Chapter

A New Man for Siam

Gary L. Atkins

in Imagining Gay Paradise

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083237
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209305 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789888083237.003.0005
A New Man for Siam

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During the years between his accession in 1910 and the start of World War I in 1914, Vajiravudh did continue his efforts to modernize—or Europeanize—male and female bodies in Siam. He discouraged women from the traditional practice of chewing betel nuts, because it blackened their teeth and made them unattractive to Europeans. Vajiravudh encouraged women in the royal family to start wearing their hair long, instead of short like men, noting that every book he has read by a Western writer has commented on the great oddity that, for whatever reason, women cut their hair short. Just thirteen months into his reign, Vajiravudh's opponents attempted a coup, allegedly trying to install one of his brothers or half-brothers as president of what would be a new Siamese republic. They complained that the king had been spending too much time writing plays; they were especially angered because he was installing his own male companions in top roles. Vajiravudh's opponents failed, but it was a warning that the monarchy's absolute control was beginning to falter.

Keywords: Vajiravudh; polygyny; Phra Ruang; Indrasakdi Sachi

Chapter.  5601 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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