Gender madness in Thailand part 2

gender toy photography by Jeong Mee Yoon (credit for my featured image^^ 

So as promised I’m now going to outline for you do you strange and weird critique of our parenting style buy mummy AW’s long time best friend.

Before I continue, I will just not note that ‘tomboy’ in Thailand is a very specific term and only refers to a specific group of women who traditionally reject all female gender norms and date very girly girls. Though the traditions are softening and blurring due to westernisation and relatively new lesbian identities, this very thai same-sex gender dynamic is strict in its purest form. It involves breast binding and behaving like a doting, chivalrous man. The tomboy will signal their identity loud and clear through dress but it is very unlikely they will discuss it openly with their parents. Mum and dad will know what’s going on but it is not discussed , much less paraded in the streets to express pride. Their girly girlfriends often date toms when they are fed up of nasty guys – their sexuality is not so involved as they are the passive partner. The role play conventionally extends to the bedroom where the tomboy will typically not undress or receive any, er, ‘action’. This dynamic really isn’t like lesbian relationships as we know them; an equal partnership with no dress code, no fixed rules or roles, and openness. Surprised? Didn’t you think of sex shows, ladyboys and red lights when you imagine Bangkok? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the official line about that is that there is no prostitution – it is illegal and doesn’t happen. End of discussion.

A look into the world of Toms can be seen here. I go to some effort to describe the tomboy because it is in fact quite a specific accusation being levied at us about our parenting. If you imagine a Pippi-Longstocking type tomboy then my whole post lacks emphasis. Becoming a tomboy in the thai sense probably isn’t something which would come about in the ways you’ll see that Bob suggests (in fact I would speculate that as the all pervasive ideals of thai femininity are so restrictive, saccharine sweet and high-maintenance, it could be born in part to the yearning for an alternative, just any alternative?).

This is tricky territory because I don’t want to come across as anti-Thai or as too critical of Thai society in general. I also don’t want to come across as anti-Bob friend because she is really kind and fun etc. but she has some really really ignorant views.
My own society in the UK also lacks a great deal of things however they are not quite as alien to me. I spent a significant portion of my life living in Thailand and many many aspects of it I really really enjoyed. However it can be very conservative and old-fashioned. In my last post I mentioned that the opinion is coming out of this friend quite shocking.

Here is the said opinion:
On gendered parenting

“How can you let your girls play with cars? And animals? They will be so confused. They should be proper girls playing with dolls and Barbies! They will grow up to be tomboys like you (mummy aw)”
“You are crazy to let them play outside doing rough climbing and exploring. Someone I know took his daughters fishing and walking and they grew up tomboys.”

On sexuality

“I hope mummy R is going to be able to make them girly”

Not too offensife so far….


“If my son is gay I will never accept it. I will hit him and hit him until he changes his mind. That is what happened with my brother when wanted to wear lipstick. It worked – now he’s married”
“People are gay be cause they had bad experiences. Our friend John from school is gay because he got raped by a man.”

Do I need to counter ANY of these gems? Sadly these are pervasive views in Thailand. The friend Bob is giving helpful, concerned advice which she really believes.
I know I have one reader whom will likely have some responses here, but what do you think? Have I misrepresented the tomboy here? I just want to outline the most extreme examples to highlight the ridiculousness of the assertions of Bob about our daughters.
For the record, we don’t specify a preferred gender for our daughters’ future partners. The main ingredients for the relationships I want them to have are mutual respect and equality. I’d prefer an educated guy/ gal but who knows, perhaps our girls will be too impatient to graduate from university.!?! You fall in love with a person and it really works, you have to hang on to that person.

More in part 3…

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19 thoughts on “Gender madness in Thailand part 2

  1. Bloody hell – don’t they have female vets there? No playing with animals? Definitely familiar with the Tom-Dee Thai thing as I met some local lesbian couples when holidaying there in 2006 and keep in touch on Facebook. Definite clear defined roles!

  2. I just saw that short doc the other day on another site. I found it really interesting actually…mainly because it is soooo defined and the lines are definitely not blurred, ever, in life! It’s crazy!. And wow at BOB. It sucks when people that you really care about have such different views about the super important stuff. I have this conversation with my wife often about some things just being cultural. Latinos have no problem saying, :”OH that green shirt. Girl! You look fat and it makes you look hideous”. I would take that more along the line og, “The other shirt looks better!” Callie sees it as ” I’m the ugliest woman on the planet!” But damn BOB! That’s a lot!

  3. Yes, that is my understanding of Tom-Dee relationships and Toms in general, although my experience is limited. You’re more open minded and understanding than me. I couldn’t stay friends with someone who spouted such utter rubbish.

    1. Glad it was so – There is a loooong point to my writing about it – you can read more in part 3 ans beyond – the punchline is a real shocker, I think!
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Why do we have such a people in this world!! It is irritating! I understand the difference of culture as I’m from Peru and there is a lot of male chauvinism which makes me nuts! I wish for a better world and much more understanding between each other. Thanks for sharing, x

  5. It still amazes me that such things are still so controversial in some countries. Slowly, the world is becoming more accepting, but in such places, i feels like it is going to take forever. Thanks for giving us an insight into this and thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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