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February 08, 2006

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mythago

Why not just ask him? If you'd rather not, then just post the link.

Catty got it the first time, I think. The guys who buy into the 'cherry blossom' thing are bound for disillusionment when they realize a couple of things: it's racist and stupid to assume that Asian ancestry prevents an American upbringing, and the "traditional" model is not all about the woman serving the man. The flip side of the submissive, traditional female is that she gets a man who is expected to do the heavy lifting as far as providing material goods and protection. Then those guys throw a tantrum about "users". They simply can't grasp the notion that a woman would work to please her man for reasons other than the joys of phallus-worship.

(Please note that by those guys, I am not referring to "any man who finds Asian women attractive", only those who are convinced that Asian women are preferable because they are slightly more complicated versions of a RealDoll.)

As to black woman/white man pairings, I've heard it plausibly theorized that part of the reason is the economic disparity--both the race and gender gap are at play, whereas with white woman/black man pairings, there's a smaller gap. It's certainly not the only factor, obviously.

Antigone

I need to go wash in bleach now.

Ick, it bothers me how many people hate me without even knowing me. Just because I"m female and a feminist. It shouldn't, seeing as I wouldn't associate with this person if he were the last person on earth, but it does.

"Nice" guy my ass. Nice people are nice because it's the right thing, not because they expect to get anything out of it.

Mr. Bad

Hugo said: "At the heart of that suspicion, I've come to realize, is that I worry that some American men are seeking out foreign women (not just from East Asia) because they are too intimidated by American women (of any ethnic group.)"

Oh please, not another missive riffing on the same, tired old canard regarding how some American men are are "intimidated by," 'threatened by,' etc., 'strong, powerful, dynamic, self-assured,' blah blah blah American women. Geez, if I had a buck for every time I heard this drivel I'd be rich.

Folks, those guys aren't "intimidated by" or otherwise put off by self-assured American women, feminist or otherwise. If you bother to actually ask them, they'll tell you that they like strong women who have sincere opinions, respectable intellect, can carry on an interesting conversation, etc. What they are put off by is ordinary women who are arrogant, self-righteous, narcissistic jerks because they think they're hot shit, most likely because they've been told all their lives how 'special,' 'talented,' 'dynamic,' super-intelligent, etc., they are. Whether or not it's even true.

What I suspect is going on here is that Asian women haven't been told all of their lives that they're extra special the way American women are, so the result is that they actually have a bit humility and aren't puffed-up with self-importance the way American women tend to be. Thus, Asian women are often more genuinely likeable than their American sisters. At least that's what the men I talk to who advocate dating non-American women tell me. YMMV.

evil_fizz

Well, that's one way to sugar coat misogyny and racism. "It's not that Asian women are submissive, it's that they're not arrogant bitches!" I'm really not sure how trading one crass set of assumptions about an entire racial group for another set of crass assumptions is an improvement.

badteeth

As a white guy attracted to asian women, let me assure you that there supposed submissiveness is not the root cause of that attraction. For me, its just pure unadulterated physical appearance. That's it. I like their hair and skin. Now of course there are variations and some asian girls are more attractive than others, I'm more partial to the asian girl on "Battlestar Gallactica" than the one on "Gross Anatomy". But in general the straight black hair will turn my head every time.

But I would guess that exoticness does have something to do with it, in that they don't look like the Irish, Italian and Jewish girls that I grew up with in my neighborhood. Even though, I've since moved out of the hood and had plenty of time to get over it, the exotic thing apparently still stuck in my head.

I do wonder, Hugo, what you find objectionable about considering exoticness attractive. I mean when you're dealing with what different people find physically attractive, isn't it so individualistic that its pretty pointless to argue about it?

Heather

Oh I am so glad to hear someone saying this because I've thought the same thing...that white men who date asian women date them because the men think the women are submissive. It's an insult to white women AND asian women.

I've been curious about the previews to "Memoirs of a Geisha." I read the book and thought "thank god I'm an American" because the geisha's life seems so limited, I felt sorry for the wives of the men hanging out with the geishas - I mean, it doesn't make the life of Japanese women seem too great and my experience with Japanese (not Japanese - American) students in the colleges is that they are stuck in the notion that they must remain like little girls as adults. The previews to the movie seem to make the geisha's life appear, if not glamorous, then beautiful and that she gets saved in the end by luv but if that's the case, ick.

