But if you actually watch the entire Youtube series (it’s only five episodes, 20 min or less each, and totally free), what you’ll find is a thoughtful exploration of life and love through the eyes of an Asian-American guy named Andrew – played by Wong Fu’s Philip Wang — and his mainly Asian friends.
Wang cited inspiration from series such as “Insecure”, “Atlanta” and “Master of None”. And the basic storyline — which centers on Andrew’s journey of self-discovery and soul-searching through his relationships, including with friends, lovers and family — isn’t necessarily groundbreaking on the surface. Yet Wong Fu’s “Yappie” feels like nothing I’ve ever seen before on TV.
“Yappie” takes the familiar, such as ideas about yellow fever (as it relates to white guys and Asian girls), and then cleverly subverts it to great comedic effect. One exchange between an Asian woman and a white man at a bar takes a surprising turn when it ends up reflecting dynamics more typical among Asian men and white women in the interracial dating world. This is just one of many examples of how the series excels at setting viewers up to assume one thing, and delivering something else entirely.
Wong Fu’s “Yappie” has also cast a Blasian woman, Janine Oda, as Andrew’s love interest. It’s refreshing, and not just because you hardly see Asian men and Black women paired up on TV or in the movies. Her presence opens up a lot of conversations rarely heard in the media – from race relations between the Asian and Black communities to Asian identity itself (at one point, she reminds Andrew that she still has her “Asian card”). And all of the interracial dating issues going on in the series will especially resonate with anyone who has ever, to borrow the title of the Diane Farr book, kissed outside the racial lines.
While Wong Fu’s “Yappie” sees the world through an Asian lens, you don’t have to be Asian to appreciate it. After all, the main character of Andrew is a bit awkward and uncertain about life in a way that transcends racial boundaries, making him incredibly endearing and relatable to audiences. And it’s a pleasure to watch Andrew in these moments where he pushes himself, even a tiny bit, outside boundaries drawn by his family or society.
The first season of “Yappie” proves that Wong Fu still has many compelling stories to tell. Let’s hope this is the start of more series to come.
The other night, I had the chance to stream The Chinese Exclusion Act, a nearly two-hour film documenting the events that led to America’s one and only piece of legislation targeting a specific nationality and race, as well as the aftermath and eventual repeal. The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law in May 1882 and didn’t end until December 1943.
Much of the film centers on the mid- to late-1800s, and yet it feels timely because many of the stereotypes originating from that era still persist to this day, continuing to shape US media portrayals of Asians as well as how many Americans still view the rise of Asian countries such as China.
Here are 4 stereotypes from the 1800s that have still survived – sometimes in slightly different forms – to this day, as mentioned in The Chinese Exclusion Act.
Justin Chan spoke for generations of Asian men when he wrote, “Are Asian Men Undateable?” in Policy Mic. Years of pernicious stereotypes have branded Asian men as emasculated, weak, asexual, and even too small in a certain department—essentially, editing them out of the most eligible bachelor pool. Not surprisingly, Freakonomics calculated that an Asian man would need to earn $247,000 more than a white man to be equally appealing to a white woman. That’s like requiring every Asian guy to own a Bentley before asking out the white girl next door.
John Kuo Wei Tchen, Historian: So what happens is that class and racialization converge – get confused. And the “Coolie question,” and the Chinese question, really become the big question nationally of labor and class. Can the American man compete with this degraded Asian male form of labor? They don’t eat as much; their nerves are farther away from the surface of the skin, so they don’t feel as much; they eat rats. You know, all this gets played out even more and more around not just class lines and racialization, but also around gender. The Chinese male is inferior – is not the same as white manhood, right. So you have that famous cover – “Meat versus Rice.” American manhood vs. Asiatic coolie-ism,? And, of course, the Asian male is inferior – but tenacious, because there are a lot of them. So they’re dangerous because they’re so many of them, right. Not because they really rival the actually superior white male.
