and I would be reduced to dodging rotten fruit at book readings.”
There is a lively comments section that follows Pott’s article. Also have a look at the reviewers comments on amazon.com as they review Eat, Pray, Love. The reviewers show widely different takes on the book. A woman’s spiritual quest that includes much bedroom time is somehow viewed as self-discovery. If it were a man, as Pott’s suggest, then this narrative with its theme of searching for a woman is by its very nature exploitation, not discovery. Abusive rather than self-revelatory. A corruption of a tormented soul as opposed to soul on the road to enlightenment. There is a double standard. One jury for men, another for women, applying different rules and standards, and reaching vastly different outcomes.
Having read both Rolf Pott’s piece and that of Karen Mazurkewich’s article, you can’t help but conclude that the gender divide is alive and well and each side selectively chooses their targets of opportunity. In The Risk of Infidelity Index, Vincent Calvino enters the world of Bangkok expat housewives and by so doing takes the reader into the anxiety and fears experienced by many such women. It is interesting that Mazurkewich’s research missed RISK in her research into this field. Not that it would have necessarily changed her mind but it might have broaden her perspective.