Updated: Feb 13
Leveraging my time off during my tour in Thailand, I decided to have a little nature break by visiting the mountain tribes of Chiang Rai. Looking for a quiet place to write my blog and finish my rebranding, I was eager to be surrounded by only the sounds of nature. I found a mind-blowing deal online for a bamboo bungalow and ran to escape the buzzing city of Bangkok, not knowing what to expect. I had the privilege to be welcomed by some of the warmest people I have had the chance to encounter in my many travels, though sadness was hiding behind the beautiful smiles of the pride tribe members. A human experience I actually could relate to as I recognized its crippling destructiveness.
About a decade back, Northern Thailand got a massive flow of Western tourists looking for “authentic” tribes, some of the few supposedly left undisturbed by modern conveniences. This socially accepted form of racism hiding behind the pretends of cultural preservation is, honestly, just yet another form of control on other's lives. Such severe criticism on how a community should evolve in order to fit our expectations is despicable. Who are we as developed countries to decide who gets access to technology or not, and what ideals one should pursue or not? It’s a given right for any human being to be granted the opportunity to improve their living conditions and experience the world to its fullest. We also are in no position to criticize as we massively compromise lives and the environment in the name of advancement. The Northern tribe had their destiny to follow, but Western hypocrisy ruined it all once more.
Originally, the villagers had little understanding of why they were being visited and solicited, so with the level of comprehension and the tools they had, they responded to our demands to the best of their abilities. It started with rare groups staying in the villager’s houses, then the number of tourists increased and they began building homes to welcome us. The increased revenues led to the community acquiring the technologies they needed and had every right to attain, but it displeased the mighty Westerns in their aboriginal expectations. As the locals kept investing in their primary source of revenues and expended their accommodation options, the holy tourists didn’t see it as being “authentic” enough and started deserting. The tribes had grown dependent on us and reinvested a large portion of their revenues in infrastructure to graciously accommodate us, but we turned our backs on them.
I arrived at something that looked more like a ghost town than a tribe village. Bungalows neglected and eaten by termites, jobless guides asking to be hired at low costs, handmade souvenir sales ladies begging for a dim, not the positive impact the so-called “culture preserving” previous visitors were trying to have. And as we do best, we left our mess behind. We are crushing actual lives because our latest touristic trend no longer entertains us.
The distorted depictions of anthropological documentaries and touristic advertisements were pressuring them to stay in a life that ultimately was not their wishes. Being described in ways that fed our Western imagination but in no manner connected with who these people were. As the erroneous touristic assumptions got eventually deconstructed, instead of accepting what the tribe wanted to be, we dumped them, leaving them hurt and hungry. Not understanding why those who said they were their friends and seemed to like them so much all of a sudden left them behind.
Their despair echoed loudly because I also knew all too well what it is to be the flavour of the day and, in a flash, be completely abandoned for the next shiny thing. The adult industry beats to the pulse of the next extreme and quickly moves on to the new fad. How many times have I acquired expensive equipment and learned new skills to later find no more demand for my investment within a season? Hence why I now only buy toys that I want, regardless of the market’s demands because tomorrow, it will be something else.
Though, there’s a much more perverse consequence to this type of flimsy pressure: it tells you you're not good enough and you must fit an imposed format to be worthy.
Back in the Western world, the abuse of pornographic consumption has led to an increase in disconnection with one another and reality as a whole. The abundantly available, instantly gratifying videos that are now a large part, if not the entirety of man’s sexual life, have made any chances of satisfaction unattainable. Setting unreasonable standards that only an edited reality can provide and encrusting point of view into narrow tunnels that leads to ultra-specific outcomes, men have robbed their counterparts the freedom of being themselves, inevitably condemning their partners to failure. No one should be imprisoned in a constrictive erotic mold. Dominatrixes are at prey of this phenomenon as much as any other human being, and are blamed shamelessly for trying to accomplish the impossible.
In our selfish attempts to live our self-made little real-life novels, trying to bring ourselves excitement, we often get lost in the fantasies that we attempt to recreate at the unfortunate expenses of those we force into it. From the delusional and colonialist pursuit of the “untouched by modern life” tribes to the dehumanizing search for the perfect phantasmagoric Dominatrix, a lot of parallels can be drawn. The definite common denominator in both situations is the rejection of someone's truth. The denial of acceptance for what one wants to be is brutally harmful.
From being expected to never change or to request to instantly achieve perfection, in this day and age, some still feel entitled to dictate inhuman conditions on others. In both stories, you can see that individuals are forbidden to live their lives as they see fit and need to comply with a commending format to be deemed “real”; an adjective that couldn’t be further from the truth. Denying one’s basic need for advancement or expecting perfect scores every time is simply unfair. The unfortunate cost of those toxic fantasies is that the realities attached to it get destroyed.
Let us be aware of what we demand of others and, most importantly, make sure it’s what they want for themselves. Reality is so much sexier when you choose to live in it; therefore, we should embrace its contrasts and nuances. Others not being what we expect them to be is inherently the most essential quality to seek in interactions to enrich our social lives. In this diversity, we are challenged to grow and it enables us to expand beyond ourselves. That is the secret to discovering so much more of what life has to offer. From the ingenious technological evolution of the hill tribes to the delightful organic flow of a dominant, see things for what they indeed are and celebrate them as-is because that is the only path to the “real” experiences we all desperately crave.