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Contributing factors to dating violence
When I’m in China, I tend to turn a lot of heads, especially in the countryside — and that’s not just because I’m a foreigner.It’s because I’m often seen holding hands with my Chinese husband.It’s true — the sight of a foreign woman and Chinese boyfriend or Chinese husband is much rarer than its counterpart, the foreign man and Chinese woman.
It’s easy to gauge this reality on the website Candle for Love (CFL), devoted to helping US Americans bring their loved ones over from China.
CFL is like a tidal wave of American men in love with Chinese women, with only a rare American woman/Chinese husband surfacing to break the monotony. Several years ago, when my husband enrolled in a New Oriental class in Shanghai for GRE prep, the instructor warned all of the Chinese men: “If you’re going to study abroad, prepare for four lonely years.” The underlying message was, don’t expect to fall in love — but be pleasantly surprised if it happens.
There are hardly enough books depicting foreign women with Chinese boyfriends or husbands. When you have a Chinese husband or boyfriend, sometimes you feel as if you belong to a lonely club. One of my dearest e-mail friends, a woman from Germany, once found me on the net because she had a — then — Chinese boyfriend and yearned to find someone to share her experience with.
Off the top of my head, I can think of Rachel De Woskin’s Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China and Repeat After Me: A Novel, Nicole Mones’ Lost in Translation, and Pearl S. So I began to wonder — why are there so few Chinese guys and foreign girls becoming couples?
Of course, some of it has its roots in the usual stereotypes — stereotypes in the Western World.
Contributing factors to dating violence
According to Sheridan Prasso’s book, The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient, Asian men in general have long been losers in the world of mainstream American media: If there are some admirable aspects of the portrayals of Asian women in Hollywood and on TV, it’s hard to say the same of the portrayals of Asian men.Rarely have they been depicted with traditionally masculine traits.With a few exceptions, Asian men on screen have been small, sneaky and threatening — or spineless, emasculated wimps, or incompetents who may well be technically proficient in martial arts, but impotent when faced with white man’s superior strength or firepower. Even today, Asian American men complain that action heroes such as Chow Yun Fat and Jackie Chan rarely get the girl.As Leong, the author and UCLA professor put it: “Asian men can kick butt, but they can’t have a kiss.” It gets a little more personal in blogs, such as posts titled Us Bitter, Bitter Asian Men or Sucks to be an Asian male. I’ve had Chinese guys refuse me because they felt, as a traditional man, they could never see themselves married to a foreign girl.However, the subtext is often that foreign women are a dangerous choice — too casual, the temptress, etc — or could not accept a Chinese way of life.Generally, the pressure to split up comes from the family since, after all, in China, marriage is a family affair.There was one Chinese boyfriend who told me, flat out, that his parents would never accept me.I don’t doubt he loved me in the beginning — but once his family knew, I suspect they made it clear that there was no future in what we had.Even my own husband was first told by his parents that he could be friends with a foreign girl, but not date her.Fortunately, their ideas changed when they met me in person!On the other hand, there are Chinese men — and their families — who would be happy to have a foreign woman in the family. For example, my good friend in Hangzhou, Xiao Yu, once told me that some Chinese men cannot overcome their feeling of inferiority — that being an American girl, a citizen of one of the most powerful countries in the world, made my presence somewhat intimidating.