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Pet Sins November 2002

Does East Asian men's sexism alienate East Asian women?

There is a common perception, among both Asians and whites, that white European-descent men prefer East Asian (yellow) women to white women because they are less "aggressive" or "argumentative", and East Asian women prefer white European-descent guys to East Asian guys because white guys are less sexist and more respectful of women. I do not know how widely this is true, but I'd like to share some of my observations on East Asian men.

I am a gay Asian woman, I have not dated interracially and I have not dated men, white or non-white. So my comment is that of an uninvolved observer, not that of someone trying to defend his/her relationship. From youth, I had observed some of the negative qualities of men of certain ethnicities.

A heterosexual native Thai woman told a Thai-Chinese friend about the evening out at the girl bars with me, which she enjoyed. She had many lesbian friends and relatives in Thailand. He admonished her about how she shouldn't be in such places and all that. I was outraged -- first, she is older than him by quite a bit and he shouldn't be in the business of lecturing her on how to live her life,. Second, it is homophobia/sexism -- he hates women's bars, not all bars. I was livid.

Actually, most of the native Thais I know are OK with transvestites, gays etc. But Chinese Thais are another story. Which really reminds me that men of East Asian-descent and I generally don't get along. (unless they're gay) That guy, just because he is a man, thinks he has the right to lecture an older person who is female. He was simply angered by the idea that women could sustain themselves perfectly well without men.

I remember my life in an East Asian-dominated society. Since I was 7 or 8, I noticed: I would be browsing in a store and Chinese men would shout "Don't touch this! What are you doing?!!" rudely. I noticed that other girls who were attractive or looked like girls were not treated like that. For the longest time, my self-esteem was so low. I was even afraid to go out because I never knew when someone -- a teacher, storekeeper, lab assistant, whatever -- would lash out at me without warning.

It didn't take me long to notice that women in the same positions did not treat me like that. I wasn't very race conscious in the way many people in the US are but when I got older, I realized that ALMOST all the men in the street who treated me decent were not East Asian. They were Southeast Asians or South Asians.

Then I realized it wasn't my fault, that I was not walking about with a huge sign "VICTIM" on my back. If it was something universally bad about me, then women and men of other races would react negatively too.

By the time I was in my late teens, I was routinely flunking job/academic interviews given by East Asian men, and excelling in those given by women or Asian men of other ethnicities.

I think it all boils down to the East Asian male view on the 'usefulness' of people. People are nice to the people who are of use to them. The women who are perceived as belonging to the useful class of "viable girlfriend material" are treated decently. The rest are useless and can go to hell for all the men care.

This attitude occurs to varying degrees in any culture, I think. It seems to be stronger among the East Asians than in some other ethnic groups. I saw too many East Asian men like Koreans and Japanese following the paradigm of "kindness only to the useful".

I've noticed that many (not all) Chinese/Japanese/Korean men don't bother even to be polite with women who are not girlfriend material. Sometimes they are downright callous and cruel. I remember incidents in which men came to my rescue or showed an interest in being friends without any other sort of interest, most of the men were black, white, or Asians who were not East Asian. The East Asian men who were friendly were mostly gay.

Some men don't see women as real people. When they had a chance with the woman, she was treated like a person. When they lost interest, or lost their chance, she was an object to be discarded.

I think if you truly value the other person as a real person, you wouldn't do that. I have a guy friend (European-descent American) who used to date this girl and then she really wasn't his type. He decided he didn't want to be her boyfriend any more. But he didn't just walk out of her life or stopped treating her well. He continues to be present in her life, and provides emotional support to her more than her own family does. She is ill and warded in the hospital. He visits her every single day!!! And he is not her boyfriend.

Having said all of that, I still believe that while some East Asian women may be truely attracted by individual white men's lesser degree of sexism, most others are motivated chiefly by the 'prestige' of being a white man. Why?

  1. As I have described above, although my experiences with East Asian men were largely negative, there were many other non-white men who treated me well - black men, Latino men, South Asian men, Southeast Asian men. But yellow women rarely choose non-East Asian minority men as partners. If the man's personality/character was the only issue in their choice, I should expect to see more yellow women with brown and black men than what we see now.
  2. There are quite a number of white guys with Asian wives or girlfriends who are selfish, insensitive, inconsiderate of the woman's needs, philandering - the embodiment of the untrue white stereotype of yellow men, only in white face. Yet yellow women stick with them. If yellow women rejected yellow men because of character and not color, then they wouldn't pick these white men who have so many of the yellow man's alleged flaws.