Sexual Colonialism, Thai Style

thailand market women
Thailand market women. Credit: FriskoDude/Flickr.

By: Andrea Alarcón, Trang, Thailand

If I see one more farang (Thai slang for white European) with a young Thai woman I think I will throw something at them. A coconut maybe. I was counting them at the beginning, but the number soon grew too much for my little brain. I realized I cannot tell between an actual relationship and a paid one. Is there actually a difference when it comes to rich men marrying poor women who could be their daughters?

Please excuse all my generalizations, as trends stories tend to do. Apparently, marrying a farang is a good thing, a status rise. Many documentaries interview young girls whose dream it is to “marry a farang.” For money or to get treated better…So not only is it a women’s issue, it’s a race issue, a poverty issue: a human rights issue.

Of course, any middle-income European coming to Thailand is relatively rich, and that’s why so many of them come here in the first place. Having a Thai wife willing to take care of his children, be pretty, not talk back (again, what language would they communicate in anyways?), do the laundry and clean — seems like a pretty good deal. I think we could call it sexual colonialism. Since women from rich countries are too “annoying” and nagging and expect some collaboration from their men, they choose to head out to a poorer country where they can find what they lost in their own 50 years ago. It reminds me of the “rich” people from developing countries who move to the US and Europe missing the servants they had back home. Missing poverty.

As for prostitution in general, the country made it illegal in the ’60s, but there have been various attempts to bring it back. Thai society believes that prostitution actually helps lower rape incidents, and serve unmarried men. Also married men of course. Since premarital sex for a woman is very badly looked upon and almost unacceptable, prostitutes take up the slack. Also, the human trafficking volume is one of the biggest ones of the world. The documentary “Falang: Behind Bangkok‘s Smile” tells the story of a 19-year-old sex worker in the tourism industry.

Yet there are many poor countries, and the trends are not as large as in Thailand, where the age difference is so stark. What makes the difference between prostitution and marriage? Isn’t marrying someone for status or money a more permanent state of prostitution? A legalized one?

One thought on “Sexual Colonialism, Thai Style

  1. It’s a sad situation for sure, and most of what you say is fair and accurate. But there is another side which western society would do well to think on. Please don’t throw back insults, because I am only telling some hard truths here. Many western men seek Asian girlfriends or wives simply because they don’t bring the stresses and frustrations material pursuits that seem to come hand in hand with a modern western relationship and lifestyle. To be honest, many more Asian women have a slim and sexy presentation, lack the artificial image of so many western women (e.g. dyed blonde hair, endless pursuit of what’s in fashion), have a more feminine and gentle personality (yes many men don’t like strong minded, loud females – fact) and …. are simply more relaxed and gifted when it comes to sex. Many men do not seek women 20-30 years their junior – they simply want someone their own age who is easier and more enjoyable to live with.

    Now, having set the kerosene alight, we have to ask why. Well, to be fair the answer is complex and lies both with women and men in the west and how they are affected by stresses, material basis and social inheritance of our society. One thing, for sure, is our attitude to sex – quite frankly it’s perverse. We fail to see it is a natural, relaxing, ok thing. In Britain for sure, it is always a sleazy topic, laced with jokes about S&M, schoolgirl outfits, perversions of old men, and yes, a complete disgust with any relationship that involves a man with a women anything more than 10 years his junior. To be honest who business is it?

    If only we had a more open attitude to sex, if women AND men took better care of the bodies after after 35, if we slowed down and found more time for love, if we stopped competing in the rat race, if we listened to each other more, maybe …. men would not run away looking for it.

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