Discounting Asian Men As Sexual Rivals

A reader sent a link to a small site apparently dedicated to advising Americans and other westerners on the ins and outs of traveling and living in China. In particular the reader was offended by an article called “Dates in China”.

Most of the article was devoted to the ease and success with which western men can date Chinese women. The romantic possibilities of that combination are presented in a way that brings to mind the attitudes that produced post-colonial fantasies like Madame Butterfly and The World of Suzie Wong.

That’s followed by a two-paragraph section that dismisses any romantic possibilities between western women and Chinese men:

The situation is a little different, if a Western woman wants to date one of China’s men. Chinese men are predominantly very small, it is not so much because Western women are so tall, no, Chinese men are just simply small. So when it comes to dating a Chinese man, the typical kiss scenario at the end of a date – provided that the Chinese man dares to kiss the Western woman in the first place- could end up with an embarrassed Chinese man and a weird feeling Western woman where nobody actually gets kissed at all in the end.

Whereas Western women are for the most part confident, Chinese men however can be amazingly shy and fearful of a strong personality. Therefore a lot of Western women will have problems finding a date in China and can regard themselves as lucky if they actually encounter a Chinese man who respects the woman, acknowledges her personality and presents a confident behaviour himself.

The tone and spelling in the article suggests it was authored by a Brit with a sketchy command of grammar and a limited exposure to the more cosmopolitan regions of China. Nevertheless, the excerpt is a wonderful encapsulation of the place to which some western minds would like to relegate Asian men even today. And not all are as unsophisticated as the blogger of that piece.

It’s been a half century since Asian men have killed off an era in which Asia represented to the Western imagination a place to be exploited for cheap labor and women, where westerners can enjoy unearned status simply by virtue of being from more economically developed societies. Yet the allure of that era clearly survives in the minds of some western men who, apparently, are willing to venture to the hinterlands or distort reality to replicate the colonial fantasy of untouchable superiority.

Even if the piece had been printed in some journal published 30 or 40 years ago, we would have found the passage to be a comically exaggerated and hostile caricature of relationships between Asian men and white women. Anyone who has seen real Asian men/white women couples in cities from Paris to Los Angeles to Hong Kong would question the author’s perspective, motive and/or experience. The vestiges of the colonial era remain a burden Asian men are still working to shed, but that hasn’t stopped us from being capable and successful with white women if they happen to be the objects of our romantic focus. Such pairings are now regularly seen from Senate confirmation hearings to university dorms.

But to return to the blog in question. Even if an extremely short Asian man had chosen to ask out an extremely tall white woman, it’s hard to imagine the kind of debacle the blogger suggests as the inevitable outcome. People simply don’t date people of whom they are in stupefied awe or “amazingly shy and fearful of”, regardless of race. If an Asian man chooses to take a white woman out on a date, you can be assured he feels on an approximately equal level with her — as would be the case with any man asking out any woman. How he chooses to present himself to her or whether he would consider it wise to kiss her on that date would be a matter of strategy of the kind that occurs on all dates. If a date turns out to be so awkward as to produce embarrassment and “weird” feelings on either side, it’s unlikely that a man of any race would pursue a kiss. It wouldn’t matter if the Asian man is as tall as Yao Ming or as short as Apollo Anton Ohno.

So why would a blogger want to paint such a dim picture of dates between Asian men and white women while painting a rosy picture of the opposite combination? That’s the real rub, not the silly piece itself. That article is like the scraped area where the snow of political correctness is too thin to mask the dirty intentions that, even today, lie beneath even far more sophisticated productions dismissing Asian men as sexual rivals. Yes, Hollywood is still as guilty of that impulse as any hick blogger, as any Asian American man can tell you.

That yearning for the good old days when Asians were easy pickings hasn’t yet died even with today’s rapidly changing reality. Many white men would rather not think about affluent Asian men encountering white women in less economically advanced areas of Europe, South America or even the United States or that many white women find Asian men attractive despite the century and a half of propaganda spread by insecure white males. If anything, that old yearning for the bliss of a colonial fantasy may even enjoy an Indian Summer before being buried for good under the weight of the Asian Millennium.

And the guys hoping to prolong the bad old days — even if only in their own minds — can be sure that their intentions are as crystal clear to Asian men today as they were back in the bad old days.