Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Miscegenation? Race-Traitory? Consensual Choice? White Male Korean Female Relationships Warmed Over Again

There's an amazing conversation going on, that's stretched across three blogs so far, about the archetypal, unbelievably fraught white male/Korean female relationship:

is it the ultimate realization of internalized colonialism, or is it simply a choice between two human beings?  This topic comes back again and again, probably with each new wave of people making these same choices, and it's classic troll-bait... so be aware I'll be monitoring the comments carefully on this one.

Anyway, go read James at The Grand Narrative, who, like me, is a white dude married to a Korean woman.  James wrote a post titled "Real and Presumed Causes of Racism Against Interracial Couples in Korea," that's highly worth reading in its entirety.  In it, James responds to a comment on "Noona's Blog" (Are Koreans a Homogenous People?) by a fella named Jake, from a website called "Asian Male Revolutions" which challenges the image of the asian male as it has been presented in the Western media (here's another article about that from "IamKoream," one of my favorite websites for and by Korean Americans).  You see, in response to Noona's question whether Koreans are homogenous, Jake suggests that (most? all?) white male-Korea/Asian female dating boils down to unconscious lapsing into colonial power dynamics.  James at The Grand Narrative has a message for Jake, from Mrs. Grand Narrative:

(in short: -image stolen from James' blog)

Then, I'm No Picasso, which is probably my favorite K-blog that I've found in the last year, weighs in with her own view on the thing, in a portrait of purest hypocrisy on the part of a certain fella she once talked with.  Her post is titled "Hello, I'm a Woman" and is also worth reading in its entirety.

James' blog continues to get more interesting and more relevant as he tackles topics like this.

Now, I'm no trained sociologist, but I find this discussion interesting, if only because I happen to have married a Korean woman myself.  And she's awesome.

I mostly side with James, that it's patronizing, sexist, and just insulting to imply that Korean women have no agency of their own in choosing whom they date and marry: Wifeoseyo didn't pick me because I looked like a superhero, and I didn't pick her because she lowered her eyelids and acted submissive.  In fact, the 'submissive' act is as much a turn-off for me as that aegyo crap, which some people like, but I don't. (The Joshing Gnome's highly worthwhile piece on Aegyo-part 1)


This funny YouTube video looks at the issue of Asian women and white guys, which is pretty good: the doofus who plays the white dude is a real doofus... but after reading I'm No Picasso's post, I can't help but notice the video's almost entirely male.


However, I'll give I'm No Picasso the final word, with this setup:

While I agree with nearly all of the points in theory that Jake has made, and I see where it all is coming from, the point is, categorizing people's relationships with other people based on race is not okay. It's not okay from one end, and it's not okay from the other. And I find it disturbing that it seems this "revolution" in the Asian male's image of himself has to come at the cost of feminsim, in his view.

and then this absolute coup de grace:

Welcome to our world, Jake. Thanks for being part of the problem. So long as you promote the idea that you have the right to categorize the choices that women make in regards to the race of the person they choose to love, and why they are making those choices, you will only be enforcing what it is you are supposedly taking a stand against. This is not a male issue -- you don't get to have all the control.

65 comments:

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I don't truck with the aegyo crap, either. In any situation. Students, especially, learn early that pulling aegyo on me will have the opposite desired effect.

Caryn Ouwehand said...

As per by prof with a PhD is sociology, ethnicity is very slowly dissapearing from a biological standpoint. We are more and more alike genetically all the time as our world becomes smaller due to improved technology and transportation, and more people marry inter-racially.

I say, people are going to marry whoever they want.

...Especially the Dutch. HA HA HA HA.

(but little do all you dutchies realize, you are also losing your ethnicity everytime you marry outside of Holland! MUA HA HA HA! I am contributing to the OVERTHROW!)

No but seriously, this stuff makes me mad. This isn't a White-guy/Korean girl phenomenon... this is increasing all over the world. Inter-racial marriage rates are higher than ever before in history, and I only see them continuing to climb.

Deb said...

TROLL!!!!

The Seoul Searcher said...

My two cents on the issue are going probably not be popular, but I also have a lot to say in this regard.

I read through a lot of what Jake, Noona, and Picasso had to say (with special attention to Picasso's anecdotal event).

What I think is that both sides of this argument are simply not willing to truly see the other side. This subject happens to be the single largest argument that befalls all Asian-American activist sites... go check out Model Minority, The fighting 44s, or one of the more mild actual activism sites,Yellowworld, and you will see that Asian-American men and women have a lot to say about the subject of interracial dating.

I'm always seeing though that on one side, there's always a lot of Asian men and a few Asian women who are against interracial dating for pretty much all the reasons that Jake is mentioning. On the other side will be a lot of non-Asians, lots of Asian women, and few Asian men, who think that people shouldn't care who dates who. Rarely do you find a middle ground.

I'm the middle ground. First, it's really not my business what two consenting adults want to do, however, that doesn't mean I have to like it or be in support of it in any way. That's the big problem I think that people don't realize. If a white dude is out in public with an Asian chick, but expects everyone to just be okay with it, and not see it as "the white hero coming and conquering Asian women" then I've got news for him... that's not going to happen. It comes with the territory, and as someone who has it relatively easy to at least score dates (having lasting relationships is definitely a different matter entirely)by virtue of simply being foreign, the occasional glance or stare should be expected. Think how much worse black men or South Asians have it.

And for those guys who think that people should be more openminded and that the idea of an Asian-fetishizer is simply a stereotype, I have to call bullshit on that one.

I used to be the manager of a pretty popular foriegn bar and you'd have white guys coming in there asking me to chime in on which kind of Asian women had better nipples, where was the best place to visit Korean prostitutes, or why Korean women are better than white women. Yet these are the same people who complain when Korean society isn't colorblind when they are walking on the street together.

And if you're a fine upstanding white male who truly is colorblind, you have nothing but these jerks to thank for the injustices (wow, a couple of stares) that you have recieved, and the onus is on YOU to prove people otherwise.

That's another thing, that people expect the benefit of the doubt. That's not how it works, and you'll probably have to prove again and again to strangers that you're suitable for your girlfriend or wife. The people who know you, who are your friends, or her friends and family will probably be the only people WORTH proving it to, but if you want the acceptance of everyone else, you'll have to prove it somehow. Yes, it's not fair.

On the other side, no, not all white men are fetishizers. If you see an interracial couple, you don't have the right to say anything about them because it's not your business. You however don't have to like it or tolerate it if you don't want to. Nobody is forcing you to be friends with a person in an interracial relationship. But instead of all the hostility towards the white men or the asian women in an interracial relationship, focus on your own relationship and do things they way YOU want them to be done in YOUR LIFE.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@Caryn

Yes, you're right, interracaial marriage IS increasing all over the world, but in Asia specifically, it's usually a white guy pared with an Asian girl, not the other way around.

Why is that?

The Seoul Searcher said...

Dude, what happened to my long post? Did you delete it? I wasn't trolling in there at all!

Roboseyo said...

