Being Thai and the Burden of Presumption
Re: Submission to Stickman by reader Solomon, Feb. 21, 2010: Thailand’s Reputation and How it Affects Me and My relationship: Solomon worries, I think with justification, about how he and his potential new Thai "wife" will be received
in the west.
I specifically don’t care what my friends, co-workers or acquaintances think about my activities in Southeast Asia, or anything else, for that matter. It comes with being over 50. If you’re not, then you won’t get it. Here’s a hint: it’s particularly liberating. Put another way, I simply don’t give a damn.
They know I spend a lot of time in Thailand, which has a worldwide reputation for sexy ladies and abundant opportunity to interact with same. I’m not ashamed or proud of my activities. It just is. To be honest, however, I’m pretty tired of that type of activity (but that’s another story).
But here’s a related one. I recently got it in my head to keep an eye out for a good candidate for a girlfriend. It’s funny it didn’t happen to me during the six or seven trips to Thailand so far. But I was keeping my distance. I didn’t want a girlfriend that I had to leave behind after three or four or five weeks and go back to Farangland. I don’t want to long for her company. I don’t want to send money back. I don’t want empty phone calls. What’s the point of any of this if you can’t be with her, assuming she’s worth it. I knew I’d always be going back home so I kept my interests short-term. Or short-time, if you like.
I am not comfortable with my new direction though. Reader Solomon’s words have pretty much sized me up. As much as I do not like to admit it — notwithstanding the above bravado about not giving a damn — I do care what people would think of me in the west, and might say out of earshot, should I girlfriend (new verb, cf. “to medal” as in Olympics) or marry a Thai girl.
You of generous spirit might reply, “well, why can’t people wait to judge her after they meet her?” Works for me . . . If she’s intelligent, classy, thoughtful, beautiful, tastefully dressed, self-financed, etc. etc., then upon meeting her, people will accept her for what she is, namely, a human being consisting of all of the above characteristics and not at all a Thai of the Thailand with “a worldwide reputation for sexy ladies and abundant opportunity to interact with same.” Let’s put it into bar talk: not at all a whore.
I think, however, that people just won’t give up the assumption, even if proven wrong, that Thailand’s entire population of females are prostitutes. The knowledge that these prejudices are wrong does not comfort me. These are the sorts of people who gossip endlessly, love their smutty soap operas or bruising TV wrestling; prefer the negative to the positive, prefer their opinions to the truth, prefer to focus on the toilet that doesn’t work, the car that breaks down, the child that behaves badly. They’re not happy if someone else is happy. They also will never understand there’s no in-between world, one where there’s no difference between whoring to make a living, and making a living (but I digress . . .).
These people in the foregoing paragraph are most people. People who only offer an opinion based on the flimsiest information will think such things as, most Thai females have been prostitutes.
For contrast, Solomon offers he’d feel much better if his current girlfriend were Singaporean, Malaysian or “even” Vietnamese. That really struck home (not the “even” part, which I don’t get . . .). To be honest, I would too, if I were in the same situation. I can imagine myself bringing home a wife from Laos, a country of crushing poverty and hard done by by numerous warring nations. This scenario would be far more acceptable to those back home because I would be seen to be giving a Lao lady a big step up in life without any of the wreathes of negative assumptions that would burden a Thai lady. In fact, there would be almost no stigma.
Or I could just live in Thailand and never go back home!
I don’t share Solomon’s complications because I’m about to be retired and will move to Thailand — for a while anyway, although Laos is looking more desirable. But I can see how he feels since he’s going to have to live in the west with his problems should he marry the lady. I can sit here completely divorced from the emotions of his predicament and say, Maybe by writing his piece he has answered some his own questions. Chai mai?
I can imagine that it could be a real burden in some parts of the world.