In Thailand women are considered to be either virgins or whores. I felt this tension immensely during my eight-months there. As a white woman, I was considered to be the latter, sexually loose and unmarried, traveling without the accompaniment of a man. From a global perspective, Thai women aren't doing too badly " they are important members of families, they generally work, and they largely have freedom of mobility. (Barme, Scott. Woman, Man, Bangkok. 136 ). Yet Thai women are considered second-class citizens in Thailand. They are expected to behave in specific ways within strict social boundaries inside a country that still upholds very strong taboos. The foremost way that Thai women have been and are being oppressed is sexually. Thai males culturally poses a freedom of sexuality and the right to uncontested promiscuity. Contrarily, women are culturally defined as virginal and even servile at times. This combination of cultural expectations forms a grossly imbalanced system of social structure in Thailand. This sexual double-standard is one of the few taboos in Thailand that is indirectly challenged on a daily basis. One of the few ways that Thai women have defied this representation of womanhood has been through the burgeoning sex industry. While these challengers are participating in a form of sexual liberation, it is arguable whether or not the effects of this elusive industry are beneficial to Thai women's rights or not. Yet, undoubtedly, the reversal in the power structure of men and women has opened new doors and given new ideas to oppressed women.
In Thailand religion is very important. 93% of Thais are Buddhist, the majority practicing the strict Theravada sect. Thai Buddhists believe that during your life you collect merit for your good deeds and thereby achieve levels of enlightenment. Your amount of merit determines your status at birth. Women are considered to have less merit than men because they were born as women.