As for Mr. Bad's description of "ordinary women who are arrogant, self-righteous, narcissistic jerks because they think they're hot shit, most likely because they've been told all their lives how 'special,' 'talented,' 'dynamic,' super-intelligent, etc., they are. Whether or not it's even true." I'm at a loss. I don't know any women like that personally. Nor do I know any parents or institutions that are giving that message to girls. I certainly haven't gotten that message.

Hugo

Badteeth, let me quickly clarify: I mean "exotic" not as you use it, in the sense of unusual or striking or unfamiliar, but in the cultural sense of "different and therefore less likely to insist on being treated according to my own cultural norms".

Mr. Bad

evil fizz, the guys that actually date Asian girls say this, so it isn't a matter of stereotypes - it's based entirely on experience. As I said, YMMV.

That said, I love how folks like you trot out the lame, threadbare "misogyny" and "racist" pejoratives every time someone tells an uncomfortable truth that you disagree with. It's quite predictable, and in many respects almost Pavlovian.

evil_fizz

And yet you've still generalized to make sweeping (and pejorative) statements about huge groups of people. I've known blacks who were criminals and Jews who were obsessed with money. I don't think you'd argue that I'm right to call blacks criminals and Jews tight-fisted and greedy, even if that is my experience. Hence, I stand by my claim that it's still racist and sexist.

Catty

As a Japanese- American woman, I have an issue with the Memoirs of a Geisha- first of all, because it's grossly inaccurate. I hate how many in the "West" considers the book to be some kind of authority on geisha life, because it is not at all.

Also, many people's ideals of "asian women" are very grossly racist and stereotypical, just as many people love to paint American women with a broad brush. Having lived in both cultures, I think both cultures have patriarchy, just in very different ways. I resent the notion that Asian women are any more or submissive than some American women, because I know that to be untrue.

"What I suspect is going on here is that Asian women haven't been told all of their lives that they're extra special the way American women are, so the result is that they actually have a bit humility and aren't puffed-up with self-importance the way American women tend to be."

Not true. Girls are very much adored in Japanese culture. Many women profess desire to have girls, and adore their daughters. There is going to be rotten apples in every bunch, both male and female. I also know many men that are arrogant and lacking humility. In fact, I've probably come across more bastards than genuine, considerate men. However, I still make it a point to not prejudge every American male I come across.

I know many Japanese/american couples. Most of the Japanese women are not Japanese americans, but native Japanese. One of the biggest reasons for divorce is financial- the submissiveness that men see is cultural politeness- we're a very polite society in some ways. Both men and women adhere to a certain set of behaviors in public. However, it is customary for the woman to contol all the finances in a Japanese household. The men get allowances, the women spend as they please as long as the bills get paid. There's a reason Japan is a mecca of designer brands. Some men are often forced to go to great lengths... like hiding their bonus- so that they have more spending money. There are exceptions, but this is the norm. I've found it hilarious that men think they have an exotic, submissive cherry blossom and then they come to realize that it's not quite so. I know one American man that will only date impoverished filipinas and thai women. He thinks middle class and rich women of any race are worthless.

Arwen

I worked in a coffee shop and had a good younger friend, H., who was probably ADHD: he was funny, be friendly, and genuinely wanted to be friends with everyone.

He started dating Asian women pretty much exclusively one year. He'd come in and order (for them) the most expensive mocha latte on the menu. One of the women, N., would whisper (Co-hee) to me - and I'd get it for her. Much to H's chagrin. I offered him the option of paying more for her plain coffee if he wanted to...
Anyway, H. thought he had to buy the biggest and best. After N. had enough english to explain lactose intolerance to H., he understood that his insistence on the mocha was causing his girlfriend all sorts of bowel issues. He was heartbroken - as I said, he was a good guy overall.

I had a conversation about the white boy/Asian girl thing with H. once. I asked him why he'd date a girl like N. if he didn't even have the tools to understand her. He trotted out the submissive Asian girl idea; but I probed farther because H. isn't a megolomaniac.
H's issue was that he felt diminished by his personality (as I said, I think ADHD). He wanted to be generous and giving to his girlfriends - to "take care of them" really well. He told me that he'd ask me for a date except I obviously would do it "all better than him".

