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SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 1 A Western Perspective on Sexuality i n Modern Thailand Jacquelyn Preston 11/29/2010
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 2 Abstract for its polite and generous people, Thailand has mixed feelings with regard to sexuality. The opposing views stem from traditional double standards of gender roles and a shifting society based on Western influences. sexual desires are exaggerated, and their women are refined and socialized to be abate d in their sexual desires. Yet, since the war in Vietnam, Thailand has become renowned for its sex industry, which is now a major tourist attraction. The popular notion is that the people of Thailand are much more open about sexuality, but in a Buddhist culture, this is contradictory For perspective, this report includes comparisons to the United States. Cultural observation research (ethnographic research), has been done to compare literature review s to reality. Thailand is known for poor documentatio n of research, and therefore, the latest and best source found is from 2005. This is a gap greater than 5 years, and with the rapid changing society in Thailand, many new updates have not been well documented Ethnographic research explored the myths and provided some significant update to the published literature.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 3 Prior to 1984, when HIV was first detected in Thailand (CCIES at The Kinsey Institute: Thailand, 2004, HIV/AIDS, para. 1), sexual research was considered being taboo, and most was gathered through questionnaires. It was chiefly concerned with sociological statistics and general attitudes towards: premarital sex, extramarital sex, cohabitation of unmarried couples, STIs, and abortion. These findings were typically used to design a curriculum for sex education (CCIES, 2004, Research and Advanced Education, para. 1). Post 1984, the research expanded to more diverse topics that were previously ignored, such as knowledge of AIDS, attitudes towards condoms, masturbation, and same gender attraction and homosexuality. Along with focus groups, face to face interviews have become a more common method used, under the assumption that the Thai population itself has become more open about sexuality (CCIES, 2004, Research and Advanced Education, para. 2). Gender Roles & t he Sexual Double Standard Virtuous Women: Kulasatrii Most often, contemporary upper and middle class rural women accept the domestic role of being mother nurturer ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Woman, para. 1) regarding it as a sign of dignity and honor in which they can take pride in. This kulasatrii notion, by tradition, has become the female code for social and sexual conduct. sophisticated in household duties, graceful, pleasant, yet unassuming in her appearance and social manners, and conservative in her sexuality and sexual conduct. Girls are often times taught what it means to be a kulasatrii woman in their lessons at school and e ven though modern day woman are finding jobs outside their homes at an increasing rate, they still endeavor
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 4 to juggle the ideal image of a kulasatrii and carry out their responsibilities that are demanded by the society ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Woman, para. 3). The Buddhist Monk and t he Gender Double Standard F or Thai me n, there are two ideal image s Their first, is the image in becoming a phrasong or Buddhist monk ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Implications, para. 2) These men stri ve to achieve nirvana ( CCIES, 2004 Buddhism, the Dominant Religious Factor, para. 3) by disdaining from worldly attachments and extremism via obedience and observation of the dharma ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Man, para. 1) In addition to being celibate, monks are to abstain from having any physical contact with women as to avoid the impurities touch ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 5), f or w omen are viewed as being lower on the hierarchy, as they cannot be ordained ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Man, para. 4) Thai Buddhists have a firm belief in karma and reincarnation, and spend their everyday lives conscious of enhancing their merit with the intention of heightening their status in locati on of rebirth, their division between heaven and hell, or position in the afterlife ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Implications, para. 2) According to the karma or lack of merit in a previous life, and therefore, has been reincarnated as a female. Despite this seemingly static view of women being damned for their gender, transience in gender is observed by the Thai people ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Man, para. 4), and t hus women accept their role in society as being temporary ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Man, para. 5).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 5 It is not uncommon for a young Thai man to become a phra or temporary monk. Thais view this course as a rite of passage into adulthood, an alternative option to losing their virginity in order to achieve manhood. Whether their stay lasts for a few days or a few years, these phra seek to make addition, these men have done a great service in the name of their families by means of gaining honor for their family ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Imp lications, para. 8) These young phra after their Lenten retreat are ready for marriage and settling down. They have now increased the parental approval of many young kulasatrii women ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Implicatio ns, para. 8) In fact, many kulasatrii seek phra and take a keen interest in their potential husband idealism ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage, para. 4) f or marrying a monk is one respectable way a Thai woman can raise her own merit and status in rebirth M er it from a monk will be trans cended to the woman upon marriage ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Implications, para. 8) This is particularly alluring to unmarried women and widows ( this term also refers to divorced Thai women) ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience, para. 8) and epitomizes the Thai view of women as being manipulative ( CCIES, 2004 A Double Standard for Sexuality and Gender Stereotypes, para. 2) These women have been kno wn to live near Buddhist temples in which monks reside Their desires are aimed towards deliberately seduc ing m onks into resigning their decree in favor of their love and marriage to them ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience, para. 7). Although ordination is not an option for women the highest merit a Thai woman can achieve is being the mother of an ordained son ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 6 Buddhism and Their Implications, para. 10) With the act of allowing her son to become a monk, a woman with even bad merit can be saved from hell ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Roles in Theravada Buddhism and Their Implications, para. 5). The Masculine Gentlemen: Chaai Chaatrii The second achievable ideal image of a Thai man is the life of a chaai chaatrii This notion embodies typical masculine features and With come vices, such as smoking, drinking, gambling, womanizing, commercial sex, minor wives, public brawls, petty crimes, and corruption ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Man, para. 1) Because Thailand is a male dominant, patriarchal society ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Woman, para. 1) giving men the ultimate financial control in the household it bestows them with the financial freedom to foot these vices ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Man, para. 3) However, many Thai women perceive this with accompanying adverse behaviors, such as an in ability to sustain emotional commitments which is d eriv ed from the Thai belief that males possess uncontrollable urges T hus this feature of the chaai chaatrii can sometimes be tainted into unreliability particularly, unreliability in managing a family, their household duties and responsibilities of being a parent ( CCIES, 2004 A Double Standard for Sexuality and Gender Stereotypes, para. 2) and upper class chaai chaatrii West into their social manners as well ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 1). A proper Thai gentleman will not touch a woman in casual circumstances, for it is seen as a purity violation. If he happens to breach this social manner, even in accidental contact such as
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 7 an insignificant brush of her hand, an apology is immediately anticipated f ollowed by an exp lanation Due to the sexual desires projected of males in the Thai society his touch is exhibited as being taboo and having a sexual intention unless otherwise stated ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 5) Thai gentlemen not only hold high respect for women, opening doors for them and other courteous gestures, but the Thai in general have respect for others ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 1) They are known and expected to be very caring and nurturing. This especially holds true in older Thai men. Influential and salient attributes such as bravery, wisdom, and power become the social expectations of a chaai chaatrii with age, maturing them into a pho liang The pho liang earns his respect from the communi ty through his resourceful wisdom and charitable donations ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Man, para. 1) This image of the chaai chaatrii has been well modeled by Siamese (Thai) kings, who have work ed hard, yet have play ed just as equally hard; he is supportive of his friends, fierce to his foes, and also a great womanizer ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Man, para.2) Emperors had as many as a thousand concubines at their disposal ( CCIES, 2004 Reasons for the Existence of Pr ostitution in Thailand, para. 1). The Sexual Double Standard: Gender within the Thai society. The first notable stereotype is that of the chaai chaatrii and the second involves superstitions towards the Thai female body Chaai chaatrii is based on characteristics such as chivalry and masculinity, which presumes that women can be weak and volatile creatures. Thus, playing on the idea that they are
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 8 somehow in need of this honoring and protection ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 8). Secondly, and still in existence today, is belie f that men must not lower themselves below karma and underlying destiny. Engaging in cunnilingus, or having intercourse with a woman who is menstruating, is considered hazardous ails skirts or undergarments. As for men who are not superstitious, they are still advised to evade these situations in order to protect their reputation ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life). The Sexual Double Standard: Intercourse Because Western femi CC IES 2004 Gender in Everyday Life para. 8) there happens to be an even larger gap in the double standard in Thailand than within the United States Although flirtation between men and women is not frowned upon ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage kulasatrii notion, men are given greater freedom when displaying their sexual conduct ( CC IES 2004 Gender in Everyday Life pa ra. 7). The kula satrii notion then implies that Thai men have much more sexual interest than women do ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 1) and therefore exploration and premarital sex is allowed amongst males, which results in a higher report of sexual experiences. Young women feel ashamed of their sexual curiosity They believe that they should wait until they are married to find out about sex ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 6) for a Women