No, TSS. Some long comments automatically go into moderation: it's one of blogger's new features which I didn't ask for.

The Seoul Searcher said...

I see. When I posted it it was there for a while then it suddenly disappeared.

The Grand Narrative said...

I tried to write a step-by-step rebuttal to your argument in an earlier version of this, but then had to give up in frustration because you don’t actually have one.

In particular, let’s take this “middle ground” you describe. Apparently, it lies somewhere between those “who are against interracial dating for pretty much all the reasons that Jake is mentioning” and those “who think that people shouldn't care who dates who” on the other.

Well, I’d be one of the latter I guess. Does this make me an extremist by your definition then?

In hindsight though, I now realize that you don’t mean actually mean people “who think that people shouldn't care who dates who”, but rather people “who expect that all people won’t care about it”, or, indeed, who even expect all people to like or be in support of their interracial relationship.

And being someone in the middle ground in contrast, appears to mean having a position no more profound than simply complaining about those people, even though I’d wager that most White men in relationships with Asian women realize that jealously is only human nature, and that it would actually be kind of strange if some Korean men didn’t feel a little jealous and angry at me, say, for having a Korean wife, much like I was in New Zealand at Latino men sometimes for seeming to score so easily with Kiwi women.

A crucial difference between Korea and NZ though, is that in the former the jealous and angry guys have much much more power to present their own, heavily biased image of the guys stealing “their” women to the rest of the population, which in turn creates stereotypes etc., fuels further jealousy, influences lawmakers, and so on. Not quite “just a couple of stares”.

I think you’ll find that in fact this is the concern of the more reasonable and thoughtful commenters on the issue of interracial dating in Korea. And far from it being solved if we (yes, I arrogantly include myself) tried to “truly saw the other side” that is Jake and his crew, I’d argue that actually we seem them all too well.

And see you also for that matter, much more of an apologist for their racism against us then I think you realize. After all, in your own words it’s just those jerks at your popular foreign bar that we have “to thank for the injustices…that you have received” right? Nothing at all to with Jake or the racist Koreans themselves.

Perhaps if you spent more time away from popular foreign bars you might realize this. And which, FYI, aren’t exactly the most objective places to form opinions about the validity of the Asian-fetishizer stereotype.

The Grand Narrative said...

Sorry: should have said in the first line that that was in response to Seoul Searcher!

3gyupsal said...

I'm all for ending racism, by ending races.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@grandnarrative


Well, I've argued this point to death with the Asian-American activists that I disagree with, and I am not apologizing for them. I welcome your contrasting opinion but let's get a few things straight, I'm in the middle ground only because I myself feel weird when I see this type of interracial couple, but I believe that it's not really my place to tell people who they should or should not date. Unfortunately due to my own racial predjudice, I assume guilty until proven innocent, and yea it's probably not too fair. Anyway it's never ever been about me myself not being able to get women.

As far as background of myself goes, I'm a Korean-American with a white mother, and I don't really look like a Korean, so even though I don't react favorably when I see the random interracial couple, Koreans see me and my GF as an interracial couple. It's a very complicated situation... and sometimes really funny.

"In hindsight though, I now realize that you don’t mean actually mean people “who think that people shouldn't care who dates who”, but rather people “who expect that all people won’t care about it”, or, indeed, who even expect all people to like or be in support of their interracial relationship."


Yea that's probably more akin to what I meant.



"A crucial difference between Korea and NZ though, is that in the former the jealous and angry guys have much much more power to present their own, heavily biased image of the guys stealing “their” women to the rest of the population, which in turn creates stereotypes etc., fuels further jealousy, influences lawmakers, and so on. Not quite “just a couple of stares”."

Really? What racism have you or anyone else suffered? What unfair law have you suffered? There is no anti miscegenation law or anything of the sort. If you're talking about that idiot from antienglishspectrum.com or whatever it is, he was going after foreigners specifically, not necessarily interracial daters.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@grandnarrative (contd)

I've lived here since 2006, and I've come every year since about 1999, and really, it all boils down to just a couple of stares. (In my experience anyway.) While certainly these kinds of stares were much fewer and far between in Japan, they have not crippled my will to live here.


"“truly saw the other side” that is Jake and his crew, I’d argue that actually we seem them all too well."

And how do you propose to see the other side of Jake and his crew? Will you ever know what it's like to live in the United States as an Asian-American male? No. Admittedly he's not familiar with Korean media, but most of his movement is focused on the situation in the U.S.

And even if he did know about the negative portrayals of white men or oversexualization of white women in the Korean media, there are plenty of counterexamples within the korean media itself that go against this, and then hollywood also reaches here. Some rinkydink drama about the baker hitting on the innocent Korean girl doesn't really reach the masses in the U.S. But, we are talking about Korea, so I digress.

"And see you also for that matter, much more of an apologist for their racism against us then I think you realize."

You're assuming it's purely racism that makes people disapprove of interracial dating. In fact, you could argue that racism is what brings some interracial couples together. I'm sure that Jake would not consider himself a racist for disapproving of interracial relationships. He sees it as a fight AGAINST racism.


"After all, in your own words it’s just those jerks at your popular foreign bar that we have “to thank for the injustices…that you have received” right? Nothing at all to with Jake or the racist Koreans themselves.

Perhaps if you spent more time away from popular foreign bars you might realize this. And which, FYI, aren’t exactly the most objective places to form opinions about the validity of the Asian-fetishizer stereotype."

Fair enough. It was certainly more than a couple of guys there, it was more like 1/2 or more of the foreign male clientèle. But if a foreign bar isn't the place to gauge people in this regard, how about Grad School? You'd think the grad students would be the tip top of the intelligence chain, and as international grad students would be free of racism and fine upstanding world citizens.

And, a lot of the white male contingent there also spent lots of time talking about Korean women and how they are different than white women during sex, and how easy it is to get with them, etc....

It's true that these both are anecdotal evidence. I'll give you that. I don't have any kinds of real statistics on white males in Korea who have fetishes or stereotypes of Korean women. But simply because I don't have real statistics doesn't mean that these guys aren't here. If you're trying to suggest otherwise then how can you expect anyone from the other side to take you seriously?

I'm also in an advantageous position to know, because even the more saavy of white males who wouldn't say such things about korean women in front of korean men or gyopos consider me white, and therefore an "insider" and feel free to spout their racist views about tiny dicked asian men, or whatever the stereotypes of Korean women are.

It could be that a lot of my interaction with white guys in Korea are with bad guys, and that I've simply missed any of the good ones (which isn't true actually, I've met plenty of good ones), but these ideas are prevalent, and it's more than a significant minority of white dudes here.

One side argues it's all white men.
The other side argues it's relatively few.


I'm in the middle because I think it's more than relatively a few, but less than all.

chiam said...

ANYONE who has a problem with a marriage/relationship between two people is either racist, intolerant, narrow-minded, prejudiced, sectarian, small-minded, or xenophobic.

There is no philosophical debate to be had on this subject.

The Seoul Searcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Seoul Searcher said...