This was a really good guy who wanted to be a good partner, but he only had one model.

It was hard for him to understand that when I dated, I was just looking for a companion: someone to laugh with, to go hiking with, to talk to and snuggle with (etc.) He didn't believe me. Even though that's the relationship I was in. He knew I'd be louder at not taking coffees which gave me indigestion, but he saw that as *him failing his role* with me, rather than me needing to knuckle under to him. I was just too "complex" for him to understand. True, if he wasn't going to listen. Anyway, I could be his friend, and he liked that.

Some folks like H. have a hard time understanding that when someone says the ideals aren't important to them, they *actually mean it*. For some guys like H., the thing isn't angry misogyny, so much as a personal entrenchment of the roles they feel they should be in. The fact that those roles are patriarchal and often come from misogyny societally doesn't actually create misogyny in friends like H. - he'd happily says that most everybody "gets" it better than him, but that doesn't let him off the hook for providing for a partner.

All of which to say; there are some misogynist assholes who are really assholes, and there are some who maybe just can't understand they're being LET OFF THE HOOK.

( Mr. Bad: I understand you see misogyny and racism as threadbare complaints, but meet the people with whom you're conversing half way. You may feel that evil fizz is incorrect, but the truth is that these are well considered, well felt opinions, not just knee jerk, ravening, foaming responses.)

Ilkka Kokkarinen

Ah, the good old progressive double standard: white men are allowed to have sex with and marry only white women, because for them having sex or marrying a non-white woman is an act of oppression, whereas white women are free to choose their partners from all cultures and ethnicities, since for them having sex or marrying a non-white man is an act of liberation.

I was reminded of my days as an undergrad at Berkeley. Cal in the 1980s had a substantial Asian student body, and white male/Asian female relationships were ubiquitous. What was noticeable, of course, was that white female/Asian male relationships were far, far less common -- so rare that folks on world-weary Telegraph Avenue would actually turn around and stare when they saw such a couple. Of course, this disparity was the subject of endless conversation and debate.

Careful there. I believe the author of the article "Is Love Colorblind?" got a lot of heat for noticing that particular disparity.

I remember the rage of my Japanese-American roommate my sophomore year. He had a twin sister with whom he was reasonably close, so I saw quite a bit of them together. His sister had a series of white boyfriends, which her brother didn't mind. What he did mind was that he -- and many of his Asian male friends -- were victims of a double standard. "You white guys all think my sister is so exotic and sexy", he complained, "But very few white girls think Asian men are hot. We are always seen as asexual nerds, while our sisters are these incredibly desirable geishas."

As the leftists should know, people tend to get angry when they feel that they are unfairly discriminated against because of their ethnicity. Of course, it is always easier to cast the mote out of your brother's eye than it is to cast the beam out of your own eye. So I don't expect much "affirmative action" to arise here among the American women, since at least based on this situation, they seem to be more racist and superficial than American men.

Mr. Bad

Ok, so what we seem to have here is a battle of the anecdotes.

However, re. the experiences that the men that I've discussed the Asian vs. American girl phenomenon with are concerned, I'd like you to ponder this: Is the experience of American military women who are compelled to live under Shari'a (sp?) law while deployed in Saudi Arabia valid experience, or is it just their racism and sexism that drives their perception of the men there? Surely not all Saudi men subcribe to Shari'a - there certainly are at least some decent Saudi men.

Catty

"I've been curious about the previews to "Memoirs of a Geisha." I read the book and thought "thank god I'm an American" because the geisha's life seems so limited, I felt sorry for the wives of the men hanging out with the geishas - I mean, it doesn't make the life of Japanese women seem too great and my experience with Japanese (not Japanese - American) students in the colleges is that they are stuck in the notion that they must remain like little girls as adults."

