Imagine this scene in Europe or the US. You are out walking around the town with your girlfriend. You happen to bump into a stranger and the two of you get into a conversation. You might talk about football or the weather – trivial stuff. In order to be polite you introduce your girlfriend; after all, she is standing right there beside you like a spare part. Maybe you would say something like, “this is X; she’s not a prostitute”. Hold on a minute there is now way in hell you would say this. If you did you could expect a huge scene with lots of shouting and maybe even physical violence. This would never happen in the west, yet this type of conversation is commonplace in Thailand.
Living in Thailand Can Make Do Strange Things
The one thing about living in this part of the world is that you can pick up some odd behaviors. I’m not talking here so much about westerners turning up in a Bangkok department store wearing traditional Thai village garb with green plastic sandals. Most of us can avoid such extremes – at least a lot of time anyway.
We do tend to pick up eccentricities though that we didn’t have before arriving here. One thing that surprised me the first time I moved to Thailand was the number of western men who would refer to their Thai girlfriend or wife as a “good girl”. It didn’t take me long to work out that what these people were really doing was letting everyone know that she wasn’t on the game. I found this really odd behavior.
It wasn’t until I had a Thai girlfriend, and later a Thai wife, that I understood what was going on. There are a lot of people in the world who will judge you negatively if you have a partner who is Thai. Even people who would generally be considered liberal in their thinking can still see no difficulty with stereotyping Thai women and the western men with them. For a short while it sort of bothered me, but there was no way I was going to begin introducing my wife as a “good girl”. She would kill me. Personally I think that it is a bit demeaning to refer to your partner in such a way. It is also more likely to make people think that there is something to hide if you make such a big deal out of it. To be honest I don’t really care how people choose to judge me. I would be annoyed if someone upset my wife, but she is more than capable of standing up for herself.
My Thai Girlfriend is a Good Girl
The term “good girl” is only one of the ways that western men try to indicate that they are not with a prostitute. Some people are a bit more imaginative. My favorite is when people introduce their girlfriend while emphasizing that she has a Chinese- Thai background. This is not the usual sort of information you are given when being introduced to a stranger for the first time; I suspect it is also code for, “she is not on the game”. The Chinese-Thais have a reputation for having a bit of money behind them.