There is a stigma attached towards Foreign women, particularly white Foreign women here in Thailand and that is due to what is commonly referred to as our propensity towards ‘free sex’. The term free sex gets thrown around a lot when speaking of Foreign culture and specifically of Foreign women, this often includes people who can’t really speak English. They know and will freely use this term. It is a term that is pejorative and used exclusively when speaking of Foreigners, from my experience.
When I came to Thailand, my definition of free sex was one of sex that was for pleasure, sex that wasn’t bound by anything but the consent of two (or how many you want) people. Sex outside of a traditional relationship. I thought the term, not the practice had died sometime in the 1970s.
The Thailand I know is one that I consider open to the concept. However, like most things here, it isn’t always overt. And with time, if you’re open and aware, you see the patterns, people will speak to you of their experiences (male and female, Foreign and Thai), people will ask you to hook them up with your friends despite being in a relationship, etc. etc.
Having these experiences, and they by far outweighing in consistency anything I’ve experienced in the West, I have often thought, why are Foreign women getting such a bad rap? Sex seems extremely free here, but again, it isn’t overt, you may not see it until you understand the culture better. This is a culture of appearances. Of saving public face. I thought, was it only that? That people of Western descent are more public about it (i.e. kissing in public, sex on television, or simply just publicly admitting to the fact they had sex with whomever?)
Then it occurred to me, that for many Thais, the term free sex wasn’t fully defined by choice of whom you had sex with, or the nature of your relationship, it was defined by what you would get out of it. For many women this means money, for some it means gifts, or a mix of both.
Within my first year of living in Thailand a girl called me from a man’s telephone. She told me she was given the phone the night before in exchange for sex. She explained how she wasn’t interested in the guy at all, he was ugly in fact but she needed a phone. So they made an arrangement.
This was a lie, meaning she wasn’t given the phone for sex. Nonetheless, she called and constructed that story in an attempt to make me jealous. At the time I thought, what kind of idiot would think I would believe someone would have sex for a phone?
Two years later, I wouldn’t even question it.
Thai culture generally stipulates that men are expected to give the women in their lives money, they are expected to, another term used in Thailand often, take care. Generally speaking, from my experience, money is viewed as a token of love and respect. As an extension of this, a good man will commonly give a woman he isn’t married to, money after sex.
Through the years, I’ve come to realize a number of women look down upon Foreign women for, borrowing words from a few Thai women I’ve spoken to, being stupid for giving sex for free. In a way, it’s like, we’re allowing men to take advantage of us, and we’re too stupid to realize it. We just go off with a man, he gives us nothing and we don’t ask for anything in return. We’ve objectified ourselves.
The cultural differences are interesting.
For Thailand solo travel and safety tips, in addition to Thailand information you won’t find in traditional tourist guides, please visit my post Tips For Women Traveling To Thailand.