Thais have a lot of fun. Ask them if they’re having fun during some of the most monotonous tasks, and they’ll say yes. Americans could learn a lesson.
It’s from this fun that the country is nicknamed The Land of Smiles.
It’s also from this fun I’d like to slap some Thai men.
I come from a country that acts as if it enjoys its life, but many times doesn’t. Many Americans are miserable and won’t change with a better job or spouse. Thais live a simpler life which leads to a happier one. The region of Thailand I live in (Isaan) is the poorest, but also the happiest.
Remember the opening scene in Carrie (book and movie) where Carrie’s in the locker-room shower with her classmates and they all start laughing at her because she’s having her period? Put some clothes on everyone and that’s Thailand every day. Carrie wouldn’t wait until they dumped pig’s blood on her – she’d kill them all in a matter of days.
Thai women laugh just like the men, but they also show patience and empathy for a foreigner. Thai women are more intelligent than Thai men. They’re the ones paying attention in class while the boys play slap-and-tickle and make jerk-off gestures across the room. The women will slow their speaking to help foreigners understand and if they don’t, the women tend to use different words and hand gestures. They also know more English stemming from their attentiveness in class. Rarely do I find a man with these attributes. Most of them speak like an auctioneer and when I tell them I don’t understand, they simply repeat what they said just as fast. It doesn’t help that their favorite activity tends to be drinking.
If these men were in America, they would be labeled as sexist and quickly fired from most jobs. They would need to make major adjustments. They’d also have to learn how to cook, wash dishes and clothes and put ice in their own damn glass. I know it’s the way of their culture to have defined gender roles, but I find my mind shouting, “You puss! Get your own second helping of rice. You have two hands!” If all the women of Thailand left for a day, they’d come back to dirty, disease-infested men drinking warm beer.
Thankfully, I’m also a dude. I’ve heard too many stories from female volunteers of having to serve men and being looked down upon – especially the younger women. I also hear how they felt about being treated like an 1840’s housewife.
I wanted to rip his balls off.
I glared and slammed his plate. I think he got the picture.
What astonishes me is that Thai women are not American women. Where my fellow volunteers can’t stand being treated like a Thai woman, the Thais don’t seem to mind. There are no signs of bra burning or equal-rights rallies. It’s not sexism. It’s how it is.
Keep in mind my sample size is mostly from a small rural village. Behavior is different in a metropolitan area.
It is because of Thai male behavior that I choose to work with kids and hang out with Thai women. Male behavior may not be wrong, but I can’t seem to adjust to it. The women tell me how it’s unnecessary to get their ice and glasses at the restaurant, but I keep doing it. They’re flattered and confused when I hold the door open for them.
I go out of my way to let the boys in my classes know how I treat women. I invite the girls to play baseball and accommodate and include them in classroom activities. I also let them know that yes, I have had beer and alcohol, but I drink it in moderation. If I drink at home, it’s never in the view of my neighbors. I know the boys look up to me. I’m hoping my example is followed.
I’m here to teach them about American culture. In America, good men have arms, legs and a heart.