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 9 ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 5), and Thais are sometimes suspicious of Wester n culture Terms such as jai ngaai jai taek seeking women that seem morally corrupt or out of control ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 6). Included with a bad rep utation comes the obvious risks of pregnancy and sexual health, as well as or even leading to the desire to become a prostitute ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 5). her virginity, and without it, she has nothing to lose by selling herself into the s ex industry ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 6). Therefore, parental supervision which is often exercised by Thai fathers, and gender segregation amongst schools and college dormitories are helpful in maintaining this personification ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 3). Thai fathers are very protective of their teenage daughters and have great control over their friendships with male peers ( CCIES, 2004 A Double Standard for Sexuality and Gender Stereot ypes, para. 1) While Thai women are busy maintaining their purity, Thai boys eagerly look forward to their first sexual experience ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 2) Studies correspond with the societal double standard of men having prior sexual experience to marriage being more acceptable (55% of men agreed, yet only 24% of women), while the extended approval of women partaking in premarital sex (only 15% of participants concur) was not so much ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavio r, para. 5) The women who have participated
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 10 in pre marital sex often try to keep it a secret ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 6). When Thai men lose their virginity it is usually associated with a rite of passage and acknowled gement of their adulthood ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 1) In fact, 54% of the men in the military have reported having their first sexual intercourse before 16 years of age 74% of which had been performed with a commercial sex worke r ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience, para. 2) in order to help preserve virtuous Thai women Many times Thai fathers will pay for the sex workers to educate their sons o r when the young Thai male goes to college, particularly all boys sc hools, freshmen are welcomed by the seniors and accompanied to the local brothels ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 1). At present, married men have reported a mean of 30.2 premarital sex partners, and women with little or none (keeping in m ind that this study may hold biases of males over reporting and women under reporting for reputable purposes) ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience, para. 1). Prior to the AIDS pandemic becoming a widespread concern in Thailand in the mid 1990s, many men would often continue beyond their first encounter ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 3) Visiting a brothel, for some men, becomes a social occa sion with their friends for an evening of drinking and sexual pleasure ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 2) or is sometimes regarded as part of a hospitality service for many business transactions ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Ex perience para. 3).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 11 The Sexual Double Standard: Masturbation Like most other sexual matters in Thailand masturbation is to some extent, a taboo subject ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 1 2). Disapproval of self is p ossibly a product of the anxieties about sexual pleasures in the Thai society in general ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 4) Young women especially may feel discomfort with the thought of masturbation due to it being unsuitable and a disgrace for a woman to have sexual curiosities ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 2) There is no evidence discussing whether masturbation amongst monks is viewed either positively or negatively ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 4) but it has been v erified in research that more male students (42% ) than female students (6% ) have reported engaging in the act of masturbation In fact, males 13 years old were recorded as the average age of first masturbatory experience ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 2) and f urther studies indicate that men in the army have an increased rate of masturbation at 89% ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 3) Unfortunately, there is a myth commonly seen among Thai males that they are only capable of a limited number of times they can orgasm, and therefore, have been recommended to r e f rain from it as much as possible ( CCIES, 2004 Autoerotic Behaviors and Patterns, para. 3) Thai Gender Roles & the Sexual Double Standard i n Comparison to the United States Much like the Thai culture, there is a rigid distinction between the roles of male and female in the United States ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 5). Although these strict conformities are changing amongst the American society, many are still soc ially conditioned to behave in gender ( Crooks & B aur, 2005, p. 77). The sexual double
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 12 standard is beginning to decline in the U.S., but it is still very much prevalent today ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 435). In the U.S., similar to Thailand, the man is viewed as a dominating sex machine that is always on the hunt ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 75). However, in Thailand, men are taught to respect women (excluding commercial sex workers), and do not touch them in casual circumstance. This is in contrast to the U.S., where men are conditioned to see women as a s exual challenge and to see how far they can convince a woman to go. When successful in his Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 435). Thais conversely, do not feel the need to play such games, due to the huge cultural difference of having commercial sex worke rs on hand to take care of their sexual needs in order to preserve at least assertive), i ndependent, logical, unemotional, competitive, competent, and the initiator of sex and relationships ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 58, 68, 75). In contrast, the woman is expected to play the submissive role in sexuality, either setting limits or complying wit h sexual activities ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p delicate, nurturing, dependent, passive, illogical, emotional, subordinate, but above all, cooperative ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 58, 68). Both cult ures exhibit their women as weak creatures in need of a man. In the United States, individuals who do not comply with their gender expected behaviors are teased and put under pressure to conform. There is nothing mentioned about oppression towards indiv iduals in Thailand and gender nonconformity It is assumed that this is rarer amongst their culture due to the notion of having many different types of gender roles. Their
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 13 women are the ones that run the household and take care of her parents (see Family on p. 23 ). Their monks and elderly men are viewed as being more caring and nurturing. They have many dominant sexual women that work in the sex industry (see Commercial Sex Workers on p. 36 ), accepted amongst their culture (see Lady Boys on p. 34 ). Through research, one becomes more aware that the people of Thailand tend to be less judgmental. Parental roles and social conditioning of gender role expecta tions are nearly parallel when comparing Thailand to the United States. Parents are more protective of their daughters in both societies, and allow their sons to have more freedoms, restricting their daughters and having ives. Parents also promote self assertiveness and emotional control in their sons, while encouraging their daughters to engage socially ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 70). a much larger gap in the sexual double standard compared to that of the U.S. Women in Thailand that engage in premarital sex are viewed as not being good candidates for marriage. Compared to the U.S., although premarital sex is something that happens mor e often than not, a Thailand, these women are given names and in the U.S. are often referred to as sluts These terms can also be applied to women who take t he initiator role in dating and sex ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, their ego ( Crooks & Baur 2005, p p. 75, 435). Furthermore, in both cultures, it is expected for a man not to have any control over their sex allow
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 14 a man to coerce her in to engaging in sexual activities. Otherwise, she is to assu me responsibility for her actions ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 76) (see Premarital Sex on p. 17 ). One notable difference that stands out between cultures is that in Thailand it is thought highly upon when a woman achieves orgasm, but in the U.S., although it is still held in high regards, females have more sexual dysfunctions due to gender social conditioning. Although limits on her sexuality, and therefore making it much harder to freely enjoy sex and reach orgasm (Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp. 5, 435) American women are taught to deny their sexual feelings or at least suppress them by blocking them or hiding them, for sex should just be something a woman engag es in to please a man (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 75) These are similar characteristics to Thai females, in that they should feel ashamed in their sexual curiosity, however, it is not comparative to how they are believed to perform in the bedroom. An Ameri can woman is believed to be less sexually inclined than a man is. In addition to this belief, and a big difference between the cultures, is that an American female is led to believe that the (Crooks & Baur, 200 5, p. 75) Masturbation is possibly the greatest marked difference between cultures. Although it may be viewed as taboo in Thailand, in the United States the consensus healthy for relief of sexual tension and exploration of self awareness ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 247 380 381 ) Contrary to Thailand, although it is reported at about the same frequency in males, the double standard is more often found broken in the United States. F emales are much more likely to engage in this self stimulating a wareness activity in the U.S. than in Thailand, 38% vs. 6%, respectively ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 374). Although, with this said, there are still
