Societal Mindset Towards Rape Culture in Thailand

Societal Mindset Towards Rape Culture in Thailand

March 22, 2020 0 By Phachara P.

Why do Thais rape? What are laws anymore? The occurrence of raping cases is becoming more prominent in the Thai society, as Thai laws are becoming seemingly more ineffective when dealing with these cases. Could such profane act be the result of a lack of sex education among Thai people? Is it the Thai culture? Or is it the Thai media themselves who only care for their own ratings, who disregard any impacts their contents might have on the society?

Raping in Thailand, sadly, is often seen as normal, something that isn’t out of the ordinary. Rape cases make an appearance on TV every now and then, eversooften, and yet, don’t seem to leave visible marks on Thai society.

Then a certain question arises, raping without a single shadow of doubt a huge deal in the society, how can most Thai people feel so indifferent towards such an issue? 

Regretfully, the source of such acts and what drives Thai men to commit such adulteries, according to the Thai elderly, are the way women dress. They insisted that rape cases wouldn’t have happened if women dressed appropriately in the first place. It is the women themselves that are publicly announcing, shamelessly but indirectly asking, to be raped. This particular group of people further argued that if those who were raped had respected the sacred Thai cultures and the Thai values that had been passed down through the generations, all the acts of sexual harassment wouldn’t have surfaced to begin with.

By now, you must be wondering, “What are they thinking?”. Are they saying that the rapists aren’t at fault here? Perhaps. While it’s true that the act of raping is vile and shouldn’t be supported in anyway, some Thai Conservatives still view these acts of raping being the victims’ fault, and that they should be responsible for their own safety. However, raping is not and should not be justified. Little did they know, those Conservatives got it all backwards. It doesn’t matter how a lady chooses to dress herself up, it doesn’t even matter how seductive she appears to be, no one should be allowed to commit those acts and feel empowered about it, and that’s what’s wrong with our society today.

Education is indisputably essential. Some believe education to be a cornerstone of success, while some believe they desperately need to be educated in order to even have slightest of chances of achieving their dreams in the era we are living in. Some even believe that one can no longer aspire for anything, except for more education. Education in this sense, is intellectually rewarding in itself. But sometimes, especially in Thailand, good education doesn’t come pre-packaged with common sense, and we have the Thai culture to thank for that. It has been ingrained within us, the Thais, that women are not allowed to dress inappropriately, and that they always need to wear something that will cover most of their skins.

This belief is in fact, respectable, but what is not so respectable follows after this. Thai people have their heads in too deep and are blinded by the Thai values, so much so that they can’t see clearly what is right and what is wrong. Women dressing inappropriately doesn’t mean that she is asking to be raped, and the ones being raped should not be held responsible in any way. Perhaps it is time for us to break convention, maybe it is time for us to do something that we, the Thais, have always been scared of doing, perhaps it is now the right time to finally fix that lack of sex education. 

Thailand and its culture.

Thailand is well known for many things, whether it is for its famous Thai cuisine, its friendly people, a great travel destination, its cultural pride, and many more, but except for one thing, its ability to break convention. Thailand has a long-established cultures and traditions, an ineradicable beliefs that have been passed on from one generation to the next. This is what makes even the tiniest thoughts of breaking conventions nearly impossible. This has been ingrained in the roots of Thai people that they do not bring up any topics regarding sex, or even have a conversation about matters that concern anything sexual. Thai people have such conversations among their peers, sure. But the thing with Thai society is that every single bit of knowledge (regarding sex) one will obtain will most likely come from that they sought out themselves. It is an ironclad rule in Thai families that the parents don’t have “the talk” with their kids, as such talk is often perceived as disturbing and shameful, awkward and discomfiting. Some might even go as far as to say that talking and thinking about such a topic is “vile”. This is because of “Thai values,” the Thai culture prohibits them from doing the right thing, which is equipping the children with the right knowledge moving forward, in hopes that with the right knowledge, those children will be able to make a sensible decision for themselves when it comes to intimate situations.
However, breaking more than a century old conventions isn’t exactly the easiest thing to accomplish.

In order for us to be able to have even the slightest of chances in influencing these Conservatives to become more open-minded on the topic of sex education, we must first change the attitude of the people. And if that wasn’t grueling enough, we must also find ways for those Conservatives to unlearn what they have learned and relearn what is right, and equip them with the right, healthy mindset, that of a broad-minded one. 

The question remains, “Will simply the act of giving them a quality sex education be enough to prevent another rape incident from occurring?” 

For those who are running short on time, the answer is no. And for those who are still wondering what the longer version to this question could be, the answer is still no. Woefully, sex education doesn’t guarantee that sexual crimes and the entire rape culture would come to an end. What it would do, however, is that the knowledge he or she acquired will help accompany the decision making processes, along with that person’s upbringings and backgrounds as the other two indispensable components.

Without a doubt, being educated on sex-related matters is essential, but with you only having a good amount of knowledge about sex will only get you so far. As I’ve mentioned before, a good education doesn’t come pre-packed with common sense. In order for us to even hope to decrease the rates at which rape activities are occurring, we must ingrained in each and everyone of the Thais this common sense, or in this case, consent. 

