Youth Mattersyouthmatters
Sexual Harassment in Thai Cis Male Youth is Swept Under the Rug
  • Sexual Harassment in Thai Cis Male Youth is Swept Under theRug

           As Thai youth protest movement for political change gathered momentum, it had already shown unprecedented scenario. While tens of thousands gathered at pro-democracy protests to call on government, constitutional and monarchy reform, some Thai youth activists participating the Bangkok rallies were raising awareness about sexual harassment and rape. They claimed that they wanted to end the “victim blaming culture” in which women were said to bring harassment and even rape upon themselves by dressing a certain way. Recently, a 20-year-old student named Nalinrat Tuthubthimm holding a placard alleging sexual abuse in school had put a spotlight on harassment in Thai education system. However, the youth movement indicates that sexual harassment is a big and serious issue for Thai youth, and they need more attention from people in the country to speak about the issue.  

              To understand what youth movement calls out, it is significant to know the term “Sexual Harassment.” It is defined by Australian Human Rights Commission as “an unwanted sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favors or other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction circumstances.”  Examples of sexual harassment may as straightforward as unwanted touching, verbal harassment of a sexual nature, making conditions of advancement dependent on sexual favors, violating your privacy, lustful staring at you or a part of your body, taking your picture without permission, attempting to make you drunk, requesting for sexual favors, exposing one’s private part without permission, being stalked physically without consent, texting of a sexual nature via e-mail or social media, and rape. 

              For most people, when we think of sexual harassment in our daily life, our mind immediately jumps to an image of a woman being harassed by male.   In Thailand, a survey conducted by market research firm YouGov in 2019 found that “one in five Thais experienced sexual harassment—with men almost likely to face it as women” (Khidhir).  However, in fact, sexual harassment can happen to men, women and people of any gender or sexual orientation. It can be carried out by anyone, either of the same sex, opposite sex, or anyone of any gender identity. Therefore, in contrast to the survey of sexual harassment in male and female, I wish to focus specifically on the sexual harassment in cis male youth aged 15-25 years old in Thai society.

              Apart from the definition and forms of sexual harassment, the gender identity term, “cis man,” needs to be elaborated. A person’s sex is about “biological traits that societies use to assign people into the category of either male or female through one’s physical anatomy or sex organs” (Zevallos). In contrast,  gender does not depend on biological traits, it is about personal sense of identity.  “Cis” is used to describe people whose gender identities match with the sex that they were assigned at birth. Cisgender is defined by Oxford English Dictionary as “denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender” (Green). Therefore, a cis male is a person who was assigned male at birth and identifies himself as a man. Besides being cis males, they can probably describe their sexual orientations as straight or heterosexual, gay or homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and so on.

              The survey was conducted through online questionnaire from December 12 to 15 by launching on online platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. In the survey of 200 cis males, 40 percent of theme are heterosexual, 26.5 percent homosexual, 12percent bisexual, 20 percent pansexual, one percent asexual, and one percent asexual. Among 200 cis male respondents, they are 37 percent of20-25 years old and 63 percent of 15-20 years old.

              In online survey, cis male youth respondents were asked what kind of forms of sexual harassment they experienced, and the survey provided 12 possible forms of sexual harassment that can occur in Thai society. It turned out that unwanted touch is the most common of sexual harassment (65 percent). The second most common form is verbal harassment of a sexual nature (49.5 percent). Surprisingly, making conditions of advancement dependent on sexual favors (45 percent) is as equal as violating one’s privacy (45 percent). Other forms of sexual harassment include lustful staring at one’s body or a part of one body (39.5 percent), taking one’s picture without permission (18.5 percent), texting of a sexual nature via e-mail or social media (21 percent), attempting to make you drunk (18.5 percent), being stalked physically without consent (13percent), exposing one’s private part without permission (11 percent),requesting for sexual favors (10.5 percent), raping (4 percent), and attempting to make one’s drunk (3.5 percent).

              Furthermore, sexual harassment is likely to take place in public spaces such as school and university (70.5 percent),public transportation (30.5 percent), water closet (21.5), nightclub (17percent), department store (5.5percent), and fitness center (1.5 percent). As the location for sexual harassment experience was left opened-ended and up to the respondents, sexual harassment experience can also occur at home, relative home, beach, footpath, workplace, campus dormitory, and even temple.

        The survey also found out that respondents are sexually harassed by unknown person(65.5 percent), male friend (41.5 percent), female friend (23.5 percent), LGBTQ+ friend (22.5 percent), senior friend (29 percent), teacher/ professor (18percent), junior friend (8.5 percent), and family member (8.5 percent). After facing sexual harassment, respondents are most likely to tell their friends (60.5percent), family member (14.5 percent), teacher/ professor (1 percent), and police (0.5 percent). Surprisingly, almost half of the respondents chose to keep it with themselves (46.5 percent).  

