I ran across Asian Sweetheat’s post about an epidemic of farangs marrying Isaan girls. In her post she gives us her take on a Thai documentary about this phenomena. According to Asian Sweeheart:
The host told of how common it is now for very young school girls in Isaan, when asked what they want to do when they grow up, to say “marry a farang”. The people on the show talked a lot about how many Thai people are very unhappy about that, and what should be done about it. It was sort of vague at that point, because after all what could/would be done? But I have a feeling a change is coming, maybe another push for preserving Thai culture. We have those campaigns now and then. Maybe this time it might be a campaign to discourage Thai women from marrying farang.
There’s really no way to discuss an entire region or country without generalizing a bit so please indulge my broad strokes. According to Asian Sweetheart’s post this so called epidemic has resulted in 16,000 Isaan women getting married to farangs in a two year period. Sixteen thousand out of a population of 20 million. Any rational person would laugh at those statistics and tell people to calm down there’s no epidemic. But, politicians are not rational people. Their success or failure in politics is often linked to fixing perceived problems rather than real ones. So if the people of Isaan feel that Thai culture is at risk because of the introduction of all these farangs to the countryside then you can rest assured that some politician will campaign to fix this real or imagined problem.
Of course, what most people think is a threat to Thai culture is actually the fact that these farangs are rolling into Isaan villages with their new Thai wives and building mansions which reminds the locals of the shit cards they got dealt in this life. I don’t want to put words in people’s mouths or feelings behind the words they’ve written when they can be construed in multiple ways but Asian Sweetheart’s words read to me as if she agrees with this position.
That’s baan farang, and the Thai woman who lives there is so pleased she can look down on all her neighbors now that she is married to a farang man who bought her the house, a car and gold.
Umm, well, I’m pretty sure that this fits in with Thai culture pretty well. Ever see a group of hi-so girls trying to out shop each other at the mall? Introducing wealth into the area has nothing to do – positive or negative – with Thai culture. The backlash is simply a result of people not wanting their lot in life being thrown in their face. And especially not by some farang! Running the farangs out of town (and out of sight) is much easier than fixing the underlying problems.
There was video of some of the Thai ladies showing off their houses and talking about how great life was since they married a rich farang. One of the ladies sat with her German husband and talked about how she only married him because of his money. The man just sat there smiling stupidly.
Or perhaps the guy doesn’t care why she married him. Maybe the German guy thinks that living a relatively stress free lifestyle in a Thai mansion with a beautiful young wife willing to cook, clean, and take care of the kids is better than being back in Germany working his ass off to barely earn enough for a two bedroom flat and being married to a hag of a wife who can only nag him about him not helping around the house the second he walks in the door from working a 10 hour shift at a job he hates.
And while she may prefer someone closer her age, that speaks her language, and shares many of her cultural beliefs . . . exactly where is this Thai Romeo? Asian Sweetheart mentions that all the women in this video are in their 30’s and 40’s. Umm, she’s well past her prime in Thai society. Her chances of finding a Thai man willing to marry her aren’t very encouraging.
Love is a great concept and many singers and poets have made a living writing about it but for most men the difference between love and lust is often a grey area. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in love many times before so I’m not knocking it. Given a choice between love and lust I’ll take love. I mean, let’s look at two scenarios:
You have a woman who is beautiful, good hearted, easy to get along with, and who enjoys your company. And you love her.
You have a woman who is beautiful, good hearted, easy to get along with, and who enjoys your company. Only problem is that while you lust after her you don’t necessarily love her.
Now, I think most men would pick option one but let’s face it, option two isn’t exactly a hellish scenario. I mean, our German buddy is 60’ish so he’s only got another 20 or so years left on this earth. Does he really want to spend those remaining years going around the single’s scene back home hoping to meet his soul mate? What’s he got to look forward to except for coming home to an empty flat for the next 20 years? Hell, if I was him I would take option two and die a happy man.
Would I prefer option one? Sure but I would also prefer to win the lottery and spend my days sipping pina coladas on the deck of my yacht. Preferring something and having it happen aren’t the same thing. And that’s especially true when finding your soulmate requires that she also feels the same about you. It’s not exactly something you can will into happening. Believe me, if that’s all it took I would be posting my wedding photos with Jessica Alba.
