Saturday, June 03, 2006

White woman and Chinese woman

Shanghai Talk, a mostly-mediocre expat magazine, has a column which deals with ‘The ins and outs of sex, love and commitment (or lack thereof) in the Middle Kingdom.’

There’s fresh writing for you.


I’m smart, attractive, funny, great to hang out with, and I’ve got a pretty good job to boot. In other words I’m as eligible a girl as there can be. Well, that’s what my friends say and that’s what I used to believe. Back in my hometown Melbourne, I was never short of admirers and dates. Unfortunately, things have changed since I landed in Shanghai. No member of the male species has approached me for a date in the five months I’ve been here…. It seems single expat guys are all loco for local girls! My self-esteem has definitely take a beating – I feel about as sexy as a plate of chopped liver…laced with century eggs, no less. Being rather new here, my security-blanket-cum-adopted-family comprises a small and tightly-knit group of five fellow SWF colleagues in their 30s. They’re perfect company for spa, shopping, drink and dinner expeditions as well as bitching and moaning about our datelessness. I’m not the type to hang out in a bar hoping to get picked up because that’s so sleazy. So, how do I go about meeting interesting men? I’m almost pushing 30 and would like to settle down soon.

Now of course this ‘problem’ has been written by the Shanghai Talk staff; it’s got the same stale style as the rest of the magazine, that same clichéd and banal journalese.

That’s the mark of most writing here, derivative and unimaginative. Calling China the middle kingdom, rinky-dink verbiage such as ‘good job to boot,’ breathless twaddle of ‘as eligible a girl as there can be’ and limp alliteration (‘loco for locals.’) Being a journalist, to judge by most of the writing that’s on show here, consists of trying to sound as much like every other writer as possible – it’s all about journalese (and sub-par journalese at that) rather than individuality. There are one or two good writers in the city – a chap called Crawford Tan for example – but they’re rare.

Tracy Lee-Elrick, the columnist (and I am surprised they do not call her ‘Our fair columnist’ or mention her ‘Wit and wisdom’) paddles out some wholly useless tripe, about how ‘The Bacheloretta’ must go to the gym, Mandarin lessons and the like, but not jazz or painting classes since few guys go there and those that do are usually gay (fair shout, mind, to which she could have added dance class.)

Now that might work in London or New York, but Shanghai? Come come; wholly impossible.

White woman in Shanghai is invisible.

And white woman who’s looking for a husband! Should guys like me even notice such a woman, our reaction would be one of scorn, pity or amusement. Most likely the latter, as later we guffawed with our friends over the very idea of a relationship with a white woman.

Why ever would we want a woman from our own culture? Of course we want local women, of course we do.

It’s not just the fact Chinese woman is slender, slinky and easy, though all that is powerful. It’s not the fact that as Chinese woman grows older she still looks good (though nonetheless we will, if not too tightly married, still change her for a younger model), whereas white woman’s hips spread, tits sag, and skin sinks: it is not just that.

And it is not at all (for me, at least) to do with subservience, pliancy. I hear it said that many white guys want a woman who will cook and clean for them. Not me: I find that attitude rather offensive. That is not something I look for in a woman.

It is -- perhaps most importantly – the fact that Chinese woman is not from our culture and does not, in general, understand all the nuances and subtleties of our language and our behavior.

Now, sure, true love, two hearts beating as one, perfect understanding, total communication and all that stuff. Fuck that; that is not what guys want. This is pure horror to us; we most emphatically do not want a woman sharing every aspect of our lives, seeing into us, knowing us.

Dating someone from another culture gives us a safety zone, a barrier, so that we can keep our lives, our sense of self, our secrecies. Chinese woman will never be able to read us like white woman, and that is why we want her.

Now this is not purely cynical; for, yes, we can love Chinese woman, honor her and commit to her and even (some of us, at least) be faithful to her. But we still have that buffer, that exclusion zone of secrecy where she cannot enter. No matter how married we may be, how deeply we may love Chinese woman, we are still more single and more ourselves that we would be with white woman. And this is why white woman remains invisible to us. Why would we want her, with her big body and her perfect ability to see what we really are? And so our reasons for chasing Chinese woman have some depth to them.

No, fuck all that, it is just sex. Chinese woman is hotter and hornier that white woman. That’s all.

Case in point: Deedee. Oh, Deedee, the hottest woman I saw in all my years here.

Now hopeless whore as I am, I do even so generally try to keep some sense of decorum in class, and do not hit on students. If I am much taken by one I might say, at the end of the final class, after I have written my email on the board for all to use, ‘Keep in touch’; but that is generally as far as it goes. But Deedee, Deedee so totally captivated me that I ran down the street after her to give her my name card and urged her to keep in touch.

