Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thai Girls Trashed!

......... My novel, THAI GIRL, is a story of how English student, Ben, goes backpacking in Thailand with Emma, his girlfriend from university. There are tensions between them and Emma dumps Ben on the tiny island of Koh Samet, their ultimate tropical paradise. Ben then falls for Fon, an enigmatic but flirtatious beach masseuse who refuses his advances but slowly is drawn in................ I have received many emails from readers alternatively saying that Emma or Ben are insufferable and that Thai women or western women are money grubbing and awful. Some of these comments are posted on the Readers Forum on www.thaigirl2004.com and I find them fascinating because different readers react so differently to the book and its characters. ................... I have just recieved another message from a reader which is particularly interesting because she has spent a considerable time in SE Asia as an NGO volunteer. Her uncompromising views thus cannot be dismissed lightly as being from someone who is ignorant or not well-disposed to Thailand............ Her unexpurgated comments now follow............ I just read your book, THAI GIRL, which I found in an op shop in Australia. I've spent the past 5 years going to and through Thailand so was curious to see how it was written about.....well the scenery and setting certainly rang true, also the sense of discombobulation that first time travellers experience. But as a female I found the female characters to be absolutely awful. I know you were trying to create a sense of empathy with the Thais but did you have to make Emma such a horror? And frankly, having seen first-hand the grasping greed of many Thai girls and the terrible consequences of their overwhelming desire for money on naive Western men, I couldn't see anything in the female Thai characters that would cause any guy to 'fall in love'............. I don't pretend to have an understanding of men, but who would fall for the sob stories and rapaciousness of child-like women who see sex as a monetary transaction? I've sworn, after spending the past couple of years working in SE Asia, to never return to Thailand again. A big part of this decision is due to the constant demands for money, even from supposed 'friends' and even while already volunteering all my time to NGO work. I really fail to see how any self-respecting man could find any happiness when their entire personal value is monetary and not based on intelligence, kindness, humour; all of those necessary attributes to fulfilling relationships................... Are men really so shallow?........... Helen................................................................................ Wow say I! There are loads of issues there for comment, but just a brief defence of my female characters from me.......................... Wasn't Emma entitled to her post-university depression, especially in the face of Ben's overwhelming personality! She then had the courage to dump him and to go off and enjoy Thailand without him. And as for Fon, the 'Thai girl' of the title, she pushed Ben away and never asked him for anything. Surely she breaks the stereotype that Helen asserts?.......................... So what's your view? Are Thai women so rapacious and western men so shallow? Do please post a Comment.............................. PS If you'd like to read a case study, non-fiction this time, you could try my later book, MY THAI GIRL AND I.............

14 comments:

StefanMuc said...

Yeah, I didn't get a bad impression of Emma from your book. Certainly it wasn't an Emma/Ben love story, she is a minor character - their relationship ending is just the setup for Ben falling in love with Fon.

I suppose for a Western woman reading the book Emma is the the natural character to identify with, and basically in the narrative she is not important. If you combine that with a bad experience in Thailand, it's not surprising that it will not be a "feel good" book for her.

I wish Helen would have refrained from making that disgusting racist comment regarding Asian women being "child-like". Obviously they are not, attraction to Asian women is neither a perversion nor a disease. Rejection isn't easy to handle for anyone, but it shouldn't lead to statements like that.

Anonymous said...

Just celebrated our 10th anniversary, my Thai wife and I! A more intelligent, kind and loving person would be hard to find and I dare say that she would need a finely tuned sense of humour to be able to put up with me for that long! No Helen, I'm not that shallow!

Thai Girl said...

And my 'Thai girl' and I are also just about to celebrate our ten years together. Though we are totally different to each other and have brought different things to the marriage, what we have both given the other has been a totally new life. It's all in the book about us, MY THAI GIRL AND I!

In a funny way if you become enamoured of Thailand, once you marry a Thai, it becomes your country. You are no longer an outsider and you become part of a family. You've married a dream.

How to explain Helen's antipathy though? How can she fail to love the beach masseuse, Fon the 'Thai girl' of my novel? Men who read the book find her bewitching, maybe because they've been to Thailand and have fallen for her once before. Or even twice!

Andrew

Anonymous said...

@ StefanMuc Appreciate you also found Emma a horror....However I fail to see how 'child-like' is at all racist as a description when we're talking about a book which calls a grown woman a girl. If I were to behave in the manner I've seen many Thai women behave, my own behaviour would be described as childlike also; sulking, tantrums, floods of tears when the phone isn't answered etc etc. I've heard some horror stories of older European/Thai couples where the man has been punched out for being with a 'young girl' only for the assailant to realise the 'girl' was in fact the man's middle-aged wife. Seems 'child-like' is perhaps an apt description for many besides myself (-:

I fail also to understand where any rejection comes into things? Are you presuming I've lost the love of my life to a Thai woman? Not at all!!

