reactions iv

authentic

Tired of “authentic” as the new buzzword. It’s either being used by completely inauthentic people, or it’s being used in a such a way that renders any true authenticity meaningless. I’m following one blog where the writer has decided to “be authentic” and if I have to read another one of his vague and presumably powerful posts about something supposedly authentic in his life, I’m going to scream and unsubscribe (and I’ve read his blog for years).

As for escorts — find a new word. Though at least authentic is better than zest. Don’t get me started on that escort trend-word. (I would love to write an escort ad that includes the line “I’m authentic, as well as genuine and real.”)

“authentic” as a “lifestyle”

This is even more irritating, as supposedly there is only one way to live authentically: eat certain foods, wear certain clothes, believe certain things, practice yoga and/or trail running, and yammer on about how it’s all changed your life on every social media platform you can find. Ideally, you’ll also sell ebooks about how everyone else can live just like you, especially if your readers are white and/or male. (Taking it further are those who have sold all their possessions and live out of a suitcase. I’ve found it’s an overrated way to live.)

The authentic trend bugs me because I do not think the word means what they think it means. It’s a good word, getting used into meaningless dust. Can’t everyone go back to using zest in an irritating way?

old-timey hookers

Some portraits of sex workers in New Orleans about 100 years ago. They look great, even stylish. Dogs seemed to be the thing then, instead of cats.

But the real question is, are these women authentic? Without being able to read their blogs, follow their Tweets and judge their lifestyle it’s hard to know for sure.

lost things

If anyone can help on these two issues…

Someone gave me a Malay phrase for prostitutes that translates to “chickens without shoes” which I think is adorable. However, I’ve lost the notes where I had written down the actual phrase in Malay. Google Translator isn’t doing it for this.

More than a decade ago I stumbled across a stunning photo book. I should have bought it that very moment, but was arguing with my then-boyfriend and didn’t. It was a book of photos taken by a bar photographer of bar girls and their clients in a Texas-Mexico border town. I don’t remember if it was Juarez, Acuna, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo or Matamoros. The photos were developed each night by the photographer, who would then try to sell them as souvenirs to the men. The photographer died and their relatives found the boxes of negatives and made the book. I’ve been looking for this book ever since and have not had any luck. I’d very much like to find it again.

(I think it was an authentic look at prostitution in that town, but again, without knowing anything about these people’s real lifestyles and publicly-stated belief in authenticity, how can I really be sure?)

authentic Singapore

I have a love/hate relationship with Singapore. Despite the hate part of it, I’d go back there in a second if the housing was more affordable. I still miss it. In many ways, it was a good fit for me. I like the safety aspect of it (as a female sex worker, safety is a good thing). I like the mix of manicured nature and modern urban, juxtaposed with the crumbling Asian past. In other words, I really did like to hang out where the locals did, even though I generally wasn’t welcome. Plus, the safe and thriving adult industry was terrific. It was like living in a brothel-city. Singapore might not like that aspect of itself but I think the mostly-benign treatment of sex workers to be a very positive character statement for Singapore.

But not everyone likes Singapore even a little bit. Western guys who go there and aren’t into hookers find it boring. This blog post points to some of the problems in the very-regimented life of the average white-collar Singaporean. I don’t disagree with him, I saw those things too. I also saw a massive amount of comic fail in educated Singaporeans attempting even basic things (I heard these stories through Western men who worked with Singaporeans).

But he missed that Singapore does indeed have art and artists, both modern and traditional. They take it seriously (perhaps too seriously), but Singaporeans are human too and some find a way to express themselves no matter what. I found that Singapore enjoyed pointing to its art and culture whenever it could. Not to mention this is a city that has tons of bookstores, including the Disneyland of bookstores that is Kinokunya (I say the name with reverence). It also boasts a number of camera shops that still sell film. The desire for self-expression lurks just under the surface, it is not pounded out of the people, not by any stretch.

Every single Singaporean considers themselves to be foodies and food blogs abound. On the whole, no, it’s not an overly-imaginative culture. Some of that is simply modern Asian culture and some of it is unique to Singapore. I never felt this lack of imagination made it an awful place, never to return. Then again, I lived on the fringes and have a vastly different perspective than the average white-collar Western man.

However, Singapore gets a lot right and if you have outside interests, it’s a very pleasant place to call home. Yeah, I know. I’ve bashed Singapore pretty hard on here sometimes. Time and distance have served their purpose and given a new perspective. Though I’ve no doubt if I went there tomorrow and lived there again, I’d run into the same frustrations and annoyances as the first time around. But at least the MRT lines will have expanded and they’re supposed to have added more trains. There is that.

But as to the burning question of Singapore’s authenticity, I think the average Singaporean would feel they’re authentic (especially when defending their favorite noodle stand), but the Singaporean idea of authentic and the US idea probably diverge on a few key points. The average Western tourist doesn’t think Singapore is authentic at all. A population that doesn’t bother to sugarcoat its racism or sexism is pretty damn authentic, IMO. You know, authentic in the actual meaning of the word.

i’m being sarcastic

In case you can’t tell, all my “authentic” remarks on here are mostly sarcasm, including the URL for this post. I bet it will rank really high in Google, though.

17 thoughts on “reactions iv

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  2. Jim

    This post has several outstanding features. It’s real, and it’s genuine. The reader deserves a relaxing haven from the stress of his daily life, and this post provides it. Most of all, though, this post is notable for its authenticity. In fact, its authenticity is itself achieved in an unmistakably authentic way, thus creating a Recursive Cycle of Authenticity that may be traced through as many cycles as necessary. As long as the tracing is done authentically, that is. I intended to write a truly authentic comment; but, since I am rather overawed by the multilayered structure of authenticity inherhent in Amanda’s post, I believe I’ll settle for making my comment merely zesty.

    For your possible amusement: in the area where I live, there is a local chain of thoroughly-North American “Mexican” restaurants called Bandido’s. Their management at least displays a self-deprecating sense of humor through their chain’s motto: “Better than authentic!”

    Finally, another woman’s thoughts on authenticity.

  3. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Jim — Ha! Thank you for the comment. Very well done. Enjoyed the laugh.

    Better than authentic…wonder just how they manage that.

    I like Julie’s idea on authenticity, but I also have authentic good moods too. Authentic doesn’t always mean cranky for me. Fortunately.

  4. Lee

    Hi Amanda, I hope you are well. I heard someone hocking this website the other day, looked at it, and thought you might find it amusing. It sure struck me as an escort service by any other name, but also as an example of the double standard of how sex workers are looked at and treated. I’m sure these people would scream if somebody called them what they are.

  5. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Lee — Wow! I’m very surprised these athletes are so cheap! Great site to have found, I’m bookmarking it.

    To be fair, they give no hint of sex and seem more like famous entertainers for hire. Still, it’s certainly companionship; money for time. I have to wonder if they’re really good people-persons or not. So many athletes have such huge egos that I can’t imagine they make great companions. I have to wonder if they get a lot of emails like escorts do (the time wasters, the semi-stalkers, the fall-in-love-without-meeting type).

    I didn’t notice any female athletes listed. Is that sexism or fear of being tarred by the prostitution brush? (If there are female athletes listed, nevermind.)

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  8. Lee

    Amanda – Yes, there were female athletes (basketball, figure skating, volleyball, etc.), and there were also male and female broadcasters and other TV media types.

    Happy New Year!

    Lee

  9. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Lee — Okay, so I missed them. It’s good — equal-opportunity paid companionship! Perhaps the people represented on the site think of getting paid to be company for dinner as some sort of corporate thing and don’t even realize it’s traditional escorting.

    Happy New Year!

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