The vast majority of people (whether consciously or unconsciously) date and marry within their own race.
According to Wikipedia, 97% of married white men and women in America are married to another white person, 89% of married black men and women are married to another black person and 91% of married Asian men and women are married to another Asian person.
If you happen to be in the less than 4% (according to Wikipedia only 3.9% of married couples in the US in 2008 were interracial couples – this is a big increase from less than 1% in 1990 but still an extremely low percentage) you are almost certain to get a question or comment about your interracial relationship at some point.
Both my fiance and I are Australian. I was born in Australia to anglo parents, he was born in China to Chinese parents.
While most people I’ve encountered don’t (at least openly) say anything about us being an interracial couple, I have encountered curiosity from both westerners and Asians as well as a few rare comments that are at least misguided if not racist.
The most common question I have gotten from Asians is a surprised “but how did you meet/get together with a Chinese guy?” while I’ve had both Asians and white people ask if I am “attracted to Asians”.
The first question stems mostly from curiosity, I think. While it’s fairly common to see white men with Asian women it is far more rare to see Asian men with white women (although I am happy to see it does seem to be getting more common).
The first question is also easy to answer – we were flatmates, we didn’t get along at all at first but slowly became friends and eventually fell in love.
The second question I honestly find bizarre. Imagine you asked that of a white person who was dating another white person “so, you are attracted to white people?”
No, I am not attracted to white people, or Asians, or black people or any race.
I am attracted to the man I am with because of WHO he is not what race he is.
I am attracted to him because he is strong but also prepared to show true vulnerability with me (something I have found to be incredibly rare).
I am attracted to him because he takes responsibility (for himself, for his decisions, for his family). He doesn’t expect anything from anyone.
I am attracted to him because he has an adventurous spirit and finds ways things can be done rather than putting them in the too hard basket.
I am attracted to him because he doesn’t shy away from things that are difficult, he faces challenges as they come up.
I am attracted to him because he knows what he wants and is prepared to work hard for it.
I am attracted to him because he prioritises what’s important to him and doesn’t let other things or other people run his life.
I am attracted to him because he’s upfront, he doesn’t manipulate or play games.
I am attracted to him because he is great at solving problems, an excellent traveller and can fix things.
Most of all I am attracted to him because we get each other on a level I find hard to explain – I haven’t felt this in any other relationship (even one that lasted for years).
Also, I think he’s pretty cute and his snuggles are second to none 🙂
Chi (her real name, no exotic background, pronounced Chai, like the tea) is engaged to a man who was born in China and grew up in Argentina before immigrating to Australia. Chi writes about her experiences (mostly her struggles trying to learn Mandarin) at www.talkingofchinese.com. —–
Essentially, the article asks a simple racist question. What in the world is wrong with these white women, who would dare to love and marry Chinese men?
I’m amazed that there were white women in the 1890s courageous enough to overcome societal condemnation and love Chinese men regardless.
Think about it. This was only a decade after the US passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. In an era when the US wanted Chinese out of the country, these women welcomed them into their hearts and homes. They created families with them.
So, in an effort to remember the bitter early history of AMWF couples in America, I’m sharing 4 stinging quotes on white women who love Chinese men from this LA Herald piece:
#1: The average American cannot understand how any human being, however inured by custom, can live in an average Chinatown. That white women should live there by deliberate choice seems to him monstrous, horrible.
Racists crave dehumanizing language. So it’s not surprising that the paper describes these white women as if they were the brides of Frankenstein.
#2: She is but twenty-two years of age, remarkably beautiful and possessed of a voice that…would be a fortune. Yet three years ago, she met and loved a Chinaman.
If the 1890s ever ran a “public service announcement” against white women marrying Chinese men, it would probably start with something like this. (Oh my.)
#3: It is also well known that not one Chinaman in a hundred comes to these shores without leaving behind a wife in China; so by the laws of China, the white wife is not a wife…
And if that 1890s “public service announcement” continued, this is the climax, the heart of their argument. Don’t marry someone who can’t guarantee you a proper marriage! (Whoa.)
#4: They have had six children, of whom five are living – bright, intelligent half breeds. And Mrs. Watson (her husband took that name when baptized) is still handsome and pleasant spoken.
<sarcasm>Ah yes. Amazing that Mrs. Watson didn’t somehow become deformed or damaged after marrying a Chinese man. And her kids even appear normal. Incredible! </sarcasm>
Officer Travers brought to the city prison at 12:30 o’clock this morning a Chinaman on whose arm whose was hanging a pretty young girl of some twenty summers. The couple proved to be no others than Wong Suey Wong and Sarah Burke. The arrest was made at 728 Jackson Street, a house of ill-fame, being the abode of several Celestial courtesans. Here Sarah Burke was found, in one of the upper rooms, in a bed completely hidden by sheets used as curtains. At the police station she said that she had gone to the house on Tuesday last, knowing that it was a house of ill-fame, but not caring, since in a day or two she would be legally married to the choice of her heart, with whom she has been living for the past five months. On being parted from her Chinese lover she squeezed his hand, which he returned with equal fervor. In the Chinaman’s pocket was found, besides a receipted bill for a bed and a spring mattress, a photograph of his fair amorata, from which he parted with evident reluctance. He was charged with felony in having lodged a girl under age in a house of ill-fame, while she was booked for residing in a house of prostitution.
