Don’t even get me started on the pregnant woman raped by twin brothers here in Phuket in April, almost immediately people started spreading a rumor that she had killed herself. There’s a movie coming out soon about a high school girl who kills herself after becoming pregnant.
Even the little things. In Thailand, most schools require uniforms, meaning girls in skirts and boys in pants. My katoey students, who identify as female, are still required to male uniforms, regardless of preference. Though I, myself, am not really that much of a skirt person, working for a government office as I do, I am also required to wear skirts. I have to be extremely careful about my neckline and my skirt length. And it’s not that THAILAND is all that conservative in dress, go clothes shopping in Thailand and you’ll find all sorts of what might be considered club-wear in other places.
Women who are educated and hold high job positions are often considered unfeminine and remain unmarried. Women who marry young often remain uneducated. Men regularly cheat on their wives – not because they have a consensual open relationship, but because it affirms the male’s power and masculinity. Several times since I’ve been here, I’ve read of women snapping and castrating their male partners. (The joke goes that this is why Thai doctors as seen as good place for gender reconstruction surgery; they’ve gotten good at putting back on penises). Pushed to the brink.
In the first 4 months here, I listened to a girl have an absolute fit, and many people, instead of helping her – she so obviously needed help – seemed disgusted. Males left her to other females. She was a university student, not some recent mental hospital escapee. The same thing happened to my building manager’s daughter-in-law whose husband left her while she was pregnant. She had nothing except her mother-in-law, who was her boss, and what kind of safety is that for an abandoned-mother-to-be?
The diet/beauty marketing here? Holy hell. I’ve never seen the like of body shaming anywhere that I encounter here. Some of the before/after shots for weight loss/hair growth/skin whitening/etc are SO TERRIBLY PHOTOSHOPPED, and yet they work. You shame them over and over and over, and it works.
I’ve found this to be an extremely interesting country. Machismo is such a strong force here. So many women are treated like shit. So many women accept that being treated like shit is just how things go. But then I meet groups of women who are tough as nails. There are feminists here, and they fight as well.
The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.
Your world is full of freedom and possibility.
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