Christian group invites Thai sex workers to come to Daddy

This is the story of a video by eleven young women from the U.S.–almost exclusively white–who went to Thailand to save the “bar girls” to Jesus. “We found that we were the perfect ones to fight for them,” say the title cards. “Because we used to be women in chains… Just like them.”

This is then illustrated by a series of “testimonies,” written in Sharpie on cardboard, squicktacularly set to the contemporary Christian song “When I’m With My Daddy.”

Just like a woman willingly or unwillingly providing sexual services in Phuket’s red-light district, their “chains” include masturbation, not fitting in a magazine, and perfectionism. “I stopped touching my neener through the grace of Jesus Christ–and so can you.”

I had sex … Now I’m pure

I struggle with masturbation … No condemnation for those who are in Christ

Felt like I was supposed to fit in a magazine … Now I fit perfectly in His arms

I labeled myself as an adulteress at 17 years old … Daddy called me his bride

Ew.


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44 Responses to Christian group invites Thai sex workers to come to Daddy

  1. matlun says:

    I just got stuck on: How could they possibly choose that theme song?

  2. Annie D says:

    Anyone want to talk about the conflation of sexual “sin” with sexual slavery? I’m not saying that all the bar girls in Thailand are working against their will, but it’s a major issue that they didn’t address.

  3. victoria says:

    Re: “slavery”
    Yes, there’s a whole lot of metaphorical fail happening in that video. Part of the problem is wording from the christian bible where Paul and other authors talk about being a “slave to sin” until one accepts salvation. It’s a phrase that gets tossed around in certain xian circles without a full acknowledging of just how loaded a term slavery is, the original context and translation of the word, etc, and such carelessness leads to a group of teens thinking they know exactly what it means to be a slave because of a spiritual analogy.

  4. yes says:

    I know quite a few witnesses, and I still get a little O_o every time I hear about “The Faithful and Discreet Slave.”

  5. You know, I clicked on that video ready to laugh my ass off, but all I’m left with is this horrible sense of sorrow and pity for those girls, having to trot their “sins” – what, having sex is a sin? being coerced into it, most likely (at 10)? Feeling like shit about their body image? – out for a hokey presentation about how everyone should go to Jesus. Feeling all this shame and being beaten over the head with their own sinfulness…. fuck. Why does religion peddle shame so often? Ii’m not being coherent, I know.

  6. Bagelsan says:

    Christianity never ceases to amaze and delight.

  7. mh says:

    Ewww. I wish I’d seen the transcription before I started watching the video. In a galaxy far, far away, I could have been one of those girls.

    Let me tell you, having been there – it felt like, well, not slavery – but prison. Uck.

  8. William says:

    How could they possibly choose that theme song?

    It would seem to require the complete lack of empathy, humility, and basic human decency which is is the primary prerequisite of evangelism in all its myriad forms.

  9. It’s a total fail for lack of understanding about cultural differences regarding sexuality for one, and falsely projecting “christian” cultural attitudes on Thai people for two.
    The sexual mores of Thailand are vastly different than what most of us can understand in Western culture. There is far more acceptance and open expressiveness of sexuality. Not to say there aren’t abuses, but many of the women doing sex work in Thailand are seen as valuable, supportive and needed by their families. It isn’t the negative stereotype Westerners have of the prostitute. It is not unusual for “bar girls” to make a small fortune, then return to their towns to build homes in their community and/or pursue education.

  10. Natalie says:

    2 things.

    1. Having sex at age 10 is not having sex as a 10 year old cannot consent making it sexual abuse and/or rape
    2. on a lighter note, masturbation is awesome guys, why do these xtians have to hate on it??

  11. Natalie says:

    Side note

    I feel like there should be an opposing feminist video to go along with this. Born this way would be the theme song and women would be holding signs that say

    I had sex….and it was awesome
    I used to struggle with masturbation…now I have a brand new eco friendly vibrator
    Felt like I was supposed to fit in a magazine… until I realized that cultural attitudes about women’s body image are super sexist and fat-shaming and there is nothing wrong with my body

  12. im says:

    Wow. This is completely ridiculous. AND has an even more explicit version of the creepy, possibly patriarchy-influenced oedipalness like at purity balls.
    Who knows whether these women were willing, influenced, or coerced. But I can imagine them being inwardly pretty mad at these fools.