In other words, the authorities dredged up some pretextual reasons to throw them in jail, since they didn’t like the idea of a Chinese man and a white woman being in love.
And if you had any doubt as to how people felt about a relationship like this in those days, well, read the first line of the April 8, 1883 story in the San Francisco Chronicle follows on 8 April 1883 (per Frederickbee.com):
Sarah Burke, who has unalterably set her mind upon a disgusting marriage with a Chinese laundryman, acknowledged that she had passed a dismally and frigidly cold night in prison on Friday. Wong Suey Wong, her Mongolian fiancée, coincided in this experience. About 11 o’clock yesterday morning some of the pair’s Chinese friends obtained the release of the couple on bonds in $100 each.
This April 8, 1883 story highlights the challenges the couple faced in trying to marry, noting, “…it was fortunately discovered that for decency’s sake a marriage between a white and an Indian, mulatto or Mongolian, was prohibited and therefore the County Clerk could issue no marriage license.” Sarah and Wong’s only options were a marriage under a civil contract or a marriage without a marriage license.
But it gets worse when Sarah’s father attempted to have her committed to an institution for insanity, “who deemed the fact of her infatuation for a repulsive Chinese sufficient grounds for believing that she had lost her reason.” Ugh!
The father testified that his daughter had always been possessed of ordinary common sense until about the first of last January, when she conceived her unhallowed desire to wed Wong Suey, since which she had acted as though possessed of the Infernal One. He had never had any reason to doubt that she was a chaste and moral girl until now. Sarah Isabella was also examined. She again reiterated her love for Wong Sue, and desires to marry him….
The Commissioners, however, concluded that they could not commit the girl as insane. She was evidently suffering from a moral eclipse, but her mental trouble did not, in their opinion, come within the meaning of the law….
The story even chronicles how “a stalwart policeman grabbed Wong by the nape of the neck and small of the back, and hurled him into the hallway adjoining the Commission” after Wong entered the room and embraced Sarah. Horrible!
Unless you’re like my husband (who lucked out and ended up marrying his one and only girlfriend), chances are you’ve had your share of relationships or crushes that didn’t work out — perhaps even ones you might regret. I know I have.
Which is why, when Holly of From My World To Your World decided to share the tale of what happened between her and Chun, I was nodding my head the entire time I read it…and thinking of that one guy I never should have fell for, but did.
Do you have a story about love gone wrong or other guest post you’d like to see featured here on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn how to get your work published on this blog.
It is really hard for me to write about this only because this is something that happened recently with someone I thought was going to be a big part of my life. But, he stopped contact with me. A small part of me wanted to know why he decided to stop talking and the other part just doesn’t care anymore. For this, it’s almost a long story, which goes back last year.
I’ll start in the beginning on how we met.
Chun was someone I never thought I would meet. I always believed people were destined to meet and I thought this was the right moment. But once again, I was wrong. Last year we met at a time in my life when I still was a very emotional person and still searching for a relationship. I really thought everything was perfect when I met him.
Late September, last year
It was a good Monday evening when I was asked by a friend if I wanted to go eat dinner. Let’s call her Ying. So when I arrived to the restaurant, Ying introduced me to the other two guys that were sitting and eating dinner with us. The three of them are Chinese and were speaking Chinese. I could understand as much as I could at the time. But, there was something about Chun that I was attracted to. He was tall, had a broad chest, black hair, funny, and just kind of my type… a bad boy. And I was really physically attracted to him.
Chun was the type of guy who didn’t finish high school. He dropped out of school and never even bothered getting his GED. He and his parents worked at a Chinese buffet or restaurant somewhere in my city.
After dinner, Chun said he almost forgot it was his birthday the next day. So we decided to all go for hookah that night. On the way there, Ying and I were in her car. I asked her if he was single. She said she thinks he might be. That night I got to know him a little bit more, still very much curious about this guy.
The following day he wanted to go bowling, but no one wanted to go. At the last minute I decided to go. He picked me up at my house since at this time, I didn’t know how to drive. When we were bowling, we had this deep discussion about life, love, happiness and more. There were some things I told him that I thought I wouldn’t tell anyone. We talked about the tattoos on his body, the scars he received on his arm, why school wasn’t for him. I was nothing but comfortable with him since meeting him even though he had this bad boy mentality.
October, last year
Just that coming weekend, it was my birthday. In fact it was my twenty-first birthday. The day after, on Saturday, he took me out downtown to a bar and bought me a few drinks. I had gotten a little drunk, but I remember most of that night. I remember dancing with him and then him telling me he doesn’t like to dance. I remember gulping down three or four glasses of water before walking downtown and then discussing a potential relationship.
I told him I was starting to fall for him a bit and that I liked him. He replied that he liked me too, but wanted to get to know me more before pursuing a relationship with me. At the time, I thought this was the right moment to tell him my deepest secret: being autistic. When I told him, his arm was still around me, holding me as we walked. He said to me, “Don’t worry, everyone is different.”
