A Question of “Poison” – Western-Liberal Values

I apologize to my viewers for not posting lately. I have been writing extensively, but my thoughts, like my life, are complex, confusing and dynamic.

I find myself becoming more cynical towards Western-Liberal ideology, and all of its implications. In a nutshell, I can sum up Western-Liberal ideology as: money accumulation, perpetual growth, competition, individual gain and a discourse of ‘freedom.’ These are all values that I, unknowingly, adopted and internalized. Western-Liberal ideology is what I attribute to my self-destruction. I am starting to view Western-Liberal indoctrination as ‘poison.’ And people who practice such traits, I refer to them as ‘poisoned.’ I am ‘poisoned’ myself, yet I am aware of it’s negativity. Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower and how state power works indirectly to control our lifestyles, making us ‘self-regulators,’ also revolutionized my thoughts.

So why so cynic? The more I study about the history of cultures and make comparisons, I realize that the modern world has failed to fulfil the basic human need: belonging.  Individualism, by way of Western-Liberal ideology, had turn most of us into self-indulgent, narcissists. The implications of ‘greed’ is that we neglect others for self-gain — thus, the human need to belong is jeopardized. The inequalities between the favored and unfavored are growing.

Yet so many people are unaware of this. We ‘self-regulate’ ourselves in ways that do not benefit others, but rather maintain the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism. Many notions of Western-Liberal ideology are unchallenged by the majority, because they are so embedded into our minds (most of us do not think about the origin of these values). How often do people challenge the concept of ‘growth’ and realize that accumulation of things is not sustainable? Others may be aware, but they have no need to worry, because they are ‘normative’ people who get along well with like-minded individuals. But what about marginalized individuals? What about people who do not fit the ‘norm’ of society? They suffer. They are isolated. Nobody pays attention to them. And even worst, various institutions, such as the mass-media, feed us propaganda to dismiss these ‘misfit’s’ and blame them for social ills.  My heart cries for fellow marginalized individuals. Suicide crosses their minds, because the worst punishment for anyone is social isolation. As Emile Durkheim notes, those who belong are less likely to commit suicide. Happiness is linked to social cohesion, yet the current dynamics of conformity are based on maintaining social asymmetry rather than an egalitarian goal.

I strongly admire those who are not affected by this ‘poison.’ I cannot admire those who possess all of the negative traits that I possess. I outcaste myself. I don’t like doing things that most people my age do. I am still ‘poisoned’,  yes. I still carry poisonous items, such as designer items,….but slowly, I hope to getaway from all these things that are meaningless in life. What has meaning? Love, family, traditions, spirituality, nature.

Sometimes I have this dream…to run away. I love that novel by James Hilton, “Lost Horizon,” where a traveler accidentally arrives at a blissful haven on earth, away from the ills of civilization. Yet I have traveled the world. I have travel to several parts of the world, both wealthy and poor, trying to find meaning. Like James Hilton’s novel, I too have realized that the most kind and loving people are those who are content with less materialism. The unfortunate reality is that the entire world is being incorporated into this ‘poison’ — adopting Western ideology (capitalism). The old traditions will, tragically, die out.

On a recent venture to the Middle East, my expectations of a culture-rich society was met with disappointment — it is very evident that adopting the notion of wealth accumulation is destroying the beauty of the old traditions. Most cultures were manipulated, via colonialism and coersion, into this new modern ideology. In the rich Gulf States, most women and men are no longer concerned with tradition, but rather men are focused on comparing Ferrari and Maseratis in the Majles, and women are concerned with the latest Chanel or Birkin handbag and beautifying themselves on a  ‘plastic surgery’ trip to Lebanon. What is more disheartening is that it’s very ‘uncool’ to be traditional (in the premodern sense). It’s common to hear unintellectual youngsters being proud of not being beduoin or not having beduoin mannerisms.

Often, I like to imagine if I had a child one day. Where is the best place to live with good communal values? How would I protect my son or daughter from these individualistic ideals and practices that plague the majority? How do I prevent my child from living a meaningless life of going to nightclubs, drinking, drugs and using material things to determine their self-worth?

I was once the epitome of everything that I currently detest. Yet often I wonder why didn’t I end up like the majority? I feel very grateful for my experiences, otherwise I would have continued with empty, shallow habits. Everything happens for a reason

18 Comments

Filed under Emotional Aspects Related to Escorting

18 responses to “A Question of “Poison” – Western-Liberal Values

  1. Anonymous

    Well said dear, I am so glad you posted this cause many people are living this fake Western life and think this IS the true meaning of life!!!
    With love,
    L.

