Stereotypewriter: Welcome to the ‘Get With A Chinese’ Club

It’s an interesting statistic that my friends in China have changed over the two years I’ve been here from those that are just visiting to those that are here and have serious Chinese relationships (read that how you will – wife, girlfriend, etc.). It raises an interesting question about whether there is any other reason to stay in China?

I’m sure there is – and I’m sure there are plenty of people not married to, going to marry or otherwise seriously dating a Chinese national that find China a perfectly comfortable place to live – but to put it in perspective… here is a partial list from my daily reads of foreigners talking about China whom have some sort of romantic connection with China:

Me (the humanaught)
Steven (people’s republic of…)
Hector (Chronicles of a Confused Chicano in China)
John (Sinosplice)
Kevin (Just Another Laowai)
Jeremiah (The Granite Studio)
Dezza (Mask of China)
Bill (This is China!)
The 88s (The 88s)
Shaun (Xiao Niu)

Though this only includes those I definitely know to be in relationships with Chinese and available at first glance of my RSS feeds and blogroll, I think it illustrates what I’m saying.

Two interesting reads have got me thinking about the fact that I’m marrying into this niche.

The first is Bill’s post, “Same Bed, Different Dreams” at his This Is China! blog. It’s (in a rather circular referencing fashion) actually a response to a comment I made on a previous entry of his. He goes a long way to adding to the thought though, and raises some excellent points about miscommunication between cultures.

This is something that only after a year and a half of living with Maggie am I starting to understand – and as Bill candidly explains can still slip past even after more than eight years of marriage. Cultural differences go much deeper than just whether or not you celebrate Christmas or Spring Festival – eat pasta or mian tiao – wear long-johns or go without.

The second article that got me thinking about this was at The 88s blog. His post entitled “How To Date Asian Women” is one that shouldn’t be missed. It is (in some way) a review of an ebook for those looking to, well, date an Asian woman. He doesn’t offer much direct criticism of the book (which it well earns), but rather explains, “Some things are such pure objects of self-parody and absurdity that it is better just to marvel at them in quiet awe and bask in their radioactive, crapulescent glow. You know, like David Hasselhoff or the Bush administration.”

It all makes me realize that where many people marry into an institution and a statistic (often of failure), I am marrying into a stereotype… and that’s a bit weird. In the most important ways it’s not at all strange, because I know Maggie. I live with her and I see our relationship from the inside. I see the goofy affection, the stupid and inescapable fights, the inevitable and welcome makeups, the incredible amounts of patience and understanding needed to make it work, and the pure -unaffected by culture, race or backgrounds- love that we have for each other.

But from the outside, I am just one more laowai hooked up with some hottie Asian looking for her ticket to easy street. Just another Westerner that decided to get himself a complacent woman from a backwards and under-liberated society to cook and clean for him. Marrying someone willing to trade in her search for Mr. Dui for the opportunities that marrying a foreigner affords.

Funny, that.

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