After he dropped me off home late that night, I had liquid courage. I reached up and kissed him. It wasn’t a deep kiss. Mostly it was light kissing. I said bye to him and parted ways.
Who would’ve thought that after that night that everything would go downhill?
A few days later I met with Ying and told her what happened. She told me she talked to him and asked if we had fun that night. His excuse was, “I don’t remember much.”
My heart sank. Was this really true? Did he not remember? How could he not? He barely drank that night, or at least I thought.
The week after my birthday, I invited a lot of my friends out since I had to work on my twenty-first. I invited him out as well. He came a little later and immediately headed to the bar. I went up to him and asked him if he remembered what happened. He said he didn’t remember at all. This made me angry. Just after he had a few drinks, he suggested we all go to a different bar. We agreed to try to bar hop some. I still was upset with him and slowly that night I became devastated. How could he be so cold and barely talk to me that night?
After my party I tried to message him a few times, but he wouldn’t reply as much.
Every time I saw Ying, I felt so bad because all I would do is talk about him.
November came and I saw continued sadness in my life, I was so upset that he wasn’t replying when I tried to contact him. December came quicker than I expected. This was when I decided to call him and ask why he stopped talking to me. But, I was going to have to wait until after finals.
When finals were done, I decided that it was time to call him.
I left a voicemail, even though I knew he wouldn’t listen. After this voicemail, I messaged him on WeChat. I said to him, “I called because I wanted to ask you something. But I guess it is pointless now. I tried hard enough. And you haven’t bothered replying. I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but you’re ignoring me for some reason…it hurts me. It’s been a long time since we last talked.”
Finally after a few months of no responses, I got a reply. He told me that he didn’t want to talk to anyone because he was planning on moving to a different State. I decided that this was it, which I didn’t care anymore…or at least I thought. Deep down I still cared.
The next day while driving with Ying to go downtown to bar hop, we were talking about something and brought up Chun. This was when she told me something I never knew.
She said to me, “He’s so stupid, I didn’t tell you this because I didn’t want to make things worse. But I wanted to tell you that he had this girlfriend.”
I looked at her, so confused, “What do you mean?”
She replied, “This girl, I know her, she is kind of crazy, She’s a Chinese girl. She doesn’t really care much about anything. They were on and off dating, just kind of like friends with benefits, but whatever.”
I wondered if this is what stopped him from talking to me?
“When did he meet this girl? Was it around the same time I met him?”
“Yeah, I believe so, but they were just friends before it happened. Sorry I didn’t tell you before.”
I stopped for a moment, letting this sink in. It made sense…another girl was in his life so that’s why he probably stopped talking to me.
I told Ying I was grateful and smiled, realizing that Chun was not supposed to be in my life…or so I thought.
About 7 months later, late July, this year
Out of the blue, I received a message from him on WeChat. I never bothered to really remove him from my life anyway so I decided to just keep him on social media. Just a few months before I saw that he was back in my city for the summer. Chun asked me what’s up. I told him that I was going to the mall. He said that he could meet me there. This was strange since I barely talked to him since December. And I was wondering if I was prepared to meet with him.
I told him what time I would be there and he met me. The entire time I barely wanted to look at him, still remembering about what happened in the past. My main destination was Victoria’s Secret. He followed me into that store. The entire time I felt like I was teasing him. We got into a small argument what my actual bra size is. I told him teasingly, “Why? Do you want to see me in these bras then?”
His response, “Yes, I actually do.”
Throughout that day at the mall and spending time with him, I never thought I would get some closure. He offered to drive me home. On the way I was talking about how we first met. I unexpectedly got an answer I was looking for.
“How come you don’t remember that time we went bowling?”
“Well, to be honest, I was high a lot. I was smoking weed before I saw you or anyone else. That, or drunk. Or both.”
I was a little relieved in some way. Because telling him I was autistic was one of my biggest worries and I was so scared that this is what made him stop talking to me.
“I also heard you were with this girl too?”
“Yeah, that’s true as well, but she was crazy. And she lied to me. I felt badly about it later. But I took her virginity. She never told me before. I thought she wasn’t a virgin and was angry she didn’t tell me.”
I really didn’t care about that. I just finally was able to know some of the truth.
“You really upset me at the time. I hate to blame, but a part of the reason I am like this is because of you.”
I think these words did make him see that he truly screwed up. And I luckily got an apology.
When we sat in the driveway for a few moments, he asked if I wanted to go somewhere else with him. I agreed and then we were off to play mini-golf and ride go-karts. Next thing I knew, it was around nine at night.
“It’s getting late and I’m kind of hungry.”
“What do you want to eat?” he asked.
“Uhm, I’m not sure, I’m not picky.”
Chun decided that we could just go to the grocery store and then cook back at his place. I said sure. But, I didn’t realize his place was farther from mine, about a twenty minute drive or so. When we got to his place, he told me his situation. Chun was living in the living room since there were only two bedrooms and his parents have a friend staying with them. So his parents and little brother occupied one room while their friend had the other. I told him not to worry. Ten minutes later, his family arrived. His parents mainly ignored him the entire time I was there.
