I recently witnessed a puzzling situation with a Thai woman who was virtually ignored by a group of western women at a function.
As a social commentator and dealing with Intercultural relationship issues I think is important to comment on this to ask ourselves why this can happen in our culture today.
Don’t get me wrong because I don’t mean to judge or upset anyone and I know there will and can be numerous reasons why this situation can occur, not least of all the different personality styles we all have that can make us behave in different ways so I want to be fair to everyone.
…….but I just feel it is important to reflect back to our culture and society a situation like this so we can learn from it.
So on with the story…..
I had occasion to attend a junior sports function with my son who was part of the team. At these events it is customary for the team coach to do a presentation, give medals to players and helpers as well as give a recap talk on the season. The function was being held at the house of the woman who acted as admin manager to the coach and as is the way in many suburban Australian households the outside pergola area was to be used to hold the function.
The area was superbly fitted out with large sheltered area, gourmet style outside kitchen and BBQ on an upper deck and a large seating area and swimming pool on the lower deck. There would be around 14 couples to cater for and 14 teenage boys aged 14yrs as well as a few siblings.
I build this up a little because I want you to get a good picture in your mind of this event and the surroundings.
The day was to start at 1.30pm where we would all arrive and have few drinks before the presentation (beer for the men and wine for the women and soft drinks for the team). The first thing I noticed when I got to the function was the coach who also had his son with him and plays in the team also. He had his girlfriend with him who is a beautiful Thai woman of around 40, even though she looks barely over 30. I happen to know that they have been together for a while and his ex wife who was working that day so could not attend also knows her well too.
I got myself a beer and then shook hands with the coach who promptly introduced me to his Thai girlfriend. She was lovely and even though some of her language was a little difficult to understand because of the noise she actually spoke quite good English and was very intelligent and friendly to talk to.
Now although I have lived in Australia for 20 years I have never really got accustomed to the strange pattern at BBQ’s and parties where the men and women tend to segregate themselves into groups and so I had to laugh when all the women had very quickly planted themselves in all the seats around the large table on the lower deck section of the pergola leaving all the men on the upper section near the outside kitchen and BBQ…along with one “Coach’s Thai girlfriend” who was now strangely cut off from all the women there.
Although I had been talking with her and her coach boyfriend was making sure he gave her regular attention even though he had many people to talk with I couldn’t help feeling a little sad for her because none of the other women there had spoken to her yet, even if just to make her feel welcome.
As more time passed this situation didn’t change and still no other women had talked to her and then it was time for the presentation. The coach gave quite a lengthy but entertaining speech and handed out all the medals and trophies. During this time I noticed his Thai girlfriend was very supportive and involved in his talk, clapping and laughing at the humor he was injecting into the speech as well as taking pictures on her iphone.
Now I should say at this point that I understand that there would be a number of reasons why none of the women had as yet come to speak to her or invite her to join the other women at the table. Yes of course some people are a little shy in these situations and not really brave enough to approach new people that way…and I can also understand it would be very hard for the Thai woman to just go up to all these western women and try and join in, apart from which there were no seats left anyway.
But I also have to say that when you begin to look at this situation doesn’t it make you start to think a little? Here is one Asian women among all these Westerners who has not yet been approached by any of the western women at all. She is still showing full support and involvement in the event for her boyfriend but all on her own.
Is it just me or does this just seem a little bit strange..?
What also intrigues me is that I feel that many if not all of these western women would very likely swear blind that they would not do this to someone if asked. I also wonder how they would feel if in the same situation.
So why did this situation occur?
I know that these are all decent women with families, but it has to be noted that they did all did leave one Asian woman isolated without any attempt to include her or make her feel welcome.
So what is wrong with this picture, if the reason is because all those women were shy and couldn’t bring themselves to talk to her, does that make it acceptable?
….or was it because she is Asian ?
Credit to that Thai woman because she showed such strong character and did not let the situation affect her behavior and her support for her boyfriend.
I for one believe we have much to learn from this…and don’t get me wrong it is not about bashing Australians or English, because remember I am and Englishman who has lived in Australia for 20 years… but as a writer, artist and social commentator I feel it my duty to be honest, present a real situation as it is to reflect this back to society in order to learn more about ourselves.
In contrast to this I have some experiences in Thailand with my own Thai girlfriend that will add some perspective to this situation and I will share those in a follow up post to this one but for now you may have an opinion on this…whether you agree or disagree…..
let me know what do you think..?
The Intercultural and Social Commentor