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
, I was never short of admirers and dates. Unfortunately, things have changed since I landed in Melbourne . 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. Shanghai
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
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. China
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
or London , but New York ? Come come; wholly impossible. Shanghai
White woman in
is invisible. Shanghai
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
, where the cuteness ratio is far above back home in the China . There, barely one woman in 20 merited a second glance (after my years in UK it would be one woman in 200). Here, it’s one woman in five. And this is particularly so in China , I have found -- go north to Shanghai , go south to Beijing 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
thing of confidence, of self-possession, of style that rather a lot of women lack. Shanghai
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
, 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. Shanghai
Of course one cannot truly say ‘
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. Shanghai
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
. 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 Shanghai guys. They too are immediately obvious, so different a species are they from too-common bland and pasty mainland guy.) Taiwan
Deedee was pure
, 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. Shanghai
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
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 – some Yahoo slob of a driver will blast his horn, nonstop, 30, 40, seconds. No thought, no consideration, just ire, impatience, selfishness. Shanghai