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 15 many negative attitudes toward masturbation rooted from Judeo Christian views that procreat ion should be the only purpose for sexual activities ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p 246). lood, and In addition published in a ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 246 247). It was not until Freud, a famous Austrian shift the outlook on autoeroticism ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 247). The only reason for continued negative views in the U.S. is due to the negative responses from parents that tend to discourage or prohibit such activities ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 372 374 ). Premarital, Extra m arital and Non M arital Sex Prem arital Sex Premarital sex for women in Thailand, with the exception for commercial sex workers, is prohibited ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage, para. 2) However, with the heightened fear of HIV at present, Thai men have become cautious about going to see sex workers, and it is found that the new genera tion of adolescent women is to be expected to engage in premarital sex This changing society has now seen young adolescents participating in casual sex with a person they may have been picked up a t a nightclub known as ying ruk sanuk, or loving wom ; there are even growing numbers of young Thais engaging in sex within a committed romantic relationship
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 16 CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 4 6). Thais are taught the difference of love and lust at a young age in order to discourage them from engaging in sex out of wedlock. They are instilled with the idea that love is admired for its purity and graciousness that is epitomized by ones patience, maturity, dependability, and trustworthiness, while lust is tainted with unkind, immature acts of impulsive inconsistencies Yet, both love and lust are viewed by the Buddhist philosophy as worldly attachments that only lead to suffering, although, lust is by far seen to be more detrimental than love ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage, para. 2) Furthermore, t he young are taught to socialize more frequently with m embers of the same gender and t herefore, it is not uncommon to see many same sex schools or for colleges to have dormitories that are all men or all women facilities with stringent visitation policies from the other gender, including family members ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 5) Nowadays even though their parents still need to give consent young Thais are free to ch oose their own partner. However, w orried that their parents may not approve, many are hesitant about telling them they are in a relationship. In fact, because these adolescents are unable to support themselves, some conservative middle class families would see these romantic interests as unacceptable behavior and it impels these young teens to tell their parents that their girlfriend/boyfriend is just a friend Some may not even tell their parents in an attempt to avoid parental monitor ing of their interactions which is often to deter premarital sex and keep their displays of affection in check ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 4) for it is considered inappropriate for a Thai man and a Thai woman to engage in public displays of affection O nly until recent has it been more acceptable for a young Thai couple (assuming to be
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 17 out of wedlock) to hold hands in public ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 6) and though the society may not yet be ready to accept unmarried sexual couples, there has been an increasing rate of cohabitating partners ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 5). Thai s refer to their boyfriends and girlfriends as their fan Within this relationship, women take on a more dependent role, bowing down to the man ( CCIES, 2004 Adolescent Sexual Behavior, para. 4) This strategy of the helpless Thai woman is sometimes re garded as being submissive in order to preserve their relationships, and is continued on into marriages. If premarital sex does occur, i Thais, it is the women that control their sexual desires, not the men. Therefore, to deter young Thai adolescents further from participating in premarital sex, abortion is illegal in Thailand ( unless it is performed for medical purposes ) A nti abortion is strong amongst Thais not only because the Buddhist Precept prohibits the killing of living beings but because premarital sex is greatly looked down upon. There is little remorse for women who become pregnant out of wedlock ( CCIES, 2004 Abortion, para. 1). Extram arital Sex It seems that Thai m en are typically monogamous with their wives for a period of time after marriage, but many return to their familiar use of commercial sex that they have known since the beginning of their sexual experiences, and it is usually within night out Many wives have reported their lack of sexual desires after the se drunken socials, and have refuse d to have sex with their husbands ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 5 7).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 18 ith commercial sex workers, and b efore HIV became a prevalent disease of concern in Thailand, wives would at times promote their husbands visits to brothels, in order to alleviate their duties of surrendering CCIES, 2004 A Double Standard for Sexuality and Gender Stereotypes, para. 1) These previous agreement s allow ed the m to take their sexual desires elsewhere as a solution to preserve their marriages and thus, consent is often involved when married men pa rticipate in extramarital activities ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 5 7 ). It is additionally known that d espite the fact that nearly all married women oppose their husband s participation in extramarital practices, and for many women today it has been grounds for divorce, there continues to be those that just deal with CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 3) It is tolerated, but not with out m uch reluctance for w omen are advised to a llow their husbands to participate in extramarital sex with commercial sex workers as an outlet, or to accommodate themselves to their husbands taking on minor wives in order to preserve their marriages due to t he idea that sexual desires are uncontrollable Besides, when protester s insisted that prostitution be eliminated, people of good standing overtly under one roof, male polygamy is now illegal; nevertheless, the practice of minor wives mia noi persists today amongst wealthy elites yet in a secretive manner from ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 2). In truth, they would rather encourage escapades of commercial sex, than endure an additional long term, committed relationship with a minor wife However, with the HIV pandemic growing, wives have now had to suffer the
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 19 alternative decision of supporting her husband to take on a minor wife ( CC I ES, 2004 A Double Standard for Sexuality and Gender Stereotypes, para. 1 3) It should be noted, that m inor wives are viewed with disrespect by the society as dishonorable women and home breakers and do not achieve social or legal recognition as a spouse ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 3). the common attitude among women is that they expect their husbands to cheat, and do not believe them if they n.d., Government Politicians and Prostitution pa ra. 3 ) Whereas a kulasatrii must remain faithful to her husband, some married women have been advised by elder women and the media to go against the kulasatrii norms and take on the role of being a prostitute within the constraints of her own bedroom ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 4). Furthermore, studies show that 83% of these women reported that they would use a condom with their husbands to protect themselves from contracting HIV ( CCIES, 2004 Extramarital Sex, para. 8). Non Marital Sex Within the Thai culture, with the exception of prostitutes, widows (also refers to Thai women that have been divorced) are seemingly the only females that are permitted to have sex outside of marriage. Because widows are assumed to have had sexual experie nces in their previous marriage, virginity is no longer a concern of virtue, and she can therefore seek sexual gratifications without the disgracing social consequences, p rovided that she abstains from having affairs with married men or becomes pregnant ou t of wedlock ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 8).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 20 Because of their open sexuality frequently aimed towards younger men widows are often portrayed as witty temptresses that are seductively flirtatious and excitingly sensual in t heir experienced sexual practices. Young men often fantasize about their first sexual encounter to be with such a woman ( CCIES, 2004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience para. 8). Thai Pre marital, Extramarital, and Non M arital Sex in Comparison to the United States It is more common in the United States to see public displays of affection than anywhere relationships or casual sex amongst teens, premarital sex i s much more common amongst the young adolescents of the United States. In 2002, percentages reported by the Centers for Disease Control have seen first onset age of intercourse, on average, at 60% usually between the ages of 17 and 18. Moreover, there is a trend of earlier onset ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 382 383). Like Thailand, it is still common amongst conservative families in the U.S. to monitor their youth in order to deter premarital sex or at least postpone the age of onset. Since polygamy is ill marriage, besides the few that are consented, are highly frowned upon. In fact, 90% of the general U.S. public view it as not acceptable ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 413). Despite these high rat es, there are still reports saying approximately 50% and 25% among married men and women, respectively, have engaged in extramarital activities ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 414 415). Although most Thai women dislike their husbands going outside the marriage, it is generally tolerated in their culture, unlike the U.S. Although there are a few exceptions in Thailand in which women view extramarital relations as a grounds of divorce (which is becoming more common today), adultery is a very common theme for mean s of divorce amongst Americans.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 21 Since premarital sex is quite common in the United States, nothing is sa id about non marital sex, assuming that it is generally acknowledged and not uncommon. Unlike the non marital sex referred to for widowed women in Thailand, non marital sex refers to those that are single, cohabitate, or are homosexual (due to the lack of access to legal marriage amongst lesbians and gays) in the United States ( Crooks & Ba ur, 2005, pp 402 403). Single living and cohabitation are becoming more common and acceptable amongst Americans. With single living, comes an array of sexual lifestyles ranging from celibacy to having a number of different partners ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp 401 402). In addition, c ohabitation has significantly increased in the past few decades, and nearly 60% of couples are living together in a sexual relationship prior to getting married. It is often seen as a precursor to marriage or an alternative t o marriage for many homosexual couples ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 402 403). Marriage and Family Marriage Young people in Thailand are meeting in urban areas such as shopping malls, coffee shops, school activities and sometimes even in nightclubs ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 4) Borrowed from the concept of karma the people of Thailand believe in destiny or having met their significant other in a previous life ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 1) Although the a verage age of marriage is 25.8 for men and 23.5 for women ( World Marriage Patterns 2000 2000, Asia, South Eastern Asia, Thailand) by law the individual must be at least 17 years of age, or otherwise have written parental consent if under age 20. Thais a re not allowed to marry their close or direct relatives, nor are they allowed to marry relatives of a