  13. Angie unduplicated says:

    Christians are quick to forget that their Gawd who created it all, also created HIV viruses, and they’re Thailand’s top killers. Prostitutes die young in Thailand, as elsewhere; Google’s hidden the stats somewhere in a long PDF, but I’ve read an average Thai sex worker dies in her early 20’s; an unsupported blog post stated that average death age for ladyboys is 35.
    Surely these well-endowed Christian rightwingers could come up with non-sweatshop offshored jobs instead of bodily shame.

  14. Revolver says:

    I feel like there should be an opposing feminist video to go along with this. Born this way would be the theme song and women would be holding signs that say

    I had sex….and it was awesome
    I used to struggle with masturbation…now I have a brand new eco friendly vibrator
    Felt like I was supposed to fit in a magazine… until I realized that cultural attitudes about women’s body image are super sexist and fat-shaming and there is nothing wrong with my body

    Hell yes!

  15. William says:

    2. on a lighter note, masturbation is awesome guys, why do these xtians have to hate on it??

    Because all sex which exists outside of the tightly controlled confines of Christian oppression or which does not have a chance of producing more Christian Soldiers directly weakens Christianity by threatening it’s hegemony. The system only works if it remains in complete control.

  16. miga says:

    @ natalie:

    Except without “Born This Way,” because singing the word “Orient” in response to a video that tries to religiously colonize Thai folks isn’t much better.

    Not trying to hate on your idea, because I think it’s awesome otherwise.

  17. Caperton says:

    I also kind of like Natalie’s idea @ 12.

    At 10 I had sex … Which is rape, because a 10-year-old can’t consent to sex. I was just a kid, and the people I trusted to protect me let me down

    I struggle with masturbation … But practice makes perfect

    Slave to perfection … Whoops, my handwriting is crap. Let me rewrite that

    Trapped in sexual sin… Believed God couldn’t use me … Realized that being sexual isn’t a sin, and that being used is really problematic

  18. shelly says:

    Christianity never ceases to amaze and delight.

    And by “amaze and delight” you mean “disgust and repulse”, yeah? ;)

    Jeebus is cool, but some of his followers give me the creeps.

  19. Bagelsan says:

    Jeebus is cool, but some of his followers give me the creeps.

    Between these Christian girls, and Thai sex workers, I think I know who Jesus would actually hang out with…

  20. Marksman2010 says:

    Christianity never ceases to amaze and delight.

    For entertainment purposes only.

  21. Natalie says:

    Except without “Born This Way,” because singing the word “Orient” in response to a video that tries to religiously colonize Thai folks isn’t much better.

    Ahhh my bad I forgot about that part of the song… hmmm…. trying to think of an alternative… I’m gonna go with gaga’s Hair?

  22. I think I want to take you all with me the next time I travel the Southeast Asian area.
    “Hi, we’re here to save you…from the Christians. Not that you need “saving” and that’s kinda the point.”

  23. Fat Steve says:

    It’s a total fail for lack of understanding about cultural differences regarding sexuality for one, and falsely projecting “christian” cultural attitudes on Thai people for two.
    The sexual mores of Thailand are vastly different than what most of us can understand in Western culture. There is far more acceptance and open expressiveness of sexuality. Not to say there aren’t abuses, but many of the women doing sex work in Thailand are seen as valuable, supportive and needed by their families. It isn’t the negative stereotype Westerners have of the prostitute. It is not unusual for “bar girls” to make a small fortune, then return to their towns to build homes in their community and/or pursue education.

    I’m all for acceptance, and I certainly don’t agree with sex worker’s being shamed in this (or any,) way, but in my opinion, the failure of this ‘mission,’ is that it is based on the premise that it is lack of faith in Jesus rather than horrific economic conditions which cause a family to, as you say, ‘need’ the ‘support’ of a ‘woman’ thus making her sex work ‘valuable.’ I’m all for freedom of choice, but the situation you describe does not sound like choice to me.

  24. Annie D says:

    The sexual mores of Thailand are vastly different than what most of us can understand in Western culture. There is far more acceptance and open expressiveness of sexuality. Not to say there aren’t abuses, but many of the women doing sex work in Thailand are seen as valuable, supportive and needed by their families. It isn’t the negative stereotype Westerners have of the prostitute. It is not unusual for “bar girls” to make a small fortune, then return to their towns to build homes in their community and/or pursue education.

