Cheers for the Deviants!
This is yet another response to Jayson’s article. Apologies if the topic has been done to death!
I have to say I agree with most of his points. It seems fairly clear to me that the majority of women – anywhere in the world – looking for a ‘serious’ relationship will be considering someone whom they can communicate well with. It just seems natural (to me) to imagine that you will end up with someone from your own country, and I say this as a product of an interracial marriage, and someone who is dating a man from a different country. My experience is not the same as the majority of my English friends. For expats, we have a slightly different perspective. We are used to not understanding 100% of what is going on around us. We are probably very used to relying on body language, simplified English, and regular misunderstandings (or is that just me? J) But a woman living in her own country, used to having 100% understanding of her daily world is unlikely to place a foreign male who cannot speak the local language at the top of her list. Let’s use a different set of nationalities to illustrate this.
In England, we all learn French at school. France is an hour away by boat, there are plenty of French visitors travelling to England, French men have a rather good ‘romantic’ reputation, and yet there are not large numbers of English women with non-English speaking French men, or dreaming of marriage with a non-English speaking French man. (Please don’t answer with “that’s because most English women are fat and ugly so it’s the French men who aren’t interested” J)
I’m sure the non-English speaking French visitor to England gets many interested glances. Even given the history between France and England, and our lovely stereotypes of French people, I have no doubt many English women would love the chance to ‘get to know him better’. But how many English women with their high school French would actively be seeking out these non-English speaking French men for a relationship?
Korski wrote that he slept with someone with whom he didn’t share any common language. I don’t doubt it, but I think it misses the point. I don’t think Jayson is arguing about attraction. He is talking about relationships, where you have to decide what to have for dinner each night, pay bills, meet her family, and raise children together. I read so many posts on this site criticizing the level of spoken and written English in Thailand. Surely we can extrapolate from that that a large majority of Thai women will not be comfortable communicating in English every day.
Then there was Jayson’s argument that Western men date the unattractive Thai women. I’m not sure what Jayson’s personal views about skin colour are, but here are mine. The point is not that lighter skinned women are innately more beautiful than darker skinned women, but that Thai society has deemed them so. Every society has certain markers, words and gestures that mark out people’s social status. Whether one’s social status has any bearing on one’s character or worth is another question, but it is important to remember that each society views people in a certain way. Taiwanese society (where I am living at the moment) also considers women with lighter skin more beautiful than those with darker skin. The ideal body weight is around 40kg for a woman of average height, whereas many Western men find a slightly heavier woman more attractive. I have many Taiwanese friends – beautiful, witty and educated Taiwanese friends – who find it hard to meet Taiwanese men because of their weight or skin colour (these are their words, not mine). The Western men they meet, however, think they are beautiful, so they have made a decision to focus on Western men. They aren’t ‘dating down’ but they probably wouldn’t have considered a relationship with a Western man were it not for the messages they were receiving from their society. A female Taiwanese friend who, at most, would be an English size 12, went to Australia for a year. When she came back, she announced that she had totally given up on Taiwanese men, because they all criticized her weight, but all the Australian men she met told her how beautiful she was. For her, it wasn’t a case of Taiwanese are better, or Western is better, but simply that she had better relationships with Western men. It was worth the effort of communicating in English for her. For most Taiwanese women, it isn’t. Yet, as Jayson said, if a Western man could speak good Chinese they would be happy to date him.
The anger towards Jayson’s submission probably also comes from the idea that people’s wives / girlfriends are the ‘deviants’ of Thai society. Deviant certainly sounds pretty harsh. But it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with these women! As proven by Khun Sanak, and by my Taiwanese friends, these women may be highly educated and wealthy. But they certainly fall outside the norm of Thai society, because their expectations and choices are different from the majority. By that criteria, most people contributing to this site fall outside the norm of their societies, because of our experience of a foreign country. We are also the ‘deviants’. Who better than another deviant to make us happy?
Fair points and a decent enough argument.