And again, we see echoes of that stereotype in the late 1800s in America, prompting the 1875 passage of the Page Act, which forbade the immigration to America of those coming to work under contracts and as prostitutes. The latter prohibition was aimed squarely at Chinese women, as The Chinese Exclusion Act explains (emphasis added):
Scott Wong, Historian: There developed this sexist, racist, misogynist attitude among Americans, that Chinese women were naturally prone to become prostitutes. And, therefore, Chinese women, who wanted to come to the U.S., had to prove that they were never prostitutes; that they weren’t prostitutes then; nor would they ever become prostitutes. Now, of course, one can’t prove what will not happen or happen in the future. So many women chose not to even go through that humiliation. So we had that first act that’s passed, that is very racial and gender-specific.
#3: The stereotype of Chinese “stealing jobs/opportunities from Americans”
When major elections roll around in America these days, there’s one thing you can count on – those politicians claiming China is “stealing” jobs and opportunities. And as Chinese students still comprise the largest group of foreigners studying abroad at US institutions of higher education, you’re sure to hear complaints from Americans, alleging Chinese are also “taking away” slots at colleges and universities that belong to American students.
Narrator: As surface gold in the river beds became scarcer – hydraulic mining run by companies increasingly displaced the lone prospector panning for gold.
Ling-chi Wang, Scholar: A lot of white independent prospectors went bankrupt and became unemployed. But instead of turning their anger against the gold-mining company and the water company for exploiting them, they turned against the Chinese. They say: “Ah, the Chinese were here. They take away our jobs.” And so that is really the beginning of white working-class agitation for Chinese Exclusion.
#4: The stereotype of Asians — including Chinese — as “perpetual foreigners”
The larger problem is the segment clearly challenges the American identity of Asian American citizens in Manhattan’s China Town. Frank H. Wu’s Race in America Beyond Black and White defines this idea of Asian Americans as the “perpetual foreigner.” By assuming Chinese Americans have a better relationship with the country of their ancestral heritage, Watters is placing Chinese Americans in a second-class citizen role, unable to fully adopt all the characteristics to become a full citizen of the United States of America. This idea of the “perpetual foreigner” is not limited to Chinese Americans, but a xenophobic image many Asian Americans from a variety of Asian backgrounds must face.
This xenophobia can be traced back to the late 1800s and the Chinese Exclusion Act itself, where people believed it was impossible for Chinese to ever be fully American, as The Chinese Exclusion Act explains:
Martin B. Gold, Attorney: It really did two things. One is an exclusion from immigration, and the other thing was an exclusion from citizenship. at the time there were approximately 105,000 Chinese in America. Now, they were just two-tenths of one percent of the overall American population. So what happens to the people who are already here – people legally in the United States? And what that law said was, “These people cannot assimilate. They are too different in terms of their culture – in terms of their appearance – in terms of their language – the clothes that they wear – and the food that they eat – and the gods that they worship. They cannot assimilate into the American population. And in that sense, they are different from European immigrants. So we’re going to make, as a Congress, a judgment. We’re going to say that because they are an unassimilable population, they cannot come to the United States, and those that are here cannot become American citizens.”
If you haven’t yet viewed The Chinese Exclusion Act, I highly recommend streaming it — and noting how the legacy of oppression still lingers to this day.
When you see an Asian woman and a white man together, what runs through your mind? Do you see just another happy interracial couple? Or do you wonder, is he another white guy with yellow fever? (Or worse, do you think he’s another Julien Blanc or Chinabounder, a man who comes to Asia with the sole intent of preying upon the women for sexual or personal gain?)
That’s the idea behind Gerald Zhang-Schmidt’s guest post. He’s a guy who happened to come to China because he loved the culture. But since he has a Chinese wife, some people wonder if “Chinese culture” is really just a coded way of saying “Chinese women.”