Time was going by slow and it was already ten-thirty at night when we started to eat dinner. He suggested that I just stay the night. I asked if that was okay with his parents and he said they didn’t care.
So I spent the night. And things happened.
At the time I was so happy. Everything was perfect. We talked a lot that night. I told him that I am happy how things worked out this way. Mentioning of course that I don’t want a relationship at all.
He said he was happy too and that he wanted me in the same way I wanted him. We talked almost that entire night. About how he was in trouble with the law and how his parents didn’t recognize him as their son now because he said he has disappointed them. Part of me was feeling really bad for him.
But after that night I didn’t see him for a while. He got busy with work and so did I.
A few weeks after seeing him, I managed to convince him to come over. However, he messaged me and told me not to think anything of us and that we are just paoyou (炮友), or friends with benefits. Why would you send that when we already defined the relationship between us two? I snuck him into my house that night, but my brother came home to sleep that night. My older brother was barely home at this time as well. So, overall the mood was ruined.
This was when I asked him quietly, “Why did you have to remind me that we’re just paoyou?”
Chun wasn’t happy I brought it up, “Because I wanted to remind you.”
“No, seriously, please tell me why.”
He paused for a few seconds, totally not expecting this response.
“I feel like I’m not good enough for you.”
I looked at him, “Why do you think this?”
“When I see you, I see myself. I see how I used to be and I how much I changed. You deserve better. Now, enough of that. But promise me something.”
“Hmm?” I inquired.
“If I disappear from your life again, don’t get sad.”
Still a little confused, “Why do you say that? I already had you gone from my life once, I’m sure I can get through it again.”
I snuck him back out after this big conversation of ours. That last kiss, that last hug…I never thought it would’ve been the last of it all.
Early September, this year
School started for me and I was really happy to be back at school. One day after I was finished with classes for the week, I texted him. The message wasn’t sending on WeChat and it was saying I had to add him as a friend. Confused, I looked him up on Facebook. Chun also removed me from there as well.
I was furious. So I messaged him on Facebook telling him, “We’re better than this. I don’t know what’s going on but it would be nice for you to talk to me instead of just removing me from your life. Please call me when you get the chance.”
No phone call.
No text messages.
I talked to Ying just a few weeks after it happened. She told me that one of her friends went to hang with him and they got stuck on the highway. This friend of hers said that Chun was agitated because this one girl wouldn’t stop talking to him. And also that he didn’t really want to talk with her a lot and it was becoming annoying.
Immediately I knew that was me. I wasn’t really talking to him every day, I made sure of it. But, when I heard all this, I sighed some relief.
I began to not care about this situation because this wasn’t my problem. Deep down I knew that this was possibly going to happen again. I knew that he was going to stop contact with me again.
Somedays I have some regrets about letting him back into my life. I wish I had been wiser about things. But we learn from our mistakes and learn to accept them. This is just another life lesson that was learned the hard way. I’ve accepted what happened and even though I want to regret, I cannot. This situation shaped me into who I am today and helped make me stronger.
It’s amazing how the smallest decisions in our lives can change everything. A few years ago, American Anne stepped into a Western restaurant in Taiwan, never expecting that evening’s dinner would come with an introduction to her future husband.
Do you have a serendipitous love story or other guest post worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your words featured here.
A little over two years ago, I exchanged rings, bows and hearts with my amazing Taiwanese husband. It’s incredible to think about all the changes and twists our lives have taken since our fateful meeting over three years ago in a small city in Taiwan.
I had been teaching English in Taiwan for about four months when one evening I decided I really wanted some western food from one of the only western restaurants/bars in the city. It was a 45 minute walk away. The only people I knew at the time were simply interested in going if we shared a taxi, and on that particular evening everyone opted to just stay home. Whatever. I was going to order a freaking quesadilla! I enjoyed a nice walk to the restaurant and as my dinner was delivered on my table by the foreign restaurant owner (also an American) he introduced himself and we exchanged pleasantries. Maybe because I was a random and uncommonly lone western girl outside Taipei or maybe because he was just that good at reading my character he called someone into the restaurant that was walking by the entry door. That person would someday become my husband. He just happened to live in the apartment complex above the restaurant and had slowly development a friendship with Ernie, the restaurant owner. Ernie made some introductions. I think we were both a bit hesitant with the introduction but we were secretly happy to have chance to meet someone, even if it was just a friend in a safe environment.
He was introduced as Aitch (like the letter H) and told me later he never would have talked to me that night if it wasn’t for the fact that a third party introduced us. He believed it would have been quite rude if he had just started talking to me while I was at the restaurant by myself in the middle of eating my dinner. I’ve had some uncomfortable or just awkward first meetings with Asian men in Asia (having also lived in South Korea for nearly two years) so we were both a bit grateful for some common ground to start off with. We are a strange and unique combination of traditional and independent in each of our separate cultural norms, so the blender of that night worked.
He was still in the military when we met so we decided to officially date after his retirement from the military. We soon realized we shared true feelings and connected with real morals and integrity. If we forgot, we took turns stepping up for our values showing we respect ourselves as individual people just as much as a couple. I think what really set us apart from a failed relationship was our wiliness to communicate and make compromises from our old lifestyles, and to feel that those changes could be positive and not just a necessary evil.