    Not to exclude the possibility of bar girls choosing sex work, I’m fairly sceptical of how real that choice is when it’s they’re only way to get out of their villages and earn substantial sums for their families. Also, prostitution is significantly less empowering than the feminist sex worker ideal when you factor in the whole sex tourism (based on either fetishisation of Asian women or the fact that buying sex is cheaper in Thailand than in the West), coloniser/colonised relationship and the power of the sex worker to insist on a fair wage, use of adequate protection and to withdraw her consent if the client violates her boundaries.

    I’m sceptical of arguments that selling sex can ever be truly empowering even in the best possible circumstances, but without a strongly regulated industry where sex workers have the power to insist on a fair wage, condom use and are able to withdraw their consent (or even file a rape charge without being laughed out of court); I cannot see it as anything other than exploitative.

  25. William says:

    Jeebus is cool,

    I’m not sure I’d go even that far. Frankly, I don’t think that a couple of stolen stories and some platitudes before getting down to the shaming and submission qualifies the figurehead of a violent memetic virus as cool.

  26. Jill says:

    It’s a total fail for lack of understanding about cultural differences regarding sexuality for one, and falsely projecting “christian” cultural attitudes on Thai people for two.
    The sexual mores of Thailand are vastly different than what most of us can understand in Western culture. There is far more acceptance and open expressiveness of sexuality. Not to say there aren’t abuses, but many of the women doing sex work in Thailand are seen as valuable, supportive and needed by their families. It isn’t the negative stereotype Westerners have of the prostitute. It is not unusual for “bar girls” to make a small fortune, then return to their towns to build homes in their community and/or pursue education.

    There are differing cultural mores, but the sex industry in SE Asia is extremely complicated — not least because of the huge numbers of male Western sex tourists who come to places like Thailand and Cambodia explicitly looking for exploitative practices (seeking out sex with children, sex with women they know aren’t really there voluntarily, sex with women they believe are naturally “submissive,” sex with women who they know cannot really say no, etc etc). So obviously fuck this ridiculous Christian organization, but I really cringe when I hear people — almost always white men — say, “But it’s just DIFFERENT in Southeast Asia! They’re just so much more sexually open-minded!”

    Yes, there are cultural differences. But there are also particular presentations made to white male visitors in order to gloss over what is actually incredibly exploitative on many levels, and make men who are doing some seriously fucked-up shit feel ok about it.

  27. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Sickest thing ever.

    The signs kill me. There’s oh I touch myself too much and I had sinful sex and then I tried to fucking kill myself.

    One of these things is not like the other.

  28. matlun says:

    “But it’s just DIFFERENT in Southeast Asia! They’re just so much more sexually open-minded!”

    On the one hand, this is actually true (especially when considering the social stigma). On the other hand – It should be remembered that the situation being different does not mean that it is good. For example, the levels of human sex trafficking in Thailand are depressingly large. The culture can also be a problem where children are pressured into entering the industry out of a sense of duty to support their family.

    (Also: “the sex industry in SE Asia” is probably an over generalization. There are large differences between the different countries)

  29. DoublyLinkedLists says:

    Watching that was an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

  30. slashy says:

    There is something extra-creepy about their matching, on-cue, perfect-wedge-of-an-orange smiles. Precisely the same shape, projecting precisely the same emotion, no deviation. It’s eerie watching the same exact emotion light up all of these different faces in sequence, as though they are all recent graduates of the same Smile With The Joy Of Jesus class. Which they probably are.

  31. William says:

    One of these things is not like the other.

    Madness, like any other sin, is just the natural consequence of being so far from Almighty God that you are unable to properly submit to His plan for you. Sucide, like premarital sex and homosexuality, is the intentional frustration of God’s Will for one’s temporary desires of the flesh. All sin is equal in the eyes of God, so masturbation and suicide are the same as rape or eating live kittens to make children cry. They are also granted the same forgiveness.

    See, the same things that keep you chained are the things which free your oppressors of the burden of guilt or responsibility. You get to be as bad as Hitler, they get to be no worse than a a teenage boy. Convenient, no?

  32. Caperton says:

    A group in Thailand called the EMPOWER Foundation is made up of sex workers, for the benefit of sex workers, campaigning for occupational safety standards, health education, adherence to labor laws, and so on for women who choose to work in the sex industry. The women in the video came to volunteer with a group called SHE Ministries, which offers education and job training (and Jesus) for women who want to leave sex work, helping them find other jobs–which also is a good thing, but it doesn’t address the economic and cultural issues that got the women there in the first place, nor the issue of trafficking and women and girls who want to leave but can’t. The SHE site has a testimonial from a volunteer who said she worked with a woman who came to the program for the education and camaraderie–but ultimately went back to sex work, because she made more money there than making jewelry for SHE.

