One of my white male colleagues in China gave me this parting advice:
“Before you leave China, be sure to get yourself a Chinese wife. They are not as disrespectful as American women. It’s their culture, they are sweet and loving and the best part about being in China.”
I really enjoyed talking to this colleague, and I really like his sarcastic, no-nonsense wife, so I had a hard time digesting this sudden revival of orientalist claptrap. He’s lived in China for a decade, and he claims to suffer from being pinpointed as “one of those Americans” stealing Chinese women. Poor him?
Well, he’s in the Philippines now (where Asian female-ophiles go for retirement). And I’m left pondering.
My friend calls his own relationship “unconventional,” but, in the spirit of Asian American patriarchs (Frank Chin, Shawn Wong, etc.) I want to call him a “fake queer.” The very sound of “fake queer” is offensive to the ear, and that’s part of the point. A “fake queer” relationship is not “normative,” but is also so eye-rollingly typical and indifferent (or complicit) to heteronormative cultures that it would make anyone cringe to name it “queer.”
Fake queer desires are kind of like “reverse racism,” in that they sound “queer” if only we lived in an ideal society deprived of any real context/history. The “white American male seeking an Asian female” relationship is one of these.
Take this craigslist post for example.
This Christmas-color-wearing hunk has left the same ad in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and god knows where else. His “nickname” is “RRRR (pronounced like a growl).”
He is seeking:
Wish list: soft body and spirit, unconventional, strong mind and character; free thinker yet likes her man in charge and to protect her; height/weight proportionate; no large tattoos or piercings exc. ears; EXTREMELY feminine and intelligent; LOVES classical music (knows, for example, the difference between Haydn & Ravel; doesn’t think Beethoven’s a large dog and Bach’s the sound he makes when chasing cats); arts & sciences, politics, literature, nature; incurably curious.
I suspect that the ad may be fake or exaggerated, but then again, in Asia it’s a pretty typical style of flirtation. I call men like “RRRR” fake queer. Not only does he seek out an Asian female who will adjust to his personality traits, his language, and his country, but he sees himself as a rebel for it. Riddled throughout the ad are efforts to find a woman just as “weird” and “nonconformist.”
On a more sympathetic note, his love for the Asian stereotype could be termed a fetish (and, remarkably, queer). As RRRR writes, “I’ll open your door, carry all heavy stuff, be strong for you, and protect you.” It sounds like something a good honest person, comfortable with her sexuality, has whispered in my own ear. Indeed, the whole ad could be read as a call for a dom-sub fetish one-night stand. He says: “I’ve fulfilled all my sexual fantasies, and want to keep fulfilling them with someone I love, and who loves me.”
There are times when reading his ridiculous, unconscious orientalism that I couldn’t help but insert sex-positive yawps: “I favor gender fairness, but I’m sick of being treated like the enemy by bitchy American women [oh yeah, I’m such a dirty dog]. Why do you think so many American men look overseas for wives? I won’t apologize for being [such a] masculine [big bad boy!]. American feminists tell men to get in touch with their “feminine sides,” but I only do that to give it a firm spanking like the dirty little slut that it is [no commentary needed].”
How do these men go on in their (out of the bedroom) fetish stereotypes, and call themselves “unconventional,” “nonconformist” or “stereotyped”? Fakes, all of them.