To start, this post is initially made to answer an interview by Christine. She is a social science student from the Netherlands and came to Bangkok for her topic study regarding interracial relationship in Asia. I met her at an event “Random Thainess” and later I became an interviewee provided by these great guideline questions.
All of the below statements that I explain are what I am against. I hope that these prejudiced beliefs among Thai people will fade away in a decade. Please do not mistake me that I am aligned with these ideas or I’m a narrow-minded expats hater. Thank you!
Okay, let’s start with a bit of my self-introduction.
Year of birth: Early 1990 (Today’s society would call me a generation y – z)
Family background: A 3rd generation Thai of Chinese descent.
1. Would you like to be in a relationship?
I like it as long as I can still keep the so-called “Single Person’s Freedom”.
2. How do you feel about marriage?
If the marriage here is fixed to the conventional gender binary concept, legitimate marriage for me is a daunting experience that I wouldn’t be able to face.
When it comes to this level of relationship, everything is shared and committed. I do not really dread the marriage but my major fear could be the fear of missing any future’s opportunities. This is partially stimulated by the dominantly patriarchal environment in Thai-Chinese domestic culture.
Let’s face it. Women are obliged to serve their husband’s family. Say, “F-A-M-I-L-Y”. Not just her husband. It’s traditional that the woman has to move in the husband’s house and be UNDER that said family. (Unlike Thai, the man moves in.)
My male cousin’s family is a good example. I witnessed that the sister-in-law (also Thai-Chinese, age: 15 years older than me) didn’t get a chance to visit her OWN family during the significant festivals. I saw other women making 冬至 (Dong zhi) and lunar New Year’s dessert every year for husband’s family first BEFORE they went back to serve their own. By that time she was visiting her own family, it was almost at the end of the festival. Another example is my aunt-in-law, she seems to have been bound to serve my uncle’s mother (my grandma) for the rest of her life after her marriage. Also, my deceased mom, all her children (me and my biological bro) must belong to her husband’s (my papa) family without the mutual family’s verdict according to the traditional manner. Because of what? Children are her husband’s family name holders, not her own.
This is ridiculous and I hate it.
3. How do I feel about arranged dating and marriage?
It’s not a common scene nowadays but it still happens sometimes. No one feels blissful to be introduced to a stranger organised by their parents. What does it look like? Oh, it’s not as awful as it’s portrayed in the public media.
The arranged dating / introduction MIGHT happen after kids turn above 18 (post-graduation period or at the age of 22-23 is mostly preferable).
There are Thai-Chinese association’s feasts annually, twice (?). This is an opportunity that parents would use to arrange their “kid” seated next to the prospective kid of other members. These reasons would turn you to experience the joy of parents’ manipulative plots:
1) If you are NOT a straight person.
2) If you are at the age of your prime time for reproduction but you are still single. Late 27-29 years old is ideal. (FYI: For the most parts in Asia, a woman is deemed to be “left on the shelf” when she turns to number “30” and no one has proposed to her.)
3) If you are in a relationship with a person whom your family disapproves of due to incompatibility in financial, educational, professional, business backgrounds, etc.
( For your information:
– Generally, parents prefer their kids to be in a relationship with another Thai-Chinese.
– If you are a Thai-Chinese, some conservative parents may expect you to choose a person in accordance with this belief )
– It’s harder for a Thai man to marry a Thai-Chinese female.
– While it’s more acceptable for a Thai-Chinese man to marry a Thai woman. )
4) Finally, if you are in a relationship with an ANG MOR (a derogative Chinese word to call Caucasians)
4. Who initiates the date?
Twenty years ago and more, women initiating the call/conversation/encounter would be called ‘Raed’ (literal meaning: rhinoceros — colloquial meaning: bitchy) or ‘Raan’ (another word for bitch) or ‘Dok Thong’ (literal meaning: Golden Flower — another word for a misbehaved bitch). Like in any other parts of the world, women must be like a damsel in distress.
Nowadays, that perception is fading and the relationship initiator can be either male or female. However, it’s somewhat special for females to initiate dating. Females are prone to manipulate the targeted male to respond the expression first. This is the same as how Japanese women initiate the dates. They do not bluntly tell the man but they manipulate men to start developing the crush on them and finally initiate the date instead.
Once the dates seem inevitable, females would play hard to get to maintain the look that she’s not easily convinced. (Although she herself is the manipulator.)
5. The phases of dating and relationship may be summarised in the following:
2) Chatting. This is a phrase to mutually develop each other’s crush but NOT CLEARLY YET a dating.
3) Confessing and asking to be in a relationship. At this phase, the couple call each other “FAN” (boyfriend – girlfriend) instantly.
