Wednesday, 11 February 2009

'Thai Girls' Versus Western Ones? - To Be a Bitter Man!


Bangkok dangerous? From left to right, a primary school teacher, a retired art teacher and an insurance salesperson. Are ‘Thai girls’ sweet and respectful or might an old guy like him get gobbled up? This blog asks for your views on a subject of eternal fascination.



For myself I just hate stereoptyping.

Although it’s interesting to ponder our differences, I hate it when somebody expects people to be a particular way just because they are elderly, Thai, disabled, Muslim, female or whatever. We are all individuals and do not fit any template. We should be free to find happiness as we wish and not have to satisfy the expectations of others.

In my books and blogs I’ve generally avoided pontificating about ‘Thai girls’ and what they’re like, except when making fun of the many strange cross-cultural relationships you see in Thailand. In my view Thai women are like any other group… they’re all different and have their own individual strengths and weaknesses.

Most of all I’ve avoided discussing the supposed differences between western and Thai women because I fear this can be a cesspit of stereotyping and superficiality.

I was thus amazed when a casual remark made by ‘Pauline’ in a Comment on this blog about environmental degradation on the resort island of Koh Chang brought a fire storm of angry abuse from a platoon of western men. On little evidence they called her a feminist bitch.

My blog article was called, “Thai Tourism? Shot in the Foot”, (24 December 2008) and it attracted no less than 36 Comments, far more than the modest response I usually get to my bland offerings. None of the Comments though was about the environment.

These Comments are well worth a read as they reveal a range of strong opinions that I’ve never before encountered. They seem written by some very bitter men, outraged by the advantages that feminist western women have put over them. Their answer is to avoid their own kind and to take a sweet, respectful Thai girl, the epitome of true femininity.

Pauline’s commented that it’s inevitable commercial interests will walk rough shod over the natural beauty of Koh Chang. Developers, like all human beings, simply do what they have the opportunity to do, just as western men, “go to Thailand to get sex partners, girlfriends and wives that they wouldn’t be able to dream of in their country of origin”.

I agree with her main point that the commercial imperative sweeps away all environmental considerations on the island but I hardly even noticed her throwaway aside about western men. The men didn’t like it though and they said exactly what they thought of her.

Pauline then posted a further Comment saying that western men can command much younger Asian wives as they are a privileged group in a much poorer country. Gender equality is an impossibility and men have opportunities in Thailand that are denied to her as an older woman.

The male commentators replied that American women are only out to extort money out of their men, that the feminist lobby has managed to skew the law in favor of women on divorce and if Pauline has found herself alone and without companionship then that’s her own fault for being what she is.

Your “whiney comments”, Pauline, are “truly hateful and racist motivated, coming fresh out of the mouth of a bitter, lonely, frustrated American feminist,” said the first commentator.

“American women only want one night stands and are the most sexist pigs to ever walk the earth.” They are “the most loathed women on the planet, mentally deranged,” “supported by a government funded ‘female supremacist’ movement”.

When Pauline again responded she was told, “Tough shit bitch – deal with it and enjoy your toys and your cats, you stupid bitch”, you “man hating, ball busting, intolerant, inflexible, rude Western bitch.” What man wouldn’t prefer, “a kind, pleasant, smart, sane, reasonable, not to mention cute Asian girl.” “An Asian woman respects her man” and is “supportive, respectable and sane.”

The extreme bitterness of these men against their own women surprised me and I’m doubtful too about the stereotyping of ‘Thai girls’. A sweet, doe eyed door mat, her one role is to please her man from kitchen to bedroom.

Is that so!

The Venus fly trap? The sirens on the rocks combing their long black tresses. Have western men never been gobbled up by ‘Thai girls’? Have they never been run onto the rocks?

Many are the shipwrecks and there are too many stories of the naïve male who comes to Thailand and falls for the first girl he meets in a bar. Soon she has her teeth into his wallet and that’s no surprise. What’s she working in a bar for anyway?

Utterly smitten, he goes back west and pines for his girl from afar. He loyally sends her regular money so she can stop work, but she goes back to the bar and collects more patrons. She’ll marry the one whose money makes the biggest bulge in his trousers and he’ll buy her a car and build a nice house on her family’s land. Then when most of his wealth has been handed over, she tells him to pack his bags.

I’ve even heard the story of a wife’s brothers who bundled the sorry guy into a taxi and told the driver to go as far south as possible. Yes, there are as many farang males who talk bitterly of their experiences with Thai women.

On the other hand dead men tell no tales.

