The price of penis worship

Thank God the Guardian have stepped in to explain the wiles of Thai Girls to you undeserving swine - I have the piece here in full as I understand that many of you just cannot bring your self to click through to their site - enjoy

How to understand a certain sort of cross-cultural marriage: the linking up of a Thai "bar girl" with an educated, apparently sophisticated western man with whom she would appear to have nothing in common? (Quite often they don't even have a shared language.) These are in the news at the moment, thanks to the gory killing of one such western man in Thailand (said to have been "fed to tigers"), which has led another Briton to reflect on his own near-marriage experience.

I got an insight into the phenomenon in the British Club in Bangkok, late one evening a few years ago. I was bailed up in the corridor by a man who wanted to tell me just how wonderful his Thai wife was - and how western woman should be like this if they wanted to get a man. He told me, with the earnest honesty of the soul-baring drunk, that his wife was the perfect woman: she worshipped him. And she showed that worship every morning, by wai-ing (bowing) to his penis.

Now, the expat community in Bangkok is a small and gossipy group, so I knew a bit about this relationship - he was supporting her entire extended family, which seemed to generate an astonishing level of "hospital bills", "school fees" and "unexpected roofing repair costs" for which he shelled out regularly. He made rather a lot of money; she managed to skim off a very decent percentage of it.

In Thai terms she wasn't doing anything wrong - for this is a meeting of two very different understandings of the nature and purpose of marriage. I used to work in an all-Thai, female-dominated office. It was universally agreed that the luckiest woman there had been widowed young, but left with two children and her husband's pension. She didn't have to put up with a husband's sexual demands or worry about the HIV he might bring home; she didn't have to adapt her life to his requirements, but she had kept the advantages of marriage.

Marriage for women in Thailand is for money (although the woman is expected to contribute financially and often ends up as the main source of family income), for children, for respectability. While fully arranged marriages are now relatively rare, the whole western "falling in love" is a foreign concept. Any middle-aged man who is anyone is expected to have one or more mia noys ("minor wives", i.e. mistresses), and married men still join the "boys" from the office in brothel visits as freely as British men might go to the pub.

Wives are expected not to notice; indeed, it seems many are happy with this arrangement if it frees them from providing sexual services as part of the bargain. (Female sexual desire is not even mentionable as a subject, and a wife who sought such from a husband would be likely to meet with a horrified response.)

Now for a Patpong "bar girl" (who'll probably be in her early 20s, having acquired enough street smarts and language skills to cope in the competitive environment) traditional respectability is a lost cause, but should she attach herself to a western man who proves a fountain of cash she can buy something very like it. If her parents back in her home village can get a new concrete house, can make some good donation to the local temple, can perhaps pay for higher education for her younger brothers and sisters - then she'll be a success.

She'll have learnt to use the Western terminology of "love" - just another skill, like swinging sensuously around a pole in a bikini - but it is not part of her values; there's no reason why it should be. Along comes a western man with a strong romantic streak, who wants to "rescue" this lovely, delicate, loving thing, who'll do and say anything he wants. It seems a match made in heaven. And as long as he keeps coughing up the cash, and wearing the rose-tinted spectacles, perhaps it is.

(I should say at this point there are some western-style marriages between Thai women and western men - I knew one woman with a western physics PhD for example, and they are not at all like this. But they are rare.)

After a while in Bangkok I could, within a minute or so of meeting them, identify the men with "bar-girl" wives. There was a certain weakness, a lack of backbone, which meant both that they needed this superficial worship and compliance in a wife, yet what they also needed was a woman who in fact entirely controlled their lives, which is what Thai wives are happy - indeed, socially conditioned - to do. Women traditionally look after household finances, and they'll have a powerful input into issues such as where to live. (Few Thais are happy to live outside the country for long, which is why you'll see so many western men running bars in Thailand. Their wives will be doing the books, and the business will be in their family's name.)

I've often been told by men who say that "feminists" have led western women astray - into being too assertive, too certain, insufficiently compliant to men's demands - that their fellow women will "have to get more like eastern women" if they want to get married.

My response is: "be careful what you wish for." Nothing comes for free - if you want this sort of relationship, you'll pay a price, possibly a very high price. (It might be noted that Thai surgeons are said to be the best in the world at re-attaching severed penises, since that's almost a traditional response for Thai women pushed too far by a spouse not meeting their requirements.) Just as those mothers who devote their lives to making sacrifices for their children all too often demand a high emotional price in return, having a wife prepared to worship your every inch is going to be a costly business.
Thai birds

Almost as bad as Welsh ones......


Not many hang about when his 22 is up. The first thing one of ours did was grab the cash and get shot of the old man.

Mind you, none of us blamed her.

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