Titanic's Reverse-Cinderella Story and the Appeal of Western Women to Chinese Men | Speaking of China

17 Responses

  1. Han L
    Han L April 30, 2012 at 2:15 am | | Reply

    You know, when I actually grew up watching Cinderella in the theatres in my town, most of the nude/erotic scene has been cut off. But seeing what I saw in Titanic, gave me a sense that this is what I want to be. I am Jack and I am there to seek my Rose. One great inspiration, if anything

  2. Pamela
    Pamela April 30, 2012 at 5:37 am | | Reply

    so u mean that maybe for some chinese boys the idea of having a western gf/wife could be attractive because this might open up opportunities for them? …
    Having a chinese boyfriend myself(who happens to love titanic), I have to say,that some of my other foreign friends at first told me “u know,maybe he just wants to practice english” also I heard “maybe he thinks that if u get married,he can live abroad” … I know those are not the reasons why he is with me, but lets face it, It might be something that crossed his mind at some point, but I’ve never ask him directly… also I have to say… I’ve heard Chinese men disapproving other boys’ girlfriends because they are not beautiful or “rich” (-_-) … they explained ,if girls get married because of money men can do the same, its convenient…
    I think maybe this mentality is the same in western countries but we dont say it in that brutally honest way LOL …
    my point is .. honestly I would prefer the idea that my bf is with me without thinking in this reverse Cinderella romantic dream… maybe im wrong for thinking in that way…but its just that…the way I think lol 🙂

  3. Dan
    Dan April 30, 2012 at 8:02 am | | Reply

    British ITV made a new version of Titanic that shows all passengers on the ship across class status. It focuses on how the drama affected them instead of using a love story theme. Maybe the real appeal of Jack and Rose love story is the American ideology of free to choose. You are poor and on your way to land of dream of America. Then you met this rich girl who also wanted to be free. Class divide did not stop them from falling in love. It has great appeal. I am not sure how much it is about using one another by marrying up. It is probably the Chinese interpretation of this whole thing. In a cross-cultural relationship, do you and your partner view the romance the same way?
    Titanic was on its maiden voyage to America amid waves of immigration last century to the New World. The movie drama focuses on that aspect of the inspiration more than anything else. Plenty of Chinese still fancy America that way too.

  4. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian April 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm | | Reply

    I don’t know. As a Malaysian Chinese man, I have never thought about it. Maybe I have never considered the west as the place where all your dreams come true. Maybe I never had any dreams at all to talk about in the first place. I have always cheered for the underdog. Whether man or woman. That’s all I know. But what you conjectured may be true with how the Chinese men in China view Titantic as a sort of reverse Cinderella thing.

  5. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian April 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm | | Reply

    I don’t know. As a Malaysian Chinese man, I have never thought about it. Maybe I have never considered the west as the place where all your dreams come true. Maybe I never had any dreams at all to talk about in the first place. I have always cheered for the underdog. Whether man or woman. That’s all I know. But what you conjectured may be true with how the Chinese men in China view Titanic as a sort of reverse Cinderella thing.

  6. Sveta
    Sveta April 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm | | Reply

    I loved Titanic and for some odd reason was always fan of “reverse Cinderella story,” where the man is poor and the woman is wealthy. (No idea why.) Still, something to think about. I did hear from a friend that the Chinese woman he was with was demanding and expecting him to pay for every single thing, and, according to him, when he refused to pay for something and she had to pay for it, she broke up with him. I would guess a lot of immigrants, both men and women fall into the Cinderella story, poor women and wealthy men being more popular choice (although also heavily stereotyped,) and poor men and wealthy women somehow more acceptable, I hope. IF I do end up with someone, let’s hope the person will be with me for me and not for only opportunities I can give him.

  7. Andi
    Andi April 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm | | Reply

    Hmmm now I’m curious about South America! Gotta ask my hubby tonight…

  8. allroadsopen
    allroadsopen April 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm | | Reply

    Recently two students of mine asked me to take movie The Titanic as the topic for our weekly discussion. One of them is a 20 yrs old university student, the other is a 30 something primary school teacher. They are both female and the latter is married with a child.

    They both loved the film and particularly the love story between Jack and Rose. You could see stars in their eyes as they melted on their chairs and talked about it.

    When I asked them what they think would have happened if the ship had safely arrived to her destination, they both firmly agreed that the relationship itself would have gone shipwreck nevertheless. Why? Because Rose soon enough would have grown tired of living the only kind of life that Jack was able to offer her. The only exception: if Jack had quickly become famous and made a fortune through his artwork – which they both thought rather unlikely.

    It was fascinating to see such a stark contrast – as if it is ok to dream as long as you don’t believe in the possibility of any of them.