  2. I can totally relate! Being here and being surrounded with materialism and the constant struggle for those around me to keep up with each other has pushed me towards wanting to live a minimalist life. Not only do I not desire the designer or name brand things I one did, but I don’t want the AMOUNT of things I once had. I think people accumulate stuff as a way to define themselves, as a way to feel important, and in the Middle East it is to the extreme. Expansive villas that they fill with furniture they never sit on, beds they never sleep in, hiring several maids to keep it all in order. More cars than they can drive in a week, more clothes than they can wear in a year. It has to be exhausting.
    It’s good that you’ve recognized this poisonous mentality and lifestyle. It’s the first step to getting away from it.

    • escortdiary

      Yes, it’s overwhelming: the wealth and greed. What is worst is the intense contradictions in the Gulf. I recently did a little research on the ‘abaya as a fashion’….how the abaya transformed from a loose, figure-concealing garment to a tight, glitzy item that convey’s one’s wealth (or lack of it). The materialism is not Islam….., but rather it’s consumerism and capitalism. Thanks for your input dear.

      • simi69

        Dear Escort lady
        Your article on capitalism is meaningful. but should we lay the blame of materialism and resulting prostitution on capitalism
        If yes what are the other options. As for prostitution it existed even in early civilizations

  3. Sanjay

    I’ve been thinking about this too. But to condemn capitalism and accumulations of wealth and material possessions as a Western value system isn’t quite right. It’s been happening throughout the world as a result of economic prosperity. It has happened in history too, but back then people had different material aspirations. A cultural change like this would happen independently in the east too, and it is driven by natural egoism, pleasure-seeking tendency and mankind’s desire for social status. However I agree with you sister, it isn’t a particularly healthy way to live – being self-centered and being bent on accumulating wealth, objects and status is like chasing shadows, and it can make one blind to the suffering of less fortunate people.

    As for traditions, if I were you I wouldn’t worry too much about them being changed. Cultural change and evolution is very much a part of human civilization….if the new values that are being adopted prove to do more harm than good, then they will be phased out, just as we have phased out old values that proved to be harmful, like absolute monarchies, slavery and painful executions of convicts. Human culture is always changing, and to burden ourselves with worry over the way it is changing is futile. However, I do think that if we can convince friends, family or any other audience that there’s a better way to live than the one(s) they take for granted, then we must try. So thank you for your post 😉

    And the contradictions in modern culture of the Gulf countries is indeed funny. More wealth = more material possessions. Not particularly Islamic for people who claim to be staunch Muslims, but again it’s nothing new. That is the human mind’s nature. lol.

    If we find a way to reconcile our own desire for wealth and power with a more pro-social behaviour, then that is good. So the goal must be for us as an individual to draw the line somewhere. I’m studying medicine so I know I have the potential to earn a lot of money in the future as a doctor. This is what I always tell myself: Earn a lot of money? Then fine, go get yourself some nice stuff to make yourself happy, but don’t spend more than you need, don’t spend so much on unnecessary luxuries that you go into debt, and don’t spend so much for yourself that you have nothing to give to charity. Don’t be so hell bent on earning (and spending on objects/services) that you let emotional commitments to family and friends take a backseat, and do your best to help people whose quality of life isn’t as good as yours, by means of financial contribution or any other way.

    This I think is all we can do at the end of the day. And if you ever have kids, as a parent it would be up to you to instill good values in them in early childhood, mainly by setting an example by your own actions. You’ll probably be associating with people who share your values, so that gives the child positive exposure. When they are old enough, they’ll judge for themselves. 🙂

    • escortdiary

      Thank for such a great insight Sanjay. However, I must say…slavery and absolute monarchs still exist but just in a different form. I know the past wasn’t perfect, but what past Great civilizations had what we currently don’t have is: self-sufficiency. Back then, serfs and peasants knew how to sustain themselves. Other than paying a tribute to the kingdom, they essentially had autonomy over their own kin.
      Anyway, we won’t be going back to those days, so I agree with you that we have to make the best with what we have now.

  4. Anonymous

    I love the discussions, ladies. I, too, am working on the post about wealth Vs happiness. As busy as I am – I don’t know when exactly it will be ready. I hope some time soon 🙂
    With love to y’all.

  5. Pingback: What Does the World REALLY Run On? « J O S H U A V E G A S

  6. I really enjoyed reading your article, and you raise some very thought-provoking arguments. I shared your post with my readers over at my blog, hoping that they will enjoy it as well: http://joshuavegas.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/what-does-the-world-really-run-on/

    Thanks for this, and take good care!