Sometimes we have to settle for the cards we’re dealt and play them the best we can. In my case, since I didn’t win the lottery, I’ve clawed my way up the ladder working at companies where I enjoyed my work and where I could earn the kind of money it takes to live a comfortable lifestyle. Personally, I’m relatively young so I’m still holding out for option one but if you see me smiling stupidly on Thai television when I’m 60 years old while I sit there with a beautiful wife who’s only married me for my money don’t waste any pity on me.
Time Shift: I read Asian Sweetheart’s post last week when she first posted it and I responded in her comments. I guess others did as well and some sent her emails because she posted a follow up which I don’t think really does anything to clarify the situation.
I think the main point they were making on the show might have also been missed. They were concerned and upset that more and more young girls in the villages are thinking it is ok to go to work as a prostitute in one of the tourist areas because it is an easy way to meet and marry a farang man. The kids in the village see all those girls come back from places like Pattaya with a farang husband who builds them a big house and buys them gold. And they want it, too. Is that bad? If it makes them want to become prostitutes then yes it is bad, obviously.
What I would really like to pose to Asian Sweetheart is the question of why there is no similar documentary on what happens to the other 90% of women who go into prostitution in Thailand? What happens to the hundreds of thousands (collectively in the millions across several generations) who worked on their back in the Thai on Thai prostitution racket for the three or four years they weresellable and then had to go back to their village with a fraction of the money the girls who catered to farangs has made? You know no Thai customer is ever going to marry her. There’s no gold or nice home at the end of that rainbow. What’s the best she can hope for; becoming amia noi for a few years until the guy wants to upgrade to a newer model? Where is the public outcry over that? Why is Thai culture not being harmed when Thai women are forced into prostitution with Thai men?
I think what both Asian Sweetheart and the documentary maker miss in all of this is that it’s not about prostitution. Because what does it say if the averageIsaan girl’s life is so bleak that she would actually prefer to become a prostitute than serve out her normal place in Thai society? No “respectable” Thai would ever marry one of these brown girls so their options for improving their lot in life by marrying another Thai are limited. But that’s no different from any society that has a massive gap between rich and poor. The only difference here is that no Thai guy who has both feet firmly outside the pit of poverty is going to give a brown girl the time of day no matter how attractive she may seem to afarang . At least in the West there’s enough cultural diversity where a rich white guy wouldn’t think twice about marrying a sexy looking Spanish woman, or a black woman, or an Asian woman. Nor would a rich black guy think twice about marrying a . . . okay, you get the picture. In the West we just don’t give a shit about that type of crap as much as Thai people do.
So farangs are sort of like Prince Charmings. The girls haven’t thought it all through yet because . . . well, young people don’t tend to really think. I mean, how many farang boys say they want to be doctors, lawyers, firemen, or astronauts but never even consider what it will take to enter those professions? But, for most of these girls, marrying afarang seems like a much more attainable goal than does, say, getting into a good university and getting a high paying job. She may not have access to a quality education (most educational spending goes to schools in and aroundBKK), she may not be able to get into a decent university, but she can marry a farang and become much wealthier than the girl who has all of those advantages.
So of course these girls are going to say that they want to marry a farang. The more they see it around them the more realistic an expectation it becomes for them. How many doctors or rich businessmen do they see in their villages as role models? But I bet if if the interviewer asked how many of the girls would be willing to work in a blow job bar on Patpong for a chance to meet their white knight (no pun intended) they would have gotten a much different response much in the same way many boys give up their dreams of becoming astronauts when they find out it involves slightly more than wearing a cool flight suit and pretending to be weightless.
And to bring it full circle; for most of the women who go into prostitution the choice is not whether to cater to farangs or to stay virtuous but whether or not to cater to farangs or Thais. The Thai government tries to downplay the number of prostitutes in Thailand by laughably claiming only 75,000 or so practice the profession while NGO’s put the number as high as 2 million which is roughly 9% of the entire female population of Thailand. Of that, only about 10% work in the farang side of the prostitution game. So a staggering number of women go into prostitution not to service farangs but to service Thais.
Just to quote some figures from a reader submission to Stickman’s website:
According to reliable surveys of sexual behaviour, every day at least 450,000 Thai men visit prostitutes.
