“Beauty.” It is indeed a very difficult concept to comprehend. As it has an abstract value, it is philosophically placed at the highest realm of the absolute truth. What we merely assume and reflect it on a physical matter in order to fully fathom the perception of beauty can still be considered an illusion. To illustrate this example, we can simply ask the questions like “what is a beauty of a woman?” “Isn’t there any absolute beauty of a human female excluding all the physical decorations which constitute and formulate the concept of beauty in her?”
The movie “Beautiful Boxer” gives us lots of thoughts and insights about it and carried us into the world of confusion or rather transcendent consciousness regarding the concept of beauty, the role of gender, physical reflection, and mental possession and above all, the absolute awareness of the Self in relation to the cultural environment.
What we have been reading for the last couple of weeks is all about gender role, sexual differences and their related values prescribed by the various different kinds of culturally-shaped societies in which gender roles are molded. We have seen in Simone de Beauvoir’s articles that women’s role in society have been so much lower in the past that in effect, their position in society can be comparable with Negro’s slavery status and proletariat’s low social standard. Despite of it, Simone continues to argue that the women have not risen up and formed a formidable task force to demand what they deserve in society. They could not even come up to initiate and utilize the word “We” for themselves in order to represent their collective formation of labor-intensive group. This is the truth and this is a fact. According to this context, there is not a mere possible way of being satisfied with a culturally-prescribed female role, let alone thinking of becoming one by transforming oneself from another form of so-called superior gender.
This is in fact all about the movie “Beautiful Boxer.” While a woman role is set as a second class in a society on the one hand, their presence and their appearance are perceived as beautiful, gentle and elegant. Young Nong Toom, especially was inspired by those delicacies that lingered around a woman and in contrast to it, he was also intrigued with a woman’s valiance to safeguard her sheer existence by all means if it is posed a threat. This fact was introduced in the movie when little Nong Toom was wandering around the Night Market and saw a traditional dancer singing a song about her courage and her existence as a woman. From that time onward, his perspective of life and beauty has been changed dramatically. By picking up the lipstick that was accidentally dropped by the dancer lady in order to paint his own face, Nong Toom’s understanding of beauty has been shown as an unconscious act of transcending the perception of gender.
Therefore, from that point, we can turn back and have a look at Christine Helliwell’s differentiation of sex and gender, which says that sex is a biological differentiation and gender is a cultural one. She gave her own identification as an example. She did not wear an earring, she had short hair and she walked like a man, with arms held out from the body and hips slightly swaying. Therefore, the people in the village she visited debated her identity. The same kind of incident happens in the movie when Nong Toom wanted to wear make-up, wanted to have fine skin and long hair. Apparently and understandably, his father was annoyed and worried because of his weird act. We cannot definitely say at this stage that Nong Toom understood the notion of sex, a biological differentiation. Instead, we can say that his inclination to the beauty is so much natural and he might have grown up as a man unless the environment ridiculed and forced him to perceive himself as a woman. As mentioned earlier, the notion of beauty is permanently fixed around women while strength and agility are naturally attached with men. Ironically enough, Nong Toom grew up to possess both categories. This is what makes the movie exciting and thrilling.
Thai society obviously was not free from the dominant world view towards gender role. What I mean here is that the general perception of man and woman according to the culture in