I would rather suffer a thousand papercuts and dive into shark infested waters than endure a room full of male travellers masquerating as responsible educators.

“I can’t wait to get back to see those American asses in tight jeans,” the women here “all have flat asses”, oh and “my Thai squeeze is so frigid, she won’t even hold my hand” but simultaneously “they’re all so easy!”OH, aaaaand  “I hate all Thai women”, they’re “greedy” and “all they want is money.”

[About cramps]: “She can’t come in? This is why women get paid less than men.”

All very real remarks (by male teachers) that have burned my ears this past year. And that’s just the icing: I can’t even remember, or repeat many of the utterances myself and my friends have witnessed. I don’t think I’ll ever forget being a brand-new, excitable ‘traveller’; sitting down in a quiet bar and being immediately confronted with a racist, rape joke. I had no idea on how to react: I was stern. angry, but ridiculously still rather polite in saying “no, I will not shake your hand, goodbye” as I got up and left.

Thailand’s travelers: mindful, empathetic,  interesting women. Some open-minded men, too. The chilling fact, however, is a trend myself, and so many others, have noticed: that marked difference between the men and women here. The sex tourism and objectification of the women and children in Thailand is ever present. The reputation of Farang men, specifically teachers, is one of exploitation and the signals that the perpetrators give are largely ignored because, honestly, nobody wants to constantly confront small comments and acts of oppression every day. Especially when they’re in paradise.

Recently, a new teacher of mine expressed how relieved he was. Relieved to be a minority in a majority of female teachers. Relieved to be rid of a workplace riddled with male dominance and unchallenged misogyny. Not exactly groundbreaking news. Misogyny exists! Yes, it even exists when you move to Thailand! And it all-too-often comes with a 140 hour teaching qualification and a whisper of charisma:

When a 31 year old teacher in Thailand possesses ‘Asian teen’ porn on his laptop, we have a problem.

Racial fetishes are not okay.

Teen fetishes are not okay.

This same man having a teenage, Thai girlfriend  (“squeeze”) is not okay.

This man being an authoritative presence in a Thai classroom full of vulnerable 16-18 year olds  is absolutely horrifying.

It’s not really something your TEFL course fully prepares you for, and not something you’re necessarily even aware of when you’re concentrating on your own ‘travel-teaching’ experience. It’s more than enough to put any compassionate, prospective teacher off coming to Thailand, a country with laws that don’t request any kind of background check before letting people into it’s schools.

Just be aware, and be outspoken, against those damaging, degrading attitudes you hear every day. Challenge them. Report them. Edge them out. Try your damn hardest to get dangerous individuals away from vulnerable people.

This post is explicitly dedicated to Tyler Garrison, and all others who come here with a TEFL and a depraved notion of living hidden away in their rucksacks.

We see you.

 

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