Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Secrets of East Asian Women Part 5: Easiness

 Alright. . . the time has come to debunk the final and possibly most prominent stereotype (aside from submissiveness) surrounding East Asian women. This is a stereotype that exists and I have addressed it many times in conversations with both non-East Asian men and women as well as women from East Asia who persistently ask me "How come people think we're easy?". The last time I answered this question was a few months ago when I was talking to a young Japanese female acquaintance of mine. She had attended a Japanese-English language exchange club here in Toronto and decided not to return after several men who regularly attended the group, who were not Japanese, whom she described as "creepy" attempted to get her phone number or ask her to "hang out" afterwards.

Stereotype: "East Asian Women are Easy." 

What she had noticed was that at this group, she was not the only Japanese female present and also not the only one being obviously hit on by groups of creepy men. At that point a question formed in her mind along the lines of 'why was there so many creepy Canadian guys at this club, and why were they all trying to hit on Japanese girls specifically?' This friend of mine had enough experience with Canadians to know the difference between a "normal" or at least "well adjusted" Canadian man and a "creepy" Canadian man and the amount of creepiness at that club was palpable to her. She asked me, "These guys seem like they might have trouble getting a girlfriend in Canada because they seem really awkward, do they just come to that conversation club because they think it's easier to pick up Japanese girls?" My answer was a complicated one.

Firstly, I explained to her that everyone has preferences in what they look for in mates and honestly ethnicity can define one's preference. There are men and women out there who feel that they can only date within a certain ethnicity based on ideas that can range from misguided to perfectly legitimate. However, I also had to admit that, yes, sadly quite a few men do think that picking up foreign women, and even more tragically, especially East Asian women is easier than picking up locals. Naturally her second question was "why is this?" and that brings us to the meat of the argument.

Where does it come from?


 Earlier in the 20th century, especially around and right after World War II East Asia was not doing so hot. China was being rocked by civil war and communist revolution, Korea was entering into a devastating civil war with the help of the Russians and Americans and Japan was in dire straights after suffering two atomic bombs and American MP's policing the state. It was a bad time. Obviously quite a few people wanted out of these situations and many did get out, emigrating to places like the United States or Canada, but it wasn't easy for many others who didn't have the money, so they needed to find other ways. Let's think about it this way. . . If your a woman living in a place that lacks economic and social stability to the point where your not sure exactly what your next job will be or where your next meal is coming from, and you see an American G.I. who seems to be quite established, has passable good-looks (or not), and seems at least something close to a gentleman what are you gonna do? Try to get with him obviously, because he might be your ticket out of there! And this is what happened. Quite a few Americans and Canadians who ended up serving in places like Japan, Korea and even China around these times of East-Asian turmoil, ended up coming home with East-Asian wives who were perfectly happy getting away from their turbulent and often very conservative, native countries. This also happened in the Vietnam war. I'm not saying that there wasn't love involved in these relationships, but you must admit, it was likely that a number of these woman initially had escape in mind, because honestly, why not?

Yes, this is a real movie, I actually like the tagline though!
I imagine that this is where the stereotype started, because this tended to happen fairly often with the soldiers who would serve in these countries. I believe that this pattern led to quite a few people assuming that going to Asia and getting a wife or a girlfriend was a pretty easy thing to do if you were a foreigner at this time, and thing is, it probably was. In those days, simply put, East Asia seemed to be losing and North America seemed to be where the winners were and thus, a much more desirable place to be. The thing is, if you understand the nature of the situation it's not difficult to see why this happened. For example, think about it, where do mail-order brides come from? Poor countries that are rife with political and economic instability. It's a no-brainier. Unfortunately this old idea seems to have bled into the present day. Let's see some other reasons why people might think that East Asian women are easy in modern times.


Alright I can't lie, I have seen this happen so many times and I get it, this is probably the reason why people think this stereotype is valid. Here in Toronto as well as in Korea, where I've spent a total of four months, I've seen many cases of attractive, dynamic and evidently fashionable East Asian women who would probably have no problem picking up an attractive, smooth local, either on dates or speaking intimately with non-east Asian guys who (sigh*) appear to look really nerdy or even skeezy, fashionably challenged and seem to have ZERO social skills. However, I've also seen contrary scenarios so let's dive in.