    When it comes down to “Jesus wants to save you from sexual sin” versus “your toddler wants to eat today”…

  33. DonnaL says:

    huge numbers of male Western sex tourists who come to places like Thailand and Cambodia

    This is a little misleading, because there are also huge numbers of sex tourists from Japan (especially), South Korea, and India who go to Thailand, etc.

    Also please don’t forget that one of the primary “attractions” there is trans women/kathoey. (“Lady boys” is a term that many trans women in Thailand — although not all, of course — find extremely offensive and objectifiying, so I never use it unless the person specifically uses it for herself.)

  34. Argenti Aertheri says:

    Madness, like any other sin, is just the natural consequence of being so far from Almighty God that you are unable to properly submit to His plan for you.

    Yeah I literally got told once (while suicidally depressed) that I “just need to be closer to god” — that’s about the point I gave up on their god. (Thankfully that was my roommate, not my psych)

    WTF sect are they that they made “the lord our father” into “daddy” though? That’d be blasphemy by the sect I was raised in…

    Sorry for the mostly OT comment, but that video is a bit too disturbing to comment on directly. And/or, what DoublyLinkedLists said — “Watching that was an exercise in cognitive dissonance.”

  35. Claire K. says:

    (And of course sex tourists from Japan, etc, are also generally in a colonizer/colonized relationship w/r/t the sex workers they patronize, and also have a tendency to fetishize the “exoticism” of SE Asian women.)

  36. Annaleigh says:

    Yeah I literally got told once (while suicidally depressed) that I “just need to be closer to god” — that’s about the point I gave up on their god. (Thankfully that was my roommate, not my psych)

    I used to be part of a Word of Faith churches in what seems like ages ago. Not a good place to have bipolar disorder. Heard from the pulpit far too many times that depression is a sin, and felt the pastor’s disapproval way too many times after coming back to church after a long spell of not being able to go due to bp symptoms. It got to the point that I was in a constant state of guilt for not being able to positive-confess away my madness and I felt shame every time I went to church. So, eventually, I quit.

    To get back on topic, on the one hand I too am annoyed with the Christian women in the video, but yet I can’t help but feel sorry for them, especially the one who presented “having sex” at 10 years old as a sin!

  37. Fat Steve says:

    Do you feel the same way about families who ‘need’ the ‘support’ of a man thus making his plumbing or electrician work ‘valuable’? If you are claiming that sex workers choosing sex work for economic reasons are not making a free choice, then you are claiming that most workers are not making a free choice. Which means your objection is to capitalism, not to sex work.

    Yes, absolutely.

  38. feministplus says:

    Woah… so much whitepatriarchal shit going on. I really feel for the woman who was ‘set free’ from the ‘sin’ of ‘having sex’ when she was ten. How many times do we have to say that women and children don’t need forgiveness for being abused? That it’s always the abuser’s sin? That the real way to share freedom with survivors is to reject the abuser’s and society’s lies about who’s to blame? Apparently a lot of times.

  39. William says:

    How many times do we have to say that women and children don’t need forgiveness for being abused? That it’s always the abuser’s sin? That the real way to share freedom with survivors is to reject the abuser’s and society’s lies about who’s to blame? Apparently a lot of times.

    Christianity directly benefits from abuse and oppression by generating things for the oppressed to feel guilty about, by creating a world so terrible that people become desperate for the promise of heaven, and by co-opting the rage of oppressed persons by promising hell to their oppressors. Without abuse and oppression Christianity isn’t much more than a suffering-obsessed death cult. Freeing survivors by blaming their attackers reduces the power of Christianity and also directly contravenes the basic sales model of the faith.

  40. EG says:

    Without abuse and oppression Christianity isn’t much more than a suffering-obsessed death cult.

    Wait, are you saying it’s more than that now? Because that’s kind of how I think of it.

  41. William says:

    EG: Sure its more than that now. Now its an incredibly influential suffering-obsessed death cult. Still, you make a valid point…

  42. Bagelsan says:

    It got to the point that I was in a constant state of guilt for not being able to positive-confess away my madness and I felt shame every time I went to church. So, eventually, I quit.

    Huh, that makes God/the church zero for three on the “help out mentally ill people” thing… :p Jesus might love the little children, but imho antidepressants love them more effectively.

  43. maggiemay says:

    the quote that really kills me is “i stopped touching my neener”—seriously, neener?!!—dont kno whether 2 laff or cry…..

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