4) Basic Dating. This may seem like the opposite of the western world. WHAT?! PEOPLE BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP BEFORE THEY START DATING? It really is a reversed universe…… What people do during the dating phase? Going to a movie, walking the parks/malls, dining. The level of physical contact: hand holding, arms holding. That’s all.
5) Lower-Intermediate dating. More serious. This phase would include getting to know each other’s friends and other social circles that are not parents. Introducing that they are officially BF-GF. The public sphere knows their status. Physical contact: cheek kissing, shoulder holding, waist holding (? I’m not sure….)
6) Intermediate dating / An official relationship. Most public sphere already knows their status. The couple may start discussing about their inner selves, their dreams, their career goals, their hobbies, their dislikes, etc. They would start more intimate activities e.g. going upcountry/overseas together and sleeping in the same room (not necessary to end up on the same bed though).
The relationship path becomes more critical now. Each other’s family is introduced and visited. Parents acknowledge their relationship but still keep an eye on their kids. Kids are reminded not to misbehave (e.g. have premarital intercourse). Once their status is known among each other’s parents, it’s deemed to be official and it’s not a dating situationanymore.
At this critical phase, some couples may need to take time to prepare themselves very carefully before taking their significant other to show up with their parents (1-2 years, approx.) Some couples may promise to each other to build up some stable platforms together before they can present with parents that this is the person they likely to marry with. It sounds like a business plan presentation to the bank/lender. Yes, showing up with parents is the verification of their future serious relationship. Women may be utterly upset if they have been in a relationship/dating for a long time but the man hasn’t showed her to his parents. It’s a sign of insincerity that the man may not take her as a serious choice to marry with.
7) Upper-intermediate / Serious relationship: At this phase, each other’s family would have a stronger expectation about when they will marry. Parents would call them in to discuss about their future relocation, mortgage, mutual property, when they will have children, the expected numbers of children, grandchildren’s education. Both families become intimate with one another. Man’s parents know the names, occupation, background of the woman’s parents and vice versa. Both families would share the mutual activities e.g. going out upcountry/overseas together. Parents no longer keep an eye on their kids so the couple can get around freely as full-grown adults. Physical contact: some couples may already have premarital sex but both families’ parents may pretend to act unaware or not acknowledge it.
8) Engagement is optional.
9) Advanced / Marriage deal: Both families officially discuss the wedding package, wedding organiser, how the invitation cards should be designed, the number of guests, wedding location, mortgage, property, etc. The dowry money depends on each family. Nowadays, modern families are open to dowry-free marriage. In other cases, open-minded families (but still care about the social norm) may still set the dowry proposal scene but the money is actually the groom’s and bride’s combined money before the couple take them back. It’s no longer unlike the non-Thai Chinese dowry tradition that the groom’s money will be entirely taken to the bride’s family.
6. How a wedding would look like in 1 day?
The wedding ceremony of my male cousin and sister-in-law looked like this:
• Early morning: Thai. I’m not sure about the hows but it involved the water pouring on hands while couples had a big white dot painted on their foreheads..
• Before noon: Chinese (sipping tea, eating Chinese sweetmeat, paying respect to ancestors and gods, etc.)
• Noon: Changing costume to Thai clothes, treating the guests for lunch
• Afternoon: Thai. (I forget what they did…)
• Evening-Midnight: Changing costume to Western clothes and follow the western styles (no Christian church related…)
7. What characteristics are important for a boyfriend/husband?
• Carefree environment. A person whom I am totally comfortable with as a friend. A friend to just be old and fat together for the rest of our lives.
• Do not mess with my personal income. Separated wallets.
• Just do not bring my life down. Also, personal development is needed.
8. How do you view interracial relationships and dating?
Scroll up and read point 4) in question 3. Being in an interracial relationship is possible but it’s not going to be smooth. Thai-Chinese community doesn’t accept that interracial dating with, ahem!, Caucasian, is something to be proud of. Women being openly in a relationship with Caucasian are watched and people will gossip about them.
Women would avoid Caucasian male friends, colleagues, bosses, classmates like a plague. They feel uncomfortable to be publicly seen walking alone with Caucasian male(s). They should be grouped or chaperoned by any other non-Caucasian person(s) or Caucasian female(s) when they have a Caucasian of opposite sex as their company. Some women may take offence when stranger(s) presume that their Caucasian male acquaintance is their boyfriend/husband. They do not want to be categorised into the mainstream “Farang Guys & Thai Girls” myth.