Almost exactly a year after we started dating we were back at our favorite restaurant where we met. He proposed to me just like in all the Hollywood movies by secretly placing a ring at the bottom of my glass. The night we met he ordered me a strawberry margarita, and I guess I should have thought something was up when I saw the same drink placed on our table because I don’t order it that often. In addition, I really had no clue this night would be special because I was developing a cold and we decided we would take a visit to the doctors after we finished dinner — so romantic. I’m a notoriously slow eater and I remember swishing the straw around because all the berries would quickly collect at the bottom. I’m sure watching that was pure torture for him. As I finished my drink I promptly stated “ok, let’s go” not realizing the important contents still in the glass. As I got up he quickly declared “wait, I think you forgot something” and he proceeded to pull the ring out himself and bend down on one knee.
We married at the Shilin court house in Taipei September 28th, 2013. We were both happy and thankful we had a small wedding as I’ve always dreaded the stress of the wedding day and the stress mountain of coordinating and planning for it. We were sure lucky our parents understood and supported a small wedding. Honestly, we decided four days before the date that that was the day to do it. Only enough time to get the witness registration paperwork ready. It was thankfully so relaxed we even took a nap after lunch when we got home!
I would say marriage to someone outside my cultural group was one of the hardest and one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. We’ve both learned so much about ourselves, the world, and what we find the hardest to accept about our past conditioning and what is truly important for our future. Communication is crucial, and it will always be a challenge- we have very different communication styles! I consider myself fairly indirect via American standards, but I’m utterly outspoken to him, and he’s ok with that.
We’ve often talked about how many subtle events had to line up in order for us to meet, and I feel so honored and lucky to have snagged this one. Had I not, I most definitely would have returned back to Michigan after completing my first year contract. He appreciates my personality, values and simplicity, while I in turn love his loyalty, drive and compassion. He makes me feel valued for who I am- not who I was or who I’ll be tomorrow. Though we don’t know where we will plant our feet in the future, we have very recently moved to Singapore and are in the process of learning more and more about ourselves and our relationship in a global community. Happy anniversary, I continue to look forward to walking this path with you!
Why did I assume I’d never find a man to date in China? It’s a question that haunted white American Rosalie Zhao (who blogs at Rosie in BJ), surprised to find the love of her life in the Middle Kingdom (she shared her unforgettable love story here in the post “Enter Zhao Ming…China’s Answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger”). She writes, “With rising tensions and deepening talks surrounding issues of race in the US, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own prejudices.”
It’s been a couple years since my first guest post on Speaking of China. I wrote of how, against my initial expectations, I found love with a local man in China. Since that post, there’s been a rise of AMWF relationships in the media as well as a growing number of Asian men (and the western women who love them) speaking up and speaking out. With rising tensions and deepening talks surrounding issues of race in the US, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own prejudices. I’ve also given some thought as to why I assumed I’d never find a man to date in China, an assumption that many western women living in Asia seem to make. Then, the reason finally came to me—a man that was such a small part of my past but who I’ve come to realize had a seemingly profound impact on how I viewed Asian men and perhaps even how I saw myself.
It was freshman year of college and I was in a dating slump. The good news was that I got along fabulously with the other girls I lived with in my dormitory suite. There were five of us in total; I was the only one without a boyfriend. The two girls in the room next door, Laura and Erin, each were dating guys who attended a university on the other side of our state, which meant they were away most weekends visiting their beaus. I don’t know whose idea it was, theirs or mine, but somehow we came up with the idea of me having a blind date with one of their boyfriends’ friends. They quickly ran through their mental rolladexes (this was, of course, pre-Facebook). Who among these friends would be a good match? Laura looked up suddenly. “We should set you up with Johnny!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, he’s really cute!” Erin assured me. They shuffled through all the junk in their dorm room, eventually scrounging up a photo. Laura showed me his picture.
For a second, I was taken aback. I assumed he would be white, but he was in fact East Asian. I quickly admonished myself—what did it matter? He looked fairly cute from the photo and they eagerly sang his other praises: he was kind, smart, and 21 (old enough to buy us beer!). I decided to throw caution to the wind and join them on their next road trip across state, in hopes Johnny might be the man of my dreams. Or maybe someone fun to make-out with for the weekend. Whatever. When you’re 19 and in college, it hardly matters.
As fate would have it, Johnny was neither my future husband or make-out partner. The second I laid eyes on him I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I’m short. This guy? He was barely taller than me. He also weighed about 30 pounds less than me. The chemistry wasn’t there. I wanted a man who eclipsed me in size and strength, a man who would wrap me up into his arms and protect me from all danger. If Johnny was a little bigger and I a little smaller, maybe something could be there, I thought. Johnny, however, didn’t share my sentiments. He seemed very much into the idea of us becoming an item. He was smart enough to read my signals and not push me too hard, but he subtly pursued me that weekend and later, online.
I felt bad initially and even worse as time wore on. Johnny and I became closer friends while talking on MSN messenger and it became clear to me that he was suffering from a far worse dating slump than I was. He had been rejected over and over, to the point where he felt his efforts were futile. He was never going to find a girlfriend. I wanted to assure him that the right girl was out there, but I didn’t know how to do that without returning to an awkward conversation in which he asked why I didn’t like him. Eventually, our chats online became less frequent and I guiltily sighed with relief.