I recall when I was working in Toronto's st. Lawrence market as a cheese sampler and I was approached by a certain couple. The woman was Japanese and quite attractive and had an impeccable fashion sense. I began to chat with her as she asked me about the cheeses I was sampling and I happened to ask where she was from. After she told me she was from Japan I told her that I was pretty interested in Japan and that I had taken Kendo for a few years. She thought that was pretty cool and started telling about her home city and music and stuff that she was into. I remember she was pretty spunky and talked excitedly and confidently about a number of interesting topics. After sometime her boyfriend or possibly husband arrived at the table. He was quite skinny, dressed in an unbuttoned and over-sized dress shirt and baggy jeans and sneakers with wire-framed glasses. He was wearing a T-shirt with two sumo wrestlers painted in a traditional Japanese style. He sort of shuffled around awkwardly as he approached my table. After speaking with the woman I greeted him and asked him where he got his t-shirt. He seemed caught off guard by my speaking to him and hesitated for a second. Then he said in an shaky, kind of squeaky voice "Um... Japan". He looked really nerdy and super awkward and was even avoiding eye contact. After that they started bantering about the cheese and his wise cracks were really quite terrible and unfunny while the woman seemed to awkwardly laughed at them. After the couple left two thoughts entered my mind, "How did that happen?" and "Would she have dated him if he had been Japanese?" I'm thinking. . . probably not. Much to the chagrin of many East Asian males that I've talked to who really don't understand it, this is actually a fairly common occurrence, at least in my observation.

So what dose this mean? Am I acknowledging the validity of my most hated East Asian female stereotype? Hell no! I simply desire to explain why this happens.

 The first case I can think of is that most East Asian countries are mono-cultural meaning that they consist mainly of a single culture, i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Korean (in the case of China this could be easily contested but bare with me). However, East Asian countries get tonnes of imported cultural stuff, like movies for example. These western images (and other elements), much like East Asian ones here in North America, capture the imaginations of certain East Asian people and so a certain curiosity is implanted into their minds, something along the lines of "wouldn't it be, like totally neat to date someone from that country?" after some time this may even become an ideal or goal, and then suddenly they happen to meet a foreigner! Sure he might not look like a young Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise but he certainly is a foreigner and unique and foreign! Oooh how interesting! The young, attractive and single Ms. Takeyasu thinks to herself. The foreigner being a hetero sexual, basically open-minded male sees the attractive Ms. Take and shows an interest. Maybe the foreigner is a super awkward nerdy guy with no life back home in Minnesota or wherever he comes from but the beautiful Take, who has never been to Minnesota, has no way of knowing this. All she sees is a passable, interesting foreigner who is interesting on the grounds that he is foreign. "Why not!?" Says Take and romance ensues. General curiosity also plays a major role here and I think it maybe safe to say that women tend to be generally a bit more open minded then men in a lot of instances.

The second case is as follows. Imagine your a female exchange student who has come over here from South Korea to learn English. You have all these wonderful plans and ideas for when you arrive in Toronto. You tell yourself your going to make tonnes of Canadian friends and speak English all day long. Oh how wondrous! However, upon arriving in Canada you find that most people don't really cares too much about where you came from and no one wants to talk to you because you have an accent and your "culturally different" and they're afraid they can't understand you both linguistically and culturally. So naturally you feel lonely and isolated and that SUCKS. Then you go to a party with a bunch of your other international student friends and there you meet a somewhat awkward local dude who isn't really your ideal type but actually seems to be genuinely interested in you and your culture. WOW a Canadian friend! So you talk to him, hang out a bit and possibly get a little attached. Eventually he says, "Hey Young-Hee, I love chilling with you and yeah you're great. wanna like date and stuff?" and you're all like "wow! A Canadian boyfriend? Never in my wildest dreams! I'll be able to speak English EVERYDAY!" and the rest is history.

The third case is that. . . Wow what a surprise!? You mean people who look nerdy and awkward might actually be genuinely nice and sweet and interesting and just happen to have East Asian girlfriends who genuinely love them!? IMPOSSIBLE! Yes that my friends, that actually can and does happen . . . fairly often.

What I'm trying to imply here is that, East Asian Women and the people who date them, whether they be also East Asian or not, do so for myriad reasons. It's not like nerdy North American guys are kryptonite for East Asian women or anything like that. I've seen just as many handsome East Asian girl/Non-East Asian Guy couples as I have not so typically "handsome" ones. Also this happens with any ethnicity! At some point you will inevitably see a hot, confident looking woman with a nerdy, awkward guy, it happens. The truth of the matter is, when you see couples on the street, you don't know them and you don't know why they are dating. So honestly, who really cares anyway?

The cases I presented are actually real scenarios I have seen play out with East Asian female friends and students so yeah. I mean I don't deny that there are people out there who are interested in dating East-Asians expressly because of their ethnicity and vice-versa but being a foreigner can make you more attractive to certain people depending on where you are. Some people just have fantasies of becoming intimate with that which is different or unusual the prospect of which can really be enticing to a lot of people.

The Truth

There are tonnes of reasons why people date other people. No matter where you go in the world, you will find couples that appear to look like "odd couples" with an attractive man or woman with a not so attractive mate. The whole point though is that looks, in themselves are often not enough of a basis for a functional relationship and are not universal. This means that what looks undesirable to you might be just fine for someone else. East Asian women, as a group, if you must view them as such, are diverse and many. I've met East Asian women who I could have easily described as "easy" and others who I could have described as having near impenetrable shields that rise to the deflect any sort of flirtatious behaviour. At the end of the day it really just depends on the person. And yes, in case your wondering, this should not be news to you.                              




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