Friday, December 07, 2007

So, China Dirt #2

And China makes it easy for us to lounge through existence, to sink like sediment through the day. It is the difference between Chinese and Western women that allows guys like me, guys in general, to live in the way that gives Chinadirt so much contempt to pour on us.

Chinese women have a very different tradition to follow than Western women. Personal freedom has always been denied to Chinese women by their country’s culture. Even today, for all its patina of modernization, the personal life of Chinese women is still controlled – cabined, cribbed and confined.

Mona, for example, a fantastic former lover, bold and imaginative – Mona represents the best of modern Chinese woman (not that I in any way wish to prescribe what a woman ‘should’ be). But even Mona, smart, confident, determined, funny, even Mona is controlled by the wider patterns of society. Her mother was staying with her for a few weeks, and while Mona was at work, the mother would go through every inch of her flat, her drawers, cupboards, wardrobe. And not at all covertly – to her, it was simply a mother’s right to do this. Mona, being quite up to the minute, has several mobile phones, and one of these she left at home. Her mother read all the messages on it and found one from a lover saying something along the lines of ‘You were great in bed the other night.’ This lover was a Chinese guy, and his message was thus in Chinese, meaning Mona’s mother understood it, as would not have been the case was it from her Western lover.

Mona’s mother was horrified by this, and when Mona came home asked, incredulous, “You are not a virgin any more?” Mona concocted some tale about this being a message she was relaying for a friend. Her mother, Mona told me, did not really believe it.

I suggested Mona could have just told the truth, and said this was how her life was, and she was nothing different in it. But she told me her mother would not have been able to handle that. And indeed she said ‘Already she’s said she wants to die, she’s said “The only reason I’ll stay alive is because of your grandparents”’ – What awful parental blackmail! How little the parents understand their children, and how much they want to control them.

Now of course Chinese women today have far more freedom than even a few years ago, and Mona does indeed live a relatively free life. But even so, she still lives that life within strict confines. She cannot show the reality of it to her mother, and her freedom is thus only a limited, carefully defined level of freedom. Nor can she show the reality of it to most Chinese guys. She, like many of my women friends, has told me several times that too many Chinese guys simply cannot handle the reality of the life today’s Chinese women often live, or at least want to live.

And this is why she is leaving. She wants out. She’s been driven away by the bullshit this culture imposes on her, by its petty restrictions, by its inability to take her for what she is rather than what it would have her be. She’s got her residence visa to another country, going to that freer country like so many of China’s smartest and brightest, going to be more than she can ever be here. Going against the wishes of her parents, who would have her settle down and produce them a grandchild, going against the advice of her boss that she should stay in her easy, undemanding job. Going, and will not come back.

It is this background that is the walls and bars to the cage a Chinese woman dates in. When she dates a Chinese guy, she is usually in that cell, hemmed in by the strictures of a culture that she knows well. Must play the virgin. Must be bashful in bed. Must have no desires but what her man wants.

But a Western guy is outside that culture; and so when she dates him she is free of the imposed attitude of Chinese culture. Dating a Western guy, she has no framework in which to orient herself. Dating becomes a chance for a different level of personal freedom for her, and (too often) an avenue of exploitation for him

Now Western culture gives women far more freedom to dictate their dating lives than Chinese culture does, which is why Western women won’t put up with such bullshit from Western men. This is unarguably a good thing, and if Chinese culture allowed more of this freedom for its women – if China’s women would fight for it -- then their life would not be quite so overwhelmingly shit as it is now.

But no matter how right or just, when guys like me can escape from those expectations of Western women, we don’t look back. Out here we embrace our nature. Yes; it is oafish, crude, and after many centuries of struggle in the West when women have at last gained some measure of respect (though not much) it is profoundly depressing. But this is who men are. Hence China’s concubine system, for example. Men want to fuck around.

The kind of thing we’re escaping from is clear on Chinadirt:-

To the FHMs [Finding himself man] out there I say:

FIND some maturity by getting a real job. And no, filing one story a week to an unnamed newspaper back home, occasional modeling as the token white boy in some baijiu billboard, and “tutoring” Chinese college girls does not count!

FIND some decency by appreciating your girlfriend-the one who cooked for you after 10 hour workdays, ironed and laid out clothes for you when you had interviews, who puts up with your equally immature friends and pretends not to be lonely when you leave her four times a week to go find yourself on Sanlitun.

FIND some courage to tell your girlfriend the TRUTH about the other woman you’ve been seeing so that your girlfriend doesn’t have to hear about it from other sources and suffer a near anxiety attack in the middle of a dinner party being thrown by her boss.

If you were a real man, you’d FIND a doorway out of this little box of selfishness and oblivion in which you live. You’d FIND a way to recognize that living like a nomad does not make you deep, only pathetic. You’d FIND out that responsibility and commitments aren’t evil constraints but realities of life. You’d FIND that you can’t live like a teenager forever!

Well, what a list of demands, Dame Partlet the hen! And you expect us to stick around for all that? That we will listen to your shouty capitals, your martinet demands, when we could be in the arms of a pliant Chinese woman? Come, come. ‘If you are a real man’ – now there are words to send us right out the door.

And so what is the answer? Perhaps there is none, and nor are the writers of Chinadirt looking for any. They certainly don’t want to hear any advice from us expat guys – though I’m sure most of the email they’ll be receiving from ‘my’ community will be the offensive misogynist bullshit we do so well. No, the point of the site is just to expose what swines we expats can be, and that’s a fine thing to be doing. Seems to me (spite of my comments above) the women writing it know pretty well what they’re about. Long may they shout and punch and scorn. Power upon power to you -- You are right, my dears, all your voices are right. We are the inconstant ones.