updated 30 Apr 2012, 07:43
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Mon, Apr 30, 2012
China Daily/Asia News Network
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Western women 'invisible' in Asia?
by Qi Zhai

Tonight after 10 o'clock, Beijing's bars and club will come to life, celebrating the official start of the weekend once again. The lighting will be ambient, the music beating a stimulating tempo, and, with every glass of liquid courage imbibed, the night owls will start prowling. Guys will be hitting on girls, girls will be hitting on guys, and all the permutations in between.

One group of lonely, frustrated folks in the corner won't be participating - the Western women.

A 20-something American friend complained to me recently, "I feel invisible in Beijing. The other day I walked by a table of Western men at a caf and nothing happened. Back home, I would've expected at least a head turn!"

Is it true? Are Western women "invisible" in this town?

Invisible Western women

I've heard this complaint often - that male expats find no trouble romping around their new host city while female expats are perpetually hanging out in the dating doldrums.

As I set out this week to investigate the truth - or myth - behind this urban tale, I initially came across this scathing review of the gender and cultural inequality in our beloved city.

"Men come to Beijing and they fall - it is a city of fallen men," said a female professional.

It's easy to set the blame squarely on the men. Most of the women I talked to banded together to bolster their claim that it's a simple case of Western men having no standards when it comes to romance in Beijing.

But that sees like a sweepingly unfair judgment when we stop to look at the many fair ladies here gracing the arms of Chinese and Westerners alike.

The men, of course, see the matter in a different light. They say they're just taking "cultural exchange" very seriously during their time in Beijing.

One man told me, "Some of us are here for the whole experience, so we experiment with cultural and ethnic diversity."

Another put it a little more bluntly: "I think white girls here are at a disadvantage because a lot of white males here have some degree of yellow fever. There are Western guys that are only into Chinese girls."

Perhaps this explanation, although unfair, is somewhat understandable. After all, do we blame the gourmet traveler for sipping champagne when in Champagne?

But, if yellow fever is the culprit it does beg the question, "Don't Western women catch the yellow fever too?"

Apparently not. At least not according to the popular opinion in my survey sample. Some female expats themselves readily admit that they just aren't attracted to Chinese men, much to the dismay of some of those men.

An Asian-American told me his woe of being part of an unloved cohort: "The media just doesn't portray us as sex objects. It gets even worse with Western women because the height factor alone is a problem. Women want to date tall guys and a lot of us Asian men are smaller than the white girls."

Physical attraction is certainly important, but it isn't everything, even in the fickle mood that seizes the bar crowd late at night. There seems to be a cultural factor that plays to the advantage of Western male-Chinese female relationships, but doesn't translate well into Western female-Chinese male pairings.

Quite simply, the issue is that "Chinese guys are just less aggressive."

This culturally gentler approach becomes a double whammy - against the favor of female expats - when a Chinese man considers his approach in a social setting.

One man broke it down for me as such, "I think Chinese guys are intimidated by white girls, all the while being curious about them. I don't think they have the guts to approach them."

There are exceptions to the rule, but overall, the young Beijingers I grilled about gender, culture, race and dating agreed that acceptable levels of "aggression" is a big part of the problem.

One European woman, who has had plenty of luck in love in the capital, told me her secret: "One thing that almost every Chinese guy has told me is, 'You're so quiet and soft. You're not like the other Western women - they're so frightening.'"

But what about women who, like me, are naturally more assertive? Her other secret is not quite simple: "I think I haven't had any problems dating here because I'm actually looking at the Chinese guys when I go out."

There you have it. While physical and cultural factors are behind the distorted dynamics in Beijing's pick up scene, it doesn't hurt anybody's chances to try something new.

For the Western friends who complain of a tough time finding a man in Beijing, maybe looking at a Chinese man tonight is a first step. Proactively striking up a conversation is perhaps the next logical one.

readers' comments
I've heard this story too, RedDotter1, that there are quite a lot of brainy AngMor chix who would love a posting to Singapore, but realistically speaking only the "Old Boys Network" AngMor get the jobs requiring the token-gesture AngMor.