I think this post from the Ask a Korean blog is relevant to the discussion.

I'd guess from reading it that he's also in the middle ground.

3gyupsal said...

Isn't it a bit hypocritical to be even having this discussion, when there is such a thriving marriage business between Korean men and South East Asian women?

The Seoul Searcher said...

@3gyupsal

Touche, but I doubt anyone here commenting is a Korean citizen and we all seem to be expats, ex-expats, or people who have never been to Korea, so it's not necessarily hypocritical.

Furthermore, even if we were all Koreans discussing the subject, the historical relationship between East-Asia and the West that people use to support their anti WM/AF argument is a lot different than the relationship between Korea and Southeast Asia. The reasoning behind KM/SEAF marriages is more economic than racial. Whereas WM/AF marriages may have had an economic motivator in the past, these days that economic motivation is not as prevalent, if at all lingering. Those against WM/AF pairings would insist instead that Hollywood, history, or whatever other reasons there are behind White male privilege are what makes a lot of WM/AF relationships.

The two issues are merely similar on the surface, but that similarity quickly fades after examining a little bit deeper.

The Sanity Inspector said...

Whenever the subject come up--which thankfully is quite rarely--I'll acknowledge that yes my Korean wife and I are a mixed couple: I'm Methodist and she's Presbyterian.

The Korean said...

I'd guess from reading it that he's also in the middle ground.

Actually I am more on James' side, with a few observations:

1. The extent to which yellow fever does exist among white men who come to Korea cannot be minimized. They absolutely do exist, and the ugliness of their blatant, self-unaware racism is jarring to watch. It is a mistake to think that such assholes are the majority of white men in Korea, or even a significant minority. But they still exist, and their racism is, at least in some part, what animates Korean/Korean-American men who rail against interracial dating.

2. One must be careful not to conflate Korean men and Korean-American men. Korean-American men (such as the one in I'm No Picasso's example) have a more heightened sense of race-awareness (good or bad) than Koreans, because of their experience in living in a multiracial society. The bulk of what animates Korean men and Korean American men are divergent.

3. As to what animates Korean men who rail against interracial dating, I respectfully submit one of my old posts, at the header "Jealousy of Korean young men".

The Grand Narrative said...

Just in case I've been misinterpreted, I never meant that there aren't plenty of guys in Korea with Yellow Fever. It's just that you can easily get an exaggerated view of their numbers if you spend a lot of time in foreigner bars.

Roboseyo said...

@James:
"you can easily get an exaggerated view of their numbers if you spend a lot of time in foreigner bars."

- in the same way that you'd become convinced Korea was full of bread-lovers if you hung around a lot in bakeries.

The Seoul Searcher said...

Actually I am more on James' side, with a few observations

Well, I stand corrected then. At any rate I think the fact that you highlighted what you did after saying that makes your opinion on the matter pretty clear, and I have to admit that it's not too far off from mine.

Roboseyo said...

I've really appreciated this whole discussion so far, and the way everyone's focused on the topic: thanks, all, for conducting things so completely on the up and up.

Secondly, while I think Chiam and I'm No Picasso are right that it's always dangerous to make judgements about individual couples based on racial, cultural and historical generalizations, I do think that, once we've stopped accusing every white man dating or marrying an asian female of yellow fever, and once we've dropped the arrogant and hypocritical presumption that when asian men date outside their race, they're reclaiming their lost colonial and cultural power, but when asian women date outside their race, they're playing into ancient roles of cultural subjugation, there are a lot of side-discussions around this issue - those of colonial legacies, and media portrayals, and the like - that DO hold a lot of water, and merit serious discussion.

That WM/AF dating often seems to be the flashpoint that triggers these discussions is unfortunate, because it derails those same discussions with assumptions about people, and too many personal feelings, before the pertinent issues can actually be addressed.

... sez captain obvious.

Dan said...

Why can't monsters get along with other monsters?

Soi disantra ...

They don't wanta

Prestige Hagwon Daily News said...

I can attest to the fact that my Korean wife married me solely for boatloads of money, not because dating a white guy is a "trend".

The main conclusion that everyone should garner from this debate is "Who cares what Asian men think about it anyway?"

The Seoul Searcher said...

I can attest to the fact that my Korean wife married me solely for boatloads of money

Umm...

The main conclusion that everyone should garner from this debate is "Who cares what Asian men think about it anyway?

This, if anything is trolling.

Roboseyo said...

PHDN: considering that some of my readers and commenters are asian men, I'll reiterate my request tha everyone here maintain respectful attitudes towards other commenters and population groups' opinions; else why would you expect to be afforded the same respect?

chiam said...

"but when Asian women date outside their race, they're playing into ancient roles of cultural subjugation, there are a lot of side-discussions around this issue - those of colonial legacies, and media portrayals, and the like - that DO hold a lot of water, and merit serious discussion."

Hold NO water, apart from the water those who are racist and ignorant want to hold.

I honestly can't believe that you, of all people, would think that the issue of marriage between two loving individuals merits serious discussion.

My brother is Canadian. His wife is from England. Discussion? NONE REQUIRED. My grandfather was Slovak. My grandmother is Czech. Discussion? NONE. My mother is Czech-Canadian. My father is French-Canadian. Discussion? Again, none required.

If my wife was black African, would I then automatically be guilty of Jungle Fever? If my wife was White African? What kind of "fever" is that? If my wife was Canadian, but of Korean descent, would that be yellow fever? Would some bullshit argument about subjugation blah blah blah even come up?

I very much can't believe that you even give this issue the legitimacy that it does not deserve.

Roboseyo said...

You misunderstand me, Chiam. I apologize if I didn't make myself clearer earlier.

I don't think that anyone should be pointing those judging fingers at people making a choice to love another person. I don't think that accusations of racism toward anyone who dates outside their race are germane, and certainly never without getting to know the couple extremely well first. - as The Korean wrote in his linked post, If an ignorant white dude with yellow fever and an ignorant asian lady with a taste to ride the white horse hook up, that's a match made in fools paradise... but we shouldn't automatically assume that every WM/AF marriage is a case of this.

What I meant was that the discussions of colonial legacies might hold water; discussion of western media portrayal of asian males is a legitimate one; discussion of the amount of power the western media has to influence other countries' and regions' local medias, and possibly to warp the self-images of people in those cultures, is certainly a legitimate discussion. Those discussions are worthwhile and need to be had, but NOT in the context of assigning or withholding validity of anybody's choice of mate.

Unfortunately, these other discussions of other topics too often ARE in the context of saying one kind or another kind of interracial dating is or isn't legitimate, and it's too bad, because when it comes to Western media portrayal of Asian men, for example, Jake (the guy whose comment set all this off) has some legitimate gripes, and ones I agree with... but those gripes DON'T give him the right to say that I shouldn't have married Wifeoseyo, or that our marriage is nothing more than a reiteration of old colonial roles.

Have I made myself more clear?

chiam said...

[I had a whole lot more written here but I deleted it.]