  7. angelika bel

    As i am interessted in history in any period has been oppression of people doesnt matter what culture . . All these buildings we admire as a tourists you can find at all continents are manifastations of suppression ,

    If you dont like the western style of living nobody forced to buy designer cloth. If you want to live a pure life you can do it….. with all the consequeses – its up to you,
    This is the freedom of the westen world….if you dont want dont do it—
    it is really your choice….Nobody forces you to follow the mainstream.

    We haved lived for some years in small country house without electricity and water connection, just having a generator and a cysterna.
    It was really an experiance, with all the animals around , wild pigs in the night making noises (sometimes i didnt know is this my husband or…..)
    or foxes directly by the house . watching birds…. or at night looking at the stars without light polution…Actually the neigbours are more carering because you need each other. Now we are back to the “civilisation” i needed some weeks that you can flush the toilet and can turn on the light.

    Think i can understand why you are dreaming of a different world…. somehow everybody does it….me too

    take care A,

    • escortdiary

      I am a bit unclear at trying to grasp what you are saying, but nonetheless thank you for contributing. It is too easy to say that people have complete agency to reject ‘Western’ or ‘Modern’ norms, because such mechanisms are institutionalized in every aspect of our lives.

  8. Sean

    I am an Asian middle-aged man and an engineering graduate of a state university in the U.S. Not all Western values are bad. I am still a single but if I were to have a family, I would combine the good ones of the Western values with those of the Eastern to teach my kids.

    To me, prostitution per se is not a crime so long as there are no victims. Having said that, I don’t encourage any woman to earn money by selling her body. I can understand those women who come from dirt poor families and are uneducated or don’t have the necessary skills to make a living to resort to this profession. But I don’t respect those highly educated women who choose this job merely to satisfy their greed for money.

    I am sorry if you feel insulted. It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf.

  9. escortdiary

    I am against the Western-Liberal/neo-liberal ideals which emphasize individualism, consumption, wealth accumulation and so forth. These have very problematic implications for people around the world. Sadly, one does not see these problems if they don’t step outside of their own surroundings. Sure, I can see how such values benefit some people (such as yourself), but they benefit only at the expense of others (the people in the developing world pay for our so-called ‘success’ and ‘happiness.’)

    Why can you not respect ‘highly educated’ women who ‘choose’ this job? How do you know for certain these women are choosing to sell themselves? How can you blame the individual entirely given that many advanced societies promote this lifestyle for women? Why do they deserve less respect because they are having sex for money without being forced? Just because a woman/man chooses to reject normative ways of making money they should be condemned and have no respect in the society? There is much more complexities involved than just ‘greed.’

  10. Hi there, I have to admit, while reading this post, I had to gasp.
    One, because you all seem to be so negative about western values, and, two, because your article does make a lot of sense.
    However, speaking from my point of view, you seem to generalize a lot.
    I don’t know what you mean by Western values. Are you talking about American values, or also European values? I don’t know to which countries you’ve travelled to, but there are huge differences, already between Northern-America and Europe. And between the countries.
    I don’t support these individual values either.
    But there’s where the survival of the fittest comes in.
    By ‘the fittest’, I mean the ones with lots of money.
    Most people have no choice, but making money. (In this certainly not only a western situation)
    Lots of people don’t receive help when they are broke and poor. (certainly not only a western situation either.)
    And I agree with Sanjay’s point. Capitalism and accumulation of wealth and material possessions will happen elsewhere too.
    And I don’t want to sound rude. I respect you as a person (why should I disrespect you anyway). But it seems as if you’re victimizing yourself, and that you’re seeking external attributions to explain your choices and behaviour. And of course, our choices are all affected by emotional, social, psychological and monetary circumstances. And we placed ourselves in a difficult position.
    But victimizing yourself is not going to help you, it will only make you more unhappy. You’re dreaming of a life with a nice husband, and lovely kids, and a more ‘normal’ life. But it seems that all this makes you unhappier.
    Think about it. Does the profession truly makes you unhappy, or does the way society perceives you, is making you unhappy, because you’re isolated, because you can’t fully love and be loved (because of your job), and because people won’t give you equal chances? If you could have all that, would you perceive your situation the same way?
    I know you won’t take peace with the situation you’re in, and the profession you practice, because you internalized the notion that prostitution isn’t a good thing.
    But eventually, I don’t see the point of giving the blame to the values of western society. We’re not going to be accepted, by any society soon (not to speak of religion).
    I’m finished speaking, now I’m really curious about a potential answer.