  9. allroadsopen
    allroadsopen April 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm | | Reply

    or maybe what this reveals is the stark contrast between dreams and social norms

  10. AG
    AG May 1, 2012 at 12:49 am | | Reply

    Some of my relatives are definitely reverse-cinderella. These guys are smooth with incredible social skills which allowed them climb SES on the back of many ex-wifes until they reach status similar to that of John McCain. They are influential people in oversea and mainland Chinese society.

    I made a joke to ask my gf to be wealthy so I can fulfill my reverse-cinderella fantancy. But, I would rather make my own success since there is negative sterotype about such reverse-cinderella in traditional Chinese society. Reverse-cinderella is despised in China as `soft food eater’ 吃软饭的.

  11. Kin
    Kin May 2, 2012 at 7:21 am | | Reply

    I’m probably the only one here who didn’t think much of the movie.

  12. SBC
    SBC May 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm | | Reply

    Hmmm its an interesting aspect of Titanic. I liked the movie more for the bravery of the characters than reverse cinderella though. But once a chinese girl assumed that I must be a US citizen because my bf was with me… so there must be some truth to it. As others said though, I would rather that the guy be with me for who I am. And somehow the idea of a reverse cindrella does not appeal to me, just as the idea of a cindrella does not. I guess I am a bit idealistic in believing that love should not be intertwined with other selfish ends?

    allroadsopen, thats an interesting observation on the part of your students. I thought they would have been happy as Rose never struck me as the type that actually enjoys or wants the luxuries she is born into. But then again, as before maybe i am too idealistic.

  13. Sean
    Sean May 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm | | Reply

    Titanic first came out back in 1998, I was a teenager then and thought it was the coolest movie ever since it had:

    1) Good looking people
    2) Good looking costumes
    3) Realistic computer graphics
    4) A romantic plot

    Now that I am in my late 20’s, its appeal certainly is less strong. I don’t think just because one likes Titanic, it is an indication of a preference for reverse Cinderella story. Now, should one be concerned about the motive of someone dating you? Yes, I think that is a legitimate concern for anyone in any situation. After all, you want to find true love, not an a**. You just have to be smart about it.

  14. jenna cody
    jenna cody May 3, 2012 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    I can only speak for Taiwanese, not Chinese, guys (and I’ve never dated one – I just live here and have guy friends, which I’m told is uncommon: expats of both genders usually have a lot of Taiwanese female friends but not so many, if any, Taiwanese male friends), but no, I don’t think so. At least not entirely. I have a few friends here with Taiwanese husbands or boyfriends – and that’s not the impression I get at all.

    Sure, with Taiwanese guys who like Western women, and a lot (if not most) do or at least would be happy to date one, there is a not so much “reverse Cinderella” but there is the same sort of “Exotic Foreigner” vibe that you get from white guys here who “only” date local women. But we’re talking fantasy and “like” here, not actual couples. With couples, it really does seem like “two people who happen to like each other and that’s it, nothing more to it”.

    But then the couples I know are mostly ABC (or Taiwanese guy raised abroad) with a foreign woman, not locally raised guy with a foreign woman.

    I have met local guys who, if I were not married, I would have dated or liked to date. I know a few who I am pretty certain – intuition says, anyway – have liked me but not acted on it because I am clearly happily married – and I never got the impression there was any sort of “reverse Cinderella” going on.

    Not to insult China (because I really do just want to lay out bare economic facts), but Taiwan’s generally more evenly developed, and has been so for longer, so I don’t think it applies here. There is not so much economic inequality between foreigners and locals – in fact, most of my local friends make more than the average English-teaching foreigner! It’s not as hard for Taiwanese people to get visas or work/study opportunities in the USA or other countries as it is for the Chinese, generally. That’s why I do feel that there is not a “reverse Cinderella” thing. The “Exotic Foreigner” thing, however, is not something that can be wiped away by a relatively level economic playing field.

  15. jenna cody
    jenna cody May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am | | Reply

    Kin – no, you’re not the only one. I hated Titanic. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

  16. David
    David May 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm | | Reply

    Unfortunately, white is always affiliated with rich, privilege and snobbery and the Chinese and Asians are affiliated with poverty. Far from the truth. Usually, in a white woman-Asian guy couple, the Asian guy is upper middle class (university professor for example) to wealthy and the white woman is middle class to upper middle class. I was in Ireland last week and watched some British TV. A Chinese Singaporean guy is buying a half a million dollar house with cash and he has a white wife and yes two very smart girls. They move into an English village and the first complain is that the girls pull the GPA curve upward and the white boys who were winning the academic awards are no longer winning them. So dont know where the stereotype comes from…Most Chinese guys who marry white women are well off and in some instances very wealthy!

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