People like Jake? They're just wannabe pundits who haven't grown up to realize that the world is where they live, and not where everyone else lives. He's good at fooling people into thinking he's got something important to say...but at the end of the day, he's just another one of those racist assholes out there that thinks their O- blood is different than my O- blood.

The Seoul Searcher said...

I'm assuming you're white. If you aren't then I stand corrected.

My brother is [white] Canadian. His wife is [white] from England. Discussion? NONE REQUIRED.

Two white people marrying isn't really an interracial relationship..

My grandfather was Slovak. My grandmother is Czech. Discussion? NONE.
White and white. And Czechoslovakia was even once a country, so that's not even an international relationship...

My mother is Czech-Canadian. My father is French-Canadian. Discussion? Again, none required.

2 white Canadians marrying each other is neither an interracial nor an international relationship.

If my wife was black African, would I then automatically be guilty of Jungle Fever?

No, but you should expect criticism from some if that's the person you choose to marry. Typically though, it's the black women who are critical of black men who marry white women, as some say it signifies his very desire to show his success by being good enough for a white woman, and thus rejecting black women... Very few people criticize black women for marrying white, because it really doesn't happen that much.

If my wife was White African? What kind of "fever" is that?


None at all. It would be two white people marrying each other and would simply be an international relationship.


If my wife was Canadian, but of Korean descent, would that be yellow fever? Would some bullshit argument about subjugation blah blah blah even come up?

Not necessarily. You might get some dirty stares here and there, and even some people so bold as to come up to you and give you shit for it. But if that's the route you're going to choose you need to expect that some people won't like it. Most will probably leave you alone though. As long as her family and friends accept you then you really don't need to worry about all the people who look at your relationship negatively, because you don't even know them, and they probably are the kind of people who wouldn't want to be your friend (or anyone's friend if they aren't of the same race), interracial relationship or not.

palladin said...

What Jake has basically said, and INP put so well, is that is is wrong for a White male to date any female that remotely looks asian. And it would be wrong for any Asian female to date anything other then an Asian male. If your a White female then its all good for you to swoon over the Asian male. Its totally cool for the Asian male to date whomever he pleases though.

You see the problem with this rationale? Its extremely self serving and convenient if you happen to be an Asian male. But horrendously unfair, biased and restrictive if your either an Asian female or just white. There is no Asian male emasculation bullsh!t going on. For every emasculated "Asian guy" on some TV show or movie there are a dozen "weenys" on some other show that just happen to be white. Its become an exercise in selective statistics.

There is no such thing as "race-traitor" because as far as we know we're all homo sapiens. The very concept of "race" and ethnicity is a social construct we created to better isolate and divide ourselves. Its an act of pure inclusiveness.

So any Asian male who thinks he's somehow special and deserving of the attention of females worldwide because of his supposed "race" needs to wise up. You want someones attention you go and earn it through the various mating rituals our world has devised.

The Seoul Searcher said...

For every emasculated "Asian guy" on some TV show or movie there are a dozen "weenys" on some other show that just happen to be white.

Well I'm not Jake, so I can't really represent his argument, but if I were going to wager a guess, I'd bet he (or others who are on his side of the argument) would say that the white "weenys" do nothing to damage anyone's perceptions of white people as they are the majority in the U.S. In contrast, with very little positive representation of Asian males in the American media, an Asian "weeny" will represent Asians and Asian-Americans, as many white people don't have daily meaningful contact with Asians.

Let's compare for instance, Napoleon Dynamite and Long Duk Dong. Scores of Asian-Americans were made the butt of jokes thanks to the racial caricature that Long Duk Dong was, even if they exhibited no other traits other than simply being Asian. In contrast, nobody thinks that all white people are like Napoleon Dynamite, because it's clearly represented in the movie itself that not all white people are like that. This combined with all the other roles with a white male hero, and the fact that in America, whites are the majority, makes Napoleon not representative of all whites.

The very concept of "race" and ethnicity is a social construct we created to better isolate and divide ourselves.

Race exists, social construct or not. Simply saying it is a social construct does not make all racial tension and racism go away. It's basically saying, "It's not a problem." And it may not be a problem for you, but for others, it is.

You see the problem with this rationale? Its extremely self serving and convenient if you happen to be an Asian male. But horrendously unfair, biased and restrictive if your either an Asian female or just white.

I totally agree with you that it's unfair, and that it is somewhat self serving. It is unfair and biased for sure. You can choose to go against it all you want, but if you do so, you should expect that people like Jake or worse won't be happy to see you and yours when you hit the town.

Anonymous said...

"1. The extent to which yellow fever does exist among white men who come to Korea cannot be minimized."

Just how surprising is it that white *men* who *travelled to Korea* are interested in Korean *women*?

I mean, come on, they specifically made an effort to go to Korea. And they happen to be male. And they like women. And the women in Korea are mostly Korean. Why isn't this obvious? The white men who like Swedish women are probably on their way to Sweden, so they're not going to be averaging out the preferences of white males in Korea. Geez.

palladin said...

@Seoul

People make jokes because their comedians. They make black, white, mexican, asian, fat and poor people jokes every day. Using comedies isn't the best of ideas.

My point was that for every "asian male" you see put down or playing a weak non-masculine role there are plenty, dozens of "white males" playing the same role. You can't selectively apply reasoning here, either the actor is being emasculated or he isn't. Is the reasoning "its ok to emasculate the white male because their a majority, but minorities must be always be cast in a positive light" being applied? That reasoning in and of itself is racist.

The root of my argument is that you can't apply different rules to people because their from different self-identified ethnicity. It can't be "ok" for one person to do something and "not ok" for another just because their skin color is different. Applying those different social norms and rules is what beget racism to being with. You want racism to go away? Then everyone must start treating each other with the same set of rules. The "asian male" allows himself to feel emasculated upon watching Resident Evil 4 (there is a dude named Kim who is a complete wuss). Because you can turn around and see lots of white guys playing similar roles in other movies, their ignored because "their white", which make absolutely no sense.

Roboseyo said...

@Anonymous: so what about the white females who come to Korea because they like Asian men? Nobody seems to have a problem with them, and nobody ever started a website to get them deported for defiling Korean men. When it comes to individual choices of mate and date, why would different rules apply to different races or genders? On a big, social scale (see below) yeah, these factors come into play, but between two individuals, I don't think it has to, or should and I CERTAINLY don't think an outsider is allowed to apply THEIR rules to MY relationships, when they don't know me, my wife, the process or the reasons we met, fell in love, and married.

@Palladin: but I think you're missing the point SS is trying to make: it's one thing if there's a white character playing a weenie... it's another thing if the only white character in the tv series/movie is a weenie. Yeah, that white guy in that one movie was an asshole, and that other white guy in that other movie was a nerd, but the hero in those movies were also white guys, which cancels out the negative portrayal. Were there enough asian characters in Resident Evil 4 that the wuss named Kim could be seen as an exception from his race's norm, or were there so few that a misinformed viewer might take that portrayal as normative of that race? That's the issue here.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

People are making this way more complicated than it really is.

