Here is my submission concerning the development of an International Gender Equality Strategy. Oh, and DFAT = the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This version was completed on 13 September 2023.
DFAT advises that it has invited public submissions in order to hear from people and organisations, and to inform the priorities for the proposed Gender Equality Strategy. Thank you for providing this opportunity for me to do just that.
DFAT suggests that four main questions to be considered when preparing a submission are:
What are international gender equality priorities?
What are the most effective approaches for achieving gender equality globally?
How can Australia best support efforts to achieve gender equality internationally?
What should the government/ DFAT consider when developing the new international gender equality strategy?
I think I’ll focus on point 4. I note too your assertion that the Government is committed to being a global leader on gender equality, and that the new International Strategy is intended to recognise gender equality as being central to Australia’s foreign policy, international development, humanitarian action, trade and security efforts.
To support this commitment, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises that it intends to develop a new International Gender Equality Strategy, in order to:
guide Australia’s actions to protect and promote the human rights of all women and girls*.
align with the commitments to gender equality made in the region by the Pacific Islands Forum, ASEAN and APEC. It will reflect global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, for example, on gender equality, climate change and human rights.
identify the opportunities for Australia, our region and our world for stability, security, prosperity and safety in achieving gender equality and the full and equal participation of all in our societies.
And as for the human rights of ‘all men and boys’*? Are they not human or simply not important? This seems rather reminiscent of another federal agency I wrote to recently. Now who were they? (Reference: https://www.fighting4fair.com/uncategorized/inquiry-into-australias-human-rights-framework-2023/)
“The new International Strategy will reflect the Government’s commitment to achieve gender equality in Australia’s forthcoming first National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality, the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children* 2022-2032, and Australia’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-31” … “DFAT will also draw on the views and priorities shared in public submissions provided to inform Australia’s International Development Policy and Southeast Asia Economic Strategy.”
And as for a national plan to end violence against men and boys*? Sound of crickets (Reference: https://www.fighting4fair.com/uncategorized/on-the-recent-increase-in-violent-crime-carried-out-by-women-and-girls/)
Just by way of background, the latest DFAT annual report that is available online is 2021-22. This shows that the percentage of ongoing staff in that department who are female is approx. 60%, which is consistent with the Australian federal public service overall. And no need to stress, some agencies have been further out of balance. Take WGEA for example (Reference: https://www.fighting4fair.com/uncategorized/weve-set-a-target-of-having-10-of-our-senior-management-team-female-by-2017/)
I shall begin by considering a central facet of this exercise, this being the notion of ‘gender equality’.
“Gender equality is when people of all genders have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Everyone is affected by gender inequality – women, men, trans and gender diverse people, children and families. It impacts people of all ages and backgrounds.” (Source: https://www.vic.gov.au/gender-equality-what-it-and-why-do-we-need-it)
This definition of the term, as with most others, implies that an equivalent amount of attention might be expected to be given to, for example, men and boys in the community. And yet one thing that quickly strikes a reader of related reports and media releases is the almost complete lack of attention given to men and boys and the issues faced by them. DFAT’s reports are no exception.
To consider an example of this, let’s look at one particular item within the DFAT website. It’s entitled ‘Australia’s international support for gender equality’. The term ‘man’ features once in this report, and ‘boy’ not at all. In stark contrast ‘woman’ features 121 times and ‘girl’ 19 times. Thus men and boys, and their myriad issues and perspectives appear to be ‘missing in action’.
It is consequently quite farcical to suggest that this, or the plethora of documents like it, demonstrate genuine commitment to gender equality. What it does do, is to reflect a prevailing reality of a marked gender preference towards women. This preference is actively sought after by followers and devotees of feminist ideology. And they do not tolerate alternative views.
Some source material regarding feminism and its propensity to stifle debate regarding alternative perspectives on gender now follows:
Unfortunately this marked gender imbalance in favour of women/girls is also reflected in the amount of funding support provided for gender-related issues and initiatives in both the Australian domestic and international arenas. This issue is discussed in the following items compiled by me:
Is the pronounced influence of feminist doctrine appropriate in Australia’s dealings with other countries?
