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Men Are Human, Women Are Buffalo: Violence Against Women in Thailand cover image

Men Are Human, Women Are Buffalo: Violence Against Women in Thailand 2007

Highly Recommended

Distributed by New Day Films, 190 Route 17M, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926; 888-367-9154 or 845-774-7051
Produced by Joanne Hershfield
Directed by Joanne Hershfield
DVD, color, 29 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Asian Studies, Domestic Violence, Gender Studies, Women's Studies

Date Entered: 10/15/2008

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

A national survey in Thailand showed that 44% of women had been abused, usually by a partner—either sexually, physically or emotionally. Even today, Thailand remains a very patriarchal society in which men are considered the bread winners and women are homemakers. As a result, men believe they can do anything with women. This follows the historical pattern that a man could do anything to a buffalo and a woman is supposed to follow a man’s lead. This documentary looks at the lives of five women who share the stories of their lives and the abuse they’ve endured. A head nurse, a successful business woman, a teenage girl, and a pregnant single girl, and several younger girls all share their stories of abuse, some of rape, others of abandonment or infidelity. Always, the message is consistent that men are free to date other women even though they are married, to take other wives, while women would be considered immoral if they tried to do the same thing. Men want women to remain subservient. Emergency shelters help abused women and try to change the way people think, but it is a slow process. Thailand’s constitution contains a clause that says everyone in the family should be protected, but patriarchal attitudes are hard to change. The use of interviews and shadow puppetry serves to create a powerful documentary about the gender relations in Thailand and the need for change.

Audio and video qualities are good, and the use of subtitles enhances the audio. The shadow puppetry is a compelling feature used to forward the narrative. Original music provides atmospheric enhancement.

This documentary would be good for high school and college classrooms and useful in furthering discussions about gender relations and violence towards females. Highly recommended.