The Korean men who don't want white men dating Korean women are ultra-nationalist racists trying to protect "our women" and the racial purity (lol) of the Korean people. The end.

Feminists don't want white men dating Asian women (Korean or otherwise) because that gives them options, and therefore reduces the amount of control feminists have over them (this is also why feminists oppose prostitution and porn). Feminists also realize, somewhere deep down, that they cannot hope to compete against Asian women. Not when feminism has made them so unfeminine, selfish, amoral, misandrist, aggressive and generally insufferable. Male feminists have the same boiling hatred towards white men who date or are interested in Asian women, but this is just a result of blindly co-opting all feminist thought without considering whether it makes any sense or not. The end.

Haters gonna hate, and that's all there is to it. I'm also surprised that James (Grand Narrative) is married to a Korean woman, considering that he's a hardcore feminist.

Roboseyo:
"When asian women date outside their race, they're playing into ancient roles of cultural subjugation, there are a lot of side-discussions around this issue - those of colonial legacies, and media portrayals, and the like - that DO hold a lot of water, and merit serious discussion."

They merit no discussion whatsoever because they are nonsense. Colonialism is over, just like slavery and the Crusades are. It really is time to move on. Besides, my country has no history of colonization at all (oh wait, I forgot: white people are all collectively guilty).

The Seoul Searcher:
"And for those guys who think that people should be more openminded and that the idea of an Asian-fetishizer is simply a stereotype, I have to call bullshit on that one."

Sure, there are plenty of fetishizers looking for a kawaii waifu or whatever, but what usually happens is that anyone who likes Asian women is automatically assumed to be such a person, even if there is zero evidence pointing in that direction. In fact, the accusation is not withdrawn even if the evidence points to the opposite direction. It's not about challenging people who are fetishizers, it's about using a convinient excuse to attack anyone who likes Asian women. Playing the fetish angle allows you to obfuscate your true motives.

"And if you're a fine upstanding white male who truly is colorblind, you have nothing but these jerks to thank for the injustices (wow, a couple of stares) that you have recieved, and the onus is on YOU to prove people otherwise."

Nice try. Burden of proof remains in full effect whether you like it or not.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@Roboseyo

Thank you for understanding my point. I'd like to add:

@ Paladin
It's a double standard, and yes, it's not fair. You can say that we should all follow the same rules, but I doubt black people who are comfortable calling each other the N-word would welcome someone they don't know calling them the same, regardless of intent, particularly if the person using the word isn't black himself. You try to use your same rules argument there and YOU'RE a racist. They aren't racists for using the N-word amongst each other.

Now, I personally have known black people who were comfortable with non blacks using that word with them, and even then it was a close friend who used it. That is the exception, not the norm.

It's a different issue than what we are talking about, for sure, but you can't apply the same rules to all races, when society itself is still unequal when it comes to race relations.

@JC Supercop


Sure, there are plenty of fetishizers looking for a kawaii waifu or whatever, but what usually happens is that anyone who likes Asian women is automatically assumed to be such a person, even if there is zero evidence pointing in that direction.

Yes, that's true. Welcome to race relations 101. People will make assumptions about what they see whether you like it or not!

In fact, the accusation is not withdrawn even if the evidence points to the opposite direction.

Really? I don't think that's true at all. I'm fairly supportive of a lot of WM/AF relationships that I deem healthy, and I know that the people genuinely love each other, even in some of the cases where I initially had bad feelings about the relationship (because I didn't know one or both of the people in the relationship very well.)


It's not about challenging people who are fetishizers, it's about using a convinient excuse to attack anyone who likes Asian women. Playing the fetish angle allows you to obfuscate your true motives.


For some, that might be true, such as the dude in Picasso's anecdote. I'm not sure if all people who are concerned with the dating disparity want to hate on White dudes, or if they are more concerned that the disparity is due to the low esteem that Asian men are held in due to various stereotypes perpetrated by the media, society, or whatever the source.


Nice try. Burden of proof remains in full effect whether you like it or not.


Actually since we are dealing with people's emotions and perceptions, if you want the approval of strangers (which is what I was talking about) in regards to your interracial relationship, you have to prove it to each stranger one by one. We're not proving or disproving a fact in an academic setting here.

If some stranger walks up to a WM/AF couple and chastises their relationship as negative due to his own assumptions, and you want him to think otherwise, then you have to prove it to him that your relationship is healthy and good for her. You can't simply say "the burden of proof is on YOU, YOU must prove that our relationship isn't healthy!," because he won't be convinced by that at all.

Most people in an IR would probably just tell the guy to take a hike, because they don't care what strangers think about them. And that's fine too, but then at least they should understand that without proving that their relationship is a good one to everyone, people are going to disapprove.

palladin said...

@Roboseyo

The number of ~other~ actors in the show / movie has no bearing on the argument. Asians are a minority in the USA, and even more so in Hollywood. Most of the "white guys" in shows / movies are just extra's they grab from anywhere, I highly doubt the shows directors / hiring managers were thinking about racial statistics when doing this. When the majority of a population is Caucasian then chances are the majority of hero's will be Caucasian as well. There has been entirely too many Asian action stars for the excuse "white America is emasculating the Asian man" to hold any water. Heck the Asian action star has actually altered the way Hollywood does action / hero movies. We went from John Wayne / Clint Eastwood style to Matrix. I don't like to play on stereotypes but the "Asian male" had radically changed the way we present action movies. Seriously whens the last time there was a "cowboy" style action hero, one that didn't do flips and martial arts.

Its my firm belief that this topic has been used as an excuse for otherwise normal human males to blame their failures on someone else. Very few things are more important to a males self-image then being "successful" with mating. Guy's brains are just hardwired that way. There is a very strong argument that when people feel unsuccessful with something, they lash out and blame someone who is successful. Sometimes the fear of being unsuccessful is enough to cause this. Its been my observation that guys who spout out "the white mans keeping x/y/z from me" are just resentful and not acting rationally. Hence the "its ok for Asian guys to date white girls, but white guys better not touch Asian girls".

Roboseyo said...

@palladin: you're right that there is a part for Asian males in movies now... but if you're neither a nerd who's good at math like long duk dong, a spunky kid like Short Round in Indiana Jones, nor a wise old man (mr. Miyagi) nor a martial arts badass (jackie chan) it's slim pickings, unless (and maybe still if) your name is Ken Watanabe. Even the movies that changed the way hollywood does action heroes WEREN'T Hollywood-made, but Asian-made - people like the Wachowski Brothers and other filmmakers have been watching 1980s and 1990s Hong Kong action, and hiring Hong Kong fight choreographers, to come up with the kinds of action that's changed hollywood action scenes. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the asian martial arts film that probably had the biggest impact on that change, was asian-made, and The Matrix hired a Hong Kong fight choreographer for the combat scenes. Mission Impossible 2 and Face Off (and more) were directed by John Woo, an Asian import.

