About Pet Sins Webzine
Skip navigation and go to main content
Pet Sins November 2002

Asian women who marry white men claim special status?

In many Asian communities, having a white spouse is seen as a status symbol. This article uses material from Filipino American and Chinese sources, but it is not our intent to criticize specifically Filipinos and Chinese. All Asian communities need to examine why some Asian grandparents are proud to show off their half-white grandchildren but don't bother to "show off" their "full-Asian", half-Latino or half-Native American grandchildren. Some Asian grandparents dote on their half-white grandchildren in public but the same individuals will be afraid to be seen with their half-black grandchildren, if they have any.

Allan L.Bergano and Barbara L.Bergano-Kinney did a study with 150 Filipino American high school and college students on the East coast and the West coast. They surveyed students' responses to various questions concerning their experience as Filipino Americans. One of their interview subjects, a young East Coast woman, said:

Because of the American colonization process, Filipinas are being taught that "marrying up" means "marrying white." The Filipina's standard for beauty has changed so that they see white men as desirable and "bearers of the ideal beauty," ...not the Filipino man. The "white-oriented" mass media has blinded and brainwashed today's Filipina at the expense of the Filipino male.

Another one of the subjects, a young East Coast woman living in Manila, said:

Over here [in the Philippines], white skin is considered better. I cannot tell you how many products are advertised and sold here to "whiten" our skin. Marrying a white man for Filipinas is a step up... socially and economically. Mixed children by white men here are thought of as more valuable, more precious, and better prepared for modern society. This mentality isn't new. Many of the elders here believe "White is right." All white boyfriends, husbands, and mixed children are shown off here as trophies... and not always at the doing of the girlfriend/wife. My mother "shows off" my white husband more than I ever would.

Allan Bergano and Barbara Bergano-Kinney's article can be found in "Images, Roles, and Expectations of Filipino Americans by Filipino Americans", Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity, editor Maria P.P. Root.

The Filipino's favoring of white Caucasians has often been attributed to the centuries-long Spanish colonization of the Philippines. But Chinese, who were not under European colonization for a lengthy period, don't seem to be doing much better when it comes to internalized racism. In Shanghai, Chinese parents boast about their foreign (usually white) sons-in-law. Sadly, giving special respect to whites is not limited to Chinese in China. We collected the following opinions from Chinese in different parts of the world.

Singaporean-born Chinese woman, 60s, Singapore:

There is a Chinese woman who married a European man in my apartment block. She is very snobbish and refuses to talk to the neighbors. Once, people in a few units heard her yelling very loudly and rudely at someone. No one else behaves like her. She acts as if she is higher than everyone else because she married a European man.

Chinese student, East Coast, USA:

I read an essay written by one of my college mates who is half-white and half-Chinese. Her father is white. She related how her Chinese mother had observed a black man with a white woman, and their black-white children. And the Chinese woman commented to her Chinese-white children, "That is so weird. Why would a black man want to be with a white woman? Why would a white woman want to be with a black man?", without any hint of irony.

I was so disgusted when I read this. It seems the Chinese woman thinks she is somehow exempt from the same rules she applies to black people and black-white unions, that somehow it is ok for a Chinese woman to marry a white man, but not ok for a white woman to marry a black man. I have a guess she thinks that Chinese people have the same status as whites while blacks are of a lower rank.

Chinese professional, West Coast, USA

I was on the sidewalk watching a parade in Chinatown. A float of Miss Chinatown contestants went by. One of them was half-white. The girl's mother happened to be standing next to me with her European American husband. Anyway the woman was gesticulating excitedly and shouting, "My daughter, my daughter!", trying to let people around her know that the girl on the float was her daughter. She was clearly very proud. Too proud maybe. I recall other Chinese mothers of mixed white children acting this way, but I never see any Chinese mothers of pure Chinese or mixed non-white children act like their kids are oh-so-special-the-whole-world-should-adore-them. And Chinese men who have half-white kids generally don't act like that either.

2000