I have plenty of foreign friends, both males and females. Once my aunt-in-law heard this, she abruptly forewarned me “Be careful. Don’t mess with them too much.” And I was left bewildered “What? Be careful of what? They are not some radioactivity that I must be careful of.” She recalled that moment when a group of drunk Russians playfully nudged her and kissed her on the cheek while lining up at the Hong Kong airport. She said, “Look. They are dirty-minded. These farangs are shameless perverts. You have many farang friends. Don’t mess with them too much. Beware. Don’t have a “Hua Nok” (Western mindset) too much.”
I was speechless and fed up with her racism. Drunk people are drunk people regardless of skin and nationality. Those Russians happened to be drunk at THAT moment. It’s not because they are Russian so they were drunkards. Also, dirty-minded people are simply dirty-minded by their nature. They are not dirty-minded because they are Caucasian.
In my community, there was a girl who was in a relationship with a Caucasian guy. She hid this fact but it was finally discovered and everyone gossiped about her. One of the stereotypical gossips couldn’t be anything but “Surely that girl must have been deflowered and not a virgin because her boyfriend is an Ang Mor.”. A few others would be “What happened with that family? Why does the daughter go out with an Ang Mor? Are they in debt now?”
This mainstream “Farang Guys & Thai Girls” myth also causes the twisted form of “ANTI-Farang Guy & Thai Girl Myth” in which the awfully faulty logics are as the following:
*Caution: Offensive and irritating to politically correct readers*
• FGTG Myth: Caucasian men are more sexually active (as misunderstood/misperceived from the Hollywood media*) and those devilish souls are coming to xxx your daughters. This is due to the perception among the locals that westerners are freer (and easier) to have a one night stand.
[Comment: A man who wants to xxx your daughter is a man who wants to xxx your daughter regardless of his race.]
- I need to clarify this point about the perception from the Hollywood media. More than half a century ago, public display of affection was a new thing in Thailand. Western media came in and the kissing scenes were unacceptable for local audiences. Kissing scenes could even be found in Disney cartoons or shows for kids. So I presume it’s understandable that people might have perceived that western people are more sexually open/active. This perception has been passed down from generation to generation.
•FGTG Myth: Your daughters will look impure.
•ANTI-FGTG Myth: Or your daughter is too bold, too bitchy, too “Hua Soong” (high-flying), too confident to approach Ang Mor.
•ANTI-FGTG Myth: So, girls, do not appear being alone with Ang Mor male if you don’t want to be seen as a slut or an unvirgin woman.
•FGTH Myth: Thai women dating Caucasian are from a rural background in hope of marriage to get a better life.
•ANTI-FGTG Myth: Daughter should not appear ‘intimate’ with Caucasian male as a proof that their family is still well-off, not in debt, not a country bumpkin. ( This degradation will double if 1) That woman has physical appearance resembles those really from a rural background. 2) She also has Pigeon English. )
[ Comment: There are lots of Thai devoid of Chinese descent but they are REAL elites. There are people whose look may resemble the generalisation of those from a rural background but they are real high-class people with prestigious surnames and royal bloodlines. People, do not always mistake the look with the common stereotype. ]
This should be clearer to many expats in ThaiVisa forum about why Caucasian males face difficulty approaching and dating with women they prefer to call ‘Normal’ Thai girls.
For dating, Thai-Chinese parents would allow daughter to casually date Caucasian but still remind her not to take it seriously. Also, parent’s keeping an eye on the daughter’s relationship with Caucasian might be more intensive than usual. Eventually, parents will *read point 4) in question 3* and accepts if daughter knows and dates a suitable man of the same ethnic and socioeconomic background.
In my point of view, the reason is the fear of occupational disparity after their daughter relocates to live with her husband overseas. Imagine that their daughter was holding a good position in a renowned xyz company in Thailand. What would she do in a country where she’s a non-citizen? A waitress? A nanny? A stay-at-home housewife? Luckily, an office clerk whose the position is nothing close to the previous position she held in Thailand?
If you do not have a clear guarantee of the profession for their daughter, the marriage is immediately out of your league. Some of you, expats, may claim “My wife has a good job in an xyz company in *insert a western country* as a *insert a position*“. Congratulations on your enviable life! However, not everyone is lucky. The disparity among non-citizens in the western countries is real. Also, the white privilege is real. Although she is a cleaner in a western country and gets paid 3x more than a high-ranking employee in Thailand, the job role is not what her family would be satisfied with. For her parents, money is not an issue. It’s the utmost humiliation that matters.
9. Is love important in a relationship?
10. How would you describe love?
Being devoted to helping one another improve: intellectually, educationally, financially, professionally, mentally, emotionally, socially, anything. Action says love.
11. Who will pay on the dates?
It is expected that it’s a man’s duty to pay especially on the first date. But I usually volunteered (and was willing) to share equally. There are modern women nowadays who insist sharing on the first date, too.