I would suggest that ‘no’, it is certainly not. Regardless of how one feels about the validity and usefulness of feminist beliefs in Australia, foreign countries are different places. Feminism has never been raised as an issue within the Australian political system – and subsequently adopted as a matter of policy. It is merely something that a small minority of Australians believe to have merit, and who push strongly for greater and greater female privilege to occur.
Other countries have different histories and different cultures and deserve respect, and to be allowed to make their own choices with regard to gender issues in the absence of carrots or sticks applied by the Australian government acting on behalf of the feminist lobby.
The current situation is, at best, an embarrassment. And yet another printed report from the government, even one laden with woke buzzwords and abundant pictures of assertive women, won’t get us there.
On holidays and I thought it would be nice to provide a light-hearted change from another soul-destroying account of the ongoing ravages of gynocentrism and its bastard child, 3rd wave feminism.
I therefore dedicate this post to those readers who, like me, are afficiendos of the tradition of high-tea.
Today my partner kindly treated me to a visit to 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Which is kind of funny considering my last post was entitled ‘Who pays on dates?’
I couldn’t fault the experience. I’ve had high tea in some pretty swanky places, such as the Ritz in London, the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC, and so on … and today’s experience was right up there. Click here for a photo tour of this stylish venue.
And not a harpy to be seen or heard.
So should you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, come along and eat your fill. Then swan about like one of those mythical patriarchal overlords … if only for a precious hour or two.
Some time ago I came across an item in ‘Inside Man‘, a rather good UK publication that focused on men’s issues. In its September 2014 edition it featured an article entitled Nine out of ten people pictured in charity posters are women. (Sadly the web site no longer exists, although the article is still available via web.archive.org).
The article informed us that charities are loathe to use pictures of men in their posters and advertising campaigns because of an empathy gap that exists in the community. Pictures of poor men just don’t elicit anywhere near the same amount of sympathy as do pictures of poor women.
“So what does this tell us about public attitudes towards men, women, boys and girls? Big charities aren’t stupid. They know what sells. The top 1,000 charities in the UK raise £11.5 billion every year in voluntary donations. Charity is big, BIG business and big business knows that all of us, men and women, are collectively more tolerant of the harm that happens to men and boys. If you want to raise money, you’ve more chance of doing it if you tell people women and girls are suffering.
And what message does this send to men and boys? That we are less valued by society, that we are not cared for as much as women, that we are not as vulnerable, that we don’t need the help of others, that we are tough and strong and should “man up” and get on with our lives and not expect help when we face problems in life. Is it any wonder that men are less likely to access help and support when they need it, when the constant message that we give to men and boys collectively is that we don’t need and don’t deserve help and support from others?”
I included a link to this article in tweets I sent to organisations such as ‘Plan International’, in response to various gender-biased campaigns they promoted online.
One example was a campaign that focused on providing clean drinking water for women and girls (google on ‘clean water for women’ for many examples of similar campaigns). Clean water for poor men and boys? Not so important it would seem, though I doubt that’s because they are sitting in deck chairs quaffing Moet.
There have been other campaigns related to the effects of global warming, for example. Apparently problems such as global warming have a greater affect women/girls, with men/boys protected by way of some kind of force-field.
Oh, and if we needed a reminder as to how little a male life is considered to be worth, who could forget #BringBackOurGirls?
And then today I came across a reddit mensrights discussion thread on this same theme. It’s entitled:
“In countries facing conflicts and crises, women & girls often eat least and last. Their specific needs must be prioritized in humanitarian response efforts.”
“Where women are absent, peace does not prevail” (28 October 2022) with full statement here wherein the Australian Government proudly informs the world that “Today’s topic is not one for debate. The evidence is clear that pathways to peace are paved with women’s resilience and leadership”. Cringe. Be a good boy and drink your glass of feminist Kool-aid.