I actually take issues with the statement, because a Geisha does not define Japanese women. They are a very small section of the Japanese women's existence. That's ludicrous- it's like saying american, female ballerinas define american women. Being a Geisha is a job and a dedication to the arts. A job does not completely define a person, and it's also very inaccurate to point to a very small, specific part of the population to define a whole nationality of women. Also, it's only an extremely small population of men that can afford to hang out with Geishas, so you're also talking about a very small sector of the Japanese men. In fact, Japanese women can now go into tea houses and enjoy a Geisha's company, without men. I've gone with my mom and also with my father on several different occasions, and I found the experience intriguing. I find issues with both Japanese culture and Western culture, and I do find it quite offensive when my Western feminists take the assumption that Western society is absolutely superior compared to non-Western socieites, because I, for one, consider that to be somewhat racist in nature, and also an arrogant way to approach any issue. I've seen some shocked responses from some feminists are completely speechless when I refuse to denounce my culture in its entirety.

As for acting like little girls, again, I think that's a misunderstand and looking at something through the filters of one's own culture rather than an attempt at honestly understand a different culture. I don't think the "cute" factor is a Japanese thing. Seriously, the beanie baby obsession was fueled by adult women as much as young girls. I know many adult American women that are obsessed with cute things.

The issue generally is that people only see different cultures through the filter of their own culture- and often refuse or cannot see the foreign culture within the proper cultural context.

One more thing to note- homosexuality is more accepted in Japanese culture. It's incredibly rare to see gay-bashing hate crimes in Japan.

Catty

Mr Bad and Ilka, FYI I've dated within and outside of my race. I have no issues regarding interracial relationships of any combination. In fact, not all arab men are bad- my ex was an Saudi Arabian man that was quite supportive of feminism, and he was muslim.

I find guys that assume "blondes are dumber" to be just as despicable as men that date a certain race based on what they consider to be "attributes" based on that race. The issue of stereotyping is that it denies the right of those that are stereotyped to be an individual- and that is a denial of our humanity. There is also a backlash against those that do not fit into the "stereotype" as being abnormal or somewhat "wrong." The core of the issue is that people need to be respected as individuals, and treated as such. I think any assumption that is based on one's race, religion, sexuality, etc are problematic in nature.

Arwen

You know, Catty, my MIL recently went to Bangladesh & realized how deeply *all* of her world view was based on her culture. This from a prof whose bread and butter is evaluating differences in culture - and yet who was still unprepared by the vast subtextual differences.

I think folks who have their feet in two cultures simultaneously are privileged to have a richness of experience, but I wonder if it's not sometimes frustrating to be aware of differences that are hard to define?

Catty

"Is the experience of American military women who are compelled to live under Shari'a (sp?) law while deployed in Saudi Arabia valid experience, or is it just their racism and sexism that drives their perception of the men there?"

They are valid, but it's also required for anyone is a foreign country to respect the laws and culture. If they find issues with it, they're more than welcome to speak up against it. It does not give them a license to see people from that region as inferior, or disregard their right to be seen as an individual.

When I first came to the US, I ended up in the Bible Belt. I faced a lot of racism and religious intolerance (I am Athiest/Buddhist), mainly from both black and white folks. I was almost raped by a guy once. Those experiences do not give me the right to hate or assume white or black folks, or the folks that happen to share the ethnicity of the would-be rapist.

Catty

"I think folks who have their feet in two cultures simultaneously are privileged to have a richness of experience, but I wonder if it's not sometimes frustrating to be aware of differences that are hard to define?"
Hmmm...It can be frustrating, but my point is view is that I would rather be aware than not, and I see it as a growing experience that helps me to better understand. I was a sociology major at one point, and I really enjoy this type of challenge, so the frustration is often tempered by a kind of excitement.

Heather

Hey Catty - I wasn't suggesting that all Japanese women are like Geishas. But, you make good points about my assumptions. I suppose if someone wrote a book about American prostitution and the American men who pay for their time, I would think it unfair for other cultures to judge our entire culture based on that book. Sorry for that. I have been under the assumption that American women are more "liberated" than other women around the world. But one point of clarification - are you saying that the high voices and giggling of female japanese students has nothing to do with patriarchal expectations?

Mr. Bad

Catty wrote: "(Referring to Mr. Bad's example of American military women's experiences with Saudi men) They are valid, but it's also required for anyone is a foreign country to respect the laws and culture. If they find issues with it, they're more than welcome to speak up against it. It does not give them a license to see people from that region as inferior, or disregard their right to be seen as an individual."