I have written before about how privilege can be a double-edged sword. When you are part of the majority that usually goes unquestioned, you have it much easier than those who always have to somehow justify themselves. At the same time, you will be put on the spot much less because everyone assumes they know what you’re about.
Usually, you read about Asian Male – Western Female relationships here on Jocelyn’s “Speaking of China,” and it is a topic of interest by the same token. It is the unusual coupling/pairing that draws attention while the opposite WMAF relationship is a dime a dozen.
Ah, yes, another white guy in China. Who cares?
Speak Chinese in public, even just a few words, and you will be praised. And then you will find yourself compared to Dashan. (Or right now, internationally, perhaps to Mark Zuckerberg.)
Get into a relationship with a Chinese woman, get ready for everyone knowing just perfectly well why and how that would have happened. Oftentimes, it seems everyone will think they know better than you, without ever having so much as done anything more than caught a glance of you.
At risk of sounding like bad Chinese “news” pieces, “everyone knows” of some “rotten apples,” and it’s been killing the atmosphere. I wrote about my relationship to my wife, who is Chinese, and the thoughts it raised before on my blog. One comment that immediately popped up accused me of “yellow fever.” Fittingly, right next to the link to a more recent post talking about how “yellow fever” is a demeaning concept.
So, I spoke to a fellow passenger on a train in China. She asked me what had led me to China and I replied that I’d had an interest in Chinese culture for as long as I could remember. She then asked me if by interest in Chinese culture, I actually meant the girls.
My then-girlfriend and I went down the road, heads turned and stared. Not just in her small-town hometown, where the police hadn’t had any idea about how to handle my residence registration until they checked in with their higher-ups. But even more so in the somewhat bigger cities where people obviously, in disapproving looks and mumbled comments, expressed their dubious opinion of our relationship.
I can’t blame the Chinese, though.
Pretty much every culture around the world tends to “lose” the daughters to husbands, and pretty much everywhere, seeing foreigners “take away” women is seen as an indication of one’s own weakness vis-á-vis the “others.”
Add an awareness, even if just at the level of urban legends and social media hearsay, of (supposedly) rich foreign guys basically buying themselves brides (of course, such stories would turn into morality tales with bad endings), foreigners actually bragging about the ease and number of their Asian conquests, and stories of destroyed virginities (and thus, marriage prospects, as per traditional Chinese notions) and broken hearts. It’s no wonder there is suspicion.
It is just natural.
I find it less natural for foreigners to bring along their cavalier attitudes about dating and sex to China. Okay, one could argue that it’s not a big deal here, given the traditional attitudes towards the wife versus mistresses. But no matter what over-entitled and under-culturally aware people claim, a stranger in a strange land should act with more concern for his host country.
Nowadays, of course, the effects on foreigners aren’t just isolated to places like China. Everywhere, one lives in the shadow of aspersion cast by those who act… well, in this case, under the influence of their penises rather than their brains, it seems.
Argue that you are different, and in a case of “methinks [he] doth protest too much”, you appear defensive, and by association, guilty. But shutting up only gives more room for the worst voices out there. So, at least sometimes – thank you for the invite and the reminder to do so again, Jocelyn – I go on writing about this issue. Most importantly, however, I keep on living it differently, remaining true to the woman I fell in love with and continue to love, whose name I added to my own, and who I want to make happy.
I’d love to add that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but we humans are social animals to whom other’s opinions do matter a lot. However, it would help a lot, for a start, if you could at least not think the worst of us without knowing anything but our genders and ethnicities.
The accomplished Kaitlin Solimine (she’s also a contributor to the new anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit) asked me a few months back about doing a piece for HIPPO Reads, a website known for “Real World Issues, Academic Insights.” Originally, it all started when I shared an article about the bias against Asian students in academia (one of the most shocking findings from a recent Wharton School study) and she brought up doing a guest post for HIPPO Reads. So I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.”
