Anthropologist Patcharin Lapanan writes about how Isaan women who marry foreigners navigate a complex web of culture, love, money, and obligation.
Marrying upwards the social ladder is nothing new in Thai society. Why,then, do rural Isaan women bear the brunt of criticism when they marry foreigners? Anthropologist Sirijit Sunanta analyzes the stigma placed on the mia farang.
A column by a Matichon Weekly columnist last December derided Isaan women who marry Western men as uneducated, materialistic, and good-for-nothing. Pintong Lekan, a women’s right activist who filed a lawsuit for defamation against the author, writes about the lifelong discrimination she has faced as an Isaan woman.
The Thai middle-class often looks down on Isaan women who marry Westerners at the same time they don’t support policies that could benefit the marginalized. But some academics argue that these women are in fact empowered by their marrying a Westerner, providing them with the means to achieve “international” status that in many ways threatens Thai gender and class distinctions. How does status as a mia farang open new opportunities for Isaan women, threaten the status of local men, and help us understand the very notion of love?
The Isaan Record25/08/2020
The rising number of marriages between Isaan women and Western men has not been lost on the government. Is the concern of the government warranted? Recent research suggests that, far from being victims, these women have shown agency over their own lives and improved the situation of themselves and their families.