Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Locals that are too international for other locals

Too local?

One of my Chinese female friends is dating a western guy, and yesterday she spent a good hour complaining about him always going out with his friends/drinking too much (he’s out 2-3 times/week –every week). I asked her if she’d talked to him about it and yes, she had, although he had said that if she had a problem with his habits, that was her problem (nice one!).

Anyways, since he seems to refuse to change I told her that she had 2 choices: stick with it or leave him. She nodded. Then she said something about western men all loving to go out and being scared of commitments (she’s also tried to get him to live with her without success, he claims he ‘still needs his space’).

-Why don’t you date a Chinese guy instead of a foreigner? I tried. Must be easier when there isn’t any big culture difference.

-I don’t know… she said. I find it hard to find a Chinese guy that is as ‘English’ as I am. I mean, I have many foreign friends and I hang at places where foreigners hang, so if I dated a Chinese guy he would have to be able to speak English very well.

She then went on to tell me about one of her boyfriend’s friends dating a Chinese girl that only spoke very primary English.

-I cannot stand this girl. I don’t talk to her when we are out.

-But you are both Chinese? Can’t you speak Chinese?

-But our boyfriends are foreigners!

-But we are in China? Shouldn’t they try to learn some Chinese then?

-Eh… no, English is fine.

Interesting argument. Basically what she’s saying is that if you don’t speak any English –don’t try to hang with her. Although she’s Chinese. And we are in China.

It reminds me of another conversation I had with a Shanghainese girlfriend some year ago. She was complaining about another ‘lousy western boyfriend’ who ‘only called her when drunk’ and ‘never said he loved her.’

-Dump him!!!! I said.

-Yeah I know. I have to find someone better.

-Date someone local for a change,
I tried (this girl too, always dates western men).

-Oh no that’s impossible. I have tried. But I am too international for all the local boys I meet.

-But you’ve lived in China all of your life? You’ve never even traveled to Europe?

-Yeah but I have so many foreign friends and I speak good English. I cannot date a local. They don’t understand these things.

Whoa whoa whoa… both of these 2 girls are great, friendly, lovely and absolutely fantastic friends to me. Although I cannot help but wonder –is it only because I am a laowai and can speak English? Because if I was a local –I wouldn’t understand?


Anonymous said...

Jonna, this is a very interesting observation. I am Chinese myself, living in America. It reminds me of a book (The Accidental Asian) written by a very successful American Chinese, Eric Liu. Liu seems to believe that it's merely an accident that he is Chinese by race. He seems to suggest that every person should be viewed on an individual basis and not by group identity. What's interesting to me is that I don't find this sort of identity problem with Italian, German, Swedish, Russian, etc. I feel your Chinese lady friends feel the same way as Liu.


Mark's Blog said...

I have to say, although I have been in NZ for more than 4 years, these "internationalized local Chinese" annoy me sometimes.

Equally though, some of my Chinese friends back home believe I am "too much internationalized" for them, and were annoyed because of that. They even called me New Zealander once!

Anyway, I think just being myself is good enough.

If these girls prefer Western guys over locals, that's fine, just go and chase them, there are plenty of Western guys that have the commitment these girls want.It's more an individual difference than a cultural difference.

david1082 said...

There must be some Western guys there who don't drink alcohol much (or not at all), and who don't see an Asian girlfriend as a doll whose opinion is irrelevant. The girls need to be just as picky about dating Western guys as they would with Chinese.

Anonymous said...

We call these girls "yellow cabs" in Japan. They date foreign men and usually end up marrying locals...

Anonymous said...

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Funny Girl said...

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Unknown said...

There is a Chinese phrase that fits these Chinese girls. It is "崇洋媚外"(worship things foreign and fawn on foreign countries).

I think these Chinese girls are shallow and they do not know what is true love. What they are pursuing is some superiority feeling. "Look, I can speak good English and I have Foreign boy friend, you guys should admire me".

Actually, They are deceiving themself.

Andre Wirjo said...

Interesting. I've seen many such cases as well. And I'm always left wondering why a person can look down on his/her own heritage so much. My view is if you yourself can't even be proud of your heritage, who else will?