Maybe you get to be part of an asian motorcycle gang (fast and the furious), but until a romantic comedy starring an Asian male makes a serious cultural impact in America, until asian actors and actresses collect as many nominations for best actor/actress, and have the same variety of roles available to them as actors of other minorities, I think you're downplaying the way asian males, and really, also asian females, have trouble breaking out of stereotyped roles in hollywood casting, and the underrepresentation they get in hollywood, especially given that California (where Hollywod is) has such a large Asian population.

Interestingly, these days, Asian actors, male and female are being treated more equally in television than in film - Hiro in Heroes is still a bit of an anime character, but there are asian characters in Lost, Dexter, and a few of those hospital shows that I can't differentiate from each other, where Asian characters are treated as "part of the cast" rather than "let's toss in a stereotype here for yuks"

For the record, if a lot of Asian movies had only one white character, and those characters were always assholes, traitors, nerds, or emasculated comical sidekicks, I'd say bollywood, or Hong Kong, or K-film, or J-film, was being racist, too.

@JC Supercop: You've taken my quote out of context to make my comment into a strawman. Please do not do it again.

palladin said...

I agree there is an under representation of Asians in Hollywood, but the reasons why is where we diverge. There is no evil group of old white men conspiring to keep out the Asian male. When there is a demand for an Asian male in a "bounce back" style film then a supply will materialize. Actors don't choose what films get presented to them, casting directors do. Actors (or their managers) then say they'll do it or not. Casting directors look for people according to how the script writers wrote each role. There is simply a significantly larger pool of Caucasian actors, then Black actors then Asian actors. Its simple market economics doing what it usually does.

And I thought this debate was about Hollywood deliberately "emasculating the Asian male", how would an Asian male playing a touchy feely emotional role in some chick flick not end up being emasculating. Most roles I've seen Asian males play are typically masculine (action star) or neutral / co-star. Seriously If you've seen "Ninja Assasin" it would be impossible to make the "emasculating" claim. That movie had macho Asian dude kicking everyone's a$$ written all over it, it also sucked for a plot line.

Saying Asian films originated in Asia is like saying Cowboy western films originated in America. Its one of those common sense things. Movies are art (well used to be before commercialization took over). Art styles originate in their ethnic centers first then spread out to other ethnic groups. Shakespeare wouldn't of originated in Hong Kong. Cowboy westerns wouldn't of originated in East Europe. And Kung Fu movies wouldn't of originated in western USA.

Now lets take a look at East Asia. How often do you see a "white guy" have some sort of significant role in ~any~ media created in South Korea, China or even Japan? Heck near every representation I see of a Caucasian male in East Asian film has been rather embarrassing. Usually its ether a negative stereotyped sex-predator, an idiotic imbecile, or some gung-ho "kill everything with no care" soldier. And this is a country where we can say with high probability, that there is a group of evil older Asian men conspiring to keep down whitey. There are no white action stars, no white "family type" stars, no white "romantic stars".

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

How did I take anything out of context?

Roboseyo said...

@JCSupercop (by the way: great handle)

there's a big difference between:
"When asian women date outside their race, they're playing into ancient roles of cultural subjugation"

and

"once we've dropped the arrogant and hypocritical presumption that when asian men date outside their race, they're reclaiming their lost colonial and cultural power, but when asian women date outside their race, they're playing into ancient roles of cultural subjugation...."

that out-of-context pull-quote misrepresents what I was trying to say. Please be more careful with your pull-quotes in the future.

@Palladin: you're right. There's no group of evil white men trying to keep Asian men out of the limelight, any more than there's a group of evil white scapegoats controlling the finance industry, or manufacturing the war on terror, or whatever. Those evil white guys are just trying to make dough. But the fact that those few, stereotyped roles are the only ones generally available to Asian actors (though as I said, that's changing, faster on TV than in film) deserves another look. The fact that test audiences, and general audiences, only accept those roles, speaks of the need for there to be a larger discussion of the issue, on a society-wide basis, in a way there hasn't so far. Denzel and Halle's best actor wins, movies like Hitch (romantic comedy featuring an interracial couple) suggest that African-American have come a lot closer to being treated with true equality in Hollywood than Asian actors. That there's a larger pool of caucasian actors is a chicken/egg proposition: WHY is there a larger pool? Because audiences reject asian actors, etc. etc. Why do they reject them? Because they never see Asians playing roles except... etc.

You're right: of course Asian movies are from Asia. Durr. But my point was that even the reimagining that has happened so far of Asian male roles and action movies in general were not conceived in Hollywood: hollywood can't take responsibility for any of it, or not for much of it, at least.

When the Asian nations making movies that stereotype white folks are as culturally diverse as America is, and white people are still given those same roles you mentioned, then (hopefully sooner) it'll be time for them to have a real discussion about that; that America ISN'T having that discussion vis a vis asians, or not on a broad enough scale that test audiences stop chunking asian characters into those stereotypes, and rejecting those that don't, is a shame. For more my opinions on that, see my post "misuda, isaac durst and the cosbyfication of foreigners in the Korean media" http://roboseyo.blogspot.com/2010/01/misuda-isaac-durst-and-cosbyfication-of.html

I'd like to note, though, that while I think those discussions are valid, they have no bearing on how we should assess those involved in WM/AF or WF/AM relationships...

in that respect, back to you, @Jesus Christ Supercop, how can you say anything about James' relationship with his wife, when I'm guessing you don't know him, you don't know his wife, and you don't know anything about their relationship (except what James mentions on his blog, which is next-to-nil). For all you know, James married his Korean wife because she's the feminist scholar who first schooled him in the field of gender construction in the Korean Media, and her example inspires all his work. This whole discussion started because of the assumptions people make about White Males and their Korean wives. Making more of those assumptions probably won't end up being helpful to the discussion.

(yah, I feel strongly about this topic... anybody noticed?)

The Seoul Searcher said...

@JCSupercop
Nice try. Burden of proof remains in full effect whether you like it or not.

If you're trying to prove or disprove a scientific fact, then sure. I'm guessing the people who have a preconceived notion about interracial relationships aren't basing their notion on scientific fact. So if we go back to the context of my statement, that if a white male in a WM/AF relationship in Asia wants the approval of Asian people, the onus is on him to prove it to each person one at a time.

I wasn't talking about proving or disproving it amongst expat bloggers.

gordsellar said...

Wow, long thread.

Here's something. My girlfriend and I spent a lot of time together early on in Jakarta. (But she happens to be Korean.) We found that people did sometimes stare there, but mostly in a kind of curious, vaguely interested way. They would smile if we noticed them looking. Maybe the smiles were disingenuous sometimes, but at other times people struck up conversations with us and were generally friendly... or, at least, didn't seem hell-bent on conveying their judgment of our race-treachery through a disapproving look.

On reuniting in Seoul, we find the stares different in character. They were aggressively attentive, rude, incessant, and extremely judgmental. In other words: there are stares, and then there are stares. I'm a little used to it -- which I find sad -- but she was horrified and started reacting to it, which reminded me that, no, this behaviour is not acceptable.

