Stickman Readers' Submissions December 22nd, 2005

Thai Daughters And Freedom

By A Decent Thai Girl

"The “Thai” in Thailand stands for free. Land of the free. In some ways there is a lot of freedom in Thailand, but if you are a woman born into a family like any of the above, freedom is the last thing you have." Stickman Weekly – 11/12/2005

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As a Thai girl I find this statement very touching. I come from a family like those mentioned by Stickman, and yes, freedom is the last thing I had when I lived with my parents in Thailand. It is freedom that makes me enjoy living in Farangland so much. My boyfriend asked me once whether I preferred to live in Farangland or Thailand. I told him I would prefer living in Thailand without my parents. If I have to live with my parents again after I finish my Farang Master's Degree, I would rather live with my boyfriend in his home country. Why? Do I think Farangs are god? Do I think Farangland is better than Thailand? Or am I crazy about handsome Farang guys?

The answer to the above questions is no. The quality of life in the West is obviously better than that in the developing countries like Thailand. It is very comfortable to live here. People do not need to buy cars, because the mass transit system is close to perfect. People here are usually surprised, when I tell them I needed about 2 hours with the bus to get home from my university in Bangkok. Nowadays, Asian food and spices can be easily bought from the local supermarkets or Asian shops. In the town that I live, there are 3 Asian shops which sell a wide variety of Thai stuffs from Isaan fermented fish (Pla ra) to tamarind candies. The price is quite reasonable compared to the cost of living in this country. However, a coin has two sides. The unemployment rate is high, and various companies have to lay-off their employees due to the present economic situation. Many people struggle in order to survive; they have to save money, although there is no money to be left to save. As an average Thai with an average intelligence, it is hard to imagine, which job I should do here, if I want to stay in this country with my boyfriend after graduation. In order to get a good position with a satisfying salary here, you need to be as young as possible, have a very good grade in the university with at least a Master's Degree but a Ph.D. is preferred, and if possible 10 years experience in your field of work. I mean, I do not want to work here as a waitress in a Thai restaurant for the rest of my life, but I am just an average intelligent person, and due to my wrong decision to pursue the studies in a wrong subject, I doubt it if I can get a job in my field here at all, probably not. Unfortunately, I am not in America, the land of opportunities.

On the other hand, I really enjoy my freedom here. I can go wherever I want, and I can do whatever I want as long as it is not against the law or hurts other people. I do not have to worry that I will get home late at night, because here no one cares. I have time to stay alone, which I enjoy, because I do not like to be in a group of people and talk about nonsense women’s stuff. I do not have to do what the parents say. I am quite a rebellious girl. When I was a child, I often had a problem with my parents. Although they were both educated in Farangland, their attitudes are not much different from those who live in Thailand all their lives. The patriarchal atmosphere in the family was sometimes unbearable for me. I had to shut up and act as though I obeyed my dad. My mom usually demands me to do what she mentions. She decided what I should study, she decided how I should arrange my room, and she came in my room when I needed my time alone. It offended her when I said no, because she said, "Why? I am YOUR MOTHER." I like writing, and I am glad I can express my thoughts in three languages. If you want to be a good writer, you have to read much. That is why I enjoy reading, as long as it is not Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's Hamlet or Goethe's Faust. My mother said writing is nonsense and decided that I should study Science, although I always got A or B in English in my high school and often had the highest test score in the class in this subject. After finishing a B.Sc., I began my Master's Degree in the same field in Farangland, just because I wanted to be a good daughter and to meet the expectations of my parents. Now I am struggling with that decision. It is too late now to change field. I have to bite my teeth and go through it, and I may study for another Degree in the field that I like later. No one is too old to learn. My mother thinks it is easier in Thailand to find a job in my present field of study. Now she has a plan for my future that I should go back to Thailand after finishing my Master’s, work there for a few years, and apply for a Thai scholarship to further my studies again in Farangland. She cannot imagine me being a columnist or a writer. But I am fed up with my field of studies. However, I do thank my parents that they give me a valuable opportunity to study abroad; at least I have found what I really want to do while I am staying abroad alone, without influences from the parents.

Fortunately, my parents are not against Western guys. However, they do have some criteria about their future son-in-law. My dad only requires that he must be a good guy with a high education. My mom said the same thing, and told me, "See? Some ex-bargirls can find a husband who is an engineer. So, if you want to have a Farang boyfriend, he must be highly educated.". Oh…thank god that my present boyfriend meets this criteria. My parents do not mention that my boyfriend or future husband must be rich. Surprised, huh? I feel deeply sorry for Farang guys who have to pay a ridiculous sum of money for the dowry, especially if the girls are an ex-prostitute. I am against the dowry system. I mean, the amount of the dowry does not guarantee that you will have a blissful marriage. However, that would be for another submission at another time. Open your eyes, if your sweetheart tries to milk as much money as possible from you. You are neither a cow nor an ATM. Try to support her in the way that she can work (not in a bar) and earn money by herself. Do not let her choose the lazy way by giving her money. Good girls have to have pride in themselves and should not easily accept money from you.

Most of my friends in Thailand do not have much freedom either. Most of them are still single and have at least a Master's Degree. Although they are good-looking, fluent in English, have a respectable job, and some are even educated abroad. They have to calculate the possibilities that their parents will accept a guy, if they are going to introduce him to their parents as their boyfriend. These girls are almost thirty! A close friend of mine, who possesses the qualities I mentioned, has never had a boyfriend in her life. Now she devotes herself to work and does not care much if she will not get married. When we were teenagers, she had to arrive home before six pm. If she got home late, her parents would be angry at her. We were not supposed to have a relationship with a guy during our teens and in our early twentys, because the parents thought, "First study, then relationship". Now Thai society has been gradually changed. Parents are more open about this issue, but most of them still want their kids to pay attention in school instead of fancying a guy.

Who knows what I will do in the future or whether I will end up doing what my parents tell me to do, hopefully not. *rebellious* I am the one who lives my life. Buddha bless me…

Stickman's thoughts:

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Oh my God, I think I am in love! Your boyfriend is a VERY lucky guy.

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