Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Those 'feminine' foreigners

Over at Cactus Kate, a fluff piece on expats returning home from the HoS earned some prickly prose for being dumb. Sure enough an even worse literary crime than the HoS reared its ugly head, the inane writings of a charisma man struck down by a case of foreign fever.

For those not in the know, Charisma man is based on a Japanese comic strip about geeky single western men who show up in the Land of the Rising sun to find he suddenly has the power to pull hot Japanese woman, speak fluent Japanese, drink copious amounts of alcohol and be the popular guy he always knows he was back in the west. The arch-nemesis of the charisma man is the western women who drain him of his superpowers whenever he is in their presence. The comic gets much play amongst western expats in Asia though the theme, the exotic is erotic, could be applied to just about anyone who finds themselves a stranger in a strange land.

But what is foreign fever you may ask? Just like its Asian cousin, yellow fever, foreign fever refers to people (usually men) who go out of their way to date well, foreigners, because the women from their home country are fat/slutty/don't use make up/shallow/angry/materialistic/drink too much/don't look after themselves and mostly importantly don't 'look after' (read sleep with, cook, clean and just generally worship) 'their' men (actually just one man, him) . I've lost count of the number of times I've heard this sort of tripe leveled at New Zealand women. Not because I happen to be a bitter New Zealand woman crying into my latte that those feminine foreigners have stolen 'my' men but because I've heard the same shit about Australia, Canada, Britain, Thailand, Philippines and Korea by males of various nationalities during my time abroad. So many different nationalities, so many women committing the same crime, being 'unfeminine' in the eyes of a man.

But what exactly is feminine? In the case of those charisma men with a case of yellow fever, feminine is often a synonym for submissive. This seems so weird because anyone who has actually spent any time around Asian woman (and no having sex with barflies doesn't count) they'd find out that there are many adjectives to describe them and submissive sure as hell ain't one of them. Just ask anyone who has been on the business-end of a tussle for the last subway seat with an umbrella wielding 5' nothing grandmother or even the actual partners of these 'doll like' women.

But how do you tell the difference between a charisma man and a regular guy who happens to be married to woman who doesn't share the same passport? Quite simple, look at they treat their partners. If a man constantly refers to his partner as my *insert nationality here* girlfriend/wife rather than her name, it because the dipshit charisma man can't actually pronounce the woman's name despite spending years learning the local lingo.

When challenged on his racism/sexism, a charisma man will often point out that they can't possibly be racist because they have an *insert nationality here* girlfriend/wife and mixed kids. They will also wax lyrical about how feminism has destroyed women from *insert home country here* yet how terrible the women from *insert foreign country here* are treated by the local men and how much better his wife/girlfriend it is now that he has liberated her from such oppression.

If you make the mistake of provoking a Charisma man's pseudo-intellectual rants, be sure to score bonus points by pointing out that he is oblivious to the fact that his wife has not sat down to join him for dinner because she is busy making sure he is full by offering to pour the long-suffering woman a drink.

She probably needs it.


Anna said...

I hate the arrogance of those men who speak about picking and choosing and comparing women like items on a supermarket shelf!

stargazer said...

the severe shortage of young women asia that will happen in the next 10 years or so is going to have an interesting effect on your "charisma man" types. china will be about 115 million women short, and the situation in other countries while not so dire, will still not be great. i suspect foreigners coming in and marrying local women will not be taken to kindly at all.

Hugh said...

I thought there was already a shortage of young women in China.

Let's hope that if things get worse the anger at foreigners marrying local women will fall only on the 'charisma men'.

Cactus Kate said...


I can never get enough of you writing about the Charisma Man.

Stargazer is correct. Especially when Chinese (or other general Asian nationalities) men get wealthier at the middle classes.

I imagine our poor, chubby, pasty, ungentlemanly Kiwi blokes will have no show!

The ex-expat said...

Not just China, Korea has the same problem! At the moment they are exporting the problem by importing brides from poorer Asian countries like Vietnam.

Stargazer, interestingly there is a bit of hostility towards Asian women marrying westerners however the women are the targets of the hostility. Oddly, I've had some very bad comments out on the town from western guys when I dated Korean men, oh they have small dicks and treat their women poorly etc.

The whole thing is utterly nausating.

stargazer said...

interestingly there is a bit of hostility towards Asian women marrying westerners however the women are the targets of the hostility.

surprise, surprise. is it ever any different?

incidentally, projections are that the shortage of women is not going to lead to an increase in the bargaining power and status of women. instead, the thinking is that it will lead to an increase in abductions, shotgun weddings, rape, prostitution and the like.

Hugh said...

Historically a shortage in the number of women in China has often led to significant social disorder. The Nien rebellion in the 19th century has been seen as primarily caused by an extreme imbalance between men and women, particularly in the 15-30 demographic.

Not to claim that what has happened in China in the past will necessarily happen again, but it's not unprecedented.

Brett Dale said...

I think why some people want to date people from foreign countries, men and woman, is because its a different culture, I personally find it nice to talk to someone of the opposite sex on subjects other than rugby, shortland street or how much beer someone can drink.