Truss says she is “proud that we have rebalanced our international development budget” and focused it more on humanitarian aid, and women and girls. (19 October 2022) UK Source
“Our new four-year Strategic Partnership Framework with Australia and the commitment of AU$31.2 million to core resources are vital to UN Women’s ability to support gender equality and women’s empowerment” (19 June 2022) Source: A tweet from UN Women
Stronger partnerships with women in Southeast Asia (1 April 2022) ‘Women Together’ is $300 million program to “focus on building women’s economic empowerment, increasing women’s leadership in regional peace and stability and realise women’s and girl’s rights with a focus on violence prevention”
Russian soldiers are committing a genocide against boys & men in Ukraine. This has been picked up by the media, but they are avoiding saying the gender. They’re just “civilians” or “bodies”. Twitter thread (4 April 2022)
The silence about this (re: military draft) gender inequality is greatest from countries that profess to have a feminist foreign policy (Source) Certainly nothing has been said by any Australian politician or government agency.
“The Ambassador for Women and Girls raises the importance of addressing sexual and gender-based violence, increasing economic opportunities for women, promoting women’s leadership, the critical importance of promoting positive social norms and the rights of girls.”
A selection of foreign aid organisations that fail to address the welfare needs of men
See globalgoals.org and their twitter stream (@TheGlobalGoals) for many examples of sexist statements and programs
See GirlRising and their twitter stream (@GirlRising) for more of the same
See ActionAid and their twitter stream (@ActionAid) for more of the same. Note the section called ‘The Facts’ contained debunked factoids – except Point 3 (violence) which if true is also true for men, who face far more violence overall)
World Vision article prepared by news.com.au entitled ‘Why gender equality is about basic rights‘ only to then launch into a discussion of why (only) girls need help, and ignoring the fact that poor boys face the same challenges as poor girls, e.g. forced to work young, forced to marry young, genital mutilation, etc.
The article concludes with “All children can be vulnerable, and girls face particularly harsh realities because of their gender. That’s why World Vision has started a movement to sponsor 1000 girls by International Day of the Girl. You can join us now and help a girl in poverty live free of fear. Sponsor a girl today.” (September 2019)
“The federal government has unveiled what it is calling “Canada’s first feminist international-assistance policy,” with plans to eventually ensure that at least 95 per cent of the country’s foreign aid helps improve the lives of women and girls”
“Despite cries that gender is as much about men as it is about women, most project proposals or documents referring to gender will mention women, but little about men. If they do talk about men, they do so in terms of their relations with and respect for women.”
“A gender equality perspective in humanitarian assistance takes into account that:
• Crises affect women, girls, boys and men differently; • Existing power inequalities between women and men exacerbates during crisis; • Women, girls, men and boys have different needs and different coping mechanisms; • Women, girls, men and boys have different opportunities to benefit from support; and • Women and girls are an important resource in designing and delivering humanitarian assistance.”
Sounds almost fair. But in terms of outputs this model is imbued with gynocentric bias, which manifests itself via a plethora of programs aimed at women/girls. There are few/no programs directed at men/boys, this being rationalised through the belief that they can cope better/are less affected/that supporting them may worsen the problem, etc.
“Women must believe that their safety and rights are worth defending – even when the odds feel stacked against them for involvement in sex work. Clients and police need these messages too. We must create an environment that tells women they do not deserve to be abused, that someone cares about their safety and well-being. We are invigorated, inspired, and challenged to transform a world that perpetrates violence and blames victims to one in which freedom, safety, health and human rights prevail for all.”
Presumably written by the author without a hint of irony. Female victims matter, male ones don’t. No mention in the write-up of this project about the violence experienced by male and transgender sex-workers … why? Could the answer be ‘Gynocentrism manifested by way of feminist bias’?
Read down to see “By the end of 2015, the three West African countries most affected by Ebola – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – had a total of 8,703 cases of the virus in women compared to 8,333 in men. But the sex tally of those infected does not reveal the social impact of the disease on local populations.”
