More Thai-farang love than ever, study says

With changing demographics, economics and social norms come all kind of changing times.

For long, the stereotype of intercultural love has been the aged farang retiree (always male) with his youthful Thai paramour (male or female) bound together by forces circumstantial and economic.

However anyone living in Bangkok 2015 will recognize the sun has set on that trope. The expat community has swollen with younger professionals while a large Thai middle class has grown up better linked to the broader world through technology. They hold professional jobs and aren’t looking for a sugar daddy; in fact, many may be on better financial footing.

The occasion for these afternoon thoughts is an undergraduate research paper to be published next month by Thammasat University’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, which outlines some of the trends leading to rising numbers of farang-Thai marriage. The paper appears based on a review of social media interaction and is scoped to farang dudes and Thai chicks. An academic assessment of farang women’s romantic prospects or changing mores of Thai men await another day.

“The farang husband nirvana phenomenon in social media: Reproduction of the ‘Motherland’ norm in international policy implementation,” is the impressively named paper by Supichaya Promboon at the center of a story published today by Prachatai.

Supichaya’s study reportedly found a higher incidence of middle-class Thai women marrying foreign men. Unfortunately the numbers aren’t qualified and most of the arguments are anecdotal.

But it seems to fit the observable reality of the street, at least downtown. Cross-cultural partners are routine sights, without the staggering age gaps and possible diaper-changing duties that were once the norm.

“Before I conducted this research, I thought that Thai women marry white men from economic necessity, but after I studied the situation, I changed my mind,” Supichaya said.

Supichaya gives three reasons for this:

  • Middle-class women have had more opportunity to learn English and are thus better prepared to enter equitable relationships.
  • Technology now provides a conduit for connection that gets around social barriers and can bring couples together.
  • While Thai dudes prefer pale, skinny chicks; white dudes are totally into the average body type and skin tone.

That said, women marrying foreign men, commonly derided as mia farang, still face some challenges with perception that they’re not money-grubbing opportunists.

“If society has pre-judged them [mia farang] that way, then what should they do? Do they need to abandon their desire and wait for leftover Thai men to have a crush on them at the last moment? Women have the right to choose their partners too,” Supichaya told Prachatai.

Photo: Smalljude

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