胡崧 said...

Inferiority-complex could be one of the explanations. Maybe they have this assumption that dating westerners makes them more superior to local Chinese. Therefore, they may not like to hang out with local Chinese because they think they are better than them.

Such phenomenon is common among Shanghai girls, and this is why a lot of girls from Shanghai are viewed very unfavorably by the locals, as they believe that they are "sell-outs" and give Chinese girls bad name.

I have to admit that I agree with them to some extents.

Pingu said...

Sorry to be cynical, but it's almost positive they are nice to you because you are a foreigner/ can speak english.

People are generally nice to people they like...

Anyway, for people like these two girls, there is no point trying to explain how irrational their behaviour is. Understanding how they think is difficult to say the least. Again, maybe I am being cynical...oh well...

Just one question you should raise with them. Ask them what do they think being 'English / international' really means. If they think it means having white skin, brown hair, speak English...well...there isn't much else you can say

Anonymous said...

I am sure that there are some girls want to marry Westerner just for love. But numbers don't lie:

In fact, everybody in China doesn't need to look at these numbers to know this. To the average Chinese girls, marrying a Westerner used to be a sure bet to financial stability (just look at Wendi Deng). Well, it doesn't have to be Rupert Murdoch, marrying into a Western middleclass family is still a huge improvement financially for some people. Besides, marrying a Westerner also guarantees a green card in a developed country, which can provide more opportunities.

All male Western expats in China know it's easy for them to get girls here, they just don't know a bald, middle-aged rich Chinese guy can get young girls just as easily (if not more).

A tall, handsome Chinese guy can get girls all giggly and wild too. OK, maybe not as much as a blond "exotic" Scandinavian guy :-). But seriously, how many women want to marry a guy just for his good look? Very few, right?

You may argue that women in your country are not like this. Well, maybe so, not all Chinese women are like this either. But don't forget, you can easily afford a roundtrip ticket from Stockholm to Shanghai, you have a lot more options than average Chinese women. Just ask Rocky's sister, how many months does she have to work before she can afford a plane ticket like that?

I am not saying all these girls are gold diggers, and there is nothing wrong for girls to seek financial stability in marriage, it's their rights. There is a popular phrase in China people like to use nowadays: it's 生活所迫.

WoAi said...

Jonna I think the best choice for these girls is to date a British born Chinese. Then they get the best of both worlds - Chinese (so your mum will be happy), but speaks perfect English :-p

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonna,

I'm glad to see your life is still full of happiness and wonder.

Sadly though, I might have to spoil that. I didnt deleiberately time it this way, but my sessions have almost come to an end, and I'll be sending the bill your way. Fortunately, you are on the verge of getting a job. ;)

As for the Chinese girls you mention and their love of foreign men, they are quite common in all Asian countries. There's always a sizeable minority who prefer white men. In Singapore, these girls even have an official label- Singapore Party Girls, or SPG's- not that any SPG would ever admit to it. They also have a label in Japan too, though the exact word escapes me.

But even overseas in Western countries, many Asian women like white men. I read that in the US census yr 2000, 25% of Asian females married white men. Big numbers indeed.

As a matter of interest, last year, a local paper had an article which said that in 2006, 50,000 Chinese females married white men. In 2007. it was almost 70,000.

As a further aside- given there's a shortage of chinese women, given that literally hundreds of thousands prefer white dudes, I sadly read in The Economist that people from China actually kidnap Hmong teenagers across the border and sell them as birdes to single Chinese men. Very depressing to read about.

Sorry it's a bit long. Hope you're well, take care, and keep smiling that beautiful smile of yours.


Ilyana said...

Maybe it has something to do with "colonial mentality" :-)

About western bf/partners who loves to drink...(tell me about it, I married a Scots man :-) who drinks like a fish..everytime he goes to the pub-I go out with my friends too and wear really sexy clothes...and he started to hate it too..Now-he only go out every fortnite. sometimes once a month...:-) (if u can't beat them- Join them) :-)

mantse said...

i just finished the book called "中國不高興" (China feel unpleasant) which wrote from some "Nationlists" and say China should stand up and set their own rules instead of follow westeners.

your message is another side of a what Chinese think. actually, Shanghaiese look down all other Chinese (except Hong Kong and Taiwan, but they not feel these place are China...) this is just a case which they feel inferior to their homeland only.

i just want to ask them, what is her imagine of the husband? what do you want him be? if do some analyse, they will know that how far the guy who hold her hand is.