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 22 shared parent even through marriage or siblings of the same adoptive parents. In addition, widows (or divorcees) are not allowed to marry within 310 days of the previous marriage unless she has given birth or is choosing to remarry the same person ( Chiangmai Law Services 2006, Conditions of Eligibility for Marriage According to the Thai Civil Law Statute of 2529) Eloping is not uncommon amongst young Thai couples, which signifies the authority of opposition parents may hold against their chosen partner ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 1) Yet when parental consent is given, a tra ditional Thai marriage is held where each family, as well as the community, attends the ceremony A tying of a sacred string represents their unity G enerally family name changes to her husband s upon marriage and her title switche s from naangsao naang ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics para. 3 ) A traditional kulasatrii woman will respect her husband because he is the master of the household ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 1). After marriage, women maintain strong matrilineal bonds to their mother. W ithin the Thai culture, it is common that the new husband and wife will move into her home for a period of time As long as the couple is financially stable, they will eventually move out of her nuclear family home, independent from either of their families ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 1) The average annual income in Thailand is $4,509/person ("Thailand Average Salaries & Men, on average of the marriage, providing the main source of income to support the family but the women are the accountants of the family, frequently handling the assets and savings Women tend to be
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 23 seen as having a better sense of r egulating finances and are more cost effective than their husbands are, f or if the money was left to be controlled by the man, all the funds would be spent on their vices which w ives s pend much of their time keeping in check. Over the past 10 years, the divorce rate in Thailand has had an increase from .97 couples per 1,000 in 1994 to 1.28 per 1,000 in 2003. Although, the rate of marriage has also increased by 3 couples per 1,000. The greatest rates of divorce are amongst Tha i women wanting to divorce their Western husbands (Siam Legal, 2008, Relationship Statistics in Thailand). In addition to the typical reasons for divorce, Thais do not normally divorce their husbands for adultery, but rather if the wife has. In addition because of the high rates of HIV in Thailand, Thais are Family While men are expected to provide security, the women are expected to tend to domestic responsibilities and raise the children. This double responsibility can take a burden on women and it is often mentioned as the most common reason for sexual disinteres t and marital conflicts. Lucky for women in middle class families, their dual role is often alleviated by parents whom reside at the same residence, or if they have the funds, house cleaners and/or nannies ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 6). Women in Thailand look to motherhood as the ideal role in life ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Woman, para. 1) always striving to reach the nurturer ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 4). They take this role serious ly ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 5) and love, marriage, and family are of profound
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 24 importance to them ( CCIES, 2004 Romance, Love, and Marriage para. 4) They are responsible for the healt h of their family, including their husband, children, and parents. bond to the ir marriage and is a sign of having a secure relationship ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 3 ). Upon g changes to adulthood ( CCIES, 2004 The Ideal Thai Woman, para. 1) The sex of the baby does not matter to Thai s either way. Sons and daughters are both viewed as adding merit to their families, but are significant in different ways. the Sangha while their old age ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 3 ). After the birth of their children, many Thai women reported having a lower sex drive. A random sample of married women in 1981 reported having a low er sexual desire or enjoyment and a s taggering 49% of the women reported having sex only once a week or less. J ust 24% of the wom en had had an orgasm every time and women that were 35 years and older had reported a smaller frequency of orgasms than usual ( CCIES, 2004 Incidence of Vaginal, Oral, and Anal Sex, para. 4) With reasonably high rates, Thailand is particularly proud of its significant use of contraceptives an d successful population control. Contraceptive methods are now readily available ( CCIES, 2004 Contraception and Population Control, para. 1 2) and f amily planning and population control is practiced by most Thais ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education para. 4) Birthrates have been declining over the years from six births per woman in the 1960s to two births per woman in the late 1980s and it is now more common (80%) for a
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 25 woman to have expressed their interests in having only two or three children ( CCIES, 2004 Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 3 ). Furthermore, a mong married women, t he contraceptive prevalence rat es have improved radically from 15% 68% just in the past two decades ( CCIES, 2004 Contraception and Population Control, para. 1 2) Not to mention many pregnant women have been abstain ing from sex with their husbands who they knew had been engaging in extramarital sex in order to protect their fetuses from STI s ( CCIES, 2004 Incidence of Vaginal, Oral, and Anal Sex, para. 4) launched a private nonprofit organization called Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974 and is currently the Chairman. PDA is effectively defeating overpopulation in Thailand via creatively promoting family planning and supplying birth control. One of the ingenious ideas of PDA is the mobile health clinic, which distributes condoms and birth control pills ( CCIES, 2004 Contraception and Population Control, para. 3). Mechai also founded the restaurant chain Cabbages and Condoms to use its profits towards school HIV/AIDS n.d., HIV/AIDS para. 2 successful program was his rogram created in 1990, that was part of the Thai intercourse without a condom and enforced the usage of condoms amongst commercial sex workers by monitoring health cl inic statistics in order to locate those brothels that allowed sex without condoms The use of condoms increased to 90% within just 4 years since the start of the program ( CCIES, 2004 Government Surveillance of Commercial Sex Workers, para. 4)!
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 26 Thai Ma rriage and Family in Comparison to the United States About 90% of adults in the United States get married (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 403). In 2007, research revealed that the average age of marriage in the United States is 28.2 for men and 26.1 for women ( U.S. Census Bureau, Newsroom: Families & Households 2010, para. 1) and in 2009, the average household income was $49,777 (U.S. Census Bureau, Newsroom: Income and Wealth 2010, para. 1) In an individualistic culture (not living with an extended family) such as getting married (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 405). Jumping into a marriage based on these feelings often come s with false expectations of fully satisfying financial, social, emotional, spiritual, and c onceivably parental abilities. Due to the individualistic nature of the U.S. culture, many families have lost their support system and have placed further demands on themselves ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp. 406 40 7). In 2003, the U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that of 7.5 per 1,000 marriages, 3.8 divorced. Nearly half of all marriages in the United States fail. Like Thailand, adultery is the main grounds for divorce, as well as lack of satisfaction within th e marriage or financial issues have been reported (Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp. 417 418). Research reveals that d ivorce tends to peak around the fourth year of marriage, a pattern that being manifested from the history of human relationships in which p arents only stayed together for a sufficient amount of time until the child was able to survive on their own, roughly around four years (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p p. 417 418 ). An other explanation for such high divorce rates is that social stigmatization of divorce seems to be on the decline while legal attainability is on the incline More and more children are
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 27 being raised by single families and by divorced parents. This, in turn, further decreases the stigma of divorce for these children in their own marriages. H igh aspirations for lifelong satisfaction within ones marriage and sex life which these desires cannot always be met are additional reasons for such high divorce rate s As well as research has also been found that the less education one has, the more likely they are to get a divorce (apart from women that hold a graduate degree) (Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp. 417 418) Like Thailand, the average household size in the United States is decreasing. The average household size declined to 2.59 in 2010, from 2.62 people in 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau, Newsroom: Families & Households 2010, para. 2) In 2000, there was an averag e of .90 children under 18 residing in a household ( U.S. Census Bureau, Table ST F1 2000 2004 ) This is entirely unlike Thailand who is assumed to have an average of more than one child ( CCIES, 2004, Marriage and Family Dynamics, para. 3 ) Sex Education Sexuality education was introduced to Thai schools in 1978 ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 4) and enforced by the Ministry of Education across the nation ( CCIES, 2004 Research and Advanced Education section, para. 1) There are no program guidelines set by the national ministry. The health teachers decide these lesson plans themselves ( "THAILAND: Straight talking Sex Educators Reach Youngsters," 2002, para. 10), yet lesson plans tend to be limited to reproductive iss ues and sexually transmitted diseases taught through a biological approach ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 4). Although, experts have petitioned this limited approach and have requested that a more comprehensive curricula be taught wit h such issues that include psychosocial, gender, homophobia and sexual
