I am a Typical Chinese Man


[A Response to China Daily’s Recent Article entitled: “Why do Western women seldom marry Chinese men?”]

China Daily’s rationale for the unlikely matrimonial combination of Asian male, non-Asian female (like ours) was based on the following 8 stereotypes:

  1. Chinese men are shy
  2. Chinese boys are spoiled, so they grow into spoiled men
  3. Chinese men are racially insecure
  4. Chinese men are traditional
  5. Chinese men cannot speak English
  6. Chinese men love to save money
  7. Chinese boys are too busy studying, men too busy working
  8. Chinese guys are relatively less social and outgoing

Funny thing is: I think I’ve just discovered the problem here:

I am a stereotypical Chinese guy.

  1. I’m actually quite shy. I know I perform for a living and reveal my innermost thoughts via blogs and song lyrics, but it takes a lot for me to actually open up fully to someone. I really do prefer to be the one on the fringes of social groups, observing first and quietly hovering. My spirit is shy, let’s just put it that way—even when I’m in the spotlight.
  2. I’ve been spoiled. I admit it. I have had a spoiled and privileged life in which I was taught I could be and do anything I wanted. I have had to work for it, yes, but I have always had a safety net via my amazingly supportive parents. I’ve never questioned my right to live the life I choose pursuing my passions. In a larger world, that’s spoiled rotten.
  3. I’m racially insecure, that is, when I’m in China. You see, I’m white-skinned and different. I’m an “other.” I often wish I weren’t so obviously different and didn’t generate so much attention by my mere physical appearance. I wish I could blend in more. It’s partly for this reason that I have worked so hard on my Mandarin fluency. If I’m not invited into the conversation, I at least want to have the ability to eavesdrop.
  4. I’m fairly traditional. That is, about Chinese culture. Meaning: I love Chinese traditions. I want to celebrate them and understand them, often more than my own husband does. With these traditions come some negative offshoots such as subservient female roles (that I’m also constantly challenging!), but I’m the first one to request herbs (Calamus) hanging from our door in time for the Dragon Boat festival. Apparently they help ward off houseflies. I just dig the old ways.
  5. Okay, I can speak English, but if we reverse this point to fit my environment, I technically couldn’t speak Chinese when I first met Guo Jian. I was nervous to spend too much time alone with anyone whose English was as bad as his, but he was charming enough to just keep repeating himself with simpler and simpler words until I understood. We eventually got over that linguistic stumbling block, but sometimes I wonder how. All I know is that I didn’t talk my way into his heart! 😉
  6. I love saving money. I prefer saving money to spending it. I prefer knowing that I have a bit of extra tucked away “just in case.” I don’t need to live lavishly and I’m quite frugal. I don’t need to be rich either. When I have that little bit extra, I don’t continue to amass; I just relax.
  7. In school, I was pretty busy studying. I admit it. I am an academic at heart. As a grown-up, I must also claim that I have spent many years too busy working to entertain the idea of new relationships. That might be why I have always had long-term ones. I wasn’t too busy to date; I was just conveniently unavailable, which suited being so busy.
  8. I’m pretty antisocial. I like my alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends and I enjoy time with them too, but I am a classic introvert and seldom go out. When I was touring full-time, my work (performing) was carried out during everyone else’s social time. Truth be told, if I weren’t working, I wouldn’t have even been in attendance at my own shows! My shows are awesome (!), but I just love being at home that much more.

So there. Proven. I’m a typical Chinese male.

But, if I’m a typical Chinese male (according to China Daily), then what does that make my husband?

Why my husband is (almost) a typical Western woman:

[assuming Western women are the opposite of Chinese men, of course…]

  1. He’s one of the least shy people I know. He’s outgoing to the core.
  2. Okay, he’s spoiled. This one is the exception. He’s very spoiled.
  3. He’s not at all racially insecure. He’s so proud of his Chinese-ness. He’s proud to the point of arrogance sometimes. He thinks the world should be racially jealous of Asian people and is not afraid to proclaim that. He’s not racist; he’s just racially proud. Sometimes to the point of serious annoyance.
  4. He’s only traditional when it suits him. He likes Chinese culture and has studied a lot of his own traditions. He also practices Taichi daily, but otherwise, he is very interested in a global world, modern music, political and social trends, etc. Regarding gender roles, he can be really opportunistically traditional and we regularly fight about this. The truth is just all wrapped up in #2: the spoiled son. In other words, tradition suits him when it means his mother doesn’t expect him to do the dishes.
  5. His English pretty much sucks, yes, but he expects people to talk to him in Chinese when in China, period. He’s very “American” in that way (no offense to my American friends, but this is a piece about stereotypes, after all) in that he’ll take his Chinese language and culture with him wherever he goes and expects to find places where it will be honoured and accommodated. And, he does!
  6. He never saves money. He spends viciously and recklessly. He’s terrible with money. I can’t give him the rent a week early, for instance, for fear that it will be invested in the two things he has too much of: musical gear or clothing (including shoes, bags, accessories, etc.) Sigh. The guys buys two pairs of the same shoes just because he wants a pair in each colour!
  7. He’s never been into studying and he’s never had a day job. He’s an artist. He did a bit of post-secondary education, but at a film school. He’s never seemingly had work or study to blame for not seeking a girlfriend either because he’s had his share of them—all but one being foreign women too! I’m his longest relationship, in fact. By more than four times already!
  8. When I met him, he was a “party boy.” He knew everything fun that was happening at any given time. He’d go to three or four parties a night, never paid a cover charge for any show and was on every guest list. I used to call him “Mr.VIP.” He’s calmed down on that front slightly~especially since we had kids~but he still likes to “wan 玩” (play or have fun).

And this, folks, is why stereotypes are dangerous: they can make us realize that we’re actually not the race or gender or biological sex we thought we were!

Thanks to this China Daily article, I now know that I’m really just a typical Chinese man and my husband is (quite nearly) a typical Western woman. And, as a Western woman, he’s very unlikely to marry me because Western women seldom marry Chinese men.

I guess I really lucked out then, eh? Wait… DOESN’T THAT MAKE HIM MY TROPHY WIFE?

I’ll have to write to the paper and ask.

Dear China Daily Editor…

Culture or Gender?
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