The Candid Yank said...

well, to be fair, there are lots of people who have their preferred race. Like back home, there are white girls who date only Mexican or black men, white guys who only date Asian women, black guys who only date white women, my mom is an example of a black woman who only dates white men. So maybe (especially in order to avoid the drama we saw here last time such a subject came up!) it's just that the girls prefer what they prefer, they like Western culture, end of story.

As for the friend in this story however, I do think that if she wants a Western guy, who is not a complete doormat, she will have to deal with the fact that he goes out. That he does not want to live with her. Wanting/needing your space is not a crime and he is not a bad boyfriend for telling her so. If I were him, I would do as he probably did, which was take her intolerance of his social life as a warning sign, as a sign that if he moves in with this girl there is a good chance she is going to attempt to run his life for him. Not acceptable. 2-3 times a week is not much for anyone under 45, it is called "having a life."

Anonymous said...

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i find me and the girl alike .but i just want to find a boy friend whose english very well not must be a foreigner.
By the way, i will be follow you bolg from now on .
haha~~ so happy when reading you blog.


Anonymous said...

Jonna, this is interesting....I not sure why this happen. Maybe they just feel great to have western boyfriends......

조안나 said...

Same here in Korea... speaking about the language, that is (though, the rest could be true too). Most Koreans that I meet are confused why I even bother to learn the language. I find most Koreans that date foreigners, date them (at least partially) in order to practice their English. They have no interest in teaching them, or at least helping them learn Korean. Luckily, the guy I'm dating now was actually my Korean teacher a few months ago... so he's pretty aggressive about making me practice.

But... I can understand where they are coming from... Since I've started to spend a lot of time traveling and living abroad, I find I don't have much in common with my old friends from home anymore. But... I'll never refuse to talk to them because they've never left the country...

Jewels said...

How interesting! By socializing "internationally" these girls feel like they can no longer relate to the men in their own culture? Maybe, but I think they are more likely attracted to the "new and exciting". Perhaps someday they will meet the right man, local or not. A soul mate is a soul mate regardless of culture, colour, or race. Perhaps it's just a phase.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Wow -a loooooot of interesting comments on today's post. Sorry I haven't had time to answer anything, I've been busy having the shittiest day of my China life (but more about that tomorrow....).

It seems the topic went into another topic, namely 'why do Chinese girls wanna date western men', which wasn't my intention, although I guess unavoidable in the end.

I think people can date whoever they like (although like I have mentioned before, I sometimes have troubles understanding some couples... but that's obviously my problem, not theirs), but when people start saying things like 'I am too international to hang with people from my own country' I feel a little bit like... 'ehhh, what?!' That's why I reacted to to my first friend's comment, who REFUSED to speak to her boyfriend's friend's Chinese girlfriend, simply because that girl's English wasn't so good?! Seeing that they are both Chinese girls living in China I find it kind of.... strange. I also find that sort of attitude highly superficial.

Since I moved to China I have tried to hang out with Chinese people as much as possible, to learn, understand and get to know them. Hanging out a lot with my Chinese friends is also crucial for my Chinese learning. Having said that, however, I don't 'refuse' western people I meet here?! I have as many European as Chinese friends, and I love hanging out with all of them, speaking Swedish, English or Chinese. Sure, I have said no to 'expat communities' because I feel that when in China, I want to take the opportunity to meet and hang out with Chinese people, not simply get stuck in expat communities, but I've still met a lot of laowais in China that I really like, and I would never refuse to speak to any of them just because they weren't Chinese.

I guess it is different for those 2 Chinese girls though... Seeing that they are living in China and not in an English speaking country. Still, I don't really approve of their attitude.

