Thursday, February 15, 2007


I agree with Tulsathit (see article below) completely.

I also sense another dynamic at work here: vanity. The actress in question has clearly gone under the knife a few times, to wit, her unnaturally prominent (and unattractive, in my view) honker, her witchlike chin, her perfectly globular breasts, and who knows what other parts of her anatomy underneath that provocative outfit.

But then again, she may be as much a victim as an offender. Why do otherwise attractive women submit themselves to such horror to meet the fickle standards of beauty set by male chauvinists and marketers? Why can't Thai women appreciate their own petite and adorable noses? Why can't they see the beauty in the tan of their skin?

Sexy dress exposed ugly truths about society's hypocrisy
Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation, 14 February 2007

First of all, I thought it was a ridiculous dress.

What emerging actress and student Chotiros Suriyawong wore to Friday's Subhanahongsa Awards, triggering a storm of social controversy, made my jaw drop for the wrong reason. I am clueless when it comes to female fashion - here's a straight guy talking - however, when the likes of me have the audacity to criticise a woman's evening wear like this, it's time to listen, girls.

Why I'm bothered, though, is not due to the fact that Chotiros in "that thing" reminded me of a lobster. The outcry she stirred up is more amazing than the dress itself, and when people suggested she be denied a university degree, and an entertainment bigwig exploited the uproar by acting like a cardinal, social hypocrisy or narrow-mindedness has paled her weird fashion sense completely.

Don't get me wrong. If I had a teenaged daughter and she prepared to leave home like that, I would have stopped her for a serious discussion. But that's the whole point. It's an issue for the family. If Amy's folks didn't mind it, why should we? Granted, she was probably a few "inches" away from breaking the legal barrier but police didn't arrest her, did they?

You can decry her taste, but demanding social punishment violates her basic human rights. The way we dress is the way we choose to express ourselves, and this is even more fundamental than the right to express our opinions. If we can't recognise that Chotiros was simply expressing herself in the most elementary way, we shouldn't give a damn on what our new constitution will look like because we don't really care.

The attempt to drag Thammasat University into it beggars belief. She was representing "herself", not the institution, on that night. News reports said she might be reprimanded, which is very interesting.

What would administrators of a university that has been a guardian of rights and liberty as well as one that has cherished and encouraged a tradition of ideological provocation tell Chotiros?

What will they tell a student who wore a revealing dress to a gala dinner party?

Thammasat and its people are supposed to protect Chotiros, who is said to be a good student. They are supposed to stand by her rights and inform an overreacting society that she didn't harm anyone, and there are more "real" moral issues that require attention. And they are supposed to go after the likes of Somsak Techaratanaprasert, the big boss of Sahamongkol Film, who has ordered all footage of her deleted from one of his movies.

Whether it's a knee-jerk reaction or opportunism, what Somsak has done may be nastier than Chotiros' dress. "We are not a porn company," said the man, who isn't even her direct employer. Being a big man in an industry that relies heavily on artistic provocation, creativity and open-mindedness, he has either succumbed meekly to a dubious social outburst or, worse, stepped on a defenceless girl in order to be seen as having taken the moral high ground.

Chotiros may have unveiled too much of her skin, but we may be seeing a man's real colours.

Not many women have come out to defend Amy, and this may be sadder than Somsak's questionable response to the controversy. Again, we are hearing arguments focused on "decency". Again, "culture" and "Thai-ness" are coming into play. Debate can go on forever, but the uproar and media frenzy indicate that Chotiros has committed a bigger crime than wife beating or sexual harassment in the workplace. Apparently, what she has done is not regarded to be part of female liberation, but something self-serving or an attempt to seek publicity. Which might be true. But the problem with our society is that self-serving or attention-seeking men are perfectly fine, including those acting on primitive impulses. Singer Tata Young once had to apologise to the Thai public for having announced that she had fallen in love with tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan. Actress Kataleeya McIntosh had to do the same after her personal romantic secrets broke out into the open. Chotiros is joining the Female Victims of Social Hypocrisy Club.

We have near heard of universities firing male students for visiting prostitutes, or companies demoting male executives for fathering illegitimate children.

If there has been any social condemnation of those men at all, it's surely not been half as strong as what Chotiros is facing, for wearing that lobster dress. She has exposed more than her cleavage and her thighs.

Through the controversy of what she wore, we are seeing an odd "culture", one where exercising her fundamental rights can cost a woman her job and where "decency" goes hand in hand with hypocrisy and opportunism.


And here's another insightful comment by the prolific Postbag correspondent Burin Kantabutra.

The matter of Amy's (un)dress
Bangkok Post, Postbag, 16 February 2007

I agree with Khun Nathaya Boonpakdi of the Foundation for Women's Health that Thammasat University (TU) must be careful in punishing actress Chotiros Amy Suriyawong for wearing a revealing dress during a film awards ceremony.

If wearing the dress broke any laws on indecency, then the university, as a good corporate citizen, should call for the police to arrest Khun Amy regardless of whether she was their student or not.

But if no laws were broken, then I fail to see how it is TU's business what she was wearing. The awards ceremony wasn't TU-related, nor was it held on TU property. She wasn't representing TU, nor did she refer to the university.

If, as Dean Sitthichoke Varanusanikul of the Liberal Arts Faculty said, TU has to take responsibility for one of its students acting in a non-university-related capacity, then presumably TU's rector should do penance if any TU student runs a red light, steals, or commits any other crime. That would be absurd. Thus, I suggest that the TU let Khun Amy be.


1 comment:

Peter Chen said...

Hi Bob,

Just dropping by to thank you for leaving a comment in my post Blogger classic or New Blogger (formerly Blogger Beta) template and that I have responded to your comment.

Peter a.k.a. enviroman
Enviroman Says