Monday, 19 September 2011

My boyfriend the sex tourist

The less one knows of a culture the harder it is not to stereo-type or be prejudice about relations between women of economically less developed countries and foreign men who are better off.
The cliche image of Thailand is that single ladies are easy to get by practically any foreign man of a richer country, regardless of age, personality, brains and physical apperance. Money talks.
Dealing with Thai - foreign relations, it's often hard for foreigners to really understand what such a '(younger) exotic beautiful' woman is doing with such an '(older) ugly' man, 'normally' the man would be able to find a nice local wife, so obviously she must be merely out for his little capital.
Vice versa Thai who feel they belong to the middle class or higher class often stereotype relations between foreign men and Thai women as well. Often the Thai lady has a darker skin and is therefore seen as low class, say a poor countrygirl with little education.
For these people it's hard to understand what the 'well-off' foreigners find so attractive in such 'ugly' women of a lower class background.
Apart from people to whom the S in L.O.S. (Land of Smiles) has a complete different meaning and frequently boost their macho ego in pussy paradise, the majority of Thai women wouldn't even give it a single thought to have a one-night stand or bring a foreign man over to her parents house.
So, can we call the other foreigners visiting the country and falling in a long lasting love relation with the beauty of the Thai culture and people, with a single person in particular, sex tourists?
I would argue that in many relations all over the world so-called 'succesful' people have partners who seem to complement their shortcomings. How many 'less handsome' but famous and wealthy man have 'beautiful' wifes? Do we call them whores? No, usually we don't, so to label foreing men with a Thai partners as sex tourists is demeaning as well, regardless how they met.
Average people usually have average partners. So far no difference with foreign - Thai relations. The only difference is the perspective of your looking glasses: Less 'successful' foreigners in foreign eyes usually have 'low class' wifes in Thai eyes. So in either country, prejudice towards one of the partners remains.
Similar to common love relations between two people, in the longer lasting ones, sex is usually a pleasant by-product not the single reason to settle down, so the title of the 2007 BBC documentary "My boyfriend the sex tourist" sounds like a contradictio in terminis, since the main characters and husbands to be are all looking for  long lasting relations. In my opinion the contradicting title is exactly the stigma many Thai ladies and foreign partners are facing. As far as the topic bar ladies is concerned, without trying to moralise too much, but wether one is back home or in Thailand and meet up in a bar or disco, get drunk, having a one night stand are usually not the bonding factors of long lasting affairs.
Still, director Monica Garnsey gives a wonderful insight into the lives of two Thai women called Fon and Lek.
Fon is working in a beer bar in Bangkok, she has a British boyfriend, with whom she maintains daily phone and Skype contact. Will this relationship succeed?
Lek wants that too, but initially she relies on an online dating agency from her home in the Isan. Eventually, she sees herself forced to go try her luck in the pleasure industry in the Thai capital, with all the problems this entails.
The ladies are followed both in Bangkok and Isan and the documentary provides a rarely seen realistic glimpse into the life of many Thai single mothers who became disappointed by Thai men and are trying to solve their daily problems by finding a foreign alternative.
Personally, I got to know the professional and home situation of a handfull of sweet and cute bar ladies who have foreign boyfriends, but in all honesty I still have to meet one as faithful as Lek. Then again many bar ladies are not fully being put on 'freehold' by a single boyfriend such as in Lek's case.
Some Thai bar ladies deserve well paid jobs in logistics, since I actually met some who managed to maintain relations with up to six boyfriends simultaneously, all visiting Thailand on a regular basis. The general attitude is something like; enhance your opportunities and may the best man win. Foreign candidates don't be deceived; some shrewd ladies even maintain different facebook profiles.
My advise: don't fall in the venus flytrap, if you want to obtain a 'permanent souvenir' from your Thai holiday, tourist places are the worst spots to find one. Go out and discover.
Anyway, apart from my sceptical side notes, the documentary is a must for foreign men who are into Thai ladies. Even if you don't identify with the provoking title (which of course you don't :), The 47 minutes might help you to enhance your insight by seeing both sides of the coin of a considerable group of Thai ladies  seeking relationship with a foreigner.

N.B.: After staying here for two years, and altough it's sometimes sad to see, the behaviour of ignorant farang in girly bars is often a larger source of entertainment for Polly and I than the actual girls.



  1. There is some truth in this video. I just dislike the way such documentaries ignore the reality that people are individuals - they are not zombies who all act the same. Every relationship has a unique history and dynamics.

    I understand why the film makers decided on the title - it is provocative. It is not an accurate description though. If these men were sex tourists then there is no way they would be having long term relationships with Thai women. A sex tourist doesn’t pay for sex; he pays for the girl to be gone in the morning. I suppose "my boyfriend the relationship tourist" just would not sound so juicy.

  2. Hi Paul, yes I guess the word sex sells better, but is somewhat demeaning like in "my girlfriend, the whore". Still in my opinion the documentary is one of the few serious approaches to map what remains hidden for a large majority.
    By the way, would you ever join a best farang husband competition such as is shown in the end? :)

  3. Yes the reality is not so exciting,
    Its almost been flogged to death and syndicated around the web as supposedly interesting content
    Call them old fashioned

  4. @SirMarjAlot: Interesting website you have, guess you got many flags, more than me most likely..
    Reality even in exotic countries can be boring. For me reality is what you make of it, but I consider myself to be very lucky.



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