“… The research by Lara Stemple at the University of California doesn’t only show that male sexual violence is a component of wars all over the world, it also suggests that international aid organisations are failing male victims. Her study cites a review of 4,076 NGOs that have addressed wartime sexual violence. Only 3% of them mentioned the experience of men in their literature. “Typically,” Stemple says, “as a passing reference.””
Unfortunately I couldn’t but help to overhear their conversation. Were they talking about the beautiful natural environment all about them? No. Perhaps they were discussing the abundant cultural attractions? Nope. They were dissecting their experiences with guys they had met on their travels.
More specifically, they were discussing all the things that those guys had said or done or been, that rendered them unattractive as partners – or even as human beings. According to their toxic banter every one of those men was a loser. It was a bit like the girls described in this article, but ten years on.
With such an unpleasant demeanour, and competition from far more graceful and kindly locals (pictured below), I do hope those female tourists enjoy their solo journey … for the remainder of their holidays and beyond.
My next stop, just a kilometre or two down the road, was a famous Buddhist retreat where, thankfully, I managed to restore my sense of calm.
Now those women in the restaurant may or may not consider themselves to be feminists. I guess it is possible that they were merely ordinary folk who had been touched with the nasty stick.
Nevertheless on returning home that encounter got me thinking about whether anyone had written anything about feminism and Buddhism, and so I got busy with google and soon found a few references (below).
“I do not intend to be critical, but I simply do not understand how misandry and Mahayana are supposed to fit. Are you professing to adhere to a particular faith, and then immediately bending that faith to suit your neuroses? Are you taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for the benefit of all sentient beings just so long as no men are involved? …
Misandry — contempt of men — together with misogyny — contempt of women — are nothing more than gender-specific expressions of misanthropy — hatred of human beings. Since this is the very opposite of Buddhism, why should we give any voice at all to such thinking? Why should we pay this any attention, or give it any ground? Isn’t this something we should try to overcome?”
Another post that touches on western women in Thailand is here
July 2014 saw an unusual spate of pro-feminist articles appear in the Thai media, suggesting a concerted effort to raise the profile of feminism there. I first noticed this article in the Bangkok Post, one of the two main English-language newspapers in Thailand. It used a recent terrible crime (rape and murder of a young girl) as a vehicle to bang the feminism drum in a country that is wonderfully thus far relatively free of the feminist yoke.
Next I came across this article in a popular regional English-language magazine. It discussed a feminist get-together in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The author of that article, Hilary Cadigan, subsequently wrote a follow-up OpEd in response to comments from readers including myself.
That latter article appeared to greatly exaggerate the risk to Asian women in relation to marrying foreign men. Feminist scare tactics like this are ten percent motivated by a desire to protect the welfare of a small minority of Thai women potentially vulnerable to exploitation, and ninety percent about punishing western men who reject feminist-indoctrinated women as partners. (See this post as to one possible reason why)
Some might say “well perhaps Thailand is a country that could benefit from feminism?“. Well yes and no, but mostly no.
Firstly, and by way of background, I am fortunate to be somewhat familiar with the country and its people. I am also aware of the views of western women regarding Thailand, via personal discussions and many years of scanning media and online sources including expat fora. Whilst there are Thai feminists, online discussion and English-language media coverage is driven by female western expats who rankle at the nature of society here. Whilst a few are sensitive and understanding of the nuances of Thai culture, the vast majority are not. Indeed, the depth of Thai experience of too many western commentators is limited to media coverage of sex-trafficking and prostitution, and perhaps a stroll along Pattaya’s Walking Street during a brief holiday stopover.
Unsurprisingly, Thai society does have its share of negative features. As in the west, some of these impact disproportionately against girls and women, some impact disproportionately against men and boys, but most affect people of all genders. Chief among this latter group of factors is the huge disparity between rich and poor within Thai society.
I have two concerns, the first of which is the nature of feminism and its potential impact on Thai culture. My second concern is more general and involves those who seek to superimpose western mindsets and ‘solutions’ onto completely different cultures.
