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Letters: James Brown the Hero, Marriage Tourism to Thailand

Desiree Cooper

Millie Jefferson

I was a member of the 102 Combat Support Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard that night, we were 'activated' and called to the base (then located at Logan Airport) and told to "prepare for riot duty". There was a steady trickle of fellow airmen coming in and we were not sure what was going to happen, but we were uneasy about the situation and monitoring things on the radio. When the Army Guard showed up with trucks and rifles, we were convinced that things were escalating and we might actually be put on the streets. Fortunately, the James Brown concert at Boston Garden kicked in, the riots never materialized and we never left the airport. We found a little black and white TV set in the Mess Hall (I was a cook!) and spent the night watching James Brown. As I recall, they replayed the concert several times that night and I never got tired of hearing "Papa's got a brand new bag" over and over again.

Ted Myllmaki
Rockland, Mass.


I was very disappointed in the narrow angle this story took, completely ignoring some of the power dynamics that exist in many of these relationships. Also, it is a bit too western-centric, nay ego-centric, for the writer to assume that this is something that is specific to Asian women and Western men. I have lived and worked in Southeast Asia and had members of my family in Vietnam give me photos of their daughters asking me to pass them along to my male friends living in America. They all know young Vietnamese women who have been married off to men in Taiwan and Korea, and Vietnamese men living abroad. Why do they do this? In most cases, the women live in borderline poverty with few choices for upward mobility, and marrying a man from another country with more opportunity seems more attractive than their current situation.

Also, I think John McCarthy's assessment of clearcut gender roles as a MO for these relationships is flawed. Many women in Vietnam seek to marry non-Vietnamese men precisely because of the perception that they will be treated better--many believe men from their own country will not remain monogamous and that they will be more like live-in servants than companions. So in a sense, they are seeking more equality in their relationships.

It's tremendously disturbing to me that his dad would propose to a Thai woman, without any intention of honoring that commitment. How terribly exploitative that is--regardless of what mid-life crisis he is facing.

Ann Thai
New York, N.Y.


After reading all the comments, I understand why many told David's dad to be careful. One of many reasons why Thai women choose to marry guys from a different country is because Thai men are most likely to have another woman when their wife gets older, or many not even wait that long before looking for another woman.

I am a Thai woman who looked for a husband online. My family was poor. My dad left us when I was in high school. My mom had to raise me and my brother by herself. She had to work two jobs in order to make sure that there was money enough to pay for all the bills. I remember sometimes she pretended like she was not hungry just to make sure that my brother and I had enough to eat.

I met my husband online after I got my degree in Mathematics and have been working as math teacher for three years. We talked online for a year before we decided to see each other in person. Now we have been happily married for six years. I am working as a math teacher in Nevada and will be getting my master's degree in mathematics next spring. My mom and brother in Thailand are not poor anymore. My mom spent some time traveling around the world and my brother is going to get his degree in computer engineering soon. My husband's parents love me like their own daughter. All of this would not have happened if I did not marry my dear husband.

So that's why I think David is worrying about his dad too much. He will be fine in Thailand. Don't worry about Thai women ripping him off. Why I do I say that? Because if his Dad is not going to marry someone who works at the bar or night club, he should be okay. So, I say give him some time to find what he really wants or let him enjoy his life while he still can. I can say that about 80 percent of the women in Thailand are well educated and some even have education higher than a master's degree. So don't worry, if he decides to marry a Thai woman, he will be proud of his wife. Because Thai woman have learned to love, be honest, and take a good care of their husbands. Thai women only want to be married once.

Thitiya Conrad
Nevada


Paul's approach to finding a mate may be a bit unorthodox, but I say good for him for putting himself out there! Who knows what he'll gain from this trip? The organizers should make these "junkets" co-ed and give participants one more way to meet a kindred spirit!

Lily Keyes
Raleigh, N.C.


I live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and was emailed this story by a friend. Treating this piece as if it is benign matchmaking denies the entire history of colonialism in southeast Asia and the prevalence of sex and human trafficking that is ruining women's lives today. Cambodia has recently stopped issuing licenses for Cambodian women who want to marry Western men.

The fact is, no matter what kind of mortality crisis a Western man is going through, entering into the unequal power dynamics of gender relations between foreigners and SE Asian women (who are typically poor and have few opportunities) is sexist and small-minded. Essentially, the practice equates to buying a woman for care-taking purposes, which is morally reprehensible. I see it happening in Phnom Penh every day, and the fact that Cambodia is so poor that Khmer women have to resort to selling themselves, permanently and through marriage, to foreign strangers makes my stomach turn. Yet nowhere in this article did the economic desperation that makes rich Western men so popular to Asian women get addressed.

You want someone to take care of you while you grow old? How about hiring a nurse?

Mandy G.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia


I have a boyfriend from Thailand. He is an exchange student at my high school. One of your questions was: "Why do you think people are compelled to seek marriage by going to another country." My answer is for the exotic rush. People are curious about their world and the different people around them. When they meet someone that looks nothing like them, lives differently, and speaks a different language, they become fascinated. It is amazing how someone with so many differences can still find things to talk about because you have the same morals and values.

Olivia Houin
Plymouth, Ind.

  • Music Bridge:
    Bolivia
    Artist: The 23's
    CD: Bolivia (Karaoke Kalk)
More stories from our Letters series

Comments

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  • By miguel romero

    From pomona, CA, 11/24/2008

    I'm meeting a thai woman from line in 2009.we have been chatting on line almost three months.it might be a complete year when we meet.check me back in the spring of 2009 miguel

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