Well, the article soon morphed into something far beyond the problems that Asians face in higher education in America, and now offers a more comprehensive snapshot of the many ways Asians just aren’t getting ahead in America (despite the “model minority” label Americans love to attribute to Asians).
In April 2014, the public was collectively shocked when University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School unveiled the results of a study examining racial gender biases in faculty mentoring. This finding particularly struck a chord: “We see tremendous bias against Asian students and that’s not something we expected. So a lot of people think of Asians as a model minority group. We expect them to be treated quite well in academia, and at least in the study and in this context we see more discrimination against Indian and Chinese students than against other groups.”
For most of the American public, such a finding was confounding. After all, for many Americans, it seems Asians reign at elite colleges and universities and go on to live the American dream. Eugene Volokh, for example, in this Washington Post piece, points to the overrepresentation of Asians at the Silicon Valley behemoth of Google as an example of “how the Asians became white.”
Statistics can be deceptive, just like our own stereotypes about Asians in America. If Americans think Asians have truly made it—or even have an unfair advantage—perhaps it’s time to think again:
It’s my own fault, after all. I’ve known Jocelyn, at least via Speaking of China, for years and read of her thoughts and travails with great interest. The way that Chinese society puts everyone into place, in their gender roles and in gendered expectations about behavior and the course of a life has fascinated me.
How could you not be fascinated? While public displays of affection are still viewed askance in many places, the requirements for an ideal partner are proudly and straightforwardly proclaimed in ‘marriage markets’? (“Westerners” may also see these advertisements as superficial and appalling, but one could just as well call them honest.)
How about a place where the women are portrayed as if they would prefer (and be preferred by) foreigners over their own men, whereas the men hardly even seem to stand a chance with anyone anymore? That’s where I’m caught squat in the middle. Speaking of China is all about the rarity of foreign woman – Asian man couples, draws readers because of that same rarity, and has lots of issues to talk about. Meanwhile I’m living all of those other, wicked, dominant, problematic positions.
I mean, according to all the talk about white male privilege – and its experience – I must clearly be privileged. I’m not supposed to talk, for it just reflects my attempts at staying on top and maintaining my privileged position. As the WM part of a WM-AF (white male – Asian female) relationship, I’m living the stereotype. “Oh my, clearly one of those guys with an Asian fetish and one of those stupid and/or calculating women dumb enough to fall for him.”
The privilege of being in a majority is that you’re questioned less. As a friend recently put it, “you are given more second chances.” For the same reason, though, you are also less visible — for better and worse. You don’t have to explain yourself nearly as much as the unusual Western (or other) woman who marries an Asian man or the lucky Asian man who was able to attract a Western woman. Because they are considered unusual, they attract attention. They get questioned. They have to explain themselves and live with the puzzled looks. But, they also get much-visited blogs and book deals for their memoirs. And so, they have a need, but also get a chance, of explaining themselves. In breaking the mold, they are viewed askance, but also as avant-garde.
Such observations of upsides and downsides all too quickly devolve into nothing but discussions of who’s got it worse or better, “the culture of shut-up,” as it was recently called. So who does have it better? The one in an extraordinary situation beyond usual stereotypes, yet facing more scrutiny because of it? Or the one barely noticed because the situation is so stereotypical, no one even bothers wondering?
It’s similar to how feminism and stereotypes are discussed in general terms rather easily, but then suddenly turn personal and get vicious, until the discussion turns into something that has nothing to do with them. The likes of a “sure, there is a privilege to being a white male, but *I* am hardly privileged (or do you see me becoming rich just so?)” even as the systemic difficulties of the not-privileged (and advantages of the privileged) certainly are there, or the “yeah, I’m all for feminism, I like strong women” from men, as if feminism were all about strength, let alone one person’s likes.
But that’s not what I want to discuss. I don’t want to discuss anything, really. I just want to provide my observations and make a humble suggestion. Relationships, be they romantic or otherwise, will always be influenced by ethnic, cultural, and other backgrounds and the views they give rise to. But relationships are, at heart, not between ethnic groups, not between social groupings, nor even between men and women. They are between individual people.
