Why I Never Married A Thai, I’m Thai!
I came upon this article, "Why I Never Married A Thai", yesterday and didn't think I was going to enjoy reading it as much as
I did. Finally I finished it with a mixture of feelings. Much of it made me laugh but overlaps with sadness and admission to the author's keen (and SHARP) observation of the Thai society in general, and Thai women in specific.
With my own wedding just about 2 weeks away, I can't help but wanting to send this article to my fiancé. The thing is, I'm the Thai woman in my couple…
He is French. Granted that I spent a lot of time in the US, but my early part of life was in Thailand. I recognize so many things in this article as my own frustration of the societal norms I witnessed growing up. I can only attribute my head-shaking
chuckles while reading parts of the writing with my own experiences and even my own 'natural tendencies' that continue to linger. The only reason I'm able to laugh about it is because I have long rejected the traditional requirement
of me. This is not meant to make me a shiny contrast to the 'problematic Thais' in the writer's experience. I consider my life a roller coaster type one, uncommonly set off by a broken parental unit, but ended up in a fair household
that raised me to know the value of charity, simplified (and HONEST Buddhist principals) while remaining separated from the dump of mentality which clumps in with the 'lower class' people for whom higher education is not within their
reach, means, or considerations. I didn't achieve what was expected of me, no college degrees here, practically living between a life of too late and imminent death. Through decades of self-rejection for not summing up to any sort of 'values'
as others can easily associated with (whether it's a college degree or a housewife material, or that standardized beauty, for that matter), I was rather drawn to the darker arts and more mental stimulated culture of music via America's
prism. I also enjoy a gamut of brilliant American comedians, something I'm yet to find in common with another Thai. Not only it's the language, but it's the life references that are missing. It's not a happy road to get where
I am, but because of all this, I guess, I became more of a questioning person than the average Thai. I question the conventions, and especially the rules that are blindly followed. If I can see good reasons to uphold something, I'd be glad
to change my point of view, or throw in my further support.
Luckily with my attitude to question, and (too much thinking) "kid-mak", an undesirable characteristic as a Thai woman, I don't (have to) live in Thailand. I seriously can't survive there. I can enjoy having a gamut of friends around the world and cherish them for their true person, each of them are without worrying about being my social capital. This includes some Thai friends scattered in different places in US and Europe. I just simply want to prove my family wrong that friends are indeed, important. Too many times I was taught how I should mind the family first. I didn't like my family. They were not interesting to me. Naturally it set myself to find the most interesting part of people and be a friend to that. By both the practice in recognizing the souls in others and in sharing my own truths (or doubts), I hope to learn and share what I know backward to the society I came from, but unfortunately best as a frequent temporary visitor.
Funnily enough, moving back to Thailand for a time a couple of years ago attracted many Thai girls to me as friends. I became the missing bridge confidant. They want to know why they are not succeeding in romance with these farangs when they can only see what they have to offer, which is so much forever love, and "will do ANYTHING for". I'm never shy to point out their own shortcomings and loads of heavy and fast unrealistic expectations. The men are not princes who will solve all the layers of issues that make them complete in the most idealistic scenario. All the while I'd redirect some frustrations to the societal expectations that are too foolish for these bright beautiful women to be enslaved to. For example, the idea of having a farang boyfriend shouldn't be for the reason of wanting to show off to their circles (usually, for some reason, the workplace) how they are desirable in spite of their "dark skin". The competition to be an angelic, light-skinned, innocent, large-eyed Asian is so strong, I get nauseous trying to figure where to begin to undo.
One case after another, I tried to help "cracking the codes" which means clarifying the cultural differences / individual expectations. I also counseled some American men who wanted to understand why their honesty in 'dating is not marrying' message is not getting through. They ended up unintentionally hurting the woman, very unenjoyable. These guys are not the type to go look to settle down in Asia. Most are there to simply explore and experience, definitely not to settle, at least in the age group I associate with between 20-30ish. From what I learned, Thai girls do want to get out of the society but are conditioned to act and react the only way they know. It's to do what's expected of them – if good. If bad, they will want a sort of a vengeance by becoming rich and white. I supposed, the same streak as me for wanting to prove someone wrong. But in their case, their anchor, their roots, remain first in Thailand, the Motherland, the first principle of a good Thai.
But all in all, the most important thing over every Thai's head is the parents. The owing the entire existence to the parents is the most difficult for me personally. I struggle all my life to not feel like a betraying piece of shit child for not having paid back anything to the parents. (Whom, by the way, did not much in raising me.) Then on the other side, the saddest in the Thais' eyes are the abandoned parents. It's so unbelievably sad that probably became a cause of many plots in Thai drama. And if they get sad enough, they can themselves become crazy, as in clinically insane, unless they seek the religious route in time, or risk becoming an outcast, further punished by the cold shouldering of the communities. To avoid causing this unforgivable sin, many Thais take it as their natural law to pay back their parents as soon as they are able to. A lot of Thai women are actually incredible at this. Some would spend their entire life and efforts to pay into bailing out family and younger siblings from poverty, no matter if it means sex trades (which isn't by first choice rather than series of horrific circumstances) or the MUCH easier way than winning a lottery, get a farang to sponsor all those heavy responsibilities.
It's the back-firing part of the passive submissive Buddhist culture. To think too much makes you less happy. Meditate. Empty your thought. Give to charity. Be grateful to parents. To question any person of seniority or senior makes you problematic, for yourself. (Or the Thais will make sure you should know and feel this. There will be consequences granted to you when you don't.)
On the flip side of the calm-minded culture, there are also many times a Thai friend would put me in my place while I'm spinning my head. Simplified. One thing at a time. Make sure you are okay first before worrying about anyone else. I can take comfort even just for a minute. I also wished I knew how to cook more and work more diligently in housekeeping. The good Thai women do it so effortlessly even when they complain.
To jump to my last thought on the article, I think to a certain extent, foreign nationals should understand they can NEVER get THAT authentic Thai experience they are most curious about. This is because those who can or choose to deal with you will be of a different type than those who won't. Many good decent community Thais are self sufficient. They also want to be left alone to not risk breaking that balance. No matter if you speak perfect Thai, being SEEN with someone who's different enough will throw a lot of things off. Mostly they are too shy to interact with someone from a different country or feel inadequate in accommodating. So they would steer away from interactions and send you those shady people with an agenda to tell you what they think you want to hear. Of course, over the years, these things change and will continue to change but a least it's so far slow and pretty much in a predictable way.
Lastly, I do consider the Thais my people even if they drive me completely nuts.
Thanks for the original article. It was profound to read your well expressed experiences. This search stumble (I was actually searching about politics, BRW) made me discover Stickman's site. I look forward to exploring the site.
A very refreshing perspective.