May 17th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
Michelle Guo (photo from http://itsmichelleguo.wordpress.com/about/)
For this week’s Ask the Yangxifu column — which features a question from a Chinese-American woman — I decided to turn to Michelle Guo (who was featured in the post I ran a couple of weeks ago called Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National) for answers. She blogs about expat life in Beijing and social media tips at her site. Thanks to Michelle for stepping in to answer this question!
I’m a 2nd generation Chinese-American, and I’d like to expand my boundaries and look for a possible boyfriend (or husband) in China.
Although most of your posts are aimed primarily at Western women who aren’t Chinese, I was wondering if the same rules applied for Chinese-Americans, or if things get even more complicated from there. I’m afraid that native Chinese people will look down on me for numerous reasons, such as my not being able to speak Chinese (however I am learning Mandarin), my not-typical-Chinese-girl looks (short hair and a naturally more curvy figure), my not-typical-Chinese-girl attitude (I tend to have a more Western mindset, however I do enjoy many Chinese cultural things and am proud of my Chinese heritage), and the fact that my own parents were not born in China.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated! Continue reading Speaking of China »
May 13th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
(Screenshot from http://theyreallsobeautiful.com/)
Last month, commentator Eugene Tsui posed this fascinating question in a post on They’re All So Beautiful (the companion website to the documentary Seeking Asian Female):
I don’t see the question posed, of why there are so few Chinese men, with “white” women? This is left out?
What do the Chinese women have to say about that? And what do “white” men, who are married to Chinese women, have to say about that? I don’t hear their opinions about Chinese men with white women?
Of course, when he says “This is left out?” he’s referring to the fact that the documentary — and its companion website — don’t really address the disparity he mentions. But I think that could easily apply to most situations when people discuss yellow fever. Continue reading Speaking of China »
May 10th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
(photo by Ognid via Flickr.com)
“Jane” (not her real name) wrote that she hopes this one Chinese man will forgive her for her mistakes and missteps. And while I feel she’s very hard on herself, her story might give you a different insight into why some cross-cultural relationships in China don’t work out. Continue reading Speaking of China »
May 6th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
If you couldn’t get a “Brad Pitt” to date you in your home country, why do you think you somehow deserve nothing less than his standard of men because you’re in China? (photo by Juanky Pamies Alcubilla via Flickr)
Recently, a reader wrote the following to me:
I remember when I was back in [city in China] I was with a large group of Westerners for our orientation and a lot of us got to talking about potentially starting relationships in China. There was one American girl, who was very pleasant but kind of heavyset and nothing special to look at, who said she wouldn’t settle for anything less than Jay Chou or a local Chinese rapper we knew who was modelesque stunning. Another man on our orientation, who is fifty years old though not bad looking, also said he would only go for girls between the ages of 25-30 who were “drop dead gorgeous.” Continue reading Speaking of China »
May 3rd, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
I’m on deadline this week, a time when I am marshaling all my inner strength to continue the good fight. So I thought, what better than to run some of my past entries about finding courage as a couple during those tough times in life? Just reading back through these posts really inspires me — and hopefully you’ll find a little inspiration too.
I Stand By My Man, And Yes, He’s Chinese. I couldn’t believe when my friend said how I was “so loyal” for standing by my Chinese husband in the wake of his discrimination. Apparently, “for better or for worse” just didn’t apply.
My Chinese Husband Has Balls. John is shorter, soft-spoken and Chinese — but he has the heart of a hero, and some serious chutzpah.
The Miracle of the “Long March Spirit”. For my Chinese husband and I, our fight is far from over. But we’ll keep marching together, and that’s a real miracle.
I’ll be back on Monday with some fresh content!
Apr 29th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
(photo by spike55151 via Flickr.com)
I am entangled in what might perhaps be the biggest fight of my life. Once again, discrimination has descended upon our lives and it rears its ugly head, threatening to take away something we’ve worked so hard to achieve over all of these years.
