I took issue with yet another of Ask a Korean’s posts this week (he seems to be good ammunition for the Korea blogosphere at the moment), not so much because I disagreed totally with him but because of what he left out, which was important to say.
I took issue with yet another of Ask a Korean’s posts this week (he seems to be good ammunition for the Korea blogosphere at the moment), not so much because I disagreed totally with him but because of what he left out, which was important to say. However, all credit to the guy for coming-up with interesting topics that bring me to his blog because, as I have said before, I am often not motivated to read other people’s blogs very much. Check out this post anyway:
I won’t re-write what he wrote, but I am going to summarise it by saying that the overall conclusion is that his answer to the question in my title is because of a deep-seated racism and cultural stereotyping which consciously and unconsciously effects people’s choices. Actually, I agree that this could be a considerable factor, but there are other things that should not be over-looked. This post will not be a direct response as such because I do not live and have never lived in America and I don’t know what it is like there, but some of the things I bring up here will at least have some relevance to the subject.
My expertise is with Korea, so I am going to look at the question from the point of view of living in Korea. Let me first acknowledge, however, that it probably is true that society puts the white man on top of the social status pyramid and because status is a major influence on a woman’s taste in a man, this is of course a big element to the whole thing, which is part of what The Korean is talking about. It is not, however, the only reason.
How Well do the Cultures Mix?
I suspect that a very conservative way of looking at women is present in many other Asian countries as well as Korea. In Korea, women are still discriminated against in a variety of ways, so much so that Korea was ranked 108th in global gender equality – much to the disbelief of many Korean men who seem to think that, if anything, they are the ones being hard done by (which always makes me laugh).
With this in mind then, it is pretty easy to see the appeal of a cross-cultural relationship (i.e. to a Western man). A Korean woman can have greater freedoms, not worry about her traditional responsibilities, not be so concerned of a strained relationship with the in-laws (one of the main reasons for divorce in Korea), and maybe able to escape to another country altogether that treats women better and gives them better opportunities. Not to mention the fact that women are generally a little more communicative than men generally, and in Korea especially this means that they are more likely to strike up a conversation with a Western man in the first place, making it more likely they will form a relationship. I have also noticed that Western men seem to be a little bolder in approaching women as well.
If you think of the situation the other way round, however, is there as much appeal for a Western woman to be with a Korean man and indeed for the Korean man to be with the Western woman? This seems a little bit more of a problematic relationship and despite the fact there are many success stories, here are some of the problems I foresee for such couples, which are not insurmountable, but definitely make things more difficult:
* A Western woman is far less likely to be the model daughter in-law for a Korean family and put-up with all the duties that the average Korean family requires (I have had a few responses to my blogs by Western women who married Korean men stating this very problem).
* Korean men are often more conservative in nature and this allows less freedom for a Western woman, who may well value her independence more than your average Korean woman. This could be frustrating for the woman as well as the man.
* A Western woman may be forced to move into a society that gives her less opportunities and less freedom.
* A Korean man could be more intimidated by a perhaps a more independent and outspoken Western woman.
* A Western woman may well be intimidated by a more conservative Korean man.
The fact of a more liberal West and a more conservative East immediately makes a difference in the appeal of an Asian/Western relationship between a man and a woman. I know TheKorean’s post was about America, but the cultural element must not have been lost completely and is still relevant. If you are going to say these are all stereotypes not applicable to everyone, then yes, they aren’t applicable to everyone, but we need only identify a trend to explain the differences in relationships. If you think that Asian men are generally not more likely to have conservative attitudes (especially if they live in an Asian country), I’d advise you to travel to an Asian country and see for yourself or stop being in denial. Most Korean men I know are far more conservative than I am used to in my own culture. All of them, no, but most of them, yes.
Again the argument also works the other way and that because of a more liberal West, Asian women with a more traditional outlook on life – for better or worse – could well be more appealing as a long-term partner for some Western men.
For these reasons then, I think it is clear to see that the combination of Eastern and Western culture in a relationship between two people does favour the Asian woman with the Western man rather than the other way round.
In Korea, Foreigners are Dangerous and Therefore Attractive
Actually, TheKorean hinted at the cause for this in his post when he talked about the response of many Asian men saying stupid things like, “They are stealing our women.”