@ Anonymous, happy for you; it is heartwarming to know that there are some genuine relationships besides the obvious sex trade.

My point was the characters in the book were involved in a clearly shallow relationship and neither myself nor other female friends quite understand this appeal. But we're not men!

Cheers, Helen

codeazure said...

I am married to a Thai woman as well, who has never caused any problem regarding money. In fact, she's far better at managing money than any Western woman I've gone out with. She keeps helping me save more :-)

Reading Helen's extremely emotional response to the book, you have to see it as all about her. Something in her past in Thailand has deeply upset her, so she just reacts to your book because of what it triggers. In other words, don't take it personally, it's not about your book. That's my pop-psych interpretation anyway.

There can also be a bad reaction to stories like this from some feminists. They don't like to be reminded that Western men enjoy being married to gentle, playful, feminine women ;-)

Her description of Thai women sounds like she was dealing with very poor people, likely given her job. The need to get out of poverty can make some people dishonest & greedy (in any country). Her comments do not sound like any Thai women I know from a typical middle class background.

Reading her comments again, it even sounds like she is talking about bar girls, because that sort of behaviour is just not that common, even with poor people. Maybe there was something about her job that put her in a place where she witnessed that side of Thailand. As we know, the vast majority of Thai women are very different to stereotypical bar girls, completely opposite in fact.

And finally, we have to consider the possibility that your book describes her life, or at least a situation similar to something that happened to her. I agree with StefanMuc that the "child like" comment was pretty nasty. But Helen's post is entirely an emotional outburst & that emotion has come from somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I think we're all thinking the same thing here,Helen spent 5,years walking around South-East Asia with her eyes closed!Many Farang women in Thailand and South-East Asia grow very bitter because they basically become invisible to the opposite sex as soon as they step off the plane!
Even the Lonely Planet on Thailand warns about this peculiar sub-species in the opening pages,saying the Thais call them 'Golden Bowl'!I've lived in South-East Asia for 4 years now and it is true that it's not all that easy to find a good Thai girl but once you do she it most certainly a keeper.A real Thai girl will NOT accept money from you and will be openly offended if you quote the old 'No Money,No Honey' line!
For me the inbuilt sense of humour does it as I'm always smiling myself,try poking a bit of fun at a Farang woman and you're instantly labelled a sexist/misogynist,they just take themselves too seriously and most just want a dog,not an equal partner.
Most Western women hate Thailand because they know they just cannot compete with the Thai girls,who can?The fact that they are married to good men the world over tells you all you really need to know,I will NEVER waste my time with a Farang woman again.
Asian girls are the most beautiful and feminine in the world,it's all just jealousy from Helen and nothing else!

Anonymous said...

4 years on with my TG, and I sometimes similar reactions from jealous Falang women. I know what the attraction is and I have Aussie daughters who also understand it. They have never seen me happier.

Falang women have fought hard for all thier rights & its all about them. So well done farang women. You have want you wanted so why bag out TGs :)

Greg L said...

I am 2 years late for commenting here but found the writings interesting. After months of emails, phone calls, Skype, and spending one month with a middle class MBA women in Thailand, the child-like behavior is there, and to some extent in middle class thai women. But don't confuse child like with their culture and upbringing.
I think its 2 parts, (1) Thai women think this is what western men want, (2) and its part of there culture to be jovial, playful, and happy.
I found many thai women to have 2 voices, one higher and the other lower - its funny.
And as for comments of money, as another person said, women anywhere will be pulled to security given their age, financial situation, and family needs (kids, Mom).
Good to read - thx, Greg

Greg L said...
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Greg L said...
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Thai Girl said...

Sadly I seem to be locked out of my own blog. This is an experiment to see if I can get back in.

Mike said...

It seems that you're locked out and Greg is locked in.
Just passing through - loved your book "My Thai Girl and I". Wondering how things are working out for you now.
My Thai wife and I are retiring to land in Petchabun next year after 10 years (for her) in Canada.
So grateful to have her in my life - a more honest and open woman I could not hope to meet.
Any more books of your life in Thailand in the pipeline?

Cheers - Mike and Tuk

Thai Girl said...

Thanks Mike for your comment. We are in UK at the moment but I do wish you the very best for your time in Thailand. It is pretty special.

So I seem to be back in my blog again and my latest post tells what I've been up to in the way of writing books. And incidentally the deleted posts are Greg's multiple postings of identical comments. No doubt he finds Blogger as frustrating as I do!