The trouble starts when we don’t want to see individual people and individual situations, and don’t suspend judgment. When we see someone who fits into a stereotypical opinion and immediately think we have a handle on who they are.
We should remember that we tend to not even understand ourselves half as well as we may think we do.
Well, Fred returned to Hong Kong earlier this month and decided to do an informal “study” so to speak. Specifically, he wanted to know whether interracial couples of Asian men and Western women were really as rare as I had written before. Keep in mind that this is not a scientific sampling by any means — it was simply one person’s observations during a vacation in the city.
So what’s the verdict on interracial dating between Asian men and Western women in Hong Kong? Read on to find out! And thanks so much to Fred for filing this report! 😉
When I first sought to date Western women over 14 years ago, I found that it was often a lonely experience because I rarely encountered couples of Asian men and Western women (hereinafter “AM/WW”). I could not consult with anyone except my full brother who himself was married to a White woman and so I had tremendous difficulties bouncing ideas between couples of my equal.
On the other hand, I saw plenty of couples of Western men and Asian women (hereinafter “WM/AW”) like my younger sister and her husband. Often times, I did not find the advice useful or applicable when I consulted with WM/AW couples.
1) Why are there so many more WM/AW pairings as compared to AM/WW? 2) What are the statistics? (i.e. how many WM/AW pairings versus how many AM/WW pairings can be seen in a typical geographical area given a typical day or week?)
I found Jocelyn’s website and read On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands in China. I felt she did an excellent job explaining why AM/WW pairings are so rare. Among the reasons that she gave were stereotypes held by Chinese men against Western women and by Western women against Chinese men, the media (i.e. portraying Asian male as asexual and lacking masculinity), Western perceptions of the relative physical size of a certain intimate part of Chinese men that makes it unattractive to Western women, etc.
However, there are no statistics on the number of WM/AW versus AM/WW pairings. There were some statistics I read once from the Shanghai Marriage Bureau showing the number of marriages between Chinese men and foreign wives compared to Chinese women and foreign men. However, they did not account for the couples that are not married and dating but nevertheless still a couple.
Jocelyn wrote in her article that it was not uncommon to see an expat walking hand-in-hand with a Chinese (or other ethnically Asian) girl. But neither Jocelyn nor any source told me the numbers. So, I decided to investigate the matter further. In order to answer question number 2 above, I decided to take the matter into my very own hands. I was also curious to see if Jocelyn was really right when she averred that AM/WW pairings are rare. I wanted to prove or disprove her article.
If AM/WW pairings are so rare as she wrote, then how rare are they? What is the proportion of WM/AW over AM/WW pairings?
So, I decided to take the matter into my own hands and do my very own personal investigation. My White Western wife and I, along with my two children, were heading to Hong Kong between April 2, 2014 and April 12, 2014 for a brief vacation to visit my half brother and half sister and their families and to do some sightseeing. So I made it a top priority during that trip to use my very own eyes to count how many WM/AW couples we saw compared to AM/WW couples. Every day I brought a sheet of paper and a pen with me, and I drew a vertical line in the middle. On the left side of the paper I wrote the heading “WM/AW Team” and on the right side I wrote the heading “AM/WW Team”. Then every time I saw either a WM/AW couple and/or AM/WW couple, I would mark a vertical stroke on the corresponding side of the paper. On the fifth stroke, I would mark it as a horizontal stroke. I would continue counting this way until my return to the US. This would be like a game for me; it started when I first entered the plane in the Los Angeles International Airport and would end when I returned to LAX International.
(Please note that my personal study is by no means scientific as it is not done by random sampling or any type of representative sampling method. It was purely my personal daily observation not predicated on any scientific basis whatsoever.)