Attractive women are not at all rare in China, where the cuteness ratio is far above back home in the UK. There, barely one woman in 20 merited a second glance (after my years in China it would be one woman in 200). Here, it’s one woman in five. And this is particularly so in Shanghai, I have found -- go north to Beijing, go south to Shenzhen, and while there are still attractive women, they are not in such abundance as here.

But few were so outrageously, punch-in-the-face sexy as Deedee. Part of it was just attitude – she had that Shanghai thing of confidence, of self-possession, of style that rather a lot of women lack.

I do believe passion and individuality lies within most women in this country. But the men prefer them to hide it and so, in general, they do.

But not in Shanghai, where women are the dominant sex. Shanghai Guy is a decent enough sort, but rather bland, timid; and usually he does the cooking and cleaning too. Shanghai Woman wears the trousers.

Of course one cannot truly say ‘Shanghai men are like this’ or ‘Chinese women are like that.’ One can’t even sum up ten people in such a sentence, and so using it for a city or nation is generally lazy and inaccurate.

The character of any society is not visible in its individuals. It is spread through them, like color in water. A vial of water, seen close up, is only faintly tinted - even clear; but a bucket of water is colored deep and vivid. And so this person has one hint of the group character, and that person another, but each one their individuality. Singly they are indeed individuals; as a group they have their own characteristics too.

The character of Shanghai Woman is not, in fact, restricted to Shanghai. This kind of woman is confident, bold, wants to stand out, be fashionable, sassy; is interested in her looks, in fashion, in all the whizzes and bangs of modern life. Echoes of this kind of woman can be found in most any city, but in her purest form she is only found here in Shanghai; hence she is called ‘Shanghai Woman.’ And indeed I have found time and again that I can spot the Shanghai girls in class – sure, I am not always right, but eight times out of ten I am. (It is the same with the Taiwan guys. They too are immediately obvious, so different a species are they from too-common bland and pasty mainland guy.)

Deedee was pure Shanghai, from her cute beret to her sexy white leather boots, from the casual way she walked into class to the slight air of bashful shyness she combined it with. I was utterly fascinated; she was a bright splash of color that made the rest of the room fade to sepia. Frankly I just wanted to lick her bootprints from the floor, she was so captivating. But I tried my hardest to drag my gaze from her, and worked my way round the room talking to each pupil.

One of the great advantages of teaching languages is that the whole getting-to-know you routine is required. This makes it ideal for a wolvish chap like me – it’s a way of hitting on a woman without quite seeming to hit on her. I can get to know something about her, then ask her questions to get some idea of her world view, then discuss it some to see what kind of mind she’s got; for intelligence is the sexiest attribute of all.

The group that Deedee had sat with was as the back of the class (even that charmed me, her choice to sit at the back with the naughty pupils and not at the front with the goody-goodies), so I talked to her lot last, trying not to drool and slaver too obviously as I did so.

So I found out a little about her. She’d seemed pretty young to me, maybe 18 or 19, but I was glad to find out she was in fact a final year undergraduate.

I should say that this is not at all a sign of any hint of respectability in me. I would not hesitate to chase an 18 or 19 year old (and indeed I did so – Simone, who I will get to anatomizing later, was 19 when I first took her to bed (though 20 about a month after)). But with an 18 or 19 year old, there is not much more to do than sex; beyond sex there is so little in common between me and someone about half my age that there is nothing to do or say.

As I write, once again it is to the sound of horns blaring in the background. Fucking fucking fucking Shanghai drivers… They really are cretins, are animals. This is how it goes; a single horn will sound.. will sound again… then another joins it.. and another… and more.. until a crescendo of horns blares, blares, blares, disturbing everyone within a dozen blocks, the anger palpable behind the angry fingers jabbing the dashboard. They’re like a flock of angry geese, all copying each other, all the same thoughtless, ignorant reaction. Shanghai driver hear, Shanghai drive do. The vehicle causing the blockage will move and the chorus of anger will subside – to rise up again a few minutes later at some other trivial pause in the traffic flow as more of these pig drivers think only of their own needs and nothing of all those around them they disturb; these damn fools who seem to think that blasting, blaring, shoving their horns will have some effect. I can feel it, touch it, the coiled, pulsating anger on the road, the impatience, the selfishness. If these guys (it is always guys, never women) had guns, what carnage there would be! Day or night they do it – 3 a.m. some Yahoo slob of a driver will blast his horn, nonstop, 30, 40, seconds. No thought, no consideration, just ire, impatience, selfishness.

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Anonymous said...

A lot of my friends in America have Yellow Fever, too. The advantages of asians are as you say. On the downside, some can be much more needy than white women. Presents, expecting to be driven around, etc.

