A few nights ago I went to dinner with one of my students/friends. After a few appetizers, we broached the topic of foreigners dating in China. My friend leaned in really close, hunched her shoulders and asked me , so “Are you attracted to Chinese men?”
This was a tough question. I interact with Chinese men and women everyday and have really gotten to know some incredible people over the past few months. I know I’m in a bit of a different situation because I came to China with a boyfriend so my blinders are up to some extent. However, do i find Chinese men attractive as a whole? I don’t know. I don’t think so? I was silent for a while and before i could respond she said, “My other foreign girlfriends don’t either!”
Any expat living in China is aware of this phenomenon. There is a huge gaping hole of Western women dating Chinese men. But, quite the opposite exists for Western men and Chinese women. I heard one of my friends say, “Western men go to China and find wives, while Western women go to China and stay single until they die.”
But, honestly. I haven’t heard/seen any of my friends or collegues dating Chinese men. So what’s the deal? What is attributed to this phenomenon?
When my friend asked me why I wasn’t attracted to Chinese men I had to put my finger on it. After doing much research and talking to both my Western and Chinese friends, I’ve come to a few conclusions. Hopefully some of my theories will well-represent some of the thoughts of Western women. However, by no means do these ideas mean they are true or it answers everyone questions.
First, we have to think about media. As we all know, media pervades our subconscious. Let’s think, when has the Asian man gotten the girl in a film? Almost never. As this author states, “Asian men can kick butt, but they can’t have the kiss.” I’ve never watched a film and said “damn, look at that hunky Asian.”However i have said, ” Damn, look at that caucasian, blonde haired, blue-eyed, tan Ryan Gosling.” However, the reality is quite the opposite for Asian women. They have been eroticized and portrayed as exotic . European and South American men are seen as the object of desire, but rarely an Asian man. Honestly, it’s unfortunate that media has created these stereotypes.
Second, Chinese mothers. Traditionally, Chinese men look to their mothers for guidance on everything. I am speaking from the opinion of one of my current Chinese colleagues and good friends. She said that due to the one child policy, so much energy and resources have been invested in one child that sometimes Chinese men can become emotionally dependent on their mothers. They are looked to in order to make the most important decisions. This can lead to a lack of personal opinion when making one’s own personal decisions. As my Chinese colleagues stated, ” Chinese men are looking for a second mom, not a wife.” This point was also mentioned in the recent Beijinger in an article about a Western woman who dated two Chinese men who always looked to their mothers for advice and were consistently interrupting dates in order to answer their mothers.
Third, sarcasm. And this is a big one. Especially for us Americans. Sarcasm is something that doesn’t really exist in Chinese culture. I honestly can’t imagine a life without sarcasm because i use some element of sarcasm almost every day. Teaching sarcasm to my students is something I really enjoy. I can only really use it among my Advanced students because otherwise, students would be lost. One of my Chinese friends has dated a few Western men and she said that at the time she had issues understanding his sarcasm and it caused some major misunderstanding.
I hope some people resonate with this post in some way. This only stems from my personal experience and in all interracial relationships there is an element of a learning curve. I would much appreciate any comments on your opinion of this topic!