It's innately apparent that the women in Thailand have a sense of self, and tradition. When out of the cities, away from the prostitution, and in the lives of the true Thai women, there is an unyielding pride. There is a sense of protection, as well.
While sick, Thai Dad helped me out tremendously. The day my health was at its worse, he was waiting on me outside of the house, checking up every so often, and bringing food. His need to protect enraptured my sick body, and I couldn't have been more grateful for it. It was during this time I learned a lesson about Thai house protocol.
"In Thailand, it's disrespect for another man to walk into a woman's house. We must stay at the door," he explained.
This started to make sense as Thai Mom would prance in and out with the freedom of someone who owned the property, as her sister did. Thai Dad, on the other hand, always kept his distance. Popular for his front "porch" conversations, he didn't really enter the house.
That day, he continued, "But when you sick, it's OK. I will come inside to help you, if you need."Enter the protector.
From the first day we met Thai Mom, the power that radiated from her was infectious. I still don't know if the men of the house picked up on it, but I sure as hell did. She's as nurturing as she is nurtured by her husband.
It was she who aggressively confirmed, before the housemates had spoken amongst themselves, that the female is to be protected and have her own room, with a bed. There was no discussion. It was she who would worry, and interrogate the men, if she saw me walking anywhere alone along the side streets. It was she who really sparked my interest in exploring this strength that, many times, women in other countries lack. Something, at times, I know I definitely lack. Thailand understands and reveres the matriarch for her role in the household, and in the community.
Was it just Thai Mom? I explored this budding theology with a female friend who'd traveled around South East Asia a few months back.
Megan spoke of an incident on a train in which she and Kennedy were being harassed by a Thai man. The Thai women on the train created a human wall to separate the man from them, while another woman notified the police.
They don't play that here!
Of course, my experience is genuine to what my eyes have seen, ears have heard, and heart has felt, but this is something that was consistent with the entire trip.
As a woman, it feels good to see others who don't dumb down their role to appease or become one of the guys. They're women, strong and weak, emotional and logical, free and protected... unapologetic.
For this, I thank every one of them.