Stickman Readers' Submissions May 5th, 2010

Another Entry in the Debate About Jayson

I had to respond to the current debate brought on by Jayson’s green star submission “Farang Men/Thai Women – A Reality Check.” I must state at the outset that I read his entry and basically agreed with it. I have stated the same thing in a prior sub; women play with those that are different, but marry those that are the same. I entered into an earlier debate because I was upset about the label of loser men from the west being the ones marrying Asian women. Jayson’s use of deviant Thai women marrying Farangs sparks the same response. It seems to be the other side of the same coin. However, I hope it was just an unfortunate turn of phrase.

I feel I can bring a different perspective to the table as I am a fat old white guy married to a Chinese-Filipina. (I am working on the fat part; nothing can be done to change the white part, and the old part will only get worse.) Both of her parents were half Chinese. Her relatives are almost all well educated professionals, and upper middle class. Everyone of her family who I met spoke English very well to excellent. This alleviated one problem a Farang-Thai union will have. Several of her cousins live in the US and came here on H1B (high tech skills) visas. She has had some college in the Philippines and some here, and is very fluent in English. She is also extremely fair skinned. I was a red head (ginger), back when I had hair and it was not grey, and of Irish heritage. She is whiter than I am, and gets sun burned easier than I do; which was quite a surprise to me. What does this mean as far as this debate goes? It means I am seeing the inherent racism in Philippine society, which seems to be similar to other Asian countries in which I have traveled, from the high side.

He Clinic Bangkok

Racism is all over the world. It is just expressed in different ways and different places. It is on a spectrum; never (as far as I have experienced) total, and never totally absent. I don’t see Jayson’s entry as really all that racist. Is Thai society racist? My view is yes, but so what, so are we all. My wife has a hard time fitting in with the Filipinas around here because they are all darker skinned and they harbor jealousy towards her for no other reason than she is “white”. I’ve seen it in too many cases. In the Philippines your status is based on how white your skin is. They also do the heavy face powder and the toxic skin whiteners. Several of the local Filipinas have asked my wife what whitener she uses. They are not happy when she says none. There is one couple we vacationed with where the wife is a very beautiful Filipina who has a lot of issues with being very dark skinned. She spent the whole time in Key West trying to avoid the sun. My third wife was an American citizen (20 years in US before I met her) that had been born and raised in Costa Rica. She was half black and 100% Hispanic. I found out about Costa Rican racism when we visited her family there. Shade matters all over the world. It is stupid, but that is the way it is.

Now here is a surprising thing for all those writing in from the white-guys-are-universally-wanted perspective. I was the first foreign guy (white guy) to marry into my Filipina wife’s family. I was not welcomed with open arms. The general attitude of her relatives to American men in particular was suspicion; perhaps with good cause. I was expected to spend a lot of time with her family, and was raked over the coals very thoroughly. No topic was out of bounds or too personal. Their view point was that all American men beat their Filipina wives and were just bad husbands. The questioning started with, “Are you Catholic?” I think that would have been a deal breaker, and the end of the conversation, if the answer had been no. The next was, “Why did you choose a light skinned girl when most Americans seem to opt for the darker girls?” The questions then went through the gamut, ending with, “How often can you get it up?” (I kid you not.) <I have heard this a number of times from Western guys who have married a girl from the Philippines but never heard of it being asked in ThailandStick> Let us say they did not think my white skin, or US citizenship, was a bonus. The one question they never asked, so I did, was, “What about the age difference?” The answer was a blank look and, “What age difference?” To them 20+ year’s difference was about right. In the end her aunt, a retired high school principal, gave me the grudging family OK as they were just glad she was finally marrying someone. She was in her mid twenties, and considered an old maid by local standards. So, to all of you thinking Thai hi-so girls and their families would be happy with a white husband; think again. You aren’t “all that” to them.

I’ve always held the viewpoint that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I’ve dated and/or married women from pale white to coal black. My first wife was a short buxom very white southerner (from a really racist family that barely tolerated me, as I was from the north). My second wife was a tall thin white American woman. My third wife was a dark Hispanic from Costa Rica. While single, and in my early 50’s, I dated a very black immigrant from West Africa (Burkina-Faso). My current wife is a very petite fair skinned Asian. All of them were beautiful as far as I could see. It’s all good. That is one advantage of living in the US; there are all kinds of women from all over the world here. Because of all this, I do take exception to Jayson’s phrase “butt ugly” for the typical Thai woman with a white boyfriend or husband. It is code for darker skinned Isaan women, and is a racist attitude. It is typical that a country’s internal racism against a disadvantaged segment of the country’s population is usually much more severe than against foreigners of a different race. Thailand is no different than most places in that regard.

CBD bangkok

I agree with Jayson’s assertion that a common language is important, and that women will prefer communicating in their native language. I don’t see how we could have formed the relationship my wife and I have if she did not speak English very well. However, I know she prefers to speak in Visayan whenever possible. Speaking a woman’s native language is not absolutely necessary, but it is a preference. My Costa Rican wife spoke English very well. She should have; as she had lived here most of her life, and was a US citizen. However, her mother has lived in a Puerto Rican neighborhood of New York City for over 30 years, and to this day speaks only a few words of English. (I agree with those commenting that if you are going to live in a country, you should make the effort to learn the language as best you can.) My wife’s friends were all native Spanish speakers. Most of her socializing was done in Spanish. All social events and venues we went to were Hispanic/Spanish speaking with some English translation. Her kids (all born in the US) did not speak Spanish, which was a constant disappointment to her. I put a lot of effort into learning Spanish. It didn’t help in the end, but you have to put out the effort. And this effort was the least I could do, even living in an English speaking country. If you are living in your wife’s country, then you really have no excuse for not trying to learn to communicate in her language. More important than ever speaking it well, is that you did your best to try to learn it.