The "Old Boys Network" are the "Grey Warriors" who ponce around like CEOs and can get any chick they want, and yeah they probably are CEOs.

You'll see them down in River Valley with, well, any chick they want!!!

I'm a man, but I would love to have a really big, fat...


Which chix can touch and feel for its richness and pleasurability.
Posted by Trouser Press on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 19:09 PM
No lah. The women already lost the battle fighting to come close to sniffing the air ticket to great city's postings back at their HQ.
Posted by RedDotter1 on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 10:42 AM

Re: Western women 'invisible' in Asia?

Not necessarily racist. Maybe Singapore Technologies have invented a device which applies a cloak of invisibility to AngMor women as they transit to Arrivals in Changi???

Hence they become as invisible as "Kevin Bacon" or James Bond's Aston Martin?

The idea will be to apply the invisibility coating to immigrants next, so that Singaporeans don't "see" the overcrowding on the North-South line.

It will feel like you're being "bumped into" all the time though.

Is this enough?
Posted by Trouser Press on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 10:38 AM
Is this a races posting...................?
Posted by wibi91 on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 10:28 AM

Talk about "having cake and eating it". John Major (UK Prime Minister 1990 to 1997) had a full-blown secret affair with MP and author Edwina Currie, and fully got away with it.

The question is: Do powerful women who "get the cake", as you talk about, become fantastic leaders or not? I would proffer that even if they become leaders, the undermining campaigns by men finish them off in the end.

It is solving the latter that counts. I for one would love to see female MPs everywhere, as well as female diplomats and female CEOs. You have my vote.
Posted by Trouser Press on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 10:20 AM
That's because women are sadly STILL suffering from inferior complex in the 21st century. They still let the men bully them and push them aside to take the BEST pickings first lor. You think men would gentlemanly say, 'Ladies first', for good location postings? They'll say that only when it suits them, so wake up. All inferior locations are then open for females to post to, after their beer drinking exchanges among them that such host cities are boring and no boys wanna go.

Women worked harder to be recognised but in general still do not dare to take the cake when they've worked for it. They don't play political enough and they don't join force in solidarity for their own welfare enough. They stupidly rather join a guy's gang than realising their advantages. Just look at the current Survivour Heroes vs Villians episode, and you'll know .....
Posted by RedDotter1 on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 10:12 AM

If you are a woman, may I say that I am a bit of a conundrum in that I can get sexually aroused by all races, yet I am not that promiscuous.

If I see a caucasian lady and she is attractive (especially 40+ who "know how to drive"), even if she smokes I would give her one in a sensual, consensual relationship.

If you are a British Indian or French White person you are not invisible to me.
Posted by Trouser Press on Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 09:55 AM
I hate how "white" is synonymous with Western. While I agree with some points discussed, I kept wanting to shout, "GET A CLUE!!" Maybe I should say Black, Latina and SE Asian women are invisible in this article. Bleh.
Posted by InvisibleMap on Mon, 19 Apr 2010 at 23:49 PM
This must be some kinda China story 'cos it does not apply to Singapore.

Most of the white chix in S'pore are Brits or Yanks and damned confident and brainy and don't seem lonely. Also, while AM/WF is rare, it is here.

A lot of the Brit blokes in S'pore know that while getting laid by someone, somewhere, Singaporean, in Singapore, is do-able, finding the right life partner is more tricky in S'pore. Hence I know of quite a few Ang Mor who are pretty relaxed with any race.

Shanghai is all Chinese, attractive, sweet-taking ladies. Add this to the fact that expats in China will be by-definition new to the country, and you get lots of "sample and see". Chinese ladies are also conservative in a special way, and what I mean is that if you do make love to .....
Posted by Trouser Press on Mon, 12 Apr 2010 at 08:43 AM
is a ''superory'' mind setting....

those white male animal alway think that other colour female are 'timid'' and easy to management then those white female of thier country......

If white white like to have fun....Asian Guy from HK, SG, TW are more to approach as those are the guy who are english educated white woman....please lower ur ''standard'' to accept those asian guy.....they are fun
Posted by New Wave on Mon, 12 Apr 2010 at 08:28 AM

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