          I believe that no one should be suffering in silence so the respondents, who chose “I kept quiet” were further asked to tell reasons that they decided to keep the incident of being sexually harassed with themselves. Here, I compiled their bitter stories to shed some light:

    “I was embarrassed.”

    “It was not a big deal.”

    “It was that harsh.”

    “Personally, I would not tell anyone since they would think male being sexually harassed was funny story. When I was sexually harassed by female friends, I was told that I was lucky.”

    “At the front of my dormitory, a stranger asked me how much the dormitory cost. Then he touched my private part without permission. I tried to ask for help but a security guard was sleeping. After my final examination was done, I decided to go to police station to report about being sexually harassed. The police laughed at me.”

    “I was afraid of disclosing my experience because my family members would not believe in what I said.”

    “I did tell someone, but one thought that the harasser did so because he liked me.”

    “It was shocking, and I didn’t think they would care much about this kind of story.”

    “I thought touching one’s private part was normal, so I kept quiet.”  

    “I felt unsafe to tell the story. I was afraid that society would not accept me (being sexually harassed)—and I did not want to be blamed.”

    “I was homosexual who did not meet beauty standard. When I was harassed by heterosexual friend, they would think that I had a crush on them. But I did not. When I said “No,” they said I played hard to get.”  Plus, my female friend took a picture of me with the message “wanna suck a dick.” She showed this picture to other friends and laughed. I said “I was not okay because it was not appropriate. So you should delete it.” “What’s wrong with just joking around” she said. Then I asked her to take picture of her and add such message. She said, “No, I won’t. It was not appropriate. I did not want to mess this up, so I kept quiet.”

    “I needed to be man up.”

    “I thought sexual harassment was a very personal issue so they might not  come forward with my story.”

          Considering from their experiences, it indicates that apart from the fact that sexual harassment can occur in cis male youth, some of them decided not to tell their sexual harassment because other people believe that men cannot truly be sexually harassed, and they fear being embarrassed if their details of the harassment leak out. They feel less inclined to disclose their experience due to the fear that people in the society might think of them as unmanly. Like women, cis men are also afraid of being victim blaming.

              You see, the rot is deep. As for women, they have to bear with a victim-blaming culture in which victims of sexual harassment are blamed for what they wear or where they go. The more they stay silent, the more sexual harassment is thus accepted and perpetuated. Meanwhile, cis males are conditioned by toxic masculinity that they need to be self-sufficient without asking for assistance; acting manly or tough even if they feel scared of being harassed; and adhering to rigid masculine gender roles. The consequence of that is cis males stay silent towards the harassment and unknowingly comply with patriarchal rules.

            To this point, I am not here to exercise sexual harassment in cis male to belittle sexual harassment in female. It is obvious that sexual harassment becomes a symptom of Thai society that brainwashes people into patriarchy--men are superior to women. Men decide what women wear, what women do, how women live their lives and so on. In contrast, cis men are affected by toxic masculinity to behave in a certain way. That is to say, sexual harassment in Thai youth is swept under the rug. Miserably, this power imbalances between men and women have been embedded in institutions and social practices that people in the Thai society seem to normalize the patriarchal system and do not give an importance to an issue of sexual harassment yet.

            All in all, any forms of sexual harassment are wrong, and the core issue is the dense support over wrong and outdated practices which cis male youths have encountered that enhance patriarchy in our society. Our society dictates a lot on regards to gender contributing to sexual harassment—the dictates of cis males having no weakness and always being strong—the dictates of the female gender being inferior and submissive. Therefore, we must forego our society dictates. No one should be sexually harassed, no matter their age or gender. All of us should come out and speak against the normalization of sexual harassment in Thai society to put an end to it. 

    - Kid-dhi 

  • Works Cited

    Australian Human Rights Commission. “The Legal Definitionof Sexual Harassment.”

    Humanrights.gov.au, https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sexual-harassment-workplace-legal-definition-sexual-harassment.Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.

     

    Green, Christ. “‘Cisgender’ has been added to the OxfordEnglish Dictionary.”

    Independent.co.uk, 25 June 2015,https://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/cisgender-has-been-added-oxford-english-dictionary-10343354.html.Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.

     

    Khidhir, Sheith. “Thais have a sexual harassmentproblem.” Theaseanpost.com, 29 Aug. 2019,

    https://theaseanpost.com/article/thais-have-sexual-harassment-problem.

    Accessed 17 Dec. 2020.

     

    Zevallos, Zuleyka. “Sociology of Gender.” Othersociologist.com,28 Nov. 2015,  

    https://othersociologist.com/sociology-of-gender/.Accessed 17 Dec. 2020. 

Views

เข้าสู่ระบบเพื่อแสดงความคิดเห็น

Log in