12. You fear this text might be offensive. Why do you think that?
It shows a clear case study of ethnocentricism in Thailand. No one enjoys to be labelled ‘Dirty-minded, pervert, shameless, devilish souls who will screw someone’s daughter, nudity-obsessed, sexpats, etc.’ just because they are born Caucasian.
13. Have you at some point lived or worked abroad?
Travelling, yes. Having lived and worked abroad, no.
14. What about other ethnicities or races? How do you view for example Africans, Indians, other Asians.
As my answers are mainly based on the Thai-Chinese context, so these are the likeliest points of view:
•Africans: Not even likely to happen. Although, it does happen in Tiger Woods’ case. (His mother is a Thai married with an African-American husband.)
•Indians: There are quite many “Luk Kreung” (mix-raced) of Thai-Chinese & Indian although the likelihood is slim. To be more precise, most of the Indian-looking Luk Kreung are ‘Sikh‘ people. These Sikh people are of prestigious and wealthy bloodlines since the ancient early Rattanakosin period. The majority of them are real estate entrepreneurs.
• Muslim: Probably the most prohibited group of people not to marry with. Thai-Chinese here realise the sense of being minority among themselves and do not want to lose their cultural identity. I can’t imagine how a Thai-Chinese would be able to blend in a Muslim family, and vice versa. Pork and lard is one of the essential ingredients in Chinese diet. Unfortunately, it violates the Islamic dietary law. Beef is the Muslim’s favourite but many Chinese abstain from eating it. Some Chinese claim it’s because of their belief in the Guan Yin goddess so the consumption of beef is a taboo. (You may not find the existence of this belief in the PRC China and any other Chinese-majority countries anymore.) Chinese religious belief is polytheism whilst Muslim’s is monotheism. Chinese would not feel okay to worship Allah and follow the Sharia laws on a daily basis. On the contrary, Muslims may forbid the “Wai Jao” (pay respect to Chinese gods and their late ancestors) to even be held within the household. Chinese do the Wai Jao every month and Wai Jao is a crucial part in EVERY festival. One uses the Chinese astrology to define the children’s birth and lifetime fortune, while the other may feel something disagreeable with it. There are many acts that may stop the marriage of these two cultures from getting along in the long run.
15. Does your opinion differ much from popular opinion? What do you think might be the reason?
My opinions are somewhat different from the norm. The reason is I’m an anti-conventionalist. These conventional ideas still exist among people in the same generation as mine (largely female’s ideal mindsets). Texts in orange are my comments:
•Stay a virgin and do not be in a situation involving genital stimulation before they get married.
•If you are falling into the unavoidable situation involving genital stimulation, always say no to the man because “If there is real love, the sex can wait.”.
•If the man is showing an act of sexual desire, that man just wants to xxx you and dump you soon. If that happens, you’ll be in an everlasting misfortune for love life.
•Girls, say no to the man because you’ll be his only one princess on the wedding day. An “impure” woman will just be a ‘road flower’ for man to pass by and pick up and dump. An impure woman will not be a mother of his future children. *wow, women shaming among women again!*
•There was one friend who told me “I can’t believe he was watching porn! I’ll break up with him! If he loves me, he should never watch porn! He already has me, why does he need to watch porn?!” *I rolled my eyes* In another situation, a friend said “If a man who’s having a crush on you (not in a relationship yet) is watching porn, stay away because he might want to xxx you. Maybe he is imagining you during his masturbation. He’s dirty-minded and you should never get close with him.” *I banged my head with a wall*
•The ideal age to be married is 25 – 30.
•Women must have babies. If not, there must be something wrong with your maternal instinct and the role of wife in your family.
16. The Thai PM made some comments on gender roles recently, e.g. that gender equality will make society deteriorate. Do you think that he tells what the majority of Thai people think/endorse? What do you feel about these comments?
The greatest success during his period of being a dictator of the country is the nationwide energy-saving every Friday evening. It works better than any energy-saving policies ever. Despite his forceful talk show broadcasted on every channel, almost everyone shuts down TVs during his hours-long senseless speeches. His show could save Thailand’s billions baht from wasting energy in one hour. It’s been the only benefit this government has contributed so far. The closest analogy you can clearly picture is how American would react to Donald Trump’s public rant. Senseless, ridiculous, racist, misogynist, narrow-minded, gross.
Bottom line is his comments are NOT what the majority of Thai people endorse. Of course, there must be something to do with the age gap that pisses the young gens. He was a soldier raised in the hierarchal/aristocratic brainwashing during his lifelong military service. So please leave him alone like a frog in a well because he doesn’t seem to know how far the modern world has progressed.
Too lazy to upload gifs to make this post more fancy.