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 28 commercialism ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 5). These challenges are currently being addressed by a number of ministries and the Department of Health to set guid elines including human development, sexual health, sexual behavior, personal skills, and social, cultural and gender issues ( United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2003). protection from HI V/AIDS and other STI s being their number one concern 2002, para. 8) However, it is pertinent to teach these young students about protection rather than abstinence because they are having their first sexual experiences at ag es 14 to 18 and sometimes as young as 13. It is also pertinent these students be well educated about sexual health because the second leading cause of death between the ages 15 to 24 is AIDS and 300 3 50 babies are abandoned each yea r due to unwanted pregnancies 2002, para. 12 14) In fact, a World Health Organization (WHO) survey in 1993 proved that sex education did not encourage young people to have sex at an earlier age, yet rather it delayed the onset age of sexual activiti es and encouraged those already participating to have safer sex 2002, para. 17 18). Sex education in schools is even more important because like parents in many other cultures, Thai parents do not educate their children about sexuality, so when children are asked about it, they often give incorrect information. Role modeling of affection in Thailand is often displayed by the media and not at home ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 1). Discussing sexuality is often surrounded by such feelings of embarrassment ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 3) and often encompassed by humor and misinformation ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Knowledge and Education, para. 5), even more reason to break down these barriers.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 29 Thai Sex Education in Comparison to the United States ckly changing (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 394). However, less than 20% of parents will discuss the topic of sex with their children, as indicated by research which is more common than in Thailand If there is a conversation about sex, often the mother fulfi much like parental and friend conversations in Thailand Typically, friends and peers are the main source f or sex As of 2006 in the United States 35 out of 50 states authorize schools to teach either sex education or educatio n about HIV/AIDS and other STIs. However, these laws have a tendency to be quite gener ic Usually set by the school district (local level), policies specify sex education content There is a requirement in 86% of the public school districts that have a policy to teach sex education to promote abstinence. In fact, there are three federal programs to fund abstinence only education i n which 35% of the 86% teach abstinence as the only option for couples that are not married and either forbids contraceptive conversation altogether or limit s the discussion to how ineffective the use of contraceptives is The remaining 51% have a policy to teach abstinence as the preferred option and permit contraceptive conversations as an effective me thod to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and other STIs
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 30 Sex in the Media Pornographic magazines and videotapes and erotica are popular and easily accessible in Thailand. They can be found on street markets, newsstands, and video stores yet Thai pornography tends to be more suggestive rather than explicit like porn found in t he West due to it being illegal ( CCIES, 2004 Pornography and Erotica, para. 1) For this reason, many Thai men purchase pirated Western pornographic videos and imported magazines ( CCIES, 2004 Pornography and Erotica, para. 5) Recently in the past few years Thailand has begun printing magazines for gay men in addition to personal advertisements provided to meet other gay men ( CCIES, 2004 Homosexuality in Men, para. 6). The media found in these magazines varies from nude photographs to advice columns. Many of the models found in the pornographic print in Thailand are recruited from the commercial sex scenes in Bangkok. Biographies suggest these women are single, educated, and middle class adventurous women who do these poses on a one time basis ( CCIE S, 2004 Pornography and Erotica, para. 7). In the s ex columns in newspapers and magazines they are now offering advice and counsel in sexually explicit and technical detail which are most often written by physicians who deal with treating sexual proble ms and disorders. Unfortunately, columnists of fashion and housekeeping magazines are older, experienced women offering advice to younger ones and do not always give the best guidance, such as the concepts of the thod ( CCIES, 2004 Sexual Dysfunctions, Counseling, and Therapies para. 2).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 31 Sex in the Thai Media in Comparison to the United States Sex in the media has been rapidly changing in the United States as technology advances. The entertainment business is on the up rise as more and more consumers invest in items such as televisions, stereos, etc. In the 1950s, much like modern Thailand, movies were not allowed to 200 5, p. 15)! Sex is used to promote television shows, movies, advertisements of material things, etc. Some media can be beneficial. For example, in the 1990s, there were shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Step by Step where their characters proudly announced their virginity (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 241). Today, to a great extent unlike Thailand, however, there are shows that are more sexually explicit and 64% contain sexual content in the United States. For example, the MTV show The Real World and the HBO show The Bunny Ranch (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 17). Alternatively, The Media Project has encouraged television shows to incorporate realistic information about sexuality and sponsors the annual SHINE (Sexual Health i n Entertainment) awards to give recognition to those programs that do portray such issues (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 16). Television has also had the added benefit of giving a positive representation of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgende r, etc.) (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 15). Well known shows and movies representing the homosexual community include Philadelphia The Birdcage, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, and The L Word. GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Defamation), each year, hosts an awards show, to give recognition to the media and entertainment for displaying positive representations of equal rights (Crooks & Baur, 2005, pp. 283 284).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 32 A further downside to media is the portrayal of gender roles. The media reinforce these difference s to the extreme in the United States, as well as Thailand. Gender role stereotypes in the media are highly exaggerated. Men display characteristics of being strong and athletic, Whereas the women are placed in roles that are passive, less competent, are not able to think for themselves, and are often cast in such a way, the notion that women want to be raped can become an issue. Unfortunately, the media, including video games and even novels, often gives the illusion that a woman will first 553). Media als o includes magazines and the internet, and both of these are good sources for selling pornography material that depicts sexual activity or genital exposure that is intended to arouse the viewer (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 582) itutional First However, in 1957, the Supreme Court ruled for censorship (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 587). In spite of this censorship, pornography such as Playboy Maxim and (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 18) would still be too explicit for Thailand United States or Thailand, many use it to find pornographic images, videos, or live chat called for educational information and has become an excellent dating service (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 18) or conversely, an easy means to have extramarital affairs (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 415). It has been a terrific source to conduct sex research (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 38), but on the other hand, it has also caused another form
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 33 debatable for its positive and negative effects it has had on sexuality. Sex Tourism Homosexuality and Lady Boys Homosexuality in Thailand is viewed completely different from how Westerners interpret it. Public displays of affection are quite common among the same gender, and many Westerners may get the wrong impression of this and view it as a manifestation of homo eroticism or think that it is a lack of homophobia amongst the people of Thailand when in reality this same gender physical intimacy is not seen as being sexual at all. In comparison, it is reminiscent of ays of affection amongst the women ( CCIES, 2004 Gender in Everyday Life, para. 6) karma or lack of merit in a past life ( CCIES, 2004 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality, para. 3). It violates the Third Precept of Buddhism, therefore caus ing much anti homosexual attitudes amongst the religious and giving a basis for many to ( CCIES, 2004 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality, pa ra. 8) The pressure to hide is also caused by the high demand that is put upon Thais for the preservation of family units and lineage through procreation ( CCIES, 2004 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality, para. 9). U nfortunately, educated Thais believe it to be a condition of mental issues or an illness. Many consider it to be caused by how they were raised, an over socialization with the other gender, or not having a father around as a male role model for example ( C CIES, 2004 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality, para. 3)