My team was “AM/WW” and when I entered the airplane on April 2, 2014 en route to Hong Kong I wrote a stroke on the right side of the paper (i.e., one point for AM/WW team) as my wife and I constituted a AM/WW couple. So, our team was immediately leading the game by one point versus zero for the WM/AW team. “Hurray for us!” I said to myself filled with confidence that our numbers may not be so rare after all, contrary to what Jocelyn wrote.
Well, guess what? My team’s lead was very short lived.
No sooner after landing at the Hong Kong International Airport, the other team WM/AW immediately scored 3 points and now the score was 3 to 1. As time passed between April 2, 2014 and April 12, 2014 the score was skewed more and more in favor of the WM/AW team. In fact, when I visited my half-brother and his side of the family, I had discovered that on his side of the family his youngest of the two daughters is engaged to a White European man (Arnold) from France, and they are both living and working in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Arnold’s father, another White man from France, divorced his French wife many years ago, moved to Hong Kong, and now is dating and living with an Asian woman in Hong Kong. It seemed that the WM/AW pairings are incredibly ubiquitous, just as Jocelyn wrote. Well, all of my hopes of winning the game were dashed.
So, here is the final score from Hong Kong between April 2, 2014 to April 12, 2014:
1) AM/WW Team: 6 couples (including me and my wife)
P.S.: Please note that Hong Kong is considered quite Westernized. If the AM/WW couples are so rare in Hong Kong, I can only imagine how rare they must be if we conducted this study in mainland Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.
Fred practices employment law in Torrance, California.
Do you have a “field report”, guest post, or even love story about Asian men and Western women that’s worth sharing? Submit yours today!
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a friend who urged me to read an essay by Virginia Proud of Tales of Expatria. She dubbed the essay “controversial” but then again, as she put it “blogs thrive on controversy” and encouraged me to introduce the topic. Well, she said the magic word — “controversy” — so of course, I immediately clicked on the link and dove into the first paragraph.
But when I finished the essay, a feeling of dread settled over me…which had nothing to do with Virginia’s essay per se.
First off, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed the essay. The writing was exceptional — humorous, thoughtful and self-reflective — and you could clearly tell that Virginia has, as you might say, “been around the global block” in her own experiences as an expat.
If you spend enough time in Expatria you’ll meet this chap, we affectionately call him the LBH. The Loser Back Home. Best described as someone you wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole, but transplanted to foreign soil, is suddenly hot property, especially with attractive, young local women….
The LBH has always been with us and probably always will be. I remember my first LBH encounters as a teenager, when my family lived in Hong Kong. I couldn’t understand these corpulent old buggers with their gorgeous Chinese wives, until my mother pointed out their diamonds. It was the glory days of British rule and massive salaries and no one cared if the men were boring, ugly, stupid, or even mean. But then again, money and power has always been enough to make men wildly attractive, even back home….
Yes, the LBH — or, as people call him here in China, the Loser Laowai. Or for the purposes of this blog, the white Loser Laowai who only dates local Chinese women.
To me, this topic feels like the “skeleton in the closet” in the realm of cross-cultural and interracial dating in China — a topic so icky I’ve wanted to stay far, far away from it. And in the few times I’ve gathered the gumption to attempt a blog post on it in the past, invariably I abandoned my drafts and turned my attention to other topics.
Yet Virginia was able to produce a splendid essay that, to an extent, dealt with this topic, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a matter of perspective. After all, Virginia, who is originally from Australia, currently calls Budapest, Hungary home and referred to this LBH in a more universal sense. She doesn’t have to address the proverbial “panda in the room” that immediately comes to mind once you move the topic to China — yellow fever. And for the purposes of this blog post, I’m referring to those white Laowai men who prefer Asians and potentially have highly racialized notions about Asian women.
See what I mean? Loaded stuff.
