Odzer, Cleo Ph.D. Dissertation: Title Page + Abstract
- Patpong Prostitution
Its Relationship to, and Effect on,
The Position of Women in Thai Society
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social
Science of the New School for Social Research in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor
Dr. Rayna Rapp
Dr. Shirley Lindenbaum
Dr. William Roseberry
The dissertation investigates gender relations in Thailand and focuses on a "red-light" district in Bangkok known as
Patpong to determine the impact of prostitution on the position of women in Thai society. Traditional Thai culture views
women as "the hind legs of the elephant" and grants them less rights and opportunities than men. The sexual service industry
provides women with a higher income than would otherwise be available; it offers them chances for independence; and
presents them with alternatives to marriage, an institution which legally deprives them of rights belonging to single women. My
original hypothesis stated that, in view of the growth of the sexual service industry in Thailand during the past two decades,
women's status should have been positively affected.
Part One presents background information and a review of the literature. After an introductory chapter, Chapter Two
discusses women in Thailand, their position in society and their expected roles and life options. A chapter covering general
theories on prostitution is then followed by an examination of prostitution in Thailand including a report on the economic
situation of the country. The end of Part One describes Patpong, its history and growth, and its present-day manner of
Part Two presents case studies of people involved in the sex industry. Nine people are introduced to highlight and
illustrate the Patpong way of life: five prostitutes, two clients, a pimp and a bar owner. Chapter Ten portrays eight more
people in order to accent relevant facts and bring out [unintelligible] phenomena: four more prostitutes, another bar owner, a
Western woman, the head of a woman's organization, and a money lender.
The last chapter analyses the data. The hypothesis is disproved due to the power of stigma and the fact that ideas
concerning women's equality are slow to take root in the country. Because the right to promiscuous sexuality is granted to
men but withheld from women, Thai culture clings to notions of "good" and "bad" women, which results in prostitutes and ex-
prostitutes going to great lengths when away from the job to give evidence of fitting a "good girl" image.
The practical significance of the dissertation is to clarify and emphasize the relationship of prostitution to the position of
women in Thai society. Enforcing existing laws or legalizing the profession will do little to change the fact of prostitution itself.
Until women have the same recognized rights as men, including the right to sexuality, commercial sex will continue to exist
and uphold the present inequality.
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NOTE: Any typographical errors are the result of Optical Character Recognition software