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 34 A same gender experience amongst Thais does not necessarily mean that you are gay. There are men having sex with men that do not consider themselves to be gay ( CCIES, 2004 Attitudes Toward Homosexual ity, para. 9) In fact, s exual affairs and affection between men is quite common ( CCIES, 2004 Homosexuality in Men, para. 4). For example men in the military have reported high rates of male male sexual experiences, many of which had high numbers of fe male sexual partners as well ( CCIES, 2004 Homosexuality in Men, para. 1). There are two types of men who have sex with men, gay king or gay queen A gay king plays the assertive role and a gay queen plays the submissive role that is usually the one receiving the anal sex. Gay queens are assumed to have womanly features, and therefore, are gay kings are believed to be men who are free to move about their sexuality attributing them to bisexualit ue homosexuals becaus e they exhibit masculine traits and are not always gay. They are believed to be heterosexual men just going through a phase of sexual experimentation with other men, and because they are the inserters they are not jeopardizing their masculinity This sugges tion of a boundless sexuality which a man states that gay kings are considered CCIES, 2004 Homosexuality in Men, para. 2). A third gender exists in the Thai society females of another kind This gender is referred to as kathoey These individuals could be intersexed, biological males who have sex with men, or mostly men who display feminine behaviors without regards to their biolo gical sex or sexual orientation. Kathoey is now considered a derogatory term for gay males, so depending on what type of kathoey they may be determines their more contemporary term, and that is usually either gay or Lady Boy ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons, para. 1 3 ).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 35 Lady Boys are men that see themselves more as women, cross dress, and are probably having sex with men. A number of Lady Boys take hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to grow breasts and other associated fe minine alterations; some even go through gender reassignment surgery ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons, para. 3) They are often viewed as histrionic in their actions ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons, para. 5). Lady Boys are quite common in Thailand. There is at least one in every village ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons para. 4 ). While many are involved in different lines of work, they are often associated with becoming street sex workers, and some are thought of becoming beauticians, hairdressers, waitresse s, or entertainers They are seen as a resourceful member of the community which is a much more positive image than Westerners view them as, transsexuals that are involved in drugs and prostitution ( CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons, para. 5). Lady Boys often have healthy, long term, romantic relationships with a younger man. They often support these young men financially; therefore, the society refers to the significant other as a CCIES, 2004 Gender Conflicted Persons, para. 5). clubs id being considered illegal brothels by would like These are establishments where men can come and choose a woman to bathe or give them an oil massage egal Situation and History, para. 5 6), followed by sexual services which can include masturbation services and sometimes as much as sex
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 36 depending on how much the man is willing to negotiate with the masseuse herself para 1). However, there are still massage parlors that do not Commercial Sex Workers Widespread prostitution has existed in Thailand for thousands of years n.d., Reasons for the Existence of Prostitution in Thailand, para. 1) but since the Vietnam War it has flourished, devoid of much radical stigmatization asons for the Existence of Prostitution in Thailand, para. 2) However d ue to pressure by the United Nations, by law, prostitution has been illegal in Thailand since 1960 It is not always enforce d but is generally tolerated Thailand does not see prostitution as a problem, and often turn s e profit it brings to the country 20% from tourists and 80% from Thai ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 5) Prostitution in Thail and being raped Many Thai wives see prostitution as a sensible solution to their husband s high sex drive whose demands cannot always be met by them ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 1). Sex tourism is the largest source of foreign income ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 3). Tourists spend ab out 10% of their travel
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 37 dollars on prostitution during their trip (profit is approximately 3% of the Thais economy) and often make it a point to visit an erotic massage parlor or brothel as a local attraction ( CCIES, 2 004 Premarital and Adult Sexual Experience, para. 3) In fact, many tourists visit Thailand solely for this reason ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 2) for it is relatively cheap (2.00 ~ 20.00 USD) ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 5) workers have sex on premises usu sex workers, which those that usua lly offer other services such as massage or dancing, but are willing to have sex with their clientele for additional fees The additional fees are negotiated with the sex worker and with the establishment in order to off the girl (take her off premises) ( CCIES, 2004 History and Current Situations of Commercial Sex in Thailand, para. 5). Although the majority of sex workers are female, there are a few male sex workers. Their clientele tend to be gay or bisexual men, but there has been an increase in women seeking black male sex workers that have been imported from Africa or Jamaica. These male sex workers typically identify as heterosexual and are in the industry a lot of the time because they have been traded or becaus e the money lured them into the business as an attraction to help support their poor families 4) In order to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI s) and to prevent maltreatment of the sex workers, the government monitors and History, para. 3) and regulates prostitution para. 1) created in 1990, commands sex workers to use
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 38 condoms or otherwise decline services. monitoring system of the Department of Communicable Disease Control ( CCIES, 2004 Government Surveillance of Commercial Sex Workers, para. 1). Establishments that allow sex without condoms are traced through health clinic statistics Logbo oks are kept at governmental STI and officials or police authori ties will be alarmed if high rates of infection are found within a particular brothel If a high rate of infection is found, then the brothel risks the chances of being shut down ( CCIES, 2004 Government Surveillance of Commercial Sex Workers, para. 1). Beer Bars and Go Go Bars lobbies, bars, and discos, many of which provide their services to Western emigrants and tourists. These women may be sex trade workers or si mply looking for a man to financially support them in exchange for sex 3) It is the ultimate goal of several Thai prostitutes to meet a rich foreign husband or boyfriend. Some prostitutes have numerous Farang boyfriends sending them money (referred to as sponsors), which many are unaware of 13) The countless numbers of women that are seeking financial support are found in Pattaya and typically have a child from a current or previous relationship from another man Bars use the services of young women as dancers or hostesses to persu ade customers to buy them drinks, while the women benefit from the deal by earning their own negotiated profit (typically 30~ 100 USD) by performing sexual services or finding themselves a financial
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 39 supporter (sex can be rented by the month if man agrees to be her companion). If the customer does choose to take a girl home before her shift is over, they must pay a bar fine to off her 4) nimum number of fees the gi r ls must p ay to the bar within a month, and f ailure to do so results in a pay reduction off their monthly salary (150~ 500 USD per month) ). These women usually only receive two or three days off days There are two different kinds of services a man can pay fo Larger bars sometimes Foreigners, para. 5) Child Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Child prostitution, human sex trafficking, and sex slavery in Thailand is illegal but does not seem to be well enforced Estimates on how many minors ar e in the sex industry are difficult to make since so many of 40% of all sex workers in Thailand ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 3) Unfortunately, Thailand is known to be the leading destination for victims of trafficking and source of trafficked persons Prostitution, Trafficking, and Sex Slavery, para. 6).
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 40 With poverty being a pressuring factor and the most common reason ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 6), especially for northern Thailand, s everal adults and children have been deceived, bough t or driven into becoming sex workers. A t times, it is the parents that sell their children into the se x industry in order to save the family from starving to death 3) Besides, it is ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 5). These individuals often work in controlled brothels, where they are forced to work of f the money that they are indebted to Slavery, para. 6) Sometimes the children choose to go willingly and send the money home to their families ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 4). What data has been showing is that most girls, however, are not forced; 58% insist that it was their own decision, and only 3% claim that they were recru ited or sold by their parents. Combined with the lack of skills to perform any other job, this sometimes ends up being her only option ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 5). The girls that choose prostitution base it on their own motives of feeling obl igated to support their family, often return home having gained great respect and later marry Nearly all the girls plan to return home once they have earned enough money If condemned by their villages, it is often based on them having non marital sex a nd not because of the stigmatization of being a prostitute that many other cultures may view it as Although, these wrongdoings can be repaired by accruing good merit, such as taking care of her parents ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para. 6 7). Unfortunately, commercial sex with children has become a tourist attraction especially for pedophiles A common misconception is that these children are desired for the belief of them
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 41 b eing free from HIV and other STI s, and therefore, have increased the request from them. yet are essential ly reported to have high rates of HIV above 50%, because of such an early onset of sexual activities and an increased num ber of partners ( CCIES, 2004 Child Sex Workers, para 1 2 ). Thai Sex Tourism in Comparison to the United States Unlike Thailand, the United States is not quite as accepting of the LGBT community. The predominant Judeo Christian culture in the U.S. tends to view homosexuality as negative. The pursuit of sexual pleasure outside procreation is immoral and an abomination specifically for homosexuals (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 277). As indicated by research, people that are more religiously conservative tend t o have more negative attitudes towards homosexuality (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 280). In addition, there tends to be more acceptance of the LGBT community amongst individuals that are younger than 50 (65%), which is possibly due to having a friend or acquai ntance within the community, rather than those that are older than 50 (45%) (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 283). Explanations throughout American history have been debated due to the thought of these & Baur, 2005, p. 278). Even in the military, there has been discrimination and hostility against gays and lesbians. During C unfortunately, forced many homosexuals out of the military. By the year 2000, discharges based
