It seems there is a new sexual revolution in Thailand, or is it sexual evolution, more specifically “female sexual evolution”, this is the era of Thailand’s Tom and Dee phenomenon, the much talked about uniquely Thai lesbian relationship. But who is Tom and who is Dee, what are their roles and why are they attracted to each other ?
In Thailand, sexuality, sexual identity and sexual expression seem to have a uniqueness not shared anywhere else in the world. In general, different sexualities and sexual tendencies throughout the world consist of “straight” and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) and minor sub-groups.
Thailand is no exception to this rule, except in Thailand there is commonly an added twist. It might be a trait of Thai society, or it might be the tolerant nature of Thai culture which has allowed this free sexual expression and claiming of sexual identity. The most relevant example of this is Thailand’s lady-boy (kathoey) community, nowhere else in the world will you see transgenders so openly claiming, expressing and portraying their sexual identity in everyday role-play. Perhaps lady-boys are the forerunners who have paved the way for Thailand’s toms and dees emergence into the spotlight of Thai society ?.
I’m not going to turn this into a social study “believe me it’s already been done” and the books have already been written. This is more an observation of the emergence of toms and dees, a simple explanation of who Tom and Dee are, and theories as to why they are attracted to each other.
Who Is Tom ?
The term “Tom” is an adaptation of the English “Tomboy”, English adaptations are commonly used in the Thai vocabulary when there is no Thai equivalent. At what you might call the extreme end of “tomness” is a girl who may feel that she is inwardly a man, very comparable to a lady-boy’s feelings that they are a woman inside a man’s body. Toms may appear very masculine, broad shouldered, boyish looks, they usually have their hair cut short (often spiky), they prefer to dress in what would commonly be considered to be men’s clothes, jeans or trousers, ‘T’ shirt or mans style buttoned shirt. Toms may often use male Thai speech terms such as “Krap” in preference to “Kha”. Generally a tom could be described as a masculine woman who prefers a masculine appearance, much in line with most western men’s perception of what a lesbian looks like.
Who Is Dee ?
Dee is derived from the English “lady”, and as the name suggests she dresses and acts like a lady, she conforms to the Thai norms of beautiful long hair, she wears trendy feminine clothes, she’s hip, stylish and confident. Unless you see Dee with Tom, you would assume she is any mainstream Thai girl.
The Tom Dee Relationship
Their relationship is what makes Thailand’s toms and dees unique, revolutionary or evolutionary. Similar to a gay male relationship there is role-play involved, the information I have gleaned from the internet might be contradictory or not wholly true, but the toms role appears to an exceptionally selfless one, only taking satisfaction from the pleasure she gives to the dee. In public, toms and dees will walk hand in hand, not an uncommon sight of same sex friends in Thailand, but not so common of heterosexual couples. Tom takes on the man’s role and looks after dee in any way she can, from carrying her purse to entertaining her. The sexual relationship of toms and dees seems to be based around the manly image and selfless acts of the tom, to protect their masculine image they remain fully clothed in the bedroom and refuse to be touched by the dee.
Why Are Toms And Dees Attracted To Each Other ?
I guess the obvious answer is “they don’t like men”, but this is not merely a case of 2 lesbians being attracted to each other. Toms like dees, and dees like toms, it could be a case of 2 opposites attracted to each other for their own personal pleasure, in this case the toms like to give and the dees like to receive, making for a relationship which suits each individuals personal needs.
Dees may be lesbian or bisexual, but they have a preference for toms which could stem from a previous bad relationship with a man, the intimacy and devotion given by a tom is, quote “far superior to that of any man”.
The tom and dee relationships are 2 way, there’s no arguing that point, but the most unique individual is definitely the tom. Without being inside the tom and dee community it is impossible to ascertain if the toms role as “giver” is the exception or the rule.
Are dees in denial ?
As already mentioned, dees appearance and behaviour is mainstream, there is nothing except her good looks and smart appearance which make her stand out from the crowd, the only giveaway is her tom. Considering the one sided sexual relationship and toms butch character, could it be that the dee is somehow in denial. After all, she only receives, and tom may be perceived as a man, this combination could possibly give the dee an opportunity for denial.
Are dees selfish or hedonistic ?
A completely unselfish lover who wishes only to pleasure their partner, well mannered, chivalrous and fun. Can you imagine the appeal to a selfish or hedonistic woman, she is not going to find those qualities very easily in a man.
Are toms and dees just a passing trend ?
I suspect toms and dees have been around for a long time but recently the toms have claimed their identity, you might say they have “come out the closet”. Modern communications, especially the internet has meant that they are no longer isolated and collectively they have emerged from the suppression of Thai traditions and peer pressures which expected a woman to marry and have children. The question is, will the nature of the relationships change, will the bisexual dees succumb to peer pressure, will their biological clock and motherly instincts dictate that they seek a male partner. Thailand’s sexual revolution has only just begun, only time will tell if the toms and dees will spend a lifetime together or a future apart.