(I find fun ways of reacting, like "reading" in front of the person staring -- ie. holding up a book right in front of their face to block the stare, when standing on the subway... or gawking back in mock shock until they look away. But you have to be careful not to do this to the many crazy/drunk people wandering around.)

But it's not just stares. There are the comments, most of which dehumanize the woman involved (a few are directed at me, but most of the hatred is directed at the Korean "race-traitor"). There are the vague threats of violence, and the drunks who get eager to start a fight. There are the random people who offer the woman "advice" like how she should not be with a foreigner, and so on.

All of this is contextually different from the USA or Canada, but not just in the ways mentioned here.

My experience in Canada as part of an interracial couple, and having been around a lot of other couples that were, was such that negative experiences were not unheard of, but also were far from this constant, but rather so uncommon that they would be noteworthy when they did occur. And bear in mind I'm talking about places that are, racially, not so diverse: Saskatoon or Edmonton, rather than Toronto or Vancouver.

And this is the kind of thing that leads to women walking around feeling unsafe. Feeling vulnerable to attack. Which is to say the dismissive claim it's no more than a few stares is, well, unrealistic.

gordsellar said...

There have been plenty of points raised all over that make sense to me, though.

There are a lot of guys who fetishize women and make no bones about it -- spewing all kinds of comments, and doing so almost as if to test whether one is willing to join in. Which disgusts me, and also, after I heard this sort of thing in a constant stream from different guys, turned me off hanging out with "foreigners" in general because it seems this crap is "acceptable" in expat circles, and people aren't willing to call someone out on it.

But it's also not surprising if a lot of Western men in Korea are attracted to Korean women... as someone pointed out, they did choose to come here, and those who don't like Korean women would be likely to leave, wouldn't they? (I've only heard one Western guy in Korea say that he didn't feel attracted to Korean women, across the board. I've heard lots who found the cheesy, aegyo-spewing types of women annoying, though, as do I.)

As for activism: well, if one wishes to crusade against racism, one cannot have his cake and eat it too: either one will attempt to prescribe standards and rules for behaviour for all, or one will STFU and fight to empower everyone to do whatever they want.

While Asian men do tend to get shortchanged in Hollywood, whites do in Korean media too -- depicted as either thuggish, hypersexual, or treacherous and evil.

The difference is that in the North America, an Asian-American can stand up and say, "This is wrong," and not be met with blank stares. In Korea, a non-Korean pointing this out will often be offered the same tired, worn-out excuses about Korea's difficult history. Well, okay, fine, but how long will that be an excuse? Because the sell-by date on these particular excuses looks long past to me, and I've never heard a compelling reason to think otherwise... because, well, I think the whinging isn't really about Western hegemony, but about postcolonial inferiority complex, of a sort disturbingly discussed by Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth.

The other difference, I think, is this: North Americans (and I suspect to some degree Westerners in general) tend to assume that what one does with one's love life is the bloody business of those note involved in it directly. It's telling that in Korean conversations in English, "I don't agree" or "I disapprove" will come up constantly... the assumption is that the approval or agreement of those not involve matters at all, or even need be offered, is deeply rooted here.

gordsellar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gordsellar said...

sorry for the double post.

I meant to continue:

Which makes me always want to hold up a sign: "YOUR APPROVAL NEITHER SOLICITED NOR DESIRED." Because it spills over into the hateful/judgemental stares. It spills over into the fights that drunk men try to pick. It spills over into the formation of hate groups like AES. It spills over into the broadening of the constant sh*tting-upon that so many women seem forced to put up with here. Broadening, I said: it adds MORE excuses for certain women to be shat upon in public.

Two more things, Seoul Searcher:

1. You go way too easy on Korean-American guys. I've heard foreign-born/raised Koreans say all kinds of crazy stuff about Korean women: either lecherous stuff, or disdainful and outright hateful stuff. Which suggests some of the crap that white foreigners talk here may stem from something other than simple colonialism, such as say cultural differences, or a permutation of culture-punctuated sexism -- unless you're claiming all "gypops" have internalized colonialism to the same degree as all white guys. And,

2. Maybe you've thought this through, but if not: I find it exceedingly curious that someone who was born from the union of an ethnic Korean and a white American would be "uncomfortable" with interracial couples. Perhaps this (and other aspects of what you've written here) has more to do with personal (ie. familial) issues than you are willing to admit? I don't mean this as a personal attack, not some ridiculous ad hominem or something, but simply to note that human psychology is such that we do tend to find logical justifications for what we first and foremost feel in a nonrational way.

In any case, I would argue that there is no middle ground: one either is committed to convincing others that one's own personal opinion or feeling on the subject is "true" or should be followed/imposed on others, or one feels that all human beings should be empowered to make their own decisions, fraught as the process sometimes is.

Then activism can begin in earnest, with people fighting for real equality instead of making a public show out of working through their personal issues.

By the way, the definition of race being used here is not ahistorical. There have been times -- not so very long ago -- where what we consider monolithically "white" was considered an assortment of different "races," and marrying across the lines dividing those was also very much frowned upon or demonized by individuals, groups, or institutions.

(As near as I can tell, Korea's very conveniently still all freaked out about the smaller number of Korean women with non-Korean men, but not ready to freak out about all those non-Korean women marrying Korean men and contributing mixed-raced babies to the population.

And to those discussing colonialism: never forget that the relationship Korea has with a number of Southeast Asian societies could *very* easily be argued to be neo-imperial. So if we want to talk about colonialism and internalization of colonialism, we must also talk about its replication and reconstruction by Korea in the Asian sphere.

davidsmeaton said...

wow, quite a shitstorm brewing here!

i too am a white superhero married to a subservient korean woman ... LOL ... the woman i married picked me against the wishes of her family (they're cool now, but were admittedly frightened by the whole 'foreigner' thing). she earns more than me. she runs the house and i generally do as i'm told!

so, the reality is that my wife and i are an average couple and we're very happy ... and i can't recall too many evil stares in public or negative responses from koreans. more people, i think, are just curious about the interracial couple. they're not thinking maliciously in any way at all. funnily enough, my wife and i are open about our relationship - we hold hands on the subway, we kiss in public, i put my arms around her.

all that said, i understand that some people are against interracial marriages. i understand some people think that it's colonial for white men to breed with the native women. people who think that way can go fuck themselves.

the people who have a problem with koreans marrying non-koreans are the same people who blame china for the smog, blame referees for kicking korea out of the world cup, and believe that korea can do no wrong. every country has its share of extremists. australia has them, america has a lot of them, and korea has them too. people like jake just want to make noise and trouble because they enjoy it. they have no true interest in this issue except that it's something to complain about: the evils of all things foreign.

my in-laws are the most amazing people. my mother in-law stuffs me full of food when we visit for chuseok. dad in-law gives me envelopes of money (even though they can't afford it) and wishes us hapiness in our life.

i teach adults and i always tell them about my marriage. they ask lots of questions, are curious and sometimes seem to be genuinely happy for us. quite a number of my students have even commented that they think interracial children (ie korean/foreign) are beautiful.

in nearly 10 years of life in korea i honestly believe most koreans are open minded, tolerant and accepting.

so i can afford the luxury of ignoring those very few people who think otherwise ... because those are the people who are going to find fault with the world no matter what the rest of us do.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@gstellar

But it's not just stares. There are the comments, most of which dehumanize the woman involved (a few are directed at me, but most of the hatred is directed at the Korean "race-traitor"). There are the vague threats of violence, and the drunks who get eager to start a fight. There are the random people who offer the woman "advice" like how she should not be with a foreigner, and so on.

