Readers' Submissions

Our Collective Self-Esteem Problem, And What We Can Do To Fix It

  • Written by Titus
  • August 8th, 2011
  • 11 min read


One of the main problems I see with the farang community in Thailand is a real deficiency in collective self-esteem, and it has been troubling me for some time. I can't help but think something could and should be done to spread awareness of this issue and make some efforts to develop better ways of thinking and behaving in the farang community. For instance every time I go to a bar in Thailand and speak to farang I meet guys who tell me how the pretty Thai women hate white guys, that Thai women are the most stunning in the world, that white women are hideous, that Thai guys are so much tougher than white guys, that white guys who stand up for themselves will be beaten up ruthlessly, that Thai guys are respected and feared by their women who despise and walk all over white guys. I hear farang express a desperate neediness to be accepted by Thais and a sense of humiliation at not finding the acceptance they seek. The picture that emerges from this collection of beliefs is horrifying; it is that of a farang community scared and intimidated by Thai men, admiring of Thai women while feeling unworthy of them, and suffering from a terrible neediness.

Now these beliefs are absurd and palpably untrue, but they are fervently believed. Don't get me wrong, there is a kernel of truth to all these beliefs, but what is true about them gets completely lost in the extreme form they come to acquire in the farang community. These beliefs are built up by taking a small truth and then expanding it into its most extreme and terrifying form, to the point where it simply becomes more untrue than true, more destructive than informative.

But what's worse, believing these things have a curious dual function; they serve to lower our self-esteem in our own eyes while consoling us for our failures, and that is why they are so insidious, because they are attractive, and not just destructive. Since these beliefs can be comforting, they are alluring, but to the extent that we accept them, they lower us in our own eyes AND in the eyes of Thai people, so they are quite destructive. For instance, believing that pretty Thai girls don't like farang consoles us for our own failures with women as we can simply pity ourselves as the victims of racism, but is also likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The idea that white girls are hideous consoles us for all the abuse we suffered from them in our own country, but causes us to overvalue Thai women and lower our own value in the eyes of Thai women (thus making them harder to get). Belief that Thais will beat you up if you dare stand up for yourself absolves you of the responsibility of having a backbone, but also makes you get walked all over by Thai people and makes Thais contemptuous of you.

What's worse, the farang I meet often are very public about these beliefs; they are not shy of expressing them within earshot of Thai people, and what do you think is the result of that? I can only imagine any Thai overhearing these things must be laughing and smirking inside.

The following is a list of what I think are the most damaging beliefs and attitudes. These beliefs contain more untruth than truth, lower our esteem in our own eyes, and make Thais look down on us. They also lead us to behave in ways that are not worthy of us –

1) Stop repeating the line that only ugly women like farang. This is obviously untrue, and only reinforces our own negative self-image. It also makes us look like fools in the eyes of Thais. Now, I realize that there are barriers for farang in getting with the better class of Thai girls, barriers that are not unique to Thailand but that foreigners experience all over the world, and these need to be calmly discussed and acknowledged, but without hyperbole or sensationalism, and without bitterness. We can calmly admit that we face certain limitations in this field without describing the situation in such a way that contributes to our low self-esteem in this country.

2) We can stop bashing white girls. Now I realize that many of us are in Thailand almost entirely because we've had terrible experiences with white girls and have found a kind of sexual acceptance – even bliss – that we could never have found in our own countries amongst our own women. Thus it's natural that we should be bitter about white women and want to say the worst things about them. I myself am extremely critical about white women in the West. The problem is that bashing them simply lowers our value in the eyes of Thai people in general and it makes us look desperate for the *superior* Thai women. The perception amongst Thai women that Western men are desperate for them does not make them respect Western men any more or more likely to hook up with them. Further, most of the bashing of Western women simply isn't true, however emotionally gratifying. The fact remains that if we were able to get with the best looking white girls in the West none of us would be in Thailand, and even the best looking Thai girls in Siam Paragon would hold almost no appeal to us. This is a painful truth, but we will be stronger for admitting it. Many of us are desperate to deny this, but deep down we know its true. But whether or not this is true – even if we simply thought Thai girls were just the best damn looking girls in the world – bashing white girls wont help us get them but WILL increase our own feelings of inferiority with regard to Thais. It serves only to put Thai women on a pedestal.

3) Stop talking about *beautiful Thai girls* or *stunning Thai girls*. Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't appreciate attractive Thai girls. Of course we should. But this talk of how fantastically stunning they are makes us look like fools in the eyes of Thais. It lowers us in their eyes and it lowers us in our own eyes. It lowers us in the eyes of Thai women as well and makes them less likely to hook up with us. We can enjoy Thai girls perfectly well without all this silly talk about how *stunning* they are, which is palpably untrue and serves no other purpose than to make them look down on us.