I’m sure we’ve all been there, the point where our parents just couldn’t stop forcing the concept of “respect” onto us. Don’t get me wrong, respect is no doubt of the essence, and I can’t stress this enough when I say that we all should respect one another at all times. It is THAT important to always keep this in mind so that you won’t make foolish decisions in life. Little did most people know, the concept of respect also, and still applies when it comes to sex, and it is called consent. Let’s face it, sexual desires aren’t something that can easily be prevented, as abstinence is simply unfeasible. However, it doesn’t matter how bad you want it, you must first and foremost “ask” politely if your partner is willing to do it with you, and that is the part where most people simply decide to skip entirely. When you combine both education and respect, it results in safe sex. On the other hand, sexual activities full of consent but without knowledge often lead to teen pregnancy. And the worst of all, sexual activities without any consent from either one of the two is called rape. It might be due to the fact that the Thai culture teaches Thai people to be unusually shy when it comes to intimate matters, but not being able to straightforwardly talk about something is not an excuse for anyone not to sort out for the right knowledge and ask forthrightly for the other person’s consent.

But despite the fact that most people nowadays are better equipped in terms of knowledge than ever before, why is it that rape culture in Thailand is still going strong and doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon?  

The answer is the media.

While the technologies are neutral, which means the technologies show both the goods and the bad, the media companies themselves are not. The media companies (along with the government) are fully in command of the contents they disseminate to the society. There’s no denying that the paradigm has changed, the audiences are now active rather than passive, as they are now able to create and consume any media contents that they so desire. But still, the media contents published by the media companies will nevertheless remain successful in proving themselves to be the contents that are able to reach the wider array of audiences, compared to those of the user-generated ones. What this means is that the media companies have the ability to choose what type of contents to publish and what not to, and yet, there are still contents on Thai TV that still include sexual harassments and the advocacy of raping in general. 

Take Thai TV series, also known as lakorn, for example. In almost every single lakorns in existence, there will be at least one scene where the leading male actor will proceed to do the deeds with the female actor, usually without her consent. They then continued on to show this on TV, so much so that the act of “raping” done by the leading male actor has become something that is widely accepted in the society. Perhaps, the word “widely accepted” is an understatement, as most of the audiences often perceive these scenes as “amusing” and “entertaining”, rather than “disturbing” and “provoking.”

Scenes from Thai Lakorn

Thai lakorns are portraying, implanting in the audiences’ minds that the acts of raping are innocuous, as the Thais’ insensitivities were taken to the new heights. Sensationalization is the concept that the entertainment industries tend to abuse, but the problem still lies, can the audiences distinguish between what is on-screen acting and what is real life? The media companies tend to look over the fact that not everyone in the audiences will be able to look at rape scenes and decode it the right way, as not everyone possesses an excellent media logic that will help them understand what is right and what is wrong, what should and what should not be replicated in real life. 

News in Thailand is also one and the same. Thai media outlets never stop bringing the news regarding the rape culture to the table. While there is nothing wrong with presenting the news in its truest lights, continuing to bring these topics up even after the incidents were long concluded is another story.

What is does to those people with the lack of sex education and weak media logic is that they might take these messages the wrong way. Instead of interpreting correctly what the news is trying to convey, which is, rape is vile and unacceptable in every way, people may end up sympathizing with the rapists instead.

Some might perceive such acts as cool and relatable, as their lives might be under similar circumstances with rapists. They might even end up seeking out for more rape contents similar to the ones they see on the media to satisfy their certain needs, as uses and gratification don’t always pertain to positive contents. 

Thai culture in a way, is one the reasons why rape culture became so prominent in Thailand today. In Thai culture, countless values are emphasized. Whether it is to put your family first, sufficient is enough, or generosity and hospitality, these are some of the Thai essences that all Thais possess. Those Thai values are said to be the foundation of all Thai people, as they grow up and become a citizen with well-rounded skill sets and a considerate mind. They emphasized all but one thing, sex. The Thai culture doesn’t approve anything sex related, as conversations regarding sex is extremely frowned upon. With a culture that is so straightforwardly anti-sex culture, it naturally follows that all the sex toys and prostitutions in Thailand are forbidden. At least according to how I see it, this is the precisely why rape cultures in Thai are so prominent. People have no way to de-stress themselves sexually, whether that is to pleasure themselves with sex toys, or visiting massage parlors to satisfy their own sexual fantasies. This drives people to commit the “rape crime” purely off of their sexual instincts, taking their sexual desires on innocent ladies as their last resorts. 

What follows a rape then, is always devastation. 

People, not only limited to the Thais, but also people of all nationalities must come to the realization of this fact. The fact that one’s temporary selfish actions could potentially ruin others’ lives for all eternity. Perhaps now is the right time for all of us to step forward. The rape culture must cease to exist. No woman should ever become a victim of such faith ever again. 

Could proper sex education be the end-game solution to this problem then? Or is it time for us to finally break out of our shells and shatter those conventions to pieces? 

After all, the beginning of the end must begin somewhere.

And it must begin with you.