Jackson’s Analysis of Lingis’ Thai ‘Lust’

All of us have read scholarly articles. You know the good, the bad and the extremely long. Regardless of what your personal experience with these academic resources have been, we have ALL been there.

A common trend, at least for me, is to assume the correctness of an analysis and not delve too deep into the theory involved in the article. I accept the theory made by a academic seemingly more knowledgable about a topic than myself.

This being said, after reading Peter Jackson’s critique of Lingis’ article on Thai Lust  my perspective on the immediate rigthness of scholar’s theories changed. Now I am not only questioning Lingis’ analysis of Thai transgendered men, but also on the way I approach a scholarly article.

Jackson begins his writing by pointing to the problematic aspects that academic writing has on our interpretations and opinions of not only transgendered Thai individuals in this study, but on other subjects as well. He explains that  “Thai men [are] living, breathing people” and that by studying and writing about them merely from an academic theory based approach they are positioned as  “constructs of discourses or effects of cultural patterns.” He calls for a consolidation of a theory based, as well as “personalised novelaic” approach to writing.

From here Jackson begins discussing the praise Lingis has and is receiving for his article title Lust regarding transgendered males in Thailand. Many of Jackson’s coworkers have ” cited [Alphonso Lingis] as an example of someone who pushes the bounds of the academic genre in order to insert himself into the narrative of analytical reflection.” Although Jackson finds Lingis’ style of  writing noble, he finds numerous disconcerning aspects of his analysis.

Some of this concerns include:

  • The assumption that Kathoey are linked to a ‘one night stand sexuality.’ This is troublesome because it wrongly implies that these individuals are only catering to tourists wants and sexual desires when in reality these men are living a life they feel is their destiny and calling.
  • Lingis’ statement that the Kathoeys are not visible in the streets. Jackson points out that this is statement is in no way correct. There are in fact many Kathoey working at the markets, retail shops and hair salons.
  • The improper use of pronouns when referring to the Kathoey. These individuals use feminine pronouns to describe themselves. Lingis uses he/his.
  • Lingis assumes that the Kathoey performing are “farm boys” who instantly transform into sexual beings available for the tourists sexual desires. He does not take into account that these individuals were probably performing similar gender and sexual roles while they were on “the farm.”
  • He says that transgender people are  representative of the entire Thai male population. By doing this he presents to readers the “view of Asian masculinities as inferior forms beside Western expressions of manhood.”

Jackson goes on to explain that although there are many flaws in Lingis’ argument that there are also positive aspects that come from reading it. I agree with Jackson on many of this issues with Lingis’ article Lust. Lingis positions these people at sexual beings and assumes their sole purpose and existence is centered around tourists desires.

I think the many opposing view points in both articles  proves it is important to read scholarly articles with the goal of further analyzing them. Readers must question theory rather than just accept it.


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