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 42 on sexual orientation were 73% higher than before this policy (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 2 95). This discrimination is due to homophobia, irrational fears of homosexuality (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 280). Homophobia can stem from traditional gender role stereotyping (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p.280 281). Adhering to traditional gender roles promotes social acceptance ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, for or teased for being a homosexual ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 280 281). These gender role beliefs must change, especially for men, to feel less negative towards homosexuality ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 283) for this can have a considerable effect on the closeness of male friendships. The fear of being attracted to the same sex frequently prevents men from permitting themselves the expressive openness essential in a meaningful relationship. ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 282). This negativity produces cautious averting of any actions or manners that one may perceive as homosexual. Therefore, homophobia can confine the lives of heterosexu al people that may be reluctant to behave in any certain way if these activities demonstrate any sort of homosexual tendencies, to the point that friends or family members of the same sex may refrain from hugging. Homophobia even goes as far as encounter ing much opposition if seen to be unmasculine Crooks & Baur, 2005, p.282). Prostitution, like Thailand, is illegal in the United States with the exception of Nevada, where it is legal in certain counties. However, unl ike Thailand, prostitution is not tolerated. Yet, the term sex worker extends to phone sex, nude dancing, erotic massage, internet sex, and porn movie stars, which is not necessarily illegal, but is regulated (Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 590) Like Thailand,
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 43 or sit at a bar waiting for a man to pick them up. Prostitutes that work in brothels in the United Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 595). These women generally earn the most amounts and are often lavished with material things that are either bought by their own income or bought by their regular clientele (Crooks & Baur, 200 5, p. 595). Like the women that move to Pattaya to marries a man for financial reasons, may be a questionable case of prostitution ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 590 ). Male prostitution in the United States, like Thailand, is less heard of, but does exist. Kept boys in much similarity to Thailand are also in existence, in which older males either partially or fully support a younger male in exchange for companionshi p ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 596). may or may not occur as part of the Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 595). Customers in the U.S. are, on average, white, middle class, middle aged, married men. contact or release without any e Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 591). Like Thailand, there is no single theory to explain why women choose this industry. Some choose it as a matter of personal choice and sexual freedom, others for economic reasons,
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 44 and some are forced into prostitution through deception, brutality, and debt bondage ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 591). Teenagers that choose the life of a prostitute often co me from unstable families and do so as a means of survival after running away from home ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p.594). Because prostitution is illegal, it is not well regulated. If legalized, the government, like in Thailand, would require prostitutes to g o for periodic checkups for STIs ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 592). For example, in Nevada, where prostitution is legal, prostitutes in brothels are required by law to be tested monthly for HIV and to use condoms to prevent HIV infection ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 594). A CIA State Department report estimates that 50,000 women and children are more or less consider e d slaves in the United States sex industry ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 591). Also in the United States, child pornography (children under the age of 1 8) is illegal and is enforced under many state and federal laws. This includes women that pretend to be under the age of 18 as well ( Crooks & Baur, 2005, p. 590). Ethnographic Research of Sexuality in Modern Thailand Why is the prevailing Western view different from what is published about Thai sexuality ? Why does Western media portray Thai sexuality needing intervention, when the literature states it is a reserved, Buddhist culture? Due to conflicting information in the literature review and popular knowledge ethnographic research was chosen to resolve the apparent contradictions. The ethnographic research used to study the urban cultures of Thailand found some explanations for the disparities between literature and Western beliefs. S exuality of
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 45 modern Thailand is rapidly evolving due to external Western pressures and cultural observation was able to reveal some variances between literature and reality There are some unavoidable biases in the research, mainly due to the limited locat ions that were available within the time allotted and the taboo nature of the subject. Fortunately, the research was done in the most urban and popular tourist sites, primarily Bangkok and Pattaya. These interviews and experiences formed the basis of com parison to the published literature. Other interviews with people coming from rural communities, although less inclined to comment, provided more traditional views on the subject. Gender Roles and the Sexual Double Standard When discussing virtuous women in Thailand, it should be noted that in the literature they referred to these women as Kulasatrii ; however, the correct terminology for a modern day honorable woman is Supabsatrii In fact, Kulasatrii is an antiquated term f or women of the royal Kulasatrii are trained in proper etiquette and are strict about chastity. It is observed that there are many wom en, poo ying that follow the Supabsatrii notion. Young girls are trained in schools and throughout their education are taught what qualities a Supabsatrii embodies. There are also many men, poo chai that are Chaai Chaatrii chivalrous men. A good exam ple of a Chaai Chaatrii that was experienced on multiple occasions is if a man and a woman share a taxi, the man will always pay. Becoming a monk is still one way a young man can transition into adulthood, but it has been observed that it is no longer a tradition for fathers to bring their sons to brothels to lose their virginity due to the widespread of HIV infections amongst sex wo rkers. Nowadays, adulthood is
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 46 family to family. Many times, a young Thai man will go into monkhood after graduation from high school and prior to entering into secondary school. Additionally, it has been observed that the revolving society is also changing the gender double standard. Women are now getting jobs that are traditionally seen as male dominated. For example, there are many women in the engineering s chool, medical field, and military. It was also prevalent that many women in Thailand hold managing positions and it is quite common for a woman to continue her education onto post bachelorette degrees. In fact, it was observed that there are more women Ajan professors, than men. This is not to say that the sexual double standard is not still vast in some areas of society. For instance, at the Priest Hospital for monks, there are steps that must be taken for a female doctor or nurse to touch such a ma n. They must cover the area to be examined with a cloth first. This is used as a barrier between genders. The karma undergarments, is still very apparent today. When looking at noted was in the case of a man who came to fix a leak in the shower. There were undergarments hanging on the curtain rod and he w ould not enter the bathroom until they were removed or at least lowered by a woman. There are many reinforcements that illustrate that the literature varies slightly on what is nd year, 3 rd year, 4 th year, etc.) will initiate freshmen into college, but it is no longer true that these students will be brought to brothels. It has also been observed that girls and women flirt just as much as boys and men do. One stat ement in the literature that is undoubtedly true is that the
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 47 opposite gender is not allowed to enter the others dormitory unless it is a parent moving their child in or out. Keys protect these facilities from allowing access to the opposite gender. Anoth er noteworthy finding about the sexual double standard is that of intercourse during man does have sex with a woman during this time he can boast and be viewed as extraordinary. Premarital, Extramarital and Non Marital Sex Premarital sex is much more common than the literature states, and in truth, Thailand is having an issue with teen pregnancies. Due to the lack of proper sex education that teaches students how to use, or to use a condom at all, when many young Thais expe riment, they do so without a barrier method to protect them. Contraceptive use is unheard of for a woman that is not married (unless it is secretive), and therefore, this too increases the risks of having an unwanted pregnancy. In addition, abortion in Th ailand is illegal. With that said, abortions are still being performed and there is much talk and controversy in the media surrounding this topic. One of the most significant findings through ethnographic research was that there are no non latex condoms in Thailand, and if there are, they are not easily accessible. There are female condoms, which are non latex, but even they are not obtainable from a store or pharmacy, one must request them from a hospital. If someone is allergic to latex (which it has been confirmed by a dermatologist that it is a common allergy in Thailand), then why would they want to use the only kind of condom that is available to them? This raises another issue of being able to protect oneself from STIs or HIV if one is allergic to latex. It is simply not possible unless you choose to endure the pain. If one does
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 48 contract an STI, there are no tests for it unless you go to an expensive hospital. A doctor will take an educated guess by looking at your genitals and smelling them for an unpleasant odor, and if believed to have an infection they will prescribe you the necessary medication. The reason for this method is that it is much cheaper to purchase medication than it is to have a test performed at an expensive hospital. Like the Loy Krathong (often in November), a traditional Thai holiday that pays respects to the water gods, to lose ones virginity. Often, news channels will warn young girls of their fans (boyfr iends) or strangers that will try to persuade them that these days are the perfect, romantic time for them to lose their virginity. On these particular holidays, there are institutional regulations set on renting hotel rooms. Young couples are not allowe d to do so. Regarding additional information observed about extramarital affairs, there is a term used gik is a secretive relationship and does not always imply that it is gik In general, however, it is very common Marriage and Family T mention, on the other hand, is that you cannot get married while in school. In other words, if two undergraduate students meet
