While many of the ‘sexpats’ who come to Thailand for the sex industry who have you think most Thai girls not only talk about sex but have sex, it’s just not true. Thai ‘good girls’ i.e.: those who don’t have sex before they get married are the norm here and not the exception. What that also means is most middle-class Thai girls will not talk about sex, either with friends, co-workers or even boyfriends.
Even when Thai women get married, it seems most of my Thai female friends have told me they don’t even discuss sex with their husbands. Of course, now, they have sex – they just don’t talk about it. For westerners, who are usually quite open about sex, this conservativeness is amazing. And, as Thailand has a reputation as one of the sex capitals of the world (it’s actually not true!), westerners are even more astounded when they discover Thai women won’t talk about sex.
As a country that has always been segregated from other countries (Thailand is the only South East Asian country that has never been colonized), Thais throughout history have had limited contact with foreigners. So, up until just a few short years ago, Thais remained ignorant about how the rest of the world views sex and talks about sex. Now, because of the easy access to Hollywood movies and American TV shows, Thai women are definitely becoming more aware that most of the rest of the world talks about sex. They’re just not comfortable doing so themselves.
As a western female teacher in Thailand, I find it fascinating that Thais have this closed attitude about sex. Last year, in some of my corporate English classes, I broached the topic of ‘controversial subjects’, and wrote ‘sex’ on the whiteboard as one of them. In every class I taught, a gasp or a murmur went through the classroom but, you can guarantee, I now had their full attention. Still, in every class, it took a good 15 to 20 minutes before my adult students began to open up and talk and, even then, the conversation was very innocent compared to a similar conversation in the west.
Considering the youngest students in my classes are 28 years old, and the oldest are in their late 40s, it was fascinating to see the level of discomfort in every class I taught. What was even funnier was the two most uncomfortable people in all my classes were two married male partners of the firm, who spent the whole class squirming in their seat and trying to change the subject. When I asked one of them later, an extremely handsome guy in his late 30s, why he was so uncomfortable, the only thing he could bring himself to say was, “Thai women don’t normally talk about sex”. A comment, as an open-minded western woman, I still find fascinating.
My younger Thai female friends though tell me “Times they are a-changin’ in Thailand”. Thai women younger than the mid-20s are much more likely to be having sex, even if not married, than their slightly older sisters.
One of my Thai students told me that a recent study published in one of the Thai newspapers said that almost 50% of Thai teenagers 15 years of age or younger are already having sex. Teenage pregnancy in Thailand is rising and so are STDs, as sex education and safe sex are not really taught in Thai schools.
Overall, I think it’s quite sad that Thai culture is changing so fast and younger Thai women are becoming more western in their way of thinking. Thais are some of the nicest people in the world and their innocence is actually quite charming. I would hate to see Thai women become like a lot of western women – too open about sex and far too promiscuous. But, if Thailand continues to change as fast as it has been, it unfortunately seems likely that this will be the case.