My heart melted at that first sight of his big sesame-oil brown eyes. He helped me buy a bicycle at the secondhand market and even gave me a ride there on the back of his black metal bike.
When I came down with the flu, he accompanied me to my therapy at the clinic and read to me from Chicken Soup for the Soul. He even watched The Bridges of Madison County with me — one of the weepiest chick flicks ever made — and actually shed a few tears when it ended. He was more of a gentleman toward me than any other man I had ever known. He was Chinese, a man named Tian who grew up in Zhengzhou. When I thought about my burgeoning crush for Tian, I figured it was no different from that college semester when I studied in Spain.
All the American girls I knew liked flirting with the local Spaniards, and why not? The experience of being in a foreign country and culture somehow liberated us from our usual American expectations for men and dating itself.
We could try new things. We could even reinvent ourselves and what it meant to be in love with someone. It seemed natural and normal to do the same in China.
Surely the other female foreign teachers at my college had secret crushes of their own. On the streets of Zhengzhou, China, the city where I first had a crush on a Chinese guy Or so I thought, until one day when I was sharing lunch with my colleagues.
As we stopped on the corner of a side street and watched the mostly-male populous pedaling past us through the intersection, she grimaced. How could these women just write off all Chinese men as undateable? The question haunted me as I pondered my crush on Tian. As I continued to date the locals in China and eventually married a fellow from Hangzhou, I would come to realize that most expat women in China agreed with my Zhengzhou colleagues. And sometimes, their dislike was just shocking.
A European woman I worked with in famously told me that, while she found all Chinese men completely repulsive, she considered Chinese children so adorable. My husband posing with our nephew. Back in , I discovered a post on a now-defunct blog authored by expats in Shanghai. While she leans her head on his in perfect contentment, he has his cheek buried in her bosom while staring at it with a prurient curiosity that surely would have snapped the girl out of her reverie.
How Hollywood Movies Hurt Asians] At the time I was only beginning to learn about negative stereotypes of Asian men that American TV, movies and the media had perpetuated over the years: Long Duk Dong took care of that. There was a brief time when I tried combing these forums in search of discussions about dating Chinese men, hoping to gain some insights, but I soon gave that up.
The worst of these threads generally devolved into a low-brow, expletive-laden conversation more appropriate for a bathroom stall. This Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences professor surveyed over Western women from diverse countries including France, Germany and the USA via questionnaires, and then interviewed over 20 of them in a focus group in Shanghai.
A Field Report from Hong Kong. A total of couples of Western men and Asian women versus only six couples of Asian men and Western women including him and his Brazilian wife. You could substitute Hong Kong with the name of any country or region in the world and end up with comparable results. Whenever expats discuss racism in China, we usually focus on Chinese people and their racist attitudes such as the experience of being black in China.
These are very critical discussions that we need and should continue to have. But what about the conversations about expats themselves and their own homegrown stereotypes and prejudices about Asians and Chinese people? When will we as expats begin to confront these, our very own baggage that we inadvertently pack along with us in our overseas journeys to the Middle Kingdom? Top 10 Ways To Deal With White People] More importantly, when we will learn that in any given country and culture, there exists a diversity of individuals and personalities?
And believe me, there is incredible diversity when you actually open your eyes and your heart to the possibility. I opened my eyes and my heart to the possibility of love in China, and found it with my husband, John. This fall marks 15 years since I first set foot in China.