4) Stop talking about how *tough* Thai guys are and how they win every single fight with farang. Again, this is obviously untrue and serves no other purpose than to lower our collective self-esteem and make us look weak in the eyes of Thais. We can calmly discuss the situation without hyperbole and sensationalism. The facts are these; the average middle class or upper class Thai is much less *tough* than his Western counterpart. Most violence is committed by a small hardcore thug element in Thai society which it is important to be on your guard against. Most Thais target *soft targets*, in other words they will avoid fights with obviously tough farang but instead choose middle-aged out of shape men as their victims. Most Thais fight in large groups and will avoid fights if their friends are not present to back them up, and they use tactics like sneaking up from behind and breaking bottles over their victims heads. While these facts make it clear that there is a certain amount of danger in fighting with Thais and it should be avoided if possible, it makes clear that Thais are not particularly *tough*. Yes, we need to be aware of the danger, but there is no need to talk about it in the sensationalistic way we do, which often serves no other purpose than making us look like wimps in our own eyes and in the eyes of Thais.

5) Stop pretending that Thais will form a group and beat up a farang at the slightest provocation. This is obviously false, and makes many farang frightened and unwilling to stand up for themselves in perfectly legitimate and appropriate ways which are extremely unlikely to incur any violence at all. It encourages needless and inappropriate fear towards Thai men. It lowers us in our own eyes and in the eyes of Thais.

6) Stop needing to be accepted by Thais. Stop complaining that we are not accepted by them. Of course we aren't accepted by them. Thailand is not a multicultural society. Societies that accept different races are rare in world history and probably limited to the Anglophone countries only post 1960, and to some extent Europe. Thailand is a tolerant mono-ethnic society – they place value on belonging to their group but are quite tolerant of foreigners. Whatever place we might win in Thai society will not be bought by neediness and supplication, but by self-respect. We live here, we respect Thais, but we don't need to be accepted, and we will not beg for it. We are sufficient on our own. If acceptance ever comes, it will only come after we stop begging for it. We have to stop talking about not being accepted as a source of bitterness and anger. Its like the guy who desperately wants to be liked by the girl he has a crush on – the more needy he is with her, the less she values him and the less she likes him and the less chance he is.

Of course we should absolutely refrain from adopting any attitude of arrogance towards Thais. We should treat them with respect and politeness, but we must treat ourselves with respect and politeness too. Thais have the home court advantage, but that does not mean that we must lower ourselves to them. We should enjoy our lives with our eyes wide open to the limitations we suffer under, but always refuse to act in ways that lower ourselves both in our eyes and theirs. Were too good for that, and they'll like us more if we don't need them. Well feel better about ourselves too.

The major problem I see in implementing this program is that most farang in Thailand are the types who naturally lack self-esteem and often have trouble grasping its importance. Thailand selects for these types. But I think if this message was spread more widely, things might change. It wouldn't be so difficult to spread the message. If every farang begins taking small steps towards refusing to lower himself over time this would go a long way towards raising our collective prestige, and everyone would benefit. It's obviously in the interests of everyone in the farang community that our collective prestige be raised.

The British used to have an excellent understanding of the need for collective white prestige in their colonies. They understood the importance of being respected by the local people and they considered that every white man had a responsibility to uphold the collective dignity through his actions. If he acted in a way that lowered the collective reputation, every effort was made to get him sent home. If this was impossible, he was ostracized. Now obviously I'm not suggesting that any such coercive system be instituted in Thailand. Clearly it would be impossible and clearly undesirable. But I believe that if more awareness and understanding of the issues was spread, then perhaps people could be encouraged to VOLUNTARILY behave in better ways and adopt a mindset and set of beliefs likely to raise our self esteem rather than lower it, likely to make us more respected rather than despised.

The problem is that white people growing up in the PC West are encouraged to have no ethnic pride, so we haven't developed the instincts of pride, and we are at a loss when faced with a people that still believes in ethnic pride. That's one problem. We have been poorly served in our education, especially for living in foreign countries. The other problem – and the much LARGER problem – is that Thailand selects for farang who have low self-esteem. This should be pretty obvious, and there is no point in going into detail here. Its very obvious that most farang men in Thailand are emotionally needy and broken, and they bring their defeatist attitudes with them like baggage they cannot get rid of. But maybe we can use our time in Thailand to heal ourselves and evolve towards stronger people, both in regard to Thais and with regard to ourselves? It's worth a try..


Stickman's thoughts:

I think you make a lot of good points and I really like what you're trying to achieve. The issue that I think needs to be acknowledged, however, is that Thailand simply does not attract the best of the West. That is changing, slowly, but people who have self-esteem and other issues in Thailand probably had similar issues in the West. It is my observation that people who had a crap life in the West don't have a better go of things in the East.