Other incidental figures produced by the survey indicate that 81% of respondents had visited a prostitute within 6 months prior to the survey, 97% of military conscripts (2 year compulsory service) regularly visit prostitutes and 73% of the conscripts lost their virginity to a prostitute.
So, it would seem that if the Thai people are really serious about not wanting their precious snowflakes to get into prostitution they should first lower the demand for prostitutes across the board. But that isn’t what people really want. The Thais are perfectly okay with turning a blind eye if it can be discreet. As long as she’s able to send money home to mum and dad they’re more than willing to pretend they don’t know what she does for a living.
But farangs don’t seem to understand the meaning of discretion. While there are more Thai brothels than 7-11’s in Bangkok they aren’t pumping the music to 11 and having half naked touts outside trying to lure men in. Similarly, when Thai brothel girls go back home for a visit their entire wardrobe doesn’t consist of clothing that screams “WHORE!” And, yes, when a farang meets a girl and goes back to live with her in her sleepy Isaan village he isn’t going to buy some modest Isaan home. He’s going to build himself a mansion.
I read an interesting letter awhile back from a Thai man who expressed his anger when the world media makes Thailand synonymous with prostitution. But then he went on to say that it’s good that it makes him and other Thais angry because if they don’t get angry nothing will ever change. He recalled how when the world put a big spotlight on Thailand for turning a blind eye to child prostitution it forced Thailand to recognize how immoral it is. He ended by saying that the anger Thai people feel should be directed at themselves for not recognizing their own problems sooner.
So that is what I would like to submit to Asian Sweetheart and documentary filmmakers and anyone else who think it’s terrible that young Thai girls want to go off and become prostitutes in order to marry a farang. If prostitution is immoral on Soi Cowboy it’s just as immoral when it happens in a brothel hidden behind the facade of a normal business. It’s completely hypocritical to call prostitution a farang problem when only 19% of Thai men haven’t slept with a prostitute in the last 6 months and almost a half million Thai men are shagging prostitutes each and every single day.
If prostitution is indeed immoral then why do you shake your finger at only 10% of the problem? The 10% who pays almost double what Thais pay thus compensating the girls better. The 10% who from time to time do actually end up marrying some of these girls and giving them a better life than they could ever have imagined. The 10% who were raised in a culture where men are taught to respect and protect women.
If prostitution is indeed immoral then why are you not shaking your finger in outrage at the other 90% of the problem? The 90% that is caused by a corrupt government that has channeled wealth from the farmers into the cities thus economically forcing them into the only trade where they can make any sort of decent wage. The 90% where many of the women are sold into the profession against their will (often by their own parents to pay off gambling and other debts). The 90% where the bulk of remaining child prostitution still occurs.
And while it may read as if I’m defending prostitution or making excuses for it I am most certainly doing no such thing. I think the place for debating the pros and cons of prostitution and the reality of prohibition is an entirely different post. This post is meant to speak to those who have already made up their mind that prostitution is immoral and to throw the ball back into their court to defend why only prostitution with farangs needs to be stopped while Thai culture doesn’t need to be defended against Thai on Thai prostitution.
I’ll end by telling you about an experience I had a few days ago which has happened to me several times with Thai women over the last few years. We were chatting quite nicely and she had mentioned that she had recently taken a job in Phuket. I told her that I had just been to Phuket on holiday. Her response was “Did you fuck any of the whores from Bangla ?” I wasn’t going to go for the bait so I simply asked her why she would ask me such a rude question hoping that by pointing out her rudeness we could end this ugly little exchange. Instead her response was that all farangs come to her country and want to fuck whores so why should I be any different. Like I said, this is not a unique experience. It’s happened to me on several different occasions both live and over chat. I’m guessing a lot of these girls have been burned by farangs before and they’re bitter. Anyway, my response is always the same “You know, a recent poll showed that 81% of Thai men have had sex with a prostitute in the last 6 months. Me, I haven’t been with a prostitute in the last 6 months. So if you’re looking for someone who knows about whores, maybe you should ask your dad, your brother, or any of your guy friends. Sorry, I can’t help you.” I’ll let you guess how that goes over 🙂