An Australian woman who’d read the happy account of “My Thai Girl and I” wrote to me to say that she’d just been staying in Thailand with her son who has a Thai wife. Not one but two of his farang friends had just been murdered, she told me, apparently by family members in league with the wife. These are isolated tragedies one hopes, though the English language press in Pattaya is full of stories of farang men who mysteriously fall to their deaths from the balconies of their condominiums. He was drunk… it was an accident or suicide!

If therefore, bitter western men want to escape women who are after their money, Thailand may not necessarily be the most obvious choice. Why does a young and attractive woman accept an older man anyway? She wants someone to provide for herself and her family and what’s so wrong in that. It’s how the world always was until urbanization and contraception enabled women to play a more varied role in family life and become ‘emancipated’.

Those who seek a wife in a poorer country will thus surely find that money will play an even bigger part than it does back home. That just goes with the territory.

As for characterizing Thai women as a decorative fashion accessory, they are often powerful personalities in their own right with many strong qualities. And that is exactly why I like them and why my ‘Thai girl’ and I have made something of our unusual life together. Let’s face it, door mats are boring.

The male perception of western and Asian women, with its prejudices, distortions, insights and truths is thus a fascinating subject and discussion on this topic could run and run. A Pandora’s box perhaps.

Do you accept the usual stereotypes? As a male, do you look for love in a particular community? Can you explain the bitterness of the men who have so graphically expressed their views? And what do the women think?

I’d love to hear your views.

Do post a Comment below, be you Asian or western, male or female.

But please… keep it clean!

Andrew Hicks The ‘Thai Girl’ Blog February 2009

13 comments:

Texas Wanderer said...

Behind most stereotypes, like legends, lies a little bit of truth, but it is unfortunate that so many people out of hatred, jealousy, or plain racism lump everyone into the same categories.

Many western men do go to foreign countries because they want a beautiful, token wife. And some of the women will go with these men because they will do anything to "escape" the poverty they live in.

Yet, the majority I know, the western men simply want someone with more traditional marriage values, and that is hard to find here. And for the women, they are looking for older, more established men who can give them security. I don't think either owns an apology to anyone. If a western woman gets jealous, then she can modify her values. And for the ladies, there is nothing wrong with picking someone who will help provide for them. Picking losers might be considered the cool and independent thing to do for western women, but it doesn't mean it's smart. There's no shame in finding a good spouse. For some reason, many think there is.

On the other hand, being around other American-Asian couples, we get our fair share of people who stereotype, but think they are doing it in a positive way, but aren't. These are the men that join the groups and instantly begin ranting about ALL western women, etc.

What most of them fail to realize, is that the ones they are ranting to all have American mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, and so on. So even though their intentions are good by "pumping up" the Asian woman in their life, they are instead making everyone angry and being offensive.

My mother was married to my father for 54 years, until his death. She worked full time. She was in no way a gold digging westerner. My oldest daughter works two jobs while her boyfriend is out of work because of a hurt back, and she raises two kids. Anyone would be a fool not to love someone like that.

Simply lumping everyone together, or opening ones mouth before they know someone, is nothing more than a sign of insecurity, ignorance, or both.

Martyn said...

I think that as a western male money does at first talk rather loudly in a cross cultural relationship like the one you describe. Over the years any relationship of mixed or same cultures will bond or break dependant on the unknown walk of life. I do however believe that due to their inbred Buddhist values, the Thai lady will tend to be more loyal than the western girl the further the path is walked.

glenmh said...

Hi Andrew

This is an interesting debate and something that I was going to take a look at in my own blog in the near future.

The snag is that the stereotype is very broad: it ranges from the ex-pat such as yourself that has built a life and identity for you both, to the frankly distasteful late middle-aged fareng waving his "girlfriend" off on the school bus. In the middle there are the fareng who are looking for "more traditional values" or even a trophy doormat, and conversely there are the locals who are looking to exploit a lonely and comparatively rich foreigner. All of these scenarios are valid in Tokyo too!

Generally, people are bitter if they think they have been hard-done-by and, unfortunately, if someone (male or female) has been taken to the cleaners in a messy divorce, they are going to be a bit bitter about it. As Texaswanderer points out: they then shout about it from the rooftops, which unfortunately makes them a target for the less scrupulous abroad. The thing that these people don’t appreciate is that they may be poorer (even massively so) but they still have their health – which may not be the case if a relationship finishes out here! Making yourself more of a target in a foreign land is never a sensible idea. I wonder how many convictions there are for murdering fareng each year compared with the number of deaths – not many, I would wager! I am fairly certain the police here put them on the “all too difficult pile” as well.

What makes me sad is the need to resort to personal insult when commenting on someone’s blog – insult that seems wholly unnecessary. To be honest, it says rather more about the people throwing them: sad? Defensive? Low self-esteem? Immaturity, possibly? Yup to all of those! It also shows a distinct lack of cultural sensitivity both towards the originating culture and the one they are trying to live in.