If you have lived in Korea for any length of time, you will have heard of a few TV shows that got all us foreigner’s knickers in a bit of a twist regarding Western men preying on Korean women in Korea and the general distrust of Western men in the news generally. Grave warnings of us evil foreigners using them for one-night stands, having sex, then jettisoning them the next day, as well as the risk of contracting AIDS from us.
In reality, all us foreigners that are interested in Korean women should have thanked MBC and the rest for doing us such a favour and making us all appear significantly more attractive than we actually are. I have been musing for years why my friends that treat women terribly seem to get all the action, while I struggle away being nice and coming-up with diddly-squat. This might come as news for some, but women the world over get a kick out of dating the bad guy. Every time the Korean media say we are dangerous and not to be trusted, us foreign fella’s sex appeal goes up just one more notch.
Now, the statistics probably won’t show-up one night stands, just marriages and maybe long-term relationships, but that is the beauty of the whole thing for guys like me and other fine, upstanding young gentlemen. I am about as dangerous as a butterfly on ecstasy, but the mystery and danger that immediately surrounds me as a white guy in Korea, makes me much more desirable than back home. When it turns out that us “nice guys” treat our date well and don’t use them for sex, abuse them, or give them AIDS, we probably look like the best things since sliced bread. We are dangerous and gentle all at the same time. This was definitely a factor in me meeting my wife and by the time she had figured out how normal and boring I really am, I had already charmed my way into her affections with my “niceness”, something which – in my experience – upon first meeting most women, seems to be about as attractive as talking about cricket to them.
It Must be Taken into Consideration
Now, before you shoot me, I am not saying that the following argument is true but I have heard it coming from a few Korean women I know, so I think it is worth addressing. It could simply be that, on average, Western men (White in particular) are just more attractive than Asian guys to more Asian women than Asian men are to white women, and I am not simply talking about the role that popular culture and stereotypes play on our sub-conscious, maybe they just naturally are.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone denying that Asian men are on-average smaller than White or Black men. So what is naturally attractive for a woman as a mate? Size and strength must be a factor. It sounds almost too stupid and offensive to say, but coincidentally my wife – who is currently living in Australia – had a conversation with her Japanese flatmate yesterday on precisely this topic. They both said they prefer white men because they are usually bigger. Each to their own of course and there will be many Asian women who don’t like a bigger man, but this has come up quite regularly in conversation with the Asian women I know.
Of course, what this does also suggest is some hypocrisy and that the image society portrays for the races is relevent because they don’t often find themselves attracted to black men. With this in mind then there is most probably an effect on the mind of Asian women by society, stereotypes and racism even when it comes to Asian men, I am certainly not denying it. However, I am going to take at least some of what they say as a genuine preference a bit like people preferring brunettes or blondes. It could simply be that Asian men just aren’t as attractive to many women like the ginger-haired are often considered less attractive in the West.
White men also, tend to vary in aspects of their physical appearance in ways Asian men do not. I am not saying any of this makes White men superior, the simple fact is that Asian women may well be attracted to these differences. White Westerners stand-out in the crowd, like brighter feathers on a peacock. Blonde hair, blue or green eyes, white skin, these could all simply amount to White guys being more desirable for many Asian women (no theory should go unexplored when you are grasping for the truth, I refuse to fold to political correctness on this blog). If other animals can be attracted by shows of colour or simply different physical traits, why not humans?
Going the other way, Asian women tend to be quite petit, slimmer and arguably more feminine than their White sisters, which may appeal to all men as well. Certainly there is a general trend for Asians, both male and female to be smaller and slimmer, so what do these traits tend to favour in the looks department, men or women?
So while a form of racism and stereotyping exists that harms an Asian man’s chances of bagging a White Western woman, this is certainly not the whole story. Every issue that exists between the races is not solely down to ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination. We must explore all avenues, even if some of those avenues sound like they are being racist themselves. We cannot let the “isms” blind objectivity, which seems to be happening too often lately.
TheKorean seems to like talking about an ocean of different cultural possibilities – when an outsider tries to explain Korean culture – that make it difficult to come to conclusions. Without further research the issue of why there are more Asian women with white men is like the ocean in that it may be difficult to pinpoint one particular reason and it may change for different people, but with an overall trend possibly present somewhere. Why then, when the subject of discrimination or racism and Western culture come into focus does he narrowly forget the ocean analogy and zero-in on one reason for the trends we see in Western society related to Asians. I see a double-standard at work here because if trying to explain the behaviour of Asian people based on culture is difficult, he should acknowledge that it is also difficult to explain Western people this way also.