After that, I fell for my own perception bias. I viewed all Asian men as being smaller than me and therefore undatable. I assumed I could never again be attracted to them because I’d feel like an ogre in their presence. But then I came to China and discovered that Asian men come in all sizes and shapes. I also realized something else—a man’s true strength isn’t determined by his height in inches or weight in pounds; in the years since coming to China, I have found men attractive who had physiques similar to that of Johnny’s. And I have also realized that my own self-worth cannot be calculated by how small my jean size is. I don’t have to be thin for a man to find me beautiful.
I see now that I never gave Johnny a fair chance. Perhaps a romance could have blossomed and chemistry forged if I had had an open mind. Was I racist? Sizist? Self-loathing? I don’t know. But I don’t want to judge my 19-year-old self too harshly. I’m just glad that in time I was able to open myself up to the possibilities of dating cross-culturally and the idea of dating in China. I’m not sure where in the world I’d be today if I hadn’t.
Rosalie Zhao resides with her family in Hebei, China, where she writes a blog called Rosie in BJ.
I’ve wanted to write on this subject for a while in response to the seemingly common question of why Asian men are attracted to white women as marital partners or sexual partners. The question usually implies a disproportionate percentage of Asian men having a preference for white women in these departments.
This site is particularly appropriate for having that conversation, so I’m prompted to write about it now. My beliefs and impressions aren’t yet fully formed. Human attraction and emotion, these are fluid through time and in flux by the moment. So please bear with me as I make my way.
Racial preference for sex and marriage partners is a difficult area for calm discussion because it brings thoughts of our own deep seated fears to the surface. The arguments become less abstract and more personal. Some are less comfortable with this than others.
We continue to look at percentages of interracial pairings as a barometer of how our society is progressing. The OK Cupid Blog statistics opened a lot of eyes to the sexual degradation of black women and Asian men in society.
When I talk about partner preference, “preferring white women,” for example, I am talking about larger populations in this respect. Understanding interracial relationships as a barometer is not taking the position that the persons in an interracial relationship are more progressive. What I mean is that the presence of (healthy) interracial relationships is the sign of a progressive society. This little bit of logic eludes the “justified” racism heard commonly in this form: “I can say that about Asians, my girlfriend is Thai,” after saying something decidedly anti-Asian.
I have been an introspective person my whole life, and I try to live my life in harmony with my true beliefs. There have been times when I sought white women almost exclusively, excluded white women entirely, and there’s now – where the kind of closeness I seek casts the crudely fitting conceptions of any race aside.
I sought relationships with white women for a few reasons. First, practically, there were mostly white women around me 5:1, and almost no Asian population. Second, I was culturally more comfortable in white America (owing to a lot of factors). Finally, and to me most significantly, all the white women I dated were awesome. Open, bold, expressive, and fun. I met smart and attractive women, and I didn’t have any reason to stop.
There’s a bit of a sampling bias here though. Women who are more likely to cross social boundaries, I’m guessing, are more likely to have a great personality. For one, she is more likely to be intelligent, think for herself and is courageous or oblivious enough to cross strong social racial standards.
Then there was the period when I didn’t date white women. I was learning the racialized history of America through Howard Zinn, learning about the Third World Strikes for Ethnic Studies programs, reading poetry by Bao Phi, Ischle Park (and always Allen Ginsberg). I was the living embodiment of Kumar (of Harold & Kumar) when he says, “I’m sorry, I only date women of color.” I was at a point where I needed to show empathy and solidarity with women who struggled with their social sexual identity like I did. It was important. It still is.
Now, after a lot of learning, I understand that I don’t have to take it upon myself to be anything for society, to represent or stand for progressiveness or solidarity. Sex and intimacy, it’s for me and her – and that’s it. It’s our intimacy, our world of our making. And we’re leaving race out of it.
I’m an Asian American man in my 30s living in the U.S., Northern California. I was born and raised in the Midwest and in a predominantly white community that seemed to embrace every stereotype ever heard about Asian folks. I write about my sexual experiences and the politics of sex for straight Asian men. Don’t get a little bit of the truth, get the full package – http://bigasianpackage.wordpress.com.
I’m an Asian American man. I started writing my thoughts to contribute my point of view to the social environment that injures me through stereotypes and racism. It hurts Asian men, our friends and families, and it hurts our partners. The predominant public commentary is critical of me and everyone who looks like me; they belittle me (why, even?). So why wasn’t I hearing from more Asian men?
I think I felt tempted too… it’s social withdrawal. Put it this way, how rational would it be to participate in a social system that starts you at the bottom, keeps you at the bottom, and laughs the whole time doing it? I think Asian men have seen enough to know that they’d be painted into another angry minority caricature (“angry black man,” “bitch feminist,” &c.) I suspect this is a major reason for the lack of Asian male voices. In the end, the racism in the echo chamber of the Internet proliferated, possibly exceeding overt anti-Asian sentiment displayed publicly. It’s too much already.