In my opinion the majority of white men with Chinese women do NOT fall into this “Loser Laowai” category. But still, we all know there are white loser laowai out there hooking up with Chinese women. And like the yellow fever phenomenon, their existence does have ramifications for couples of white men and Chinese women around the world. As Christine Tan of Shanghai Shiok wrote:
The problem, to me, is that shallow, superficial relationships between white men and Asian women vastly outnumber the same sort of suspicious pairings between Asian men and white women. And sadly, these types of WM/AF pairings are the most visible ones, because they often create spectacles of themselves….They are the Douchebags, the Jerks, and the Ambitious who think dating a white man or Asian woman betters them, financially or socially….those are the types of WM/AF pairings we remember, because they were too in-your-face to forget.
Which unfortunately could lead to the wrong assumptions when you see a white man and an Chinese woman walking down the street. Again, as Christine wrote:
I know that the white male/Asian female pairing has numerous negative associations attached to it. Words that immediately come to mind: Opportunistic. Gold-digger. Fetish. Sexualization. White-worship. Money. Exploitation. Lust. Pinkerton Syndrome. ‘Sarong Party Girl’ behavior was something I was warned against growing up.
I think a lot about why those associations exist. There are poorer women in China and the rest of Asia who view a foreign man as a meal ticket. There are Asian women who only date white men because most of the men they meet are white, and/or they find them more culturally/sexually appealing. There are white men who only date Asian women because of the society they live in — where the women are mostly Asian — or yes, they do find Asian women more culturally/sexually appealing. There are white men who come to Asia to hook up with local women in certain seedier places. There are local women who go to these places to hook up with the white men who come to Asia.
But then there are cases like mine — a mutual friend introduces a man and a woman and they get along, they like each other, they both like eating, and books, and the Barbie store. And oh, by the way, they happen to be white and Asian, respectively.
There’s another side to this topic of white Loser Laowai who only date Chinese women — when the men justify their dating choices by insulting the women back home, which Virginia alludes to in her essay. I’ve addressed this before and find it abhorrent that anyone would defend their relationship in such a hateful way. But it happens, most often in anonymous online forums. And because the expat gender balance is so skewed — far more expat men, who are overwhelming white, than women — well, let’s say if you’re a woman like me, you need a lot of courage to speak up about it in public.
In the end, I’ll never be able to write something like Virginia, not with all the baggage that accompanies this idea of white Laowai Losers with Chinese women. Still, I believe the subject deserves a conclusion. So, as someone who writes about relationships, perhaps it’s fitting that I sum this up with a phrase used on dating sites around the world: it’s complicated.
P.S.: For further reading on this “thorny topic”, I recommend They’re So Beautiful, the companion website to the compelling documentary Seeking Asian Female.
A few months ago, Christine Tan — who writes the fabulous Shanghai Shiok — Facebooked me with this photo and a message:
Hey Jocelyn, quick look at my…bookshelf shows I have more explicitly WF/AM [White Female/Asian Male — also referred to as AMWF] books (yes, I include Anna and the King!) than the opposite, AF/WM [Asian Female/White Male] (and yes, I include Amy Chua in that one). Wonder why I enjoy the former more even though I’m part of the latter. Maybe I just haven’t come across really good/insightful/not based on creepy stereotypes AF/WM writing. I mean, are there any AF/WM books you like and could recommend?
I chimed in with some suggestions of good AF/WM books, as did others, but her post lingered with me. Of course, there’s no “law” saying we MUST enjoy more those books that best reflect our own relationships and realities. Still, it was fascinating to me that Christine — who is in a AFWM marriage — still enjoyed more AMWF books over AFWM books.
Yes, it’s a conversation in part about “yellow fever” — but one with more intelligence, one that seeks to transcend the usual boundaries and assumptions.
The site really got me thinking when I discovered Jeff Yang’s blog post. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s an Asian-American journalist for the Wall Street Journal — and one who has written some of my favorite articles exploring why you see so few Asian men with non-Asian women (such as this piece).
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