Like David pointed out -there are loads of foreign men who don't drink and party all the time..The girls need to be just as picky about dating Western guys as they would with Chinese. I find it hard to believe that any of my 2 friends would put up with their Chinese bf partying all nite long 3 times/week.

Kanmuri &Funny Girl goes blog -thanks for the awards :) :) I'll 'pick it them up properly' in the end of this week when everything is a bit less crazy than it is now.

Anonymous said...

I feel so bad for those confused Chinese girls. This is not uncommon with young college students from Shanghai. I am Chinese, originally from China, and came to the U.S. in the 80’s for my graduate studies. While at graduate school, I met a lot of Chinese students from Shanghai. Remember that was the 80’s. All Mainland Chinese students in the U.S. were virtually penniless. We all had to do odd jobs whenever we could to support ourselves. We saved as much as we could from the little money we made, usually by working at Chinese restaurants during the summer/winter breaks, and only spent on the essentials, like books, rent and groceries. But those Shanghai students were different. They would spend money on “American clothing” to make them look more foreign. For a year, I had a Shanghai roommate and got to know him and his friends a little more. I found them to definitely look down upon other fellow Chinese. They preferred to speak Shanghai hua instead of Mandarin and at times almost seemed to deliberately shun other Chinese with their own Shanghai hua.

Two decades later, now as a dad of two beautiful American born Chinese kids, I constantly find myself struggling with the cultural conflicts between Chinese and American. And I have more understanding of those “over-internationalized” Chinese girls in China as you have mentioned. As you pointed it out in one of your previous posts, Asian kids are so overworked and pushed by their culture that they virtually have to sacrifice their childhood. That alone is horrible. Here in America and I know it’s all over the world with Chinese communities, kids of Chinese parents are basically being abused and tortured under the misguided Chinese culture value. They are pushed to do 3 to 4 hours of extra homework daily (trust me! I am not exaggerating about the daily 3 to 4 hours of extra homework) at as young as 6 or 7 years old. I have found myself at times trying my best to avoid Chinese communities and friends in the U.S. because if I hang out with them, my kids might have to be abused like theirs. A typical Chinese would always want to compare their kids with yours. Is your child learning piano? What level? Mine is level above yours. Is your son doing chess? Mine got the first place last year and your son should join our club. Is your 4th grader doing the blah blah blah test questions? They are the best test questions to prepare of SAT. It’s uncommon for Chinese parents to talk about sports, charity work and social skills for their kids. They are so misguided by Chinese culture that they are missing out on more important things for their kids, like social skills, common sense, physical wellbeing through sports, public speaking skills and leadership. It’s especially sad that the highest suicide rate in the U.S., if categorized by ethnic, gender and age, is American Chinese college and post college age ladies. How sad is that!!! Something is definitely wrong with Chinese culture in general. For that, I feel for those “over internationalized” local Chinese girls. I only wish they would become mature soon and find their own identity and use their international view to create a better cultural value with Chinese characteristics. (The Big Brother is watching your bog. I have to mention the cool phrase with Chinese characteristics.)

Kikit said...

We always have the right to choose who to date. But being biased is another story. I hope they would understand what a relationship really means.

Veronique Renard said...

Come to Thailand and see how may Thai women and men want to have a relationship with a western man. Most Thai women date western men twice or thrice their age (walking ATM machines), just for the money thus, and many of my male gay friends want a western man because they say they are more loyal to them. Thai men are supposed to be big cheaters, straight or gay (this according to most Thai people). Thais are always surprised to hear that I have an interest in being with a Thai or Chinese-Thai man. Why? You can have the best from your own world, but you choose something so despicable as a Thai man? Unbelievable.

Greeting from Dutch girl in Bangkok

Hang said...