The primary vectors for feminism in Thailand are western women working in international organisations (e.g. various UN agencies, World Bank, etc), in a myriad of western NGO’s and charities, and to a lesser extent in the media.
Readers should also recognise that in Thailand, as in many other countries, there is a substantial financial dimension to feminism. This mainly comprises a large ‘rescue’ industry that focuses on ‘helping’ women and girls. Never mind that the majority of people trafficked in Thailand are men working in the fishing and construction labor industries, who are the recipients of negligible assistance (and none whatsoever from feminist organisations). This gender bias by aid organisations is a world-wide phenomenon, and is addressed in this other blog post.
My own view is that feminism (or at least that form of feminism now dominant in western society – ‘gender feminism’) is not the remedy that’s needed to effect lasting positive social change in Thailand. The affect of this pernicious ideology would simply introduce new biases and inequities, whilst further eroding traditional aspects of Thai society worthy of being maintained.
A few background articles that might be of interest are:
(As an aside, I note this last article includes a reader’s comment: “A group of female tourists in Thailand posted their responses to sex tourism in a video, and received some harsh backlash”. Well, gee, western women volunteered some biased and fairly harsh criticism of the behaviour of western men and received some of the same in return. This happens in grown-up society. Instead of childish pouting, why not address the specific points raised?)
What exactly is prostitution? Most people focus on the version of prostitution that we typically see portrayed in the media. This features men going to brothels or picking up women standing by the road, and purchasing their time in exchange for engaging in various sexual activities.
Things get more complicated however. One factor to note is that the payment for services rendered sometimes occurs after the act … sometimes well after. That payment may not be in cash either, it might (for example) take the form of a gift or gifts. In such cases we begin to move into the realm of mistresses or ‘sugar babies‘ or ‘paid dating‘, for example.
From here on in we launch into even murkier waters. For example some people argue that spousal support payments as routinely ordered by divorce courts are, at least in some circumstances, a form of prostitution (delayed payment for services earlier rendered). Some feminists, like Jane Caro, have even suggested that marriage itself is a form of prostitution (see here and here). Others go further and say that any form of paid work is a form of prostitution, in that work involves someone selling the use of their body by the hour.
What is the feminist perspective on prostitution? Seriously? Well it depends on the particular feminist you are speaking to, but most see it as highly undesirable and indicative of patriarchal exploitation of women. In keeping with feminist discussion on many other issues, feminists routinely ignore those aspects of reality that don’t support their narrative. Thus they assiduously look the other way when it comes to male prostitutes, woman who pay for prostitutes, women who operate trafficking or prostitution businesses, and women (with other employment/income options) who freely choose to work as prostitutes.
Driven by their narrative, feminists in various countries have lobbied to have the act of selling sex decriminalised whilst making the act of buying sex a crime (example). And again, in this particular debate both feminists and media alike keep discussion focused on female prostitutes and male clients.
In a September 2014 discussion on an Australian TV program, Kay Hymowitz raised feminist hackles by questioning why prostitution warranted being a major feminist issue, at least in part because of the relatively small number of women who were prostitutes. One of the other panelists then stated that it warranted being a major issue because one in four men used prostitutes (cue applause). So it’s all about the ‘menz’, huh? Comments like this reinforce the view that a significant factor underlying female opposition to prostitution is the notion of devaluing women’s ‘sexual currency‘.
Please review the selected linked articles below for further information:
It is both an affront and most ironic that the author implies that expat men committing suicide in Thailand are doing so out of feelings of guilt (supposedly due to exploiting bar girls). These suicides are a real issue, but I would wager that the cause is the legacy of a life-time of exposure to the toxic anti-male environment in their countries of origin, this leading to substance abuse and general feelings of failure and hopelessness.
In reality many western feminists could not give a damn about the welfare of Asian sex-workers. Their real agenda is male demonization esp. in relating to curtailing the expression of male sexuality. Some background on that aspect in this blog post.