Im sure woman feel the same.

Anna said...

Somewhat true, Brett, but I think that the men who are interested in foreign women to broaden their cultural horizons are not the ones (like the guy Ex-expat links to) who slag off kiwi women for all sorts of horrible reasons.

And I think it's a bit harsh to imply that NZ women are all about beer, rugby and Shortland St - I know precisely nothing about two of those subjects!

The ex-expat said...

It would be slightly hypocritical of me to slag people off for dating foreigners given that I have dated men of various nationalities. As I said in my post, the exotic the erotic.

However I have never used my dates as some sort of status symbol to make disparaging comments about an entire group of people like you just did nor did I see any of the men I dated as my 'foreign' boyfriend, they were just my boyfriend who happened to not be a kiwi.

Hugh said...

I've got to admit I'm finding this whole thread very confusing.

The line between finding it exciting to be going out with somebody because it affords you a chance to be exposed to and learn about another culture and introducing them as "My [ethnicity] girlfriend" seems an extremely fine one.

Back-tracking a bit, I read Brie's post about how she was 'ethnic at heart' and found it a bit off-putting, particularly the part about how she would 'end up marrying someone from a different culture or country'. Any comments on that?

QoT said...

My partner, who wrote his thesis on Japanese strategic culture, cannot stop cackling whenever he sees a Western guy wax lyrical about how Japanese women are so doll-like and submissive and taught to "respect" men. Boy are most of them in for a rude awakening.

Azlemed said...

I am married to someone of a different culture, but I do not introduce him as my german husband..... my bro in law however does refer to his girlfriend as being from the phillipines a lot.

Alot does depend on how you talk about said person and how you behave towards them.

strawbrie.jam said...

Well I feel that since my post has been brought up (I'm Brie), I should jump in with a comment.

Hugh, I'm sorry to hear that you found my post off putting however having gone back and read it I can see why. I wrote it very late when night (when I was really too tired to be writing) and I think it is very trivial on some very untrivial matters. I wasn't really meaning it to be taken with a great degree of seriousness. I was just interested in my friend's comment that I was ethnic at heart and was trying to work out what she meant by that.

About the whole marrying someone from a different culture thing, I was only really meaning that in a light-hearted way, it's something my family and friends have always teased me about, and they mean it in the same way that someone might say "oh I always expected you to end up with someone with brown hair". It's just a statement and really I think that when I fall in love it will be the person I fall in love with and not their ethnicity.

I guess part of my post ethnic at heart was an attempt to understand things, as a Pakeha women growing up in New Zealand it took me a long time before I felt like I really belonged in New Zealand culture for a variety of personal reasons I won't go into. I accept that the post was rather superficial, but to be honest my friend's comment was based on very superficial things, and I was just interested in the way I appeared "ethnic" to her based on my interests. Once I hand in my last Uni assignment tomorrow I am going to do a more serious and actually thought out post on the whole idea of ethinicity. Apologies if I offended anyone, I really didn't mean to.

Bevan11 said...

While it might be funny to lay into the 'charisma man', this post seems to be one-sided.

It takes two to tango here; nobody is forcing the 'foreign' girlfriends into these relationships.

If you're calling him shallow for dating the foreign women, doesn't that make the girlfriend just as shallow for dating him?

OTOH, not necessarily; she may just be acting on what she finds desirable.

I hate the arrogance of those men who speak about picking and choosing and comparing women like items on a supermarket shelf!

Women do this too with men; it's an instinct we all have. Sure, you can choose to fight it, but don't be surprised when people go with it.

I would expect that people who think that way are looking more for short-term fun than a relationship. Therefore, more likely to judge on appearance than personality.

I guess my main point is that desire is not necessarily subject to rationality.

The ex-expat said...

Ok let me say again I have no problem with anyone dating foreigners. Male, female, I don't care.

However don't use your dating choices as an excuse to hate on other woman or for that matter other men due to your own inadequacies.

Anna said...

Bevan, have a look at the comment Ex-expat is writing about. It's rancid. Probably some women do behave like this in relation to men, but I've never heard any say, 'Chinese men complain less if you stay out late with your mates, Greek men dress nicer for you', etc. I know a crusty middle-aged guy who had a young Filipina girlfriend'. He carried a picture of her in her underwear in his wallet, and showed anyone who'd look. He was very proud of his purchase. You can't tell me that the woman's poverty had no part in this, and that she liked being treated like that.

Hugh said...

I've frequently heard Kiwi women complaining that:

1) Foreign men are more considerate, generous, intellectual and well-groomed than kiwi men, who are characterised as oafish, rugby-obsessed beer-drinkers

or alternatively

2) Kiwi men are down-to-earth, sensible and unpretentious, as opposed to foreign men who are characterised as sleazy, snobbish and effeminate.

Hugh said...


Thanks for responding. In retrospect dragging you into this wasn't the classiest thing to do. I was definitely guilty of reading your post in the spirit of the blog it was linked to from, which was reasonably political and serious rather than personal and casual, which was doubtless the spirit you wrote it in.

I might respond with my thoughts in more detail, but your blog would probably be a better place to do it.