In the context of the Asian Male White Female (AMWF) relationship, something unique has emerged. As AMWF couples encountered unique difficulties, ones stemming from prejudice, the women started speaking out in large numbers. They told their stories, shared them, and built a community of support and celebration around one thing, and it wasn’t Asian men, it was love. It was being allowed to love in the way they wanted, to love whomever they wanted… however hot and sexy this Asian man might be!
This experience is one of the events that led to my unease when I’m invited to a family event with a… well, more conservative family. They’re tricky places to encounter hostility because around folks I know, family, I’m usually relaxed, not on guard, and trying to have a good time.
It couldn’t have been a more poetic holiday for this memory. It was Independence Day in Ohio, the Fourth of July, and my girlfriend, who was white (Czech, Polish, and German heritage) brought me to her family’s barbeque and picnic in their newly completed solarium. There was potato salad, macaroni salad, and a number of other misleadingly named things that cause heart disease by the mountainous bowlful. The Stars and Stripes were gratuitously displayed. Kids risked fingers with low-grade explosives. It was a good time. The centerpiece to the whole affair was the barbeque which they managed to overload with some forbidden pyramid of smoking meats. I used to work at a grill, and even I thought that was an obscene amount of meat.
Well, I’m a vegetarian (yes, vegetarian grill cook, I know) so when I was offered some, I politely turned down my sector of the pyramid. Whoops. People looked over at us.
I learned that, at least in the 90s, this was an American social faux pas on par with sneezing in someone’s face. There was murmuring. I heard an aunt exclaim, “How?…What?…”
I tried to redirect and talk about how good all the salads were, but this was like trying to wipe the sneeze off of their collective faces with my bare hands. I could feel people’s eyes still on me. It was too late. I had declined the centerpiece of the American Independence celebration.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. I put my red, white, and blue plate down on a small table and strode over to the bathroom, shut the door, and breathed again. I’m a teenage boy so it’s not like I have a whole lot of composure to begin with, but I muster together what I can, and go back outside. People had resumed doing whatever they were doing and I wasn’t noticed. I picked up my plate, ate a few bites of the potato salad, and went back to the tarp covered table for more.
“Are you happy about those secrets?” said a voice from beside me.
“What? I’m sorry?” I said. It was my girlfriend’s grandpa.
“The nuclear secrets. I know you came here to steal from us,” said her grandpa,
“I go to school…” I say, protesting.
“You’re Chinese, I know you are,” he says quietly, triumphantly, like he’s got me checkmated.
“Yes,” I say, now seriously confused, not quite believing what I’m hearing.
And here’s where having a lady with a sharp social sense comes in handy. Because where I might turn to look at a guy friend and receive some eyeshot that says, yeah, pound that racist, I got an arm around mine, a brisk walk out to the street, and a fresh piece of cake for me to eat as she drove us home. What a sweetheart.
We didn’t talk about Grandpa Bigotnasty much after that. She apologized for him; I told her not to, and we just went home. I never saw Grandpa B. again either. My girlfriend was mortified by her family and understood I wouldn’t go anyplace her grandpa would be. I guess you could call this an incident of social rejection. I think I like the term social withdrawal betterbecause it implies that it was more of my choice. It doesn’t really matter in in the end. I’m not there at her family events anymore because we broke up.
If I’m in an interracial relationship now, I sometimes try to talk to my partner about this anxiety over family gatherings. Sometimes I keep it to myself though…and hope that next time around, there won’t be a Grandpa Bigotnasty at the table.
I’m an Asian American man in my 30s living in the U.S., Northern California. I was born and raised in the Midwest and in a predominantly white community that seemed to embrace every stereotype ever heard about Asian folks. I write about my sexual experiences and the politics of sex for straight Asian men. Don’t get a little bit of the truth, get the full package – http://bigasianpackage.wordpress.com.
I never thought a simple trip to the grocery store with my husband would give me one of the most embarrassing experiences I’ve ever had.
It happened while we were checking out of a grocery store in the US. My husband, as usual, started bagging our stuff while I pulled out my credit card to pay for everything. It was just another typical checkout experience – until the cashier, a white woman in her fifties, started chatting with me.
“Nice to have some help,” she said, referring to my husband who had already bagged everything and placed it neatly in our shopping cart.
“Yeah, he is pretty great.” I couldn’t help but smile with pride. Who doesn’t love it when her husband is the envy of others?
Or so I thought, until the cashier opened her mouth again.
“So, is he your foreign exchange student?”
That’s right – a casher in America actually mistook my own husband for some foreign exchange student I was hosting.
A flush of red mounted my face as I realized exactly what this meant. One, that she had noticed my thirty-something husband was a foreigner and thought he looked old enough to be an undergraduate in college or younger. And two, that she thought I looked too old to be his wife.
She might as well have pointed out every single wrinkle on my thirty-something face, because that’s exactly how embarrassed I felt.
I cleared my throat. “Actually, he’s my husband.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” The cashier seemed genuinely apologetic, right down to the way her own cheeks turned a self-conscious shade of scarlet.
But it was too late for that. She’d already put the idea out there. And let me tell you, I never hurried out of a checkout line faster than that moment.
Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Long before this ever happened, relatives and friends doted on John’s youthful appearance. In fact, it seemed like a month never went by in America without my dad saying, “John, you look like you’re still in high school!” They schooled me a reality that had remained hidden to me until I married an Asian man: the popular belief that Asians look younger than white people.
But until that moment in that checkout line, I was blissfully unaware that some Americans might actually think I was old enough to, say, be a guardian to a foreign exchange student. And might mistake my Asian husband for said student.
While dining in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, my 30-something year old husband (who, might I add, is two years older than me) heard the most magical words from a waitress when he tried to order a beer.
‘May I see your ID, please?’
Smiling from ear to ear, his dimples as defined as ever, like a kid in a candy store, he turned to me and asked me for his passport which I was holding for safe keeping in my bag.
He passed her his passport and she began to examine it. She looked at his passport photo, she looked at him, and then back at the photo. She continued by checking the edges, clearly thinking that it must have been a fake one.
Then, she said ‘Oh my God! You are in your 30’s!!’
Talk about inflating someone’s ego with one sentence!
Trying to salvage some dignity, even just a little, I casually asked the following question.
‘Would you like to see mine as well?’
And to add more salt to the wound, to drive the dagger further into my heart, she made the following reply:.
‘No, that’s fine! You’re OK.’
Oh, the humiliation! The embarrassment!
I’ll be honest – for the longest time, I swore I would never go public with this encounter in the grocery store. I wanted it to be like the diary I used to hide under my mattress in grade school, forever safe from scrutiny. Who wants to admit before the world that, in fact, people think she looks old?
Yet, the older I get, the more I realize the importance of accepting myself, warts and all. After all, aging is a reality for everyone. Maybe some of us are lucky enough to look younger (ahem, John), while others are not so lucky (ahem, me!). But in the end, we’re all headed in the same direction.
And honestly, who hasn’t seen the person with the dyed hair that’s obviously there to hide the gray and isn’t fooling anyone? Or someone like the late Joan Rivers, with so much plastic surgery and botox she doesn’t even look real anymore?
I cringe over the extremes we turn to just to hide our real age, when the treatment we really need is simple — accepting ourselves exactly as we are.
Besides, my husband still thinks I’m the sexiest woman in the world. He can’t keep his hands off me – wrinkles and stretch marks and hidden gray hairs and all. He loves me just as passionately as that night over 12 years ago when we first kissed beside the West Lake.
So what if he doesn’t “look” like he matches me in age to some folks? I know he’s my perfect match and that’s all I’ll ever need to know.
Have you ever had an experience where someone mistook you or your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse for a different age? How did it make you feel?
For those of you who missed it, here’s an excerpt from the article:
Sending out a little over twenty e-mails to a little over twenty attractive women, I received some painful yet truthful responses regarding the Asian male (anything) women cults. “It’s creepy. A bunch of Asian guys in a room, or any guys for that matter make me feel like an object rather than a person,” said one responder. Another said the following, “things like AMWF feel set up. I actually really like Asian guys, but the environment is awkward. I’d rather meet someone in person. Also, for the internet, I don’t do online dating or meet ups – period!” Finally, another responder who had previously attended an AMWF meet up wrote back, “I didn’t like most of the guys that were there because the only thing they cared about was getting laid, or getting a girlfriend. We shared no common interests, and that’s why I chose an Asian interest group instead like a learning Japanese MeetUp.com group.”³
As much as I champion interracial dating for Asian men, when I read this part of the article, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the women. It would feel incredibly creepy and uncomfortable to be in a situation where you’re surrounded by tons of men (some with only one thing on their minds), or where things feel awkward/set up.
While I know there are people out there who have met through these sites/groups, it’s hard to argue with the author’s conclusion: “If you’re an Asian guy looking for a girlfriend or something along the lines of a girlfriend, your best bet is to actively seek through a less obvious approach. AM anything creeps women out regardless of whether they like Asian men or not.”
On the other hand, if you’re looking for community, I don’t think AMWF is creepy at all.
Look, AMWF is certainly not the rarest interracial pairing out there (I’m sure that honor would go to Asian men and Black men). Still, we’re rare enough compared to the entire interracial dating world – enough to feel like you’re part of a lonely club. And when you realize you’re the “odd one out” and you start having these experiences your friends don’t always understand, it’s really valuable to have a community you can turn to. You know, people who understand what you’re going through – such as negative comments you’ve heard about dating Asian men or the heartbreaking discrimination your husband experiences in your home country.
I also know plenty of people who aren’t in a relationship, but visit AMWF websites just for inspiration and encouragement. For example, a close male friend of mine from China once told me he loves looking at the photos of couples and families on my Pinterest board. He dreams of finding a Western woman somewhere in the world to love and marry, and these photos offer him a possible vision of that future family he hopes to have.
The people I’ve met through the AMWF community – from bloggers to authors to the many people I’ve connected with (online and off) — have truly enriched my life. I’ve learned from them, connected with them and found common ground with them. They’ve helped me feel a little less lonely and even supported me. I can’t imagine a world without them.
What do you think about using AMWF site or meetup groups for dating? Is it a creepy scene or not? What do you see as the value of AMWF communities?
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