Being a Thai female, naturally I am concerned about things relating to Thai women. But monkey’s uncles, I admit, it never occurred to me to think of them at all … until last year when I had a near brush with one. He swung by my sphere of existence—spooked me a bit. Not particularly charmed by monkeys I decided not to engage with the knuckling creature. So he came and went like a fart. I thought that was that.
So, it’s a bit disconcerting that in these past few days that monkey’s uncle reappeared in my mind and refused to leave. Inauspicious, given Valentine’s Day is near. The thought that I’ve got Monkey’s Uncle for an uninvited guest in my head prior to the Day of Love leaves me unsettled. The situation becomes more pressing now that I’ve committed to appear as a guest to talk about love at Bangkok Podcast with Tony and Greg. I fear Monkey’s Uncle might tag along to the interview and destroy any future chance I might have as a love guru. So, logically I’ve resolved to exorcise Monkey’s Uncle—at a risk of becoming a Valentine’s Scrooge.
Who is Monkey’s Uncle?
Frankly I don’t know who he really is but he seems to pop up in places when Thai women are talked about to show off his expertise. I came across this particular one on such an occasion.
Those of you who have read my blog probably know my article “Thai Women and the Question of Money.” For whatever reason this May 2010 article remains the most read of all my blog posts. Several bloggers and websites have linked to it and talked about it. One of them was posted on Thaigers website by a “Boss Thaiger” by the handle “Cookie.”
Cookie gave my article a glowing introduction. He posted on his web board:
Posted 20 June 2010 – 11:39 AM
Just came across a new blog which I have listed on the ‘Blogs about Thailand’ thread.
However, there is a really excellent and thought provoking article on there about Thai women and the whole issue of money. Probably the best I have read actually and it’s made me think quite a bit actually :whistling:.
Then he did me an honor of posting the entire article, save the last one-sentence update and the graphic of my Thai Women Matrix.
The thread had a few comments. One commenter with a “Rampant Thaiger” status under the handle “garibaldi” (who would reveal himself to be a monkey’s uncle) came in number 3. He opined.
Posted 20 June 2010 – 05:37 PM
Not wanting to piss on your parade mate, but if that response is by a thai lady, i am a monkey’s uncle.
I am sure that is the same reply i saw by stickmans “wife” a few years ago on the old Mistys forum.
What struck me as quite brave was for someone to go out on a limb—no pun intended—admitting to being a monkey’s uncle if I were disclosed to be a woman. Well, I’m pleased that primates are now on the internet and I think I might have found Monkey’s Uncle. If anyone know him, please ask him if he would like this lost picture of his for his family photo album. I will even send it framed.
I was tempted to tell the hairy friend that he should consider changing his status from Rampant Thaiger to Rampant Monkey’s Uncle. But of course I didn’t. In order to post a comment I had to become a member of the Thaiger exultant club. I asked myself, should I temporarily transmogrify into a Thaigress just to post a comment? …(two seconds passed)… Erm, no, thank you.
Cookie—the monkey’s uncle’s bosom mate
Staring at Monkey’s Uncle’s comment, I scratched my head. I kind of thought that Cookie who took my article directly from my blog would rescue his mate “garibaldi” from being declared a monkey’s uncle. Sadly he didn’t. Cookie replied to the monkey elder as follows:
Posted 20 June 2010 – 06:47 PM
You may well be right Gari…but it’s an interesting article either way and certainly one of the few articles in a good while that has made me think a lot…
I should add as well that there is currently a ThaiVisa thread on the very same article…haven’t seen it but I would imagine they would pick up any issue of plagiarism…might be worth a look.
If my article got Cookie to “think a lot,” it evidently failed to inspire him to move his index finger on his computer mouse and had a look for himself. Really, just one or two clicks Cookie would have found out whether the article that he copied and pasted (without prior permission from or any notification to the author – I might add) was an original article or a shameless piece of copying somebody else’s work. But I guess typing “plagiarism” was easier. Considering that it was too much work for Cookie to lift his finger before uttering the p-word, I suppose it’s too much to expect him to give it a thought whether a woman—a Thai woman—might be capable of writing such an article .
Impersonating a Thai female
I know most of my readers aren’t the close relations of monkeys. But I’d bet every now and then you run into one or two monkey’s uncles like I did.
Anyhow, back to the allegation that I impersonated “Stickman’s ‘wife’.” I don’t know what Monkey’s Uncle was thinking but the idea of impersonating anybody’s wife—especially “wife” inside quotation marks—doesn’t particularly appeal to me. But I have read some articles on Stickman’s site, and for that reason I haven’t quite decided which is less flattering to me between being accused of plagiarizing Stickman’s “wife” or being suspected of not being a woman. Let it be known, if there is any crime against womankind worthy of exorcism (or worse), it’s insinuating a woman might not be a woman.
To my chagrin, that was not the first time someone accused me of not being female. After my book Sex Talk first came out, I gave an interview to BangkokDan of Absolutely Bangkok. It was an email interview. After I sent him my answers to his list of questions, the good man sent me a thank-you email along with a somewhat reluctant question if I might possibly be a man masquerading as a woman—or something to that effect. I told him no and that I chose to take his comment as a compliment, rather than indulging in a bruised feminine pride. He thought I was taking that (being mistaken for a man) as a compliment. Oh well. The interview drew quite a lot of comments—the majority supportive and constructive. But there were some comments which were … interesting.
