By Andrew Biggs
It’s been a pornographic week here in Thailand, full of breasts and genitals and all sorts of other body parts that have no place in Thai culture.
Hardly the stuff that the government wants to be known for, I know. Just listen to our politicians scream whenever Bangkok is depicted by foreigners as the sex capital of the world. Not that they were doing much screaming this past week. Drooling, yes. Screaming, no.
This week we discovered what those very same politicians like to concentrate on as they sit in Parliament. And if you think it’s governance, you’re in dreamland.
So who is responsible for that pornographic picture that flashed across the big screen in Parliament?
No, no, don’t go down that “hackers outside the building” road. We’re all grown ups here. Who was watching porn during the constitution debate?
Come on, own up. We’ll rap you over the knuckles, express mild outrage at the dent you have made into Thai culture, then we can all forget about it and move on.
Or do we get more serious out it? I thought pornography was illegal here. Should they resign? Do they get a 500 Baht fine? I only ask because just four days prior to that incident, a 19-year-old Ayuthaya man was fined that amount for exposing himself. No, not his genitals. His breasts.
When I first heard this news I kind of misunderstood it. A guy took off his shirt and got arrested for indecency – hallelujah! That’s something I’ve waited for for decades!
You see, throughout my delicate formative years I was exposed to the unholy sight of aged men wandering the beaches of Surfers Paradise in nothing but stretchy speedos, their man boobs swish, swish, swishing in sync with their stride.
Honestly … as a young boy that really affected me. Why did we ban women’s breasts on our beaches but allow floppy guy ones? And believe me, the average thirty-something Queensland male, with some two decades of Fourex beer and meat pies inside him, had a bust on him bigger than the average Thai girl’s.
Sadly my joyous cries of hallelujah fizzled as I read further into the Ayuthaya story. The man in question, Sarawat Suparb (his last name means “polite”, curiously), is a transgender. He is a member of the “third sex”, a term I have tried to avoid since I can’t work out which sex is the first and which is the second.
Last Friday on the very first day of Songkran young Sarawut performed an act which, according to the Culture Ministry, threatens the 1,200 year Thai culture in terms of its offensiveness. He took off his shirt in public.
If only young Sarawut hadn’t achieved his lifelong ambition of having a woman’s body. If only he’d stuck to his original boobs which, judging from his stick-thin physique, weren’t offensive at all. But no, the guy had genuine silicone implants. And for that he got arrested.
Whoah, stop right there. So Thai culture frowns upon women’s breasts in public, regardless of whether those breasts are on a woman or a man? Does this mean, then, a woman with no protruding breasts can take off her shirt in public? I’m not being flippant. Does a flat female chest warrant indecency, just as flat male chests do not?
I know. I’ve completely lost you. But it does give me a slight thrill to know that men can be arrested for indecency just for whipping off their shirts and revealing women’s breasts.
Speaking of slight thrills, our Thai politicians got a few of their own this week as they pored over porn.
It turns out more than one government MP chose semi-naked women over the constitution debate. On another side of Parliament an MP was watching his own pornography on his cell phone.
Did you see the picture in the press? The politician in question was clearly overweight and no doubt possessing unsightly man boobs of his own. I should be thankful they were covered over, except he was wearing a very unfashionable tan-colored suit. No wonder the guy needs to watch porn; he ain’t gonna get lucky wearing that.
Don’t think these Thai politicians are anything special. Watching porn in Parliament? They’re not the first to have done it.
It happened during a parliamentary debate to an Indonesian politician who belonged to the “Islamic Prosperous Justice Party” (a name so clunky it would bruise your feet if you dropped it).
In February there was a celebrated case of the Indian MPs who were caught watching porn on a mobile phone, while in the USA, a state senator ogled over topless women on his laptop -- while debating an abortion bill.
It’s funny how in every incident, the politicians are victims.
The Indonesian MP claimed he inadvertently clicked on an email link, though this doesn’t explain the fact the tablet was under his table and he was breathing heavily. The American guy claims a friend sent him the link and he looked at the pic for four seconds before closing it.
In India, one of them claimed he was “trying to switch off the handset”, hence the pictures of his hand gripped so tightly around his device – electronic device, that is.
In last Wednesday’s case it wasn’t the innocent politicians, but nasty hackers from “outside”. In the words of House speaker, the picture that flashed up on the big screen was “beamed in by hackers.”
Beamed in? I thought we stopped beaming in things around the time the original Star Trek series was axed. How does one “beam in” things via the internet or closed circuit TV anyway?
While both pictures in Parliament this week – that which was “beamed in” and that on the smart phone of the sartorially-challenged MP – were pornographic, in both pictures the women had their breasts covered.
Don’t you see? They weren’t contravening Thai culture at all!
This is the only conclusion we can make following the events of the past week: It’s wrong to show your breasts in Thailand if you’re a woman, or even if you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body. Man boobs are fine, along with completely naked fat men and women since they’re not sexually attractive at all.
But vaginas? That’s perfectly okay, if we are to follow the lead of our politicians last Wednesday, who seem to eschew breasts but go for pictures of women who have misplaced their panties.
And if you can get your head around all that, then you are either much deeper into Thai culture than I am – or one very sick puppy.