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Posted By Rupal Bhandari

I worry that I am not feminist enough because I sometimes enjoy the sexualization of women that my intellectual self would so abhor.

This past weekend I was in Thailand. And of course, like any traveler in Thailand with a bit of money to spend, I went to the red-light districts. And, it wasn’t a spontaneous we-are-here-so-let’s-do-it decision; it was a planned and researched part of the itinerary. 

The area is called Soi Cowboy, named after a cowboy-hat-wearing African American who opened the first go-go bar there in the 1970s. Its an approximately 150 meters long street about 15 minutes from the Hilton we were staying at. The street has about four dozen go-go bars, and the places light up closer to 10 PM, even though they open closer to 6. The street is lined with dancers from these go-go bars, women clad in either just a bikini or some form of a ‘nonexistent’ skirt and a brassiere.

I worry that I am not feminist enough because I sometimes enjoy the sexualization of women that my intellectual self would so abhor.

Each bar had sort of a uniform for the dancers. One place had a pink bikini, and another had a black corset with a pair of panties. One of the places we went to had the dancers wearing these sporty looking tiny skirts that hung on to the waist with just a string, and a matching red or black brassiere. The women wore heavy makeup, not just on their faces but you could notice their limbs and the exposed skin on their chest and back lathered with foundation and cosmetic powder.  

Don’t get me wrong! Most of the women looked pretty; they looked like you wanted to touch them, but mostly in a barbie-doll-designed-by-Hugh-Hefner kind of way. My immediate response was of disassociation. Then, curiosity got the better of me and I and the male friend I was with, walked into one of the places our online research had told us was good. 

At the door, we were asked to get two beers each, as a sort of cover charge, and we found ourselves sitting at the bar less than five minutes later. The bar was encircling a centre stage, where the women danced. Moments later, my ears were filled with a commentary – my male friend speaking not-so-softy about which one of the women on stage was the most fuckable. And I responded back, with a commentary on which women I found the most fuckable. And soon enough the commentary had more details to it, as I talked about which ones tits I found play-worthy and which ones ass he found play-worthy, and what we would do to them, so on and so forth. 

It took me about ten minutes to notice that the ceiling above the dance floor was actually transparent and there were women on the floor above dancing, whose skirts I could see under. I could see some of them had no panties on, and some of them had nude coloured thongs on. Most of them didn’t have any top or brasserie on, with their tits on full display. And when I pointed this to my friend, he smirked at how he had already noticed it like two minutes into the place. 

After having spent some time enjoying the dancers on the ground floor, we moved to the floor above, and found ourselves a cosy-ish table right across from the centre stage. The highlight of the dancers on this floor was the tits. Both me and my friend were quick to talk about that, pointing out how the women on this floor were uglier in comparison to the ones of the floor below, hence displaying their tits being their playcard. We even dissected how one of them, a slightly chubby one in the corner nearest to us, had tits too bigto be likeable. 

The time on this floor was spent a lot “better’ – the commentary got more and more sexual in nature, and it wasn’t just my male friend running that commentary. I participated equally in it, if not more. Soon the commentary turned to indulgence, with my friends hands finding my breasts to grab and my teeth finding his earlobes to bite, and our tongues finding their ways down each others throats. The feminist in me did not object. The feminist in me was too high on alcohol and hormones to care. 

The next bar we went to was quite different from this, in some aspects, and quite similar to it, in other aspects. The women at this place were more approachable, physically. But they were also more unreal, more distant, in their existence. Our table was right in front of the centre stage, again, and before we hadn’t even fully taken in the place and looked at the dancers around us, there were two women on either side of us. 

The women weren’t pretty, to be honest. They were average looking – clad in a pair of red panties and a stringed brasserie, their hair electronically straightened and down on their back. The lipstick had already started to rub away, like mine does around lunch time at work. Its was around midnight; I guess it was close to their lunch time at work. Or slightly past it maybe. 

We did what was expected of us, bought the two women the ‘ladies drink’. That’s basically you paying the bar some money to justify the personal attention the women are going to be spending on you, while they get some fruit beer to drink in return. 

If I were to say this story is about my struggle with my sexuality, it’s not. It’s about my struggle with feminism and my feminist self.

It was with these two women that I discovered how non-human people’s skin can feel. They let my hands wander, and they used their hands on me. Soon enough, the woman on my lap offered to let me suckle at her breasts, in return for touching mine, and I did. While my friend beside me was behaving a lot more ‘decently’ than I was; he was making conversation and touching only the “appropriate” parts. 

Also read: Why Do Indian Women Not Wish To Identify As Feminist?

The two women were then replaced by one – this one sitting between me and my friend, with the idea of entertaining both. Another ladies drink later, there was more skin for me to touch, and more attention for me to enjoy. I was slightly more intrusive with this one, letting more than just my hands run on her body. I found parts to nibble at, and found skin to dig my nails into. My friend, on the other hand, was happy enjoying the lap dances, and the touch of skin. I could see a different side of him, an expression I had not seen before, an expression that I don’t have a description for. 

We could’ve taken it further that night. We could’ve found space to get him a blowjob that I could watch, or to take the girl back to our hotel and have our first threesome. We did ask what either one of those things would cost us, and while the cost was slightly on the higher end, it wasn’t that which made me say no. What did, you might ask! I have no clue. 

What I do know is that I didn’t want to touch those women. I didn’t want to have anything to do with them other than watch them on that stage, their limbs wrapped around a pole, as they danced. They didn’t feel real. And they didn’t turn me on one bit, at least not like the women sitting across the room from me right now, wearing a pair of jeans, a nice white top, and brown high heels, her hair curled around the shoulders, does. They didn’t feel fuckable to me, not in the way that the women I have had crushes on feel, or all the women I have silently admired walking past them in the metro feel. But I did enjoy watching them, a lot. 

If I were to say this story is about my struggle with my sexuality, it’s not. It’s about my struggle with feminism and my feminist self. It’s about the struggle between wanting to purr like a sexy kitten clad in lacy lingerie as I ask my sexual partners for attention, while also feeling a bout of rage when the said partners argue about splitting the bill or try to patronize me about a piece of research. It’s about trying to balance the two, in a world that is quick to tell you how to get feminism right or wrong. 

Will I go out to a red-light district when I next have the chance? I don’t know. Will I ever pay for sex? I don’t know. Will I ever find the balance? I don’t know. 

Also read: “Defying Patronage To My Desires!” – Women And Erotic Literature

Will I keep calling myself a feminist? Yes, always. 


Rupal Bhandari is a 25 year old feminist, trying to find the best way to make a relevant contribution to the world. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Hindu College. When not buried in her laptop at work studying the impact technology is having on businesses, she spends her time reading, writing, travelling, and discovering the best food. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Featured Image Source: The Asian Correspondent

3 COMMENTS

  1. The title of the article intrigued me. I was excited by it. The starting hooked me, the middle was a fight between a nagging suspicion about the diasater this was heading towards and a hope that maturity will prevail. The end however was something that is so common in today’s society. The fight between what I am and what I hope to be. If this article was written by a man we will call him sexist. Hands down, no questioned asked. If not a sexist, we would ruthlessly characterize him as someone who is shallow enough to obssess over aesthetics when he wants to “fuck” but when it comes to anything serious he wants that covered up girl in jeans and a white top or the regular girl in the metro. I agree with the author. This article is not about her sexuality. This is article is an example of how a woman can objectify another woman. And if you are that woman you are not a feminist. Period.

  2. Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware objectifying women as grossly as possible and then calling them unfuckable all while using an already exploitative industry for your jaunts is very feminist. Thanks, I feel enlightened.

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