That's weird. I don't think I would date a Chinese girl with that kind of attitude even if I speak good English, which might be the same reason that Chinese boys who speack English are not interested in the two girls.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't surprise me that much. Okay, its kinda extreme. My GF is chinese, and since she hangs out with me and my friends, she discovered a lot of things about western culture. Good (arts, Star Wars;-) ) and bad things (cursing in french every 2 seconds). Since then, she feels she doesn't understand anymore her friends, saying that they are narrow minded by not opening themselves by learning a foreign language, watching foreign movies, listening to foreign songs... Of course, she is still nice to them, but she feels there is now a gap between them and her.
So I just think that some chinese girls/boys are just curious to discover new cultures, that's why they tend to prefer lao wai to locals, and try to avoid locals who are not as curious as they are.
And my Gf is going to make much more money than Ill ever make, so money is not always useful to get girls, Im just charming!I am her first lao wai BF, she is just happy that I don't spit and have short nails...
If you want to practice your french, here is my blog: www.le-chtinois.fr

Shopgirls Shanghai said...

i think it's true that chinese boys are not appropriate for an outgoing chinese girl who likes western culture.

anyway, let those 2 girls read the book he's just not that into you

kasey said...

I think these girls would date the same personalities, even if the men were Chinese. When you date people who aren't good to you, the next person you date usually isn't good to you either (especially if you put up with it).

Anonymous said...

This is really sick. I just can't stand that they wouldn't befriend/talk with fellow Chinese who don't speak English. I speak fairly good English having been studying/working overseas for more than 10 years, yet I don’t talk to Chinese in English. I’m definitely more local than these two girls.

Your friends sound like White/English supremacists to me. It strikes me that they just don’t understand that by doing so they are actually belittling themselves. I know plenty Chinese just like your friends, but I don’t consider any of them my friends. You are much more tolerant than me. I suppose the only reason that they hang out with me is because I speak English and I happen to have a few foreign male friends. Gosh, I suddenly start to feel like a pimp...

MJF said...

Depends on what kinda of family these girls are from, my current GF(whos from Shanghai) was actually very reluctant at start to date someone like me who got a foriegn back ground as I grew up in Europe even though I am from China originally, culture difference is there and hard to ignore.
But then again I felt some cultural difference with my ex-GF which is Norwagian, and I grew up in Sweden since I was little.
Family tradition is strong, but nothing that can't be overcome.
These girls you discribed have altitude problem obviously.

MJF said...

I actually dated a blond Swedish girl once a couple times who spoke only chinese Madarin with me, haha, she was studing in chinese language major in Stockholm University.

Phoenixkidd said...

Jonna, you have such amazing observations. Having grown up in Japan and being half Japanese but always hanging around foreigners I couldn't even think of dating anyone Japanese. I am sorry. It's a whole cultural thing with me I guess. They just don't turn me on. I am gay so I prefer white guys a lot, I can feel for these Local girls that once they get used to the added attention not only from their foreign boyfriend but also from friends and collegues one just finds it so hard to go back to being "normal" and dating a local again. well I take the side of the girls and say that I completely agree with them and understand what they are going through, just because one is born somewhere doesn't mean they are intended to live there all their life or even want to.

rogue1252 said...

i am a white american who lived in asia for 6 years. my longest relationship was with a japanese girl for 3 years. before i dated her she not only had never dated a non-japanese male, but looked at foriegners, especially americans as undesirable. it took quite alot to get her to go out with me. part of it is that some japanese are somewhat racist and consider other asians and whites as less than them. after being together for several years she made a similiar comment as your friends. she stated that many of her friends were close minded and that her family and friends sometimes commented that she wasn't very japanese anymore. we remained friends after we broke up and she told me that japanese men in general were too japanese for her now. she was still physically attracted to them, but mentally felt that most were too close minded. she said that the perfect guy would be a japanese guy who had lived or been educated in the west. she was/is worried that she will have a hard time finding a husband now because she has become too americanized. the interesting thing is she finds japanese men in general more attractive than western men, which is funny as i am the exact opposite of the asian standard for beauty. (white, hairy, loud, obnoxious, etc.) it seems i was the exception to what she found attractive. she also did not get along with my white friends other japanese gf's if she thought they were sell outs/ or obsessed with the west per se. she is very proud of being asian and in some ways quite racist in her views on asia and japan in general.

Anonymous said...

it just means she's more open minded with other cultures? and prefer white men...(she's probablywatched too many tom cruise movies)

tonyget said...

Inferiority-complex + white supremacists