Some baffling, skeptical farang men
I pondered these two incidences and recollect similar incidences in my past. When I was in my first bloom of youth studying in America and active on internet discussion forums, a few Western men now and then expressed surprise at my views and not a little at my ability to communicate in English (interestingly no such surprise was ever expressed to me by any women—Western or otherwise—gladness, yes, surprise, no). Those guys couldn’t believe that I could really be a young Thai woman going on saying the things that I said. One, an English man, went so far as tracking me down and finally got me on the phone—to verify that it was really me, a Thai girl, not a farang behind my keyboard, who was writing on the discussion forum. He seemed satisfied.
No, I was never—or am I now—in danger of having a gender identity crisis. I just find it odd, amusingly odd, that some farang men would think that way. But then I’ve also witnessed other odd things that some Western men do. One baffling thing was this: a farang man struck up a conversation and proceeded to tell me about his Thai mistress in attempt of a small talk. (The guy was married, having a wedding band on.) What the heck! Was he expecting some kind of cultural sympathy or fishing for a new mistress with such a small talk? I never knew as I didn’t stick around to find out.
There were other weird things I encountered but I’m not going to go into the details. Let’s just say I’ve met a few farang men who were quite baffling when it comes to Thai women. I must admit I never got to know them that well because, well, why should I? Though men with a Neanderthal gender attitude might be perversely interesting as a sub-species, I prefer male friends who are more highly evolved.
So what’s the point of all this?
Well, I am certainly feeling lighter now that Monkey’s Uncle has been exorcised. I guess I can see one or two points in the byproduct of this exorcism.
First, about Monkey’s Uncle not believing it was a Thai woman who wrote my “Thai Women and the Question of Money” article , it struck me this way. Perhaps it really wasn’t about the authenticity of my article. It probably doesn’t matter whether my blog title or domain name contains the words “Thai woman,” or that I declare my Thai womanhood on the blog. I could have posted my birth certificate with “FEMALE” clearly marked. Monkey’s Uncle and his mates would still believe the author of the article could not possibly be a Thai woman. One can only guess who in their minds was supposedly ghostwriting that piece. A man? A farang man? A more intelligent woman who’s not Thai? A katoey?
Of at least 20 million adult Thai female population it is somehow not possible in the monkey’s uncle mind that even one could possibly have written the piece that I wrote. Perhaps the likes of Monkey’s Uncle have never really come across any Thai women who could think, and write and speak coherent English. It’s possible, as anything is possible, but highly improbable. It is more likely that they can’t distinguish intelligent Thai women from female monkeys because they can’t process the difference. They wouldn’t know an intelligent Thai woman if she’s staring at their nose, so to speak. There’s a Thai expression, “a monkey got a gem” ลิงได้แก้ว /ling dâay kEEw/, meaning a monkey doesn’t know the gem’s value and wouldn’t know what to do with it. To put it on would make the monkey look absurd and ridiculous.
Boy, now I feel like a bird (flying over a savanna looking at the carcasses of old monkeys from a bird’s eye view)!
Future love guru or Valentine’s Scrooge?
What’s really the other point I was thinking of? … Oh, it’s this. In hope that I won’t be a complete Valentine’s Scrooge and still have a little chance as a future love guru, I want to say something constructive about love and romance as appropriate for the occasion. Though it may be hopeless for the likes of Monkey’s Uncle to develop more refined thoughts as far as Thai women are concerned, one can only hope that evolution will take its course eventually. But for the rest of us, I believe it is hopeful that now with more exposure, more contacts, and more openness to people from other cultures, we are trying to have a better understanding of those whom we want to call friends or lovers.
In cross-cultural relationship, especially a romantic one, there are many pitfalls, many of which are rooted in the lack of understanding, misunderstanding, and cultural assumptions or stereotypes. When you are with a lover from another culture, it pays to remind yourself that she or he is not a representative or an embodiment of a culture but an individual—a living, breathing person who may defy expectations. You may be pleasantly surprised, if you’d give him or her a chance.
It can’t be emphasized enough that communication is crucial in any relationship, especially in cross-cultural relationship. I’m not talking just about ability to speak each other’s language as communication is not all verbal. In my view, what’s even more important is the attitude—you have to want to express yourself and to understand the other as an individual, and not assume that the other must be like this or that because that’s what people from his or her culture do. Great if you share a common language, but if not, an open mind is the necessary start.
Love may conquer all (for some). Sex may make it great (for a couple of years). But what makes a relationship last and fulfilling is often not love or sex (though you also need both), but the joy of being together, the bond that you share. It’s the feeling that you have someone who loves you, cherishes you, understands you, respects you, makes you laugh, and will always be there with you and for you. Someone who makes you feel empty or irritable when you are apart. Someone who makes you feel at home when you are together.
I wish that each of you reading this will find that special someone in your life, if you haven’t already found one.
Happy Valentine’s 2011!