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 49 in college and fall in love, they must wait until both are graduated. In addition, the man has to have assets to show the woman Societal changes are revolutionizing the Thai household. It is now common for a couple to get an apartment after marriage rather than live with their parents. Cohabitation before marriage has also been on the up rise and parental consent is often disregarded. Although it is still sought after, if a parent disapproves of the relationship, the young couple may ignore this authority and elope anyways. Equality changes are also being made while the Thai socie ty is quickly shifting. In 2000, a law was passed stating that a woman can still keep her surname if she so chooses. Additionally, much like the United States, it is very common for both husband and wife to work now. In fact, it is often necessary for e conomic reasons. It is also common for husband and wife to have separate bank accounts. Divorce is becoming more and more common and single parent families are coming together to help one another raise their children. Even though divorce is on an incline there are still many couples that will stay in a marriage for social purposes. Couples will tolerate each other and be civil in order to avoid gossip and keep their reputation. In regards to families, there is a new law that states both men and women ar e granted maternal leave. It is unclear of how long men are allowed, but women are given 90 days to match the leave of monk ordination that men receive. It is common for Thais to have only one or two children today due to financial reasons and contracepti on is a popular means for family planning and avoidance of unwanted pregnancies. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, contraceptive use is only accepted amongst married women.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 50 Thais still believe in having an extended family, even though a nuclear family i s becoming more common. Although nursing homes do exist, there are very few of them. Unlike Today, it depends more on the financial means. Contrasting from how Western society may feel about this deed, Thais are patient and do not see this as a burden. Companies will give welfare money each month to individuals that have children. The amount of subsidy depends on the company. Like the United States, yo u can also deduct dependants off your taxes; however, this includes retired parents over the age of 60. Thais can deduct 30,000 baht/dependant (about $1000), which is approximately equivalent to the United States. Sex Education Sex education is slowly evolving, but not quick enough. Many older Thai teachers do not feel comfortable teaching the subject, so the majority of the time, students are being taught sex education from an anatomy and physiology perspective. This is done usually during their 9 th year. Although there are some comprehensive programs that exist today, most lessons in sex education do not include discussions about contraception and how to protect oneself from STIs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancies. PATH, Program for Appropriate Technol ogy in Health, is an organization in Asia that is working hard to promote comprehensive sex education programs in Thailand. They are training teachers on how to teach the curriculum. The technique is very unusual for Thailand. Although many Western scho ols are used to communication between the teacher and their students, this is not a common practice in Thailand. This exchange and engagement in conversation is not only
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 51 helping students to discuss sexual topics, but it is also changing classroom interact ions and the style of teaching in Thailand altogether. Sex in the Media unlike the United States, it is only suggestive and you never see nudity. If there is nudity on the television from a foreign movie, the government will have it censored by blurring it out or skip the whole scene completely. Censorship even goes as far as if you can see lips touching during kissing, it will be blurred out. To reiterate, Thaila nd is more about the suggestion rather than the explicitness. Moreover, pornography in Thailand is rarely seen and it is not as popular because commercial sex is so readily available. Like the United States, homosexuality is well represented in the media. In addition to Lady Boy pageants, there is also a channel dedicated to gay and kathoey shows. Sex Tourism When it comes to what is reported about homosexuality and compared to reality, it is a lot more open community than the literature would suggest. Touching however, is still just as contradictory in reality as it is to be believed by the literature. Western societies view holding hands as an intimate gesture, yet Thais, and many Asian cultures, believe it to be more of a friendly interacti on and you will see a large number of friends walking hand in hand or with their arms around one another. Even males have their arms around each other in a comrade like way, which is frowned upon in the United States due to it being judged as a homosexual act. With that said, these friendly gestures are slowly depleting due to the Western homophobic influences.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 52 Two other major differences when discussing touch and homophobia is that Thais do not hug or embrace one another and there are no gender separati ons to colors. It is quite shocking to a Thai for a Westerner to reach out for a hug, for the Thai greeting consists of a wai where your hands are placed in a praying position and either you bow or nod your head with a courtesy. Any greeting with a touc h, whether it is a hug, kiss, or handshake, is not typically seen in Thailand. When respecting Buddha and the King this wai is also used towards symbols of these men. Also in respect to the King, you will see many people, men and women alike, wearing the color pink. Homosexuality does not faze Thais. It is not sensationalized. It is seen as a normal sexuality and the LGBT community is well accepted, particularly in the citi es. People of the LGBT community are not questioned why they are the way they are, they are simply accepted. Lady Boy is a Western term and the word kathoey is much more common. This is a mistake within the literature because the literature states that kathoey is a derogative term when in fact it is only offensive to a gay man that does not want to appear as feminine. Another observation about kathoey is that their families and/or kathoey themselves will invest a lot of money on surgical procedures to e nhance feminine features, and acquiring breasts is often the first procedure performed. Kathoey also invest a lot of money in to makeup, and they will use Many kathoey are very beautiful, and often times are more There is another noteworthy double standard not mentioned in the literature that exists between males and females. That is of family disappointment. Thai families have a strong bond, and so it is less common in Thailand versus the United States for a family to kick their child out of the house based on his or her sexual orientation. A father may be disappointed that his son
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 53 will not carry on the name, however it is rare when he will disown his child based on their sexual preference. On the other hand, if a daughter were to get pregnant out of wedlock, this would be dishonoring the family and therefore, she may be more likely to be kicked out of the household. Gossip and reputation is a powerful tool in Thailand and dish frowned upon. In regards to commercial sex workers, Khaosan Road in Bangkok and Walking Street in Pattaya are the two notorious streets of each city for nightlife and services. Ethnographic research was performed on both. Whether walking down one of these streets in Bangkok, Pattaya, or Phuket, you are constantly approached and being asked if you would like to see a it is a very exp licit cabaret. You will also see women standing outside of bars trying to lure men in. These women encompass many different things ranging from a man negotiat ing a price for sex, to the woman simply sitting there and having a conversation with the man to keep him company. You will find The green side will indicat e you would like company, and the red will indicate that you would like to be left alone. More foreigners attend these brothels and Go Go Bars than Thai men do. Prostitution has become a tourist attraction that pulls in Western men, Middle Eastern men, Ja panese men, and many more. There are still some older Thai men that attend brothels, but there is no need for the younger generation because they are able to have sexual relations with their fan and with the rise of STIs and HIV/AIDS, brothels have becom e undesirable to the young generation.
SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 54 Conclusion Through research, I was able to uncover inconsistencies between published literature and actual experience. There is a vast difference between urban and rural educ a tion and resources. In addition, conflicts still exist within the Thai society itself. Traditional Thai culture is at odds with Western influence, and health issues within the country have arisen because of it. Without proper comprehensive sexuality education, the people of Th ailand will remain ignorant of why and how they should protect themselves. If the subject of sexuality continues to be taboo, whether the topic is STIs and HIV/AIDS or unwanted teen pregnancies, then these health concerns will likely persist. Further inte rvention does not need to be made on prostitution, for the government of Thailand is doing much to enforce condom usage. However, the same government has had little impact at the rural level of educating their young. If comprehensive sexuality education, or at least abstinence plus, can be implemented within all Thai schools, then resolution will begin with their students futures. This is in hopes to prepare the Thai society for more open discussions on sexuality, which in turn should improve the sexual health of Thailand. An additional, discovery was made that I believe to be significant Thailand is devoid of non latex condoms. Without non latex condoms, those that are allergic to latex are vulnerable and most likely not to use a condom a second time. University in Bangkok, Thailand confirms that latex is a common allergy reported amongst Thais. Therefore a second health intervention can be made with recommendations to encourage the distribution of condoms made from alternative materials such as polyurethane or polyisoprene, as well as improve awareness and accessibility of the female condom.
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SEXUALITY IN THAILAND 58 Related Resources Jackson, Peter A., and Nerida M. Cook. Genders and Sexualities in Modern Thailand Chiang Mai: Silkworm, 1999. Print. EPCAT International http://www.ecpat.net/EI/index.asp International AIDS Charity http://www.avert.org/thailand aids hiv.htm Joint United Nations Programme on http://www.un.or.th/unaidsth/index.php HIV/AIDS in Thailand Life Development Center http://www.ldcl.org/ Ministry of Public Health http://eng.moph.go.th/ PATH Program for Appropriate Technology http://www.path.org/index.php in Health Population & Community Development Assoc. http://www.pda.or.th/eng/ World Health Organization Thailand http://www.who.int/countries/tha/en/ Country Office http://www.whothailand.org/EN/Index.htm