I remember hearing a story a few years ago that really shocked me. This elderly gent was walking around Chiang Mai with a young Thai woman beside him. A western female approached the couple and loudly accused him of being a dirty pedophile. The man was innocently walking around with his daughter and he had to put up with this type of abuse – imagine how he felt and imagine how his daughter felt. I’m sure that this is not an isolated innocent and it really is a shame. Can I expect that one day somebody will approach me when I’m out with my son and accuse me of the same? I’ve no idea how I’d react to that but probably not very well.
One thing that I’ve always found a bit unsettling living in Thailand is the abundance of negative stereotypes towards western men. I’m not really talking here about the negative way that Thai people might view us (this does happen) but with the way we view each other. We seem to now live in a very black and white world and we like to label people as if there was no such a thing as individuality – there is good and bad and no inbetween. This means that every Thai women with a western man is on the game and every western man is viewed as a sex tourist – no excuses. Even those people who are otherwise quite liberal in their views can be very unfair when it comes to stereotypes in Thailand. We can make our minds up about people even though we really know nothing about them – don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune to doing this type of thing myself. It is just a bit sad that we always suspect the worst and never the best.
I suppose that there is nothing we can do about negative stereotypes; it’s just the way things are. This is something that I want to stop doing so much myself though because it is probably not the healthiest way to deal with the world. The reality is that the people who are probably most deserving of suspicion and negative opinions are the ones who never even make it onto our radar. Those like that respectable woman in England this week who shoved a neighbour’s cat in a dumpster becuse she thought nobody was looking.