Ok, then let's compare Saudi women's experience of the societal acceptance of male superiority and their admiration of and fondness for American men based on their experience that American men treat them with respect that Saudi men don't. Under those conditions, do you consider the Saudi women to be racist and/or sexist?

As for group identity politics (i.e., the acceptance of seeing a person more as a member of a group than as an individual), how do you reconcile your statement above with so-called 'diversity' initiatives and programs such as affirmative action? Shouldn't a person be given the respect and right to be seen as an individual rather a sterotypical member of a given group?

More: "When I first came to the US, I ended up in the Bible Belt. I faced a lot of racism and religious intolerance (I am Athiest/Buddhist)"

How does one be a Buddhist and an atheist? The two seem mutually exclusive.

Catty

Heather,

"But one point of clarification - are you saying that the high voices and giggling of female japanese students has nothing to do with patriarchal expectations?"

Well, I know a lot of Japanese women (from Japan) that doesn't have high giggly voices. I think it's also a regional issue- people speak very differently if they're from different regions. Women from Osaka can have very lound, booming voices, for example. I think some of it comes from patriarchial reasons- no doubt it exists in both Western and other cultures. Think of it somewhat like the high giggly voices that some teen-agers and women use here. However, it is considered somewhat immature to have high giggly voices once a woman becomes older. One other thing- as a Japanese speaker, I've noticed that Japanese women don't giggle as much. It has to do with nervousness and language barrier. Many Japanese students don't giggle as much if I'm speaking Japanese to them, but if I switch to English, the giggling goes up, and often, it's the nervousness of looking for something to say. The higher pitch is also a result of nervousness for some. I've met enough women where they speak English and Japanese very differently. In Japan, stony, extended silence can be considered a sign of disapproval, so rather than silently think of what to say, coupled with the nervousness, they giggle.

alexander

I am currently dating an Asian woman. I find a statement like the following incredibly offensive:

"But very few white girls think Asian men are hot. We are always seen as asexual nerds, while our sisters are these incredibly desirable geishas."

There seems to an assumption that white guys find Asian women attractive because they are "submissive". Nothing could be further from the truth. The Asian women I have dated have always been confident, self-assured women. The Chinese woman I am currently dating took the initiative to meet me, approaching me on a college campus. She is currently working as stockbroker. I have yet to ever see her walk three steps behind me.

I have discussed this point with other men I know who attend this campus (a major California university whose name I will not mention). The general concensus is something like this: Asian women are much more decent to men. They are less likely to stand you up, or spend a date talking about "what [expletive deleted] men are". The fact that the woman I am currently dating could approach me, a total stranger, and initiate a conversation is typical: white women rarely attempt such an undertaking on this campus.

Now, of course, these men with whom I have discussed this could have been jaded by their experiences with white women -- and I know the dating scene on this university is rough.

If white women do not want to date Asian men, perhaps the problem is that white women are racist? If there are all these single Asian guys out there, then perhaps this can solve the so-called "male shortage". White women could take the initiative to ask out Asian men, then propose to them?

Catty

Mr. Bad
"Ok, then let's compare Saudi women's experience of the societal acceptance of male superiority and their admiration of and fondness for American men based on their experience that American men treat them with respect that Saudi men don't. Under those conditions, do you consider the Saudi women to be racist and/or sexist?"

As for any women that assume and apply blanket assumptions to men of any race- yes, they're racist. There's an assumption that you can't be racist for your own race, and that's untrue. In fact, some Saudi women think American men treat women with disrespect (cat-calling for example). , and are sex-obsessed maniacs. I would say that yes, there are many American men that are assholes but there are many men that are decent.

Catty

Let me just say this- and this is one of the main misconceptions that really irritate me about Geisha preconceptions that are wrong.

GEISHAS ARE NOT PROSTITUTES.

Also, the selling of the virginity is NOT done for Geishas.

Catty

There are so many fallacies in the Memoirs of a Geisha. Please, please do not take the things presented in the book as fact. I dislike the author, but even he has said that he's taken liberties and that the book is fictional, and there is a lot of fiction in there.

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