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The Bad Girls Dictionary

(Following are excerpts from a review of the book published on May 14, 2008 in the Bangkok Post)
To paint a clearer picture of the radical dictionary, let's take a look at a couple words.

“Prostitute, n. Prefer sex worker”. The name others call our profession. Politicians blaming each other for corruption and vote selling also use it, enhancing its negative association. In Thailand, the abbreviation "P" is commonly used to refer to women who have regular STD checks, and researchers use it in statistical analysis. When we hear prostitute or "P" it has the negative connotation of something underground and subversive.

“Fat, adj. Fat old men”. Many fat old men are very respectful, kind, entertaining, generous and polite customers. We're not prejudiced.

“Bush Policy, exp”. During 2003, after his policy failed to make any impact on the global problems of drugs, arms and terrorism, George W. Bush had a new idea. He mistakenly deduced that migrant sex workers were moved by the same channels that drugs, guns and Osama were. Therefore he used us as a scapegoat in unrelated issues.

Along with its colorful entries, the book also includes a sassy 20-FAQ section which is highly recommended for anyone interested in the sex industry. It includes questions such as, "If a customer offers to pay more money, will women agree not to use condom?"

And the given answer, "If you ask this, we understand you believe we are stupid and greedy women who will do anything for money even risk our lives. Would a paratrooper not use a parachute if offered more money?"

The Bad Girls Dictionary encompasses words that possess political, social, cultural, historical and educational aspects that directly and indirectly relate to the sex-worker industry. The entries were gathered from sex workers around the country. The dictionary aims to create understanding between two different two culturally divided groups - sex workers and non-sex workers.

"Our dictionary might be viewed as a 'peasant' text because traditionally only high class people have produced such reference material. Instead, this one is made for and by people who are regarded to be at the bottom of society. We think of it as an anthropological study," said Chumpon.

The Bad Girls Dictionary is also an opportunity for sex industry workers to tell their story, in their own words. "The right to define, create and adapt words and languages is often seen as the right of academics alone. They invent a term and push its acceptance, even though the very people it refers to wouldn't acknowledge or identify with the term in any way. [As sex workers] we have our own understanding of the vibrant living language we use in our daily lives," reads the dictionary's introduction.

The book project started two years ago, and involved much communication between the writers and the sex worker communities around the country. It sparked many dialogues and called for lengthy debates over which words should be included.

The Bad Girls Dictionary offers both Thai and English translations, but they are not literal versions of one another. Both language entries were derived independently, thus avoiding the trappings of direct translation, the writers said.

The creators have confessed to enjoying nothing more than adjusting people's attitudes towards sex workers, and they hope to establish a platform to develop a greater diversity of opinion through the education of society about the industry.

Full article is available on http://www.empowerfoundation.org/detaildic.html and  http://www.bangkokpost.com/Outlook/14May2008_out001.php