    • escortdiary

      @Aphrodite

      Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your views and your perspective. Hopefully I can provide some clarification:
      When I mentioned ‘western’ I am referring to ‘Western-Liberalism.’ By that, as I wrote in the post, I am referring to certain values that are both political, economic and social (such as political Liberalism, free-market enterprise, mass consumption, Modernity, and civil liberties). I understand how all those qualities can be very confusing to understand. These political, economic and social values are found both in the United States, the EU and are increasingly being projected in a global scale. If you are familiar with the global economic system and it’s origins, this would make more sense. Hope that helps.

      Choice is a very interesting topic among prostitution. I agree with you that we all do have this awareness of choice, yet choice is heavily influenced by the circumstances one faces. Not everyone has the same options. Other factors also influence how we make choices. In my current situation, I am aware of my choices and I do exercise agency. Yet when I was younger, and newer to sex work, my ‘choice’ was heavily marked by my circumstances at that moment. I am a bit confused by your writing in some parts, because your statement, “we place ourselves in a difficult position,” seems paradoxical to “our choices are all affected by emotional, social, psychological and monetary circumstances.”

      I do not see myself as a victim, nor have I stated that in my blog. However, I do see prostitutes as a marginalized persons. Yes, they are marginalized because they face (1) social stigma and (2) in many cases, they are criminalized. It doesn’t mean sex workers are ‘victims,’but they certainly face oppression in various ways due to stigma and criminalization. Both of those factors relate to social, political and economic ideals of ‘Western-Liberalism”

      You are right about feelings of unhappiness. I agree, it is not the sex work per say which is causing my sorrows, but rather the problem is due to how society perceives me. Since I am aware of this now, I can change how I absorb the stigma/condemnation. Yes, society doesn’t accept me, so therefore I can reject social norms and create my own. I can reject looking for ‘straight’ lines, such as marriage and monogamous love. While all that sounds lovely in theory, in reality is it still very difficult living a ‘deviant’ life on the margins of the norm. Gradually, however, I am trying to make the experience become more positive.

      Thanks again for sharing your insights sweetie:)

  11. Hi, thanks you for your reaction:
    I want to clarify my comment.
    “we place ourselves in a difficult position,” seems paradoxical to “our choices are all affected by emotional, social, psychological and monetary circumstances.”
    I don’t see these statements as paradoxal.
    One statement is a consequence of the other statement.
    We made a certain choice, and this choice was affected by emotional etc.. circumstances.
    I don’t think there is a little girl that dreams to become a prostitute.
    We all receive the massage that selling sex is a bad thing.
    Thus, the choice to become a prostitute must be an outcome of circumstances.
    In my comment I only talked about psychological circumstances.
    Money, greed, adventure are personal motives, inner circumstances in which personal gain outweighs external influences such as social stigma, exclusion, possible danger.
    But once we’ve made that choice, we place ourself in a difficult position.
    So (inner) circumstances →decision →placing ourself in difficult positions.

    Now, about my impression that you’re victimizing yourself.
    I admit it was quite blunt assumption, without me trying to nuance things.
    For that, my cultural backround and upbringing play an important role.
    I ‘blame’ my upbringing. I’m trained to see life outcomes as a result of internal attributions. My caregivers trained me to see mistakes and successes as purely something that comes from the person within.
    So, if you have a successful life, the life that you wanted, then it’s because of YOU, you worked for it, you went to college.
    But, if you don’t have the life you wanted, you are mostly seen as a total failure. Not only your behaviour, but YOU are a total failure too.
    Because you were too lazy to find a solution to get out of your miserable situation. And western-liberal society stigmatizes you as a lazy person, or even worse, a lazy victim.
    And unfortunately, this indoctrination intruded my mind, also.
    And it’s hard to ignore such way of thinking, and seeing things differently.
    I must admit most Western-liberal thinkers are not the most empathic people.
    We only show empathy if the person him/herself is contributing to our society, and therefore, is making money. (a generalization , but it’s true in most cases)
    That’s why I saw you as someonse victimizing herself, because you make more external attributions to choice and consequences, whereas I, make more internal attributions to choice and consequence.
    And that’s a typical western-liberal thought.

  12. Venus

    I’ve had similar thoughts, and I’ve the impression that at the same time that westerners are rejecting capitalism more and more, other cultures around the world are just discovering it and letting themselves bad seduced by it, at the cost of losing their identity, but alas no one learns but from their own mistakes

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