What some people also fail to understand and you have pointed out, Andrew, is that the exploitation goes both ways….

Hope you and Cat are well!

Glen & Steph

Niel said...

An interesting point, this one! I mean the one about comparing the virtues of western and eastern women. And, I think a waste of time because you will find all types everywhere.
I, myself have been married to a Thai girl now for almost seven happy years, after being married to a western lady for 27! I am not going to say that my previous marriage was all hell and misery. Some of it was, some not. Blame falls on both parties, as it almost always does. I agree whole heartedly with comments made by “Texas Wonderer” about stereotyping Western women into greedy, blood sucking leeches, and Thai girls into adoring loyal showpieces. The simple truth is that you get both types in all countries of the world.
I am very sure that my case is not unique. I went to Thailand on business. I was very vulnerable at the time with my marriage being in an awful state, with no possible chance of salvaging. I met my new wife on this business trip and we got married two years later.
The question that needs answering is: Why did I marry a Thai girl, and not another Western woman? The answer is simple. I fell in love with this individual. She happens to be Thai. She could have been a British or American girl, but she was Thai. That’s it!
A lot have been said about the character of Thai (Eastern) women. The truth is that you get all types. Some are loyal and obedient with no will of there own. Some are fierce and strong with dominant traits. Some are in fact blood sucking leeches, seeking only to extract as much money from their victims as they can before moving on. I was lucky enough to find an individual who is well balanced. Whilst she respects me as a person and the things I do for her, she also have a will of her own. She have strong believes in her tradition, customs and religion which was taught to her by her very strict parents. I have to respect this, and I willingly do. By no means is she a slave of anybody, especially not me!
I also agree with the point made that there is nothing wrong with a person trying to find a spouse who is capable of taking care of you. There are thousands of women all over the world looking for a good marriage. This does not make them all bad. It just makes them human.
As for attacking the character and morals of people who is expressing an honest opinion and whom one has never met before, it is simply rude and uncalled for.

PLEASE be more tolerant!

(PS. Please excuse my use of the English language, it is not my mother tongue!)

Niel said...

An interesting point, this one! I mean the one about comparing the virtues of western and eastern women. And, I think a waste of time because you will find all types everywhere.
I, myself have been married to a Thai girl now for almost seven happy years, after being married to a western lady for 27! I am not going to say that my previous marriage was all hell and misery. Some of it was, some not. Blame falls on both parties, as it almost always does. I agree whole heartedly with comments made by “Texas Wonderer” about stereotyping Western women into greedy, blood sucking leeches, and Thai girls into adoring loyal showpieces. The simple truth is that you get both types in all countries of the world.
I am very sure that my case is not unique. I went to Thailand on business. I was very vulnerable at the time with my marriage being in an awful state, with no possible chance of salvaging. I met my new wife on this business trip and we got married two years later.
The question that needs answering is: Why did I marry a Thai girl, and not another Western woman? The answer is simple. I fell in love with this individual. She happens to be Thai. She could have been a British or American girl, but she was Thai. That’s it!
A lot have been said about the character of Thai (Eastern) women. The truth is that you get all types. Some are loyal and obedient with no will of there own. Some are fierce and strong with dominant traits. Some are in fact blood sucking leeches, seeking only to extract as much money from their victims as they can before moving on. I was lucky enough to find an individual who is well balanced. Whilst she respects me as a person and the things I do for her, she also have a will of her own. She have strong believes in her tradition, customs and religion which was taught to her by her very strict parents. I have to respect this, and I willingly do. By no means is she a slave of anybody, especially not me!
I also agree with the point made that there is nothing wrong with a person trying to find a spouse who is capable of taking care of you. There are thousands of women all over the world looking for a good marriage. This does not make them all bad. It just makes them human.
As for attacking the character and morals of people who is expressing an honest opinion and whom one has never met before, it is simply rude and uncalled for.

PLEASE be more tolerant!

(PS. Please excuse my use of the English language, it is not my mother tongue!)

Catherine said...

There are a large number of bitter men in Thailand posting on forums and blogs.

And while I don't have much sympathy for the nasty ones, I do feel for those in pain from being treated miserably.

But as mentioned, women all over the world treat men badly. Not just Western women.

And men all over the world treat women badly. Not just Western men.

No one has a monopoly on this type of behaviour but for some reason, some Western men tend to walk about with blinders on.

Curious. And I don't have any answers as to why.

But the subject keeps rolling around and around and keeps on going. A truly perpetual situation.

Anonymous said...

How Terrible to see farang or white guys just to come to Thailand and only go to PATAYA or nightclub, pub and thought that all Thai Girl are all the same .. SO Gross!!

