Bangkok Scandalous

Shock and awe! Be appalled, America, for it appears that some young girls were recently seen dancing topless in public! Wait, you mean that’s not a big deal? Yes, I’ve heard of Mardi Gras. Despite the fact that in America, it is not an occasion for national uproar when females expose themselves in public, this was exactly the scene in a rather pissed-off Thailand last week. Three girls were arrested and released upon paying a fine for public indecency after they were caught dancing topless in public during a celebration of the Songkran water festival, a Thai tradition. Such a reaction does not seem irrational until you consider that the national government worked feverishly to remove recorded copies of the escapade that had quickly been circulating. In addition, the Minister of Culture, Nipit Intarasombut, publicly condemned the act and demanded that “society come out and criticize” the girls, suggesting that they be forced to endure further punishment for their crime. This story topped many Thai news websites over the weekend. Now, this may seem highly hypocritical for the Thai government to do, and that’s because it is. Bangkok – which just so happened to be the same city where this “national outrage” occurred – is considered to be a sex capital of the world, with prostitution running rampant throughout the city. But you know, on some weird level, they may actually have the right idea – disregarding the whole blatant internet censorship part. Consider that this incident occurred during a street celebration of a traditional festival. Consider also that this city is known as a place where sex and promiscuity is not only sold, but glamorized. Of course I was referring to this Songkran water festival and the city of Bangkok, but I just as easily could have been talking about Mardi Gras and the city of Las Vegas, respectively. Actually, pretty much anywhere that college-aged girls go to vacation, there will be someone with a video camera looking to make a quick buck by asking them to expose themselves on camera. My point is, stuff like this happens all the time in America and yet you never hear anyone from a federal government office making a stink about it. It happens in Thailand and it’s a national scandal that is promptly condemned and eradicated as if it were a cancerous tumor. It happens in America and it is encouraged, rewarded, videotaped, and sold on the internet and in stores. Who’s got the right idea here? Thailand refuses to embrace its plainly visible sexual culture, and America seeks only to bask in and, more importantly, profit from it. In the end, there really isn’t a right answer besides saying that the cultural differences between America and the rest of the world are very clear in instances such as this one.