I would like to put in one caution here; speaking the same language does not guarantee communication. These women are still women, and men and women have a huge gulf across which they try to communicate. Just one example:

Case 1: A man calls a male friend and asks if he wants to see movie X tonight.

The friend replies, Yes.

You see the movie.

wonderland clinic

Case 2:A woman calls you (a man) and asks if you want to see movie X tonight.

You reply, Yes.

This does not mean you are going to see movie X tonight. This is just an opening gambit for a long conversation about what you may or may not do tonight.

My wife just does not understand how my teenage sons and I communicate by phone. Our conversations are too short in her opinion; seldom more than a sentence each. No other information was pertinent to the issue at hand so we didn’t feel it necessary to extend the discussion. She can not believe this. Women do not communicate that way. They need context and back story. She can talk to her mother in the Philippines for 20 minutes and then tell me every word either of them said, and the entire context. The telling will take over an hour. She doesn’t understand that I am unable to repeat conversations with my male friends, word for word; it is just not important enough to have memorized. When there is a cultural gap, on top of the yawning chasm between man and woman, communication becomes that much harder. I have learned that asking a question and getting an answer is not sufficient. You must think of another way to ask the question with a different emphasis and ask again….and again…and again, if necessary. And in the end you are not going to be positive the answer is really what you think you got. Another thing I was told in Thailand, which I have found to be true for the Philippines, “If you ask twice and don’t get an answer, then don’t ask again, you have your answer. There is no point pressing for a direct answer when they do not want to give you one. You are just forcing them to lie to you.” If Khun Sanuk has managed to change this aspect of her behavior, then my hat is off to her and I wish she could teach it to my wife. Speaking the same language does introduce the possibility of the worst possible outcome; the mistaken belief that you have communicated. That is where the real trouble starts.

I agree with Khun Sanuk that deviate has a certain pejorative ambiance. (I really should eschew obfuscation and my tendency to sesquipedalianism.) I prefer to think of pursuing relationships outside your culture as not normal. In that light, I am happy to tell people I am not normal (it comes as no surprise to those that know me), where I would hesitate to tell people I am a deviate (however true it might be). I’ve always said, “Why be normal when you can be yourself instead”. I think even Mrs. Sanuk would agree that it is not the norm, as defined by the actions of the majority of Thai women, to marry outside their race and culture. It is not normal anywhere, for men or women. That does not mean it is bad. Children of people from genetic lines most different tend to be healthier; as they share fewer recessive harmful genes. I think there is also some degree of greater happiness for those couples that have to put in the extra effort to understand and tolerate their differences. All couples have differences, even if they grew up next door to each other. When we are too close we tend to forget that these differences exist, and that can lead to trouble. The answer is extra patience and extra effort; from which all relationships could benefit.

As to these women marrying outside their culture and race being on Plan B, I can’t speak for them. Some looking at me would say I am on Plan K, at least. To them I would say, “Plan? What plan? I don’t remember any plan.” I have mostly made choices minute by minute, as they came up. I have gone with the flow. The few plans I made either went horribly wrong or, even worse, horribly right. The just as planned outcomes were always the worst and more disappointing because they were what I had planned. I had no one to blame except myself, and who wants that as the only option. Let the universe unfold as it should without your guidance. Have a little faith.

I want to close with my hopes for future submissions:

Let’s all stop calling people losers or deviates for making different life choices than we have. None of us knows what circumstances led to those choices.

Let’s not assume we know what others’ first choices would have been. Personally, I would have preferred to have been born wealthy. Just because that did not happen does not mean I am working on Plan B.

Let’s focus on the fact that most of what each of us have said is something we all can agree on. We should stop focusing on the nits where we disagree. And even where we disagree there is always the possibility, no matter how remote, that the other guy is right. A truism I learned years ago was that the person in an argument speaking the loudest is almost always wrong, even when it is me.

Let’s all admit that we are all racists and xenophobic to some lesser or greater degree. Pick the beam from your own eye before taking the spec from your brother’s. I have a strong attraction to Asian women. Does this make me a racist? Or is it due to my first unrequited love being a Vietnamese girl that lived down the street and who was the most beautiful girl in my high school (IMO). Make your choice.

Let’s agree that when you are in someone else’s house you follow their rules. Thais in Thailand are always going to do what favors Thais. That includes most of the women not being interested in non-Thai men, for one reason or another. Live with it or get out. Besides, if you are serious, you only need to find one that is interested. Based on all the mixed marriages discussed on this forum, it must not be that hard to do. Keeping it together seems to be the real problem; but that is true in all marriages. I am still working on that one. You never know if you will make it until death do you part, until death does part you. From my experience it is not a pleasant outcome, however inevitable. Divorce is the other outcome and has its own issues. Either way, all marriages are at best a work in progress.

Stickman's thoughts:

What I really liked about this is that you commented on the points Jayson made and kept emotion out of it.

nana plaza