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Base language for protesters 'will backfire'

The use of lewd homophobic and misogynistic expressions against opponents on both sides of the political divide by people on rally stages, and on social media, reflects the lack of democratic culture by those individuals, gender experts say.

Many sexist and homophobic remarks or acts are subconscious and show the deep-rooted patriarchal nature of Thai society, even among those who claim to fight for democracy, according to Asst Prof Suchada Thaweesit from Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research. She is also president of the Sexuality Studies Association.

It means that certain people, including leaders and supporters on both sides, have not got past gender discrimination and do not respect human rights and gender diversity, even though they have declared themselves to be fighting for democracy, Suchada said.

"It also reflects the roots of Thai culture which sees women as inferior. Even if Thailand now have a sitting woman prime minister, we still look down on women," she said.

Shalardchai Ramitanondh, an anthropologist and special lecturer at Chiang Mai University's Women Studies Centre, said many leaders on both sides want to whip up the "mob", and that sexist plus homophobic expletives had been used to feed supporters' political hatred toward their opponents.

He said demonstrators on both sides had been transformed into a 'mob', which necessitated an abandoning of rational faculty.

"It means the demonstrators no longer want to use logic. If you want to stir the mob into madness, you have to use these words."

These and other expletives have also been deployed to categorise opponents as less than human and abnormal, Shalardchai said.

Shalardchai warned, however, that leaders on both sides would eventually alienate their fellow women and LGBT supporters by using such speech and sexist expletives on stage.

"You're pushing them away and they may no longer join your movement again," he said.


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