The following blog/article was published in The Nation newspaper last Saturday. Here below however, is the originally un-edited, submission)
(“Take that you male scumbag”)
Much has been said and written (even a significant amount by myself over the past year) about the discrimination of women in Thai society, but I’d like to take the opportunity today, to completely turn the tide and give quite a unique, virtually unprecedented, written reflection of how men are also having a hard time in modern day Thailand.
First, turn on a family-friendly TV soap opera and besides just a glamorous girl getting a bashing in the face by some drunkard step-father, you may also witness some gutsy guy getting the full-end of a sharpened high-heel around the back of the head by a forlorn jealous admirer. The difference though, is that the latter is often viewed as being deserving of the bashing – quite simply because he is a man. Just how many of us, both male and female, have been guilty of automatically judging the man as the ‘bad guy’ after his female accomplice in some restaurant has turned around and thrown her glass of wine over him? The same goes when a girl with a hot-temper slaps her associate in the face, we don’t see any onlookers pouncing in to defend the man, do we?
Just how many stories do we hear of a woman who is pressing charges against some perky imposter who decided to do more with his hands, on seeing her, than just giving a simple wave. As for poor old men though, they can be subject to a pack of molesting stray females or transgenders on a Sukhumvit Road street corner and no-one gives a darned. Should any fellow go running to the cop-box to file a complaint of ‘un-wanted intimate fondling’, he’ll be the recipient of a stack of laughs and perhaps some advice along the lines of “You’re a man, what are you moaning about, you ought to think yourself lucky!” Likewise, if a guy is the victim of some fiery female he has just met in a bar and gets a bottle chucked over him, there is no way the constabulary are going to listen to his case. Again, he must have deserved it.
(Looking happy, as long as he pays like…)
Even a police officer buddy of mine, just last night in fact, admitted that the law is often unfavorable of men, and just as The Cultural Ministry is discriminative of women, the Thai police force is far more biased against men than women. Take the daily scenario at traffic checkpoints around the country where the law-enforcers are out to clampdown on bikers without helmets on. Notice carefully and you may be astonished at the ratio of men who get pulled over to a pay a fine in regards to well-groomed women!
Back on the subject of the ever-infamous Thai TV soap opera. Now, you don’t need to have a post-graduate degree in psychology to realize that just perhaps, TV series have a slightly adverse effect on the mentality of a lot of people. One of the favorite soap opera catch phrases in Thailand for disgruntled female characters angry with their boyfriends, just has to be this one “You don’t know the meaning of the word – responsibility”. So catching in fact, that I am sure a lot of the male readers here, on returning home after a couple of alcoholic beverages, have also been on the receiving end of such a scolding along remarkably similar lines. Interesting like, the word responsibility in Thai society; it seems that working men have to be responsible for nearly everything in due regard and certainly in terms of finance.
A much over-used plot in TV dramas is the one of the needy impoverished, but delightfully attractive, young woman who eventually marries a super wealthy gentleman with a groovy spanking-new Mercedes Benz. Very seldom, is the tale told the other way around and that is because it is quite unacceptable in modern day Thai society that a woman ‘pays for the man’. In fact, any destitute guy who has a fetish for well-heeled older women is viewed as a complete sponger.
(Why we never see any morality promotion posters for women?)
If urbanized Thai women want their equal rights and equal pay etc. then it is time for men too to stand on their two feet and ask for the abolishment of some Thai customs such as ‘boyfriends/fiances having to pay for everything’ (including girlfriends’ mothers’) and definitely eradicate the age-old tradition of the costly dowry. Now, some women may scream aloud at such a deplorable idea by the ‘Farang visitor’ and advise him that such a custom is embedded within Thai culture. But then again, if someone says that, then it is quite simple to reply “All right then, since it is an engrained part of decades old Thai culture the man ought to justifiably pay for his beloved and…… have the right to take on couple of mischievous mistresses”.
As a guy, take a second to ponder this one – now, how many younger Thai women have you ever met who claimed they didn’t have a boyfriend when they actually did? I guessed it right, absolute stacks. This is sometimes a truly unfair example of exploitation, especially when he unknowingly invites the ‘single’ lady out for dinner and dance and pays for everything (adhering to Thai ways). Then the poor guy is also at fervent risk, if her beloved actual boyfriend finds out, turns around listens to her whims and advances for her stalker with fists at the ready. Again, should he be on the receiving end of some grievous bodily harm and reports the matter to the law-enforcers, he may be advised that he shouldn’t have been messing with such an ‘unavailable lady’ in the first instance. If, for some god-forsaken reason the so-called delicious darling is actually legally married, then he may be seriously depleted of an extortionate amount of cash.
Now, another extremely hazardous situation which the randy youngish geezer could accidentally land himself in, is if his newly loved-one turns out to be 17 and not 20 as she originally promised him to be. With her parents up in arms at such an intrusion of their daughter’s virginity, he could be soon be blackmailed into forking over another exceptional amount of purple colored banknotes. As for older women messing around with young teenage lads, Thai law dictates that it is perfectly all right – there is no law.
Local Thai guys aren’t the only ones to fall prey to some deceiving ladies and I daren’t imagine just how many foreign guys who have fallen victim to some relationship rip-off. After ‘sponsoring’ his devious darling and her family for a year or so – before finding out she is already married or the likes, he stands no chance of retrieving any of his well-earned cash back. The police and the village headman, with a grin on their faces, will only advise him to ‘be a little more careful and choosy the next time around’.
We justly support the female movement and hope them the very best in securing equal rights for women. That said, perhaps it is time that men too are afforded their honorable rights, not only in regards to modern Thai ways but also the law.