The author of this article conveniently fails to mention that:
plenty of western women also travel to Asia for sex (both commercial and non-commercial)
many Thai prostitutes are male or transgender (and are apparently not worth ‘rescuing’?)
many if not most men who travel to Asia don’t have sex with prostitutes
It is absurd to suggest that “Australian men [are] among the largest contributors to sex tourism in southeast Asia”. The reality is that Caucasian clients are simply the icing on the cake of the Thai sex industry, and Australians only one of many groups represented amongst tourist/expat clients.
Many (or even most) of these so-called sex-worker “rescue” organisations are either woefully ineffective in terms of getting girls out of the industry permanently – or they are out-and-out scams (example).
Those of you who have spent time in Asian countries might have noticed a lot of western women reading books in cafes and looking somewhat bored. In various web sites and discussion forums one may read their plaintive cries about feeling “invisible” (e.g. Japan/China) and having trouble finding guys who will give them the attention they seem to feel they deserve.
It would appear that most western guys in Thailand, for example, have little time for western women. Instead they appear to prefer the company of more feminine, laidback (and yes, often more attractive) Thai ladies. And cynics note that I am referring to Thai ladies in general, and not simply bar-girls.
I even read a post the other day where a female expat stated that she was tired of western men in Thailand “disrespecting” western women in the way they pointedly ignore them. Tragic, just tragic.
In my blog post ‘I thought women were meant to be more empathetic‘ I talk about the issue of western women in Thailand flaunting local dress standards. Is this ‘look at me! look at me!’ behaviour in response to the ‘attention deficit mode’ that many western women appear to descend into within days of arrival in Asia? Or is it simply a reflection of a broader attitude of ‘my need to indulge myself trumps your right to have local social mores respected’?
Why don’t Western men in Asian countries lift their game and jump at the opportunity of approaching western women? Oh wait, they have already tried that back home and were rewarded with looks of disdain or contempt – or even accused of harassment. I can see this is going to be a tough sell.
So what then, you may ask, is the current situation in western countries such as USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia?
Well in the West men are confused, for they are routinely dragged over the coals for alternately either paying too much attention to women, or not enough. Or about the right amount but they are doing it wrong. Oh, and the goalposts regarding the ‘right’ way are continuously being moved.
On that first point, readers would be aware of the surfeit of publicity regarding the unwanted looks and attention that women attract from men, and how such behaviour threatens and disgusts them (example here).
And then every now and then there is an incident that serves as a lightning rod and focus for demands for action. Let’s look at the example of THAT infamous New York street harassment video …
Twitter thread concerning a girl attending a gym who claims some fellow is watching her. Read the thread and you’ll note that the two main female characters featured in it – complaining about being harassed/objectified – both have OnlyFans accounts #FacePalm. Here’s the original MSM item (23 January 2023).
Of course governments never step in and ask women to deal with other women who transgress one ‘rule’ or another, err like sexually abusing students for example. Because that would be hateful or misogynistic or something bad. Or something.
Unsafe in the City – A Tale of Five Cities, by Plan International (October 2018) This pro-feminist ‘study’ unsurprisingly completely ignores not just all the people who manage to remain safe in the city, but also both male victimisation and female violence.
“Why are the events like the mass groping at Cologne used as an example of how immigrant men pose a threat to “our women”, yet white Australian men acting in a similar fashion at a car show is dismissed as “boys being boys”?”
And this with no evidence provided – aside from two vague anecdotal accounts – that any man laid a hand on a woman at Summernats 2017. No mention, for example, of any actual police reports. In fact, I have been advised that in the entire 30 year history of Summernats there have been only two reported sexual assaults. And yet this being, allegedly, in a “similar fashion” to the outrage that occurred on NYE in Cologne? Talk about a reach!
These two pictures were both taken at Summernats, guess which one featured in Clementine’s article?
Breast enlargement remains the most popular procedure (UK) and in the United States too (2013). In fact if you want a good chuckle then google on ‘feminism and breast augmentation’ and see the fur fly as feminists who have had their chests packed with silicon try to rationalise their decision (“I did it for myself, really”). Of course you did.
