My girlfriend visited me in HK over the holidays. For the 17 days that she walked by my side, I was visible. She’s Vietnamese-American, but seems to look Chinese enough to pass for a local here in many instances. People frequently spoke Canto to her, something they never do to me. They also stared at her constantly, in a way that would be considered lecherous in the West. I remember my former boss, who’s a Chinese-Canadian woman, telling me about this behavior, and how much it bothered her. I had been out with Chinese women in HK a few times before this, and had seen the stares already, but until these last few weeks, I really had no idea. We couldn’t walk anywhere without men staring at her face, her chest, and her legs. It was as constant as construction. Now that she’s back in Colorado, my powers of invisibility have returned.
In Boulder white man/Asian woman couples are considerably less common than they are in HK. But here, we (or maybe just she) attracted lots of attention, and not just from men. Women would stare at us as well, they would see her with her gweilo and then look her up and down. The funniest incident occurred on New Year’s Eve, when some pseudo model walked by us, pausing briefly to give my girlfriend a very serious, aggressive and perfunctory peace sign. We were unsure exactly what it was meant to communicate, but it certainly wasn’t “peace.” The cops also noticed me a lot and gave me really dirty looks (previously my powers of invisibility were so powerful with the police that I was considering a crime spree). In short, we got a lot of attention. This really was my first real experience with the stare.
I’m certainly not the first blogger to tackle the white man/Asian woman phenomenon, but I’ve now been half of that pairing on two different continents, so I’ll share my observations. Particularly since there’s so much nonsense devoted to this topic on the internet.
White people are bigger, taller, hairier, fatter and more muscular than Asians (on average). Asians also look younger longer, and have fewer flaws in their skin. All these traits are all either more attractive or less off-putting in men than women. Hair, muscles and large physical size are all masculine traits, they advertise high testosterone levels and hence high gene quality, and as a result women prefer men with these traits, particularly as short term mates. Being overweight (i.e. having a high hip to waist ratio), having flawed skin and looking old are both associated with low fertility in women, which explains why these traits are much more important cues for men than women.
There are cultural factors as well, the most obvious of which is the high social status of white men in HK and elsewhere. That gap is closing though, and many Chinese women will eventually prefer a more culturally competent (in Asia) Chinese man as a long term mate. But many of these mixed pairings are long-term, and that’s where the cultural factors kick in. Both white men and Asian women feel like their getting something from the other race that they’re not getting from their own. Many Asian women (including my girlfriend) complain that Asian men are either chauvinistic and authoritarian toward women, or they are timid. Many white men (including myself) complain that white women are just too confusing. Do I pay the tab or not? What kind of signals is that sending? I don’t want to appear chauvinistic, but I also don’t want to appear cheap. Asian women have more straightforward rules. With them, men can be men; we don’t have to be the perfect man and the perfect woman at the same time.
White women have a hard time dating in this town, and not only because all the white guys are with Asian women. I’ve met several Chinese men who say they simply aren’t attracted to white women, and many white women who say they aren’t attracted to Chinese men. There’s definitely something to this, because in HK I’ve never met a white guy who says he isn’t attracted to Asian women (excluding gay men), and I haven’t heard an Asian woman say she isn’t attracted to white men (though I’m sure there are plenty such women, I just don’t run in very Chinese circles). In HK, it seems that people have sexual preferences for both race and sex. Some Chinese guys don’t like white women, some do. Some white women don’t like Chinese guys, some do. Most women seem to like black guys, but some don’t. But most everyone is willing to break their race preference, for that special someone. Not so with the sex preference. A Chinese friend of mine is bisexual; but she’s only into Chinese women, and doesn’t seem to like Chinese guys.