I personally date around 50/50 white and asian. Your blog reminds me of when I was in China for a month... I could have slept with four or five different Chinese nvren, some of which hit on me blatantly. One told me, for example, "I learned my French and German from sleeping with a lot of them. I'm currently working on my English." And, I should mention, her English was outstanding...

But I think it happens anywhere you travel abroad. I had women literally falling into my lap when I was in Europe for a month as well. You get a +4 bonus to your score for being a foreigner, I think.

Vida said...

Some Chinese women can see you through...


peter said...

my god what a steaming pile of horse excrement is that 'etiquette'? it's precisely the lack of it that defines modern mainland china. it's always people trying to rescue their ludicrously unrealistic preconception of what china should be that talk of chinese 'culture' and 'etiquette.' wake up and gag on the truth!

chinabounder, your description of drivers in shanghai (in both this post and one of the ones above) is exactly what really needs to be said of chinese etiquette. from my many years of experience in mainland china, i got to thinking this was an issue arising from asian societies - huge populations crammed into small spaces with little opportunity to stand out from the crowd, so that standing out from the crowd becomes the only thing worth doing. but after moving to live in other parts of asia, i have come to understand that this is a peculiarly chinese characteristic. "etiquette with chinese characteristics"! now there's a bullshit phrase used accurately!

p.s. i'm putting my name to my comments from now on because (a) i'm not going to be a prude and hide the fact that i read this blog and (b) no-one except chinabounder has a good reason to be anonymous. so let's start putting our names up there...

Anonymous said...

A very colonialist attitude you seem to have, your negativity towards your own women is quite disturbing, because you seemed to be lured into the 'other' on a need to conquer and exert dominance, much like the fucked white british men during the time of slavery
and i speak as an asia, so no 'jealousy' at asian women there.

they may as well call u william fucking wilberforce - claiming to free the enslaved when reality (and not a pathetically eurocentric reality) indicates he worked against it,

seriously. what a neo-colonialist.

Karibdis said...

Peter, I think it is partly a characteristic of dense population, but also tradition communal social structures, communism/marxism resulting in lack of private space, and the difficulty of implementing rule of law to influence such issues in a country as large as china. Many places in asia seem to have dealt with etiquette problems using very harsh laws - singapore/hk - against jay walking, spitting, gum, public urination etc.etc, and Im sure you are familiar the value of the law in China... Plus, one must think of how distant the average chinese peasant is from the "civilising" sphere of urbanisation until he decides to pitch up in an east coast city to work in near segregation from the local population.....

I was wondering if it was just me who was fucked-off by/noticed those 'horn build ups' - the most infuriating thing is that, as pointed out, they nearly always occur for no reason other than impatience: some van driver is doing a 3 point turn(or maybe thats 5 point turn in sh?), and the queuing cars go absolutely fucking mental, seemly copying each other.

On the subject of driving, in beijing there seems such a tendency to drive sluggishly (and dangerously), one might think it common practice to nail 10 GTs and a load of valium before you get behind the wheel.

Anonymous: charges of neo-colonialism will be difficult to argue on a china blog, especially when "Why would we want her, with her ... perfect ability to see what we really are?" explains it much better.

Anonymous said...

Neo very interesting, old bean.

Except we dont care.

Just here to have fun, maybe even find a hot wife.

Nothing wrong with that, no matter you how to western-rationalise it with psycho-babble.

Anonymous said...

I am a Chinese guy who really White girls. I am sorry to hear your story. You are not being approached by Chinese guys because:

1. Chinese guy are afraid of White girls because all the FUCKING sterotypes and destoryed Chinese men's confidence in White girls. But I dont. I will date you if I see you. SO do yourself a favor. Learn some Chinese, and go to a bar or Party where only Chinese guys are present, you will get date. Look I have the same trouble when I was in the US. I use to hang out with only Chinese and that got me no where.

2. Chinese guys think White girls are rich and they are afraid that they can not afford you. lol. But you can stll work it out, just date the Chinese guy you like, and then work it out. There are lots of Hot Chinese guys in ShangHi.

3. There are bad "Reputations" about White girls, many Asian girls are afraid of us CHinese guys dating you White girls so they made up all sort of BULLSHIT about you ladies such as: 1. whoring around, 2. eady for sex, 3.not loyal blah blah blah.

But hey dont worry, there are lots of Chinese guy including me who love White girls. Dont give up and dont be shy arout us, please you approach us and you will be amaze at how many good Chinese boyfriends you can have.

slarsu said...

to anonymous above. Can you please lengthen your attention span next time?

Chinabound I'm totally confused.
so on one hand you respect women because you don't regard them as cooking utensils.
On the other hand you "respect" them by regarding them as mere sexual objects, the newer the better?