See the readers comment by ‘Okrahead’ about the spandex ‘lady’ in the gym in this article
Men and women are individuals whose position with regards to interacting with other individuals is influenced by many variables including age, relationship status, sexual orientation, cultural background, etc. There is no ‘one size fits all’.
Men are criticized both for approaching women, and for not approaching women. Some women live for male attention, others want none, with the remainder happy to engage at the times, and in the manner, of their choosing. Oh, and an individual woman’s position may change on a daily basis and/or depending upon the perceived attractiveness of the male who approaches her.
As women do not hold up signs advising of their own particular preferences, even well-meaning men – who comprise the overwhelming majority – are in a constant state of uncertainty, unease and frustration. Maybe if all women could organise themselves onto the same page, and circulate universal guidelines, things might be different. But we all know that’s not going to happen.
Feminists stoking the fire of misunderstanding and paranoia between the genders sure doesn’t help things, and only serves to propel ever more men towards a MGTOW lifestyle.
Elsewhere in this blog you might be interested in reading:
Earlier generations of Australian women were mostly empathetic to a fault. Nowadays, definitely not so much.
Empathy with the resident citizens of overseas countries
Some time ago I was reading the results of a survey of overseas travelers. It found that most travelers were disturbed by displays of cultural insensitivity by fellow travelers. Unfortunately the survey did not breakdown its results on the basis of variables such as gender.
This got me thinking about my own experiences living and travelling in Asia.
Thai culture is quite conservative but Thais will rarely inform tourists when they have crossed the border of social acceptability, unless they venture far beyond the bounds of decent behaviour. Expressions of polite conduct such as kreng jai – the Thai version of our ‘good manners’ – is highly important to them.
Mention Thailand and most people think of men behaving badly. And indeed some men do … as do some women. The difference is that those western men who misbehave tend to do so within touristy nightlife areas, in many cases within recognised ‘red light areas’. Their behaviour generally involves drunken debauchery within the confines of go-go bars or the like. There is nothing laudable about this, but at least the local Thai people in such areas tend to be inured to witnessing this type of behaviour. Outside these areas I have witnessed exceedingly few examples of western male travellers displaying overt cultural insensitivity.
In contrast I have seen many examples of western women behaving inappropriately outside the bar precincts. A common issue is that of wearing skimpy and revealing clothing in and around temples, and in public places such as markets or parks. This occurs despite the fact that any guidebook on Thailand clearly states that such clothing is considered unacceptable, as well as there being signs installed in many locations.
On this note I happened across the following comments by a female editor of an English-language magazine in Thailand:
“Then there is the trio of English lasses who were found wandering around Wat Phra Singh a few weeks back in their bikinis! It has nothing to do with cultural insensitivity or ignorance. It is just a willful refusal to give a crap. Their grandmothers would have taken a wooden spoon to their bottoms had they trotted into the local church dressed that way.”
I have never confronted anyone about this particular transgression, but from discussions in online forums the attitude seems to be “this is my style, why should I have to change to suit them?”, or they are old-fashioned/sexist and *they* should change. I have also noticed plenty of instances of western women exhibiting exceptionally intrusive, pushy and loud behaviour in public places (particularly for example during community events).
Anyway that’s what this correspondent has noticed in going about his daily business, but discussions with Thai women revealed some other issues. These were women who either ran businesses, or worked in other peoples shop-front businesses (not bar-related, I hasten to add). I must first explain that Thai women are generally in awe of western women, and in general there is no underlying animosity whatsoever.
One after the other these women told me similar accounts of their dealing with western female customers, and of their surprise, dismay and occasional anger at the rude behaviour they often encountered. This included body language (like eye rolling and pained expressions) plus clicking noises of annoyance, and rude gestures and insulting words.
As noted, these were just my own observations – what do others think? Are western women travelling overseas less inclined to observe and maintain local cultural decorum, than western men? And if so, why? Do you think it might it be related to an increasingly overdone feeling of entitlement, and of being beyond criticism/censure? That sense of feeling oneself to be a ‘special snowflake’?