I can’t write much more in detail than that, though I can say I’m incredibly scared. I think I’ve never felt more frightened in my entire life. But I believe in my husband, I believe in moral power, and I believe we can succeed if we just keep fighting and moving forward.
Why am I sharing this? Because I also believe in something else — the power of admitting you’re in a crisis. I thought, maybe you can help empower both of us — by simply reading this, and offering your sign of support in the form of a comment…or sharing this entry…or even just writing me an e-mail to say you’re on our side.
There are some days when I feel like I’m about to crumble under the pressure. So knowing you’re out there — and you care — will mean the world to me. In the meantime, we’ll never stop fighting.
Will you stand with us?
Apr 26th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
Alex and Michelle Guo visiting San Diego, California, USA (photo courtesy of Michelle Guo)
Chinese American Michelle Guo — a fellow blogger and personal friend — shares her story of how she went to China and ended up marrying Alex, a man from Henan Province.
Four years ago when I first came to Beijing, locals asked me what brought me back to China. The question always threw me off, since I was born in Portland, spent most of my life in California, and had never been to China before. I’m Chinese-American and was raised by my mom, who is anything BUT a traditional Chinese parent. My values, thinking, and culture are very Western, which is why I assumed that whoever I married, no matter what ethnicity, would also be American, or at the very least a Westerner.
Sometimes it’s really, really nice to make the wrong assumption. Continue reading Speaking of China »
Apr 22nd, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
Author Dana Sachs (photo by Cornel Faddoul)
Of all the memoirs by Western women who loved Asian men (and wrote about it), The House on Dream Street by Dana Sachs remains one of my favorites. The writing is exquisite, but more importantly she shares her own vulnerabilities on the page and becomes one of the most delightful narrators I’ve ever encountered.
So imagine my excitement when I discovered that Dana came out with a new novel this year called The Secret of the Nightingale Palace featuring not one, but two stories about Asian men and white women falling in love. The romance at the heart of this novel — which relates to its intriguing title — just stole my heart away. Plus, the book explores a side of World War II that we all too often forget — the US internment of Japanese Americans.
I’m thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to interview Dana Sachs about The Secret of the Nightingale Palace.
Dana is also the author of the novel If You Lived Here and the nonfiction narrative The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam, and co-authored the book Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam along with Nguyen Nguyet Cam and Bui Hoai Mai. Both The House on Dream Street and If You Lived Here were chosen as Book Sense Picks.
You can learn more about Dana by visiting her website, her Facebook fan page, or her Twitter stream. Continue reading Speaking of China »
Apr 19th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
I’m going to attend a Chinese wedding in Shanghai soon and I have NO idea what to wear! Could you please help with some suggestions???
When it comes to attending weddings in China, think casual.
I’ve seen people wear nice jeans or skirts, T-shirts, sweaters and even sneakers to weddings — yes, sneakers! In China, whatever people wear in public or to the office is pretty much the same thing they’ll wear to a wedding. Which means if you choose to go a little more formal — a nice suit, a lovely dress — you might actually stick out even more than you usually do as a foreigner in China. Dress up at own your risk. Continue reading Speaking of China »
Apr 15th, 2013 by Jocelyn Eikenburg
The other day, my husband and I were having a conversation in the car about discrimination and racism in America — two things he knew firsthand from his own experiences over here.
“Mean and wicked, that’s what these people were to me,” he said, referring to the Americans who had betrayed him in the past. “They just don’t care, they have no concern for you at all. They think they can just bully you.”
My heart ached to see him this way. “I’m so sorry. It just goes to show how much work in this country is still undone. We Americans have a lot to learn.”
“Don’t say ‘we’! Don’t put yourself in the same category as them, you should be careful of your language!”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to say ‘we’, it just came out by accident. Just a reflex, that’s all.”
But his words haunted me the rest of the way home. I couldn’t believe that the word “we” — a word that normally brings John and I together as one — could divide us into two in a completely different context. Continue reading Speaking of China »