Thailand and the illusion of the good-girl-bad-girl dichotomy

Last edited: August 29, 2017 at 15:08:41

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When dating Thai women, sooner or later you’re going to come across what I call the “good-girl-bad-girl-dichotomy”, Thailand’s simplistic perception of the two possibilities of what a girl can be: either good or bad.

Things used to be less black-and-white in the past, I guess, Thai culture in essence is so assimilating, so tolerant and so receptive to various forms of existence that a simple black-and-white thinking actually goes very much against the nature of the Thai way of life. Phenomena in Thailand can be divergent yet accepted, much more so than in other countries. To put it simple: things can be same same but different, and that’s one reason why I love living here.

Ladyboys can be the she-males they desire to be, tomboys can complement lesbians, gay can stay jolly gay, and eventually most Thai lesbians turn straight again because they want to have a family. Past forgotten and forgiven, people move on with the next phase of their life, even former prostitutes become devout housewives and there’s hardly any good versus bad judgement anymore.

Thai soap and how it has contributed to the dichotomy of good and bad girl / guy in Thai people's mind
Thai soap has contributed a lot to the good-girl-bad-girl and good-guy-bad-guy dichotomy in Thai society (source: Channel 7 Online)

But technology, smartphones and soap series have made people more stupid, not smarter, and so a lot of Thai people tend to think more and more in terms of a simplistic good versus bad.

Mind you, not only girls are either good or bad, guys too, and the best way to see this is to watch one of many Thai soaps. Even without understanding one word of Thai, you’ll figure out within seconds who is on either side of the dichotomy. The star performer TV channel broadcasting soaps in Thailand is Channel 7, with an almost non-stop series of what Thai also call น้ำเน่า (literally meaning rotten waters or sewage, but referring to soap), yet immensely popular with the masses.

Lacking proper education at schools and universities, a main source of influence in Thai people’s minds are soap series and the standard role plays of the good versus the bad girl / guy. Take a girl out for dinner, ask her casually if she wants to have a drink at your place and she may answer (perhaps in her mind) that she’s a good girl and that she fears you’re a bad guy.
What possible evil I could bring to a girl coming to my room troubled my mind for a while, I don’t think many farang guys find pleasure in raping a girl, but the bad, violent guy from the soap has rooted in Thai girls' fears.

Girls posting their profile on dating sites nowadays describe themselves as a ‘good girl’ (they are not a bargirl even if they work Pattaya, yeah right), and when you date them they put up this facade of not being an easy girl (to get in bed).

Some say finding a good girl in Thailand is like finding a tuc-tuc without black or white smoke, but I think reality is much more diverse than that, in fact most Thai girls have probably erred in the grey zone between good and bad. They have at times lied or cheated while at the same time being a 'good girl'. So, if you ask me, the dichotomy of the good and bad Thai girl is more like an interval of fifty shades of grey or in this case let's say Fifty Shades of (Being) Thai.

Thai soap and its role in shaping the Good versus Bad dichotomy
Thai soap has a bigger impact on shapingThai people's mindset than you'd think (source: Channel 7 Online)

‘My girl is different’ is the phrase that comes to mind with a lot of farang guys when discussing this topic and I’ve got to admit that I thought that too for a long time, but in the end your girl is Thai and being Thai affects a person a whole lot more than you realize, so have a reality check: take into account that perhaps she’s not as pure as she pretends to be.

But, do you really want her to be perfect? Well, perhaps not. If there is a notable and in a way comparable dichotomy between the good girl and the bad girl in the West, it's the one of the Madonna versus the Whore (complex). We men adore the perfect, impeccable Madonna figure such as the perfect example that our mother has set, but deep down there we also crave the bad girl, the Whore, the wild girl that satisfies our deepest desires. So, we want her to be both good and bad, that's many guys' inner conflict, whether they realize it or not. (The Madonna versus Whore dichotomy becomes a Freudian complex when you cannot sexually desire the woman you respect because to sexually desire you need the bad girl at the level of the Whore).
So, after all, erring in the grey zone between so-called good and bad doesn’t make your Thai girl a bad person, quite the contrary, perhaps it makes her more real and more desirable.

Whether or not you have figured out your own inner Madonna versus Whore conflict, don't fall into the Thai good-girl-bad-girl trap. As a foreigner in this multi-faceted country, just consider it a possibility that your girl isn’t so much different after all, that she might be taking shelter behind one of fifty shades of being Thai, so just don't follow the Thai and don't fall into the good-girl-bad-girl trap.


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