Anonymous said...

like Cathrine said , everybody is different.....but i belive in the wedding vows......for richer or for poorer...for better or for worse....in sickness or in health..
this is what makes a marrage

Anonymous said...

No young western women will mary old retirement western men! Only in Thailand esp. Pattaya gals from isann!!

Bluebird said...

I've spent a great deal of my life observing farang men and how they interact with thai women, and its ironic that they whine about having been taken advantage of when their 24 year old wife divorces them... basing a marriage on 3 weeks acquaintance doesn't mean you've found your soul mate. Especially when you've language, cultural and often decades worth of age difference! By marrying somebody old enough to be your daughter/ granddaughter you are not sharing your life with an equal, and your expectations of happily ever after are ridiculous. You are marrying a pretty young thing to share your bed and look after you in your old age, expecting no malice behind her pretty smile or soft tone, even though more often than not she has some colourful nicknames for you behind your back is ignorant. A caged bird may sing but she doesn't necessarily like her gilded cage. And coming from a family of extremely strong minded thai women you have to wonder how blind some men choose to be. These relationships are an exchange-financial security for companionship for those who are either unattractive to women of their own age/culture or cannot deal with the 'feminism rife in western culture'. Cultural and sexual revolutions aren't new, and you were likely born during or after it! As long as both parties are honest and don't misrepresent themselves ("i'm filthy rich and can provide for you" or "i dont have any kids and am in fact a virgin.")
The girls are not whores either but women forced by circumstance to bartar whats left of themselves after the damage caused by a variety of circumstances. Something women (and men)have been doing since the beginning of time.
And for those who will call me a western feminist keep in mind I was born in bangkok and raised partly in UK, spending summers in thailand with my english stepfather and watching as well as fending off the 'lovely' advances of western men. It's shocking what men say to one another and to you when they don't know you probably have a better grasp of the english language than they do! The cold hard truth is thai women are diverse, complicated and survivalists, especially those you meet in bars. But that doesn't mean all thai women are fair game, approaching a young girl on a sunny street in thailand with lewd and inappropriate advances isn't anymore acceptable than it would be in your own country. And assuming all thai girls are for sale no matter which continent they reside is likely to get you kicked where it hurts.
Don't get me wrong i'm hardly denying our "exotic" appeal but the way men treat thai women in thailand resonates and affects us living abroad. We are not an exotic fruit to be tasted, a fetish, nor the docile mouse who'll be your whore, nursemaid & housekeeper. How can you possibly expect us to respect you until you offer the same courtesy?

Thai Girl said...

A great post, Bluebird and as a life-long practicing femnist myself (though a man), there's loads of insights in it and nothing I take exception to.

I talked in the blog about men who are stupid enough to expect their 'Thai girl' to be a sweet doe-eyed door mat. You take it one better when you say he's looking for 'a docile mouse who'll be your whore,nursemaid and housekeeper'. Nicely put!

Do you discount all of these strange cross-cultural liasons though, Bluebird? Can an older farang and his Thai bride who just wants a secure provider never be happy together?

(I'd love you to read, 'My Thai Girl and I'!! It might suggest some answers.)

In my novel, 'Thai Girl', the characters talk about the way the reputation of Thai women has been sullied and how the assumption has arisen as you put it, 'that all Thai girls are for sale'. This does huge damage to the dignity of genuine cross-cultural relationships and of Thai womanhood in general, not to mention giving offence to such as you who receive improper attention from western men.

The question I now ask myself and you, is how has this situation arisen?

Are Thai women in part to blame? Are Thai men to blame? Is it because of the traditional low status of women who thus have had to to barter their sex for security Is it Thai governments that have connived at lucrative sex tourism?

So many questions need answers and Comments on this blog!

Bluebird said...

I think it's possible for any marriage to last, but I have to say I know of very few successful loving thai/western marriages, and this is most likely because it started off on an inequal footing. But you never know where love may rear it's head! The thing is it's not just looked down upon by other westerners but also other thai people. For example my family would probably kidnap my cousins if they ever even considered being a bar girl...it's not what "southern girls" do?!
As a young woman straddling both cultures it can be irritating when people assume my white boyfriend bought me. Also men who have done the pattaya/ chaing mai tour come back home and are still thinking with their "little heads", and do get surprisingly offended/ offensive that a thai girl doesn't want their attentions as if this is unfathomable.
The women are supplying the demand, so I blame the men centuries ago who came east and left with stories of the exotic women to be had. And the ones now who see it as a way to often avoid looking within themselves and asking "why do women of my own age reject me?" Afterall a trophy wife just makes older men seem pathetic cradle robbers and the women seem like gold diggers. Nobody wins in this scenario...

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