All of this has happened to you? If it has, then it means that I've been extremely lucky that in my 4 years here, I've only gotten the occasional stare.

While Asian men do tend to get shortchanged in Hollywood, whites do in Korean media too --

True but irrelevant, because Korean media pretty much stays within the borders of Korea (with few exceptions), whereas Hollywood movies and American TV shows are shown the world over, therefore, even if the lone "sneaky foreigner" in a Korean TV show ruins the protagonists shit/ steals his woman/ kills his mother, whatever, Koreans can easily switch channels to ER or Grey's anatomy and see some White male doctor protagonists.

@davidsmeaton
quite a number of my students have even commented that they think interracial children (ie korean/foreign) are beautiful.



Sigh....

I think this is a continuation of colonial inferiority complex/orientalism for anyone saying that.

Among us mixed folk, there are some pretty ugly people. Too often however people base their assumptions on mixed celebrities, who are usually celebrities because they are beautiful.

The idea of some white blood making the children more "beautiful" is an extension of an ingrained idea that White people are better than Asians. The idea that Asian blood will make otherwise white children more beautiful plays on the exotcism of Asia.

We mixed people aren't proof of our parents putting their racial differences aside in the name of love (yea please), we aren't the united colors of benneton, and we aren't special or unique in any way. Parents of mixed kids, stop telling them that they are somehow more special than monoracials!

gordsellar said...

@Seoul Searcher,

It's Sellar, actually. But sometimes I feel stellar, so I'll let it slide. :)

All of this has happened to you? If it has, then it means that I've been extremely lucky that in my 4 years here, I've only gotten the occasional stare.

Yep, well, it may be a function of different things. I'm big and tall, and may stand out more than you. (No idea, but it's possible.) I also happen to have lived and worked in different places than you, I imagine. Jeonju and Bucheon were the places I was longest: Jeonju is country enough that while plenty of people to the over-nice-to-white-foreigners thing, the ones who don't really don't.

In one case, my ex's elementary school friend saw her in the street with me, just walking, and called her mom, who called my ex's mom, who lost her shit and went nuts, weeping on the phone and horrified and scared for my ex's future and all that. This was after, say, our third date or something.

And Bucheon is, well, I'll put it this way: take the surly sullenness common on the streets in most places in Korea, and then crank it up to 11. Bucheon ended up being home to the outcasts of Seoul back in the 80s, and, well, you can tell, especially in my neighborhood. (Love my job, can't stand the neighborhood anymore.)

But I'll add that I'm not particularly swaggery, confrontational, or aggressive, especially with people who seem out to start shit. I might say, "What?" when someone stares in a "f*ck you" sort of way, but I don't start railing and cursing.

So with those caveats, I'll say that, yeah, I've been subject to pretty much all of those things. I have avoided violence, but sometimes only very narrowly. And I remember when I was saying to someone else, "Really? You've experienced all that? And you stayed here? I must have been lucky."

And by the way, remember: I was also pointing out that most of the crap that comes of this is directed at the Korean woman in the relationship pair most discussed (Korean woman/Western man).

I should also note that when I mentioned this discussion to my girlfriend, she pointed out that very often, married Korean women she knows who hear she's dating a Westerner express envy. Why? We were preparing lunch together when she mentioned it, and she said, "Because Western guys are still more willing to do things like this," and gestured at the cooking.

To the claim that this is a stereotype, I will nod; if you point out that some Korean guys DO cook and clean and so on around the house, I'll agree; but I will also note that these women are saying it's still not that common, that not that much has changed. And I think we err if we just ignore their input.

gordsellar said...

... and:

Me:
While Asian men do tend to get shortchanged in Hollywood, whites do in Korean media too --

Seoul Searcher:
True but irrelevant,because Korean media pretty much stays within the borders of Korea (with few exceptions), whereas Hollywood movies and American TV shows are shown the world over...

Er... no, not irrelevant, man. To claim that makes no sense. The discussions about depictions of Asian men in American media are deeply preoccupied with the effect on perceptions of Asians in American society, including both those who are ethnically Asian in that society and those who aren't.

(It's not as if these activists are all that worried that Koreans, Chinese, or Japanese are getting a bad rap in Korea, China, or Japan, after all... for the very reasons you mention.)

So unless all this activism is predicated on a universalizing victim complex that whites don't have any right to -- the whole world will think Asians suck because American media doesn't give Asian actors good roles? -- the parallel concern would be for how perceptions of Westerners are propagated among members of Korean society. While there are lots of alternate, positive images of Westerners of various backgrounds available in the mediascape, those invariably depict Westerners outside Korea... and almost every depiction of a Westerner-in-Korea that I've seen in Korean media presented him as some kind of monster, exploiter, criminal, rapist, or at best as a token nice guy nonetheless implicated in a evil global hegemony.

(As if, plenty of Koreans -- sweatshop owners, lumber importers dealing with the Myanmar government, members of the business elite -- aren't just as implicated in that system, and much more problematic in their relation to Korean audiences. Hell, look at the complicity that the Park and Chun dictatorships had with camptown prostition -- they gave frigging English and American etiquette classes to the girls so they'd be better moneymakers!)

And I think it's important to note that: Westerners can -- and do -- seek out Asian films and see stories where Asian guys are presented in heroic ways... in Asia. The problem with the depiction of Asian-Americans in US media, and Westerners in Korean media, run parallel in that it's the Asian in American, and the Westerner in Korea, who never gets a fair shake and is almost always depicted negatively within the local social framework.

The main difference is that the Asian in American media is nerdified and emasculated, while the Westerner in Korean media is usually hypersexual, arrogant, and violent.

And one thing that's REALLY interesting, as a footnote, is that while I don't think ethnicity is disappearing, its origins are the subject of a very interesting theory... but I think I'll post about that at my own blog, and link it here when I do...

gordsellar said...

... and finally:

The idea of some white blood making the children more "beautiful" is an extension of an ingrained idea that White people are better than Asians. The idea that Asian blood will make otherwise white children more beautiful plays on the exotcism of Asia.

Amen to that, except I hear white people say this sort of thing too, claiming the half-Asian kids are cuter or more beautiful than the monoracial white kids. It might be a different cultural dynamic at work, but I think in fact it might be more complex.

Something, for example, tied to evolutionary psychology, along the lines of people registering features that are similar to their own in some ways, and also very different in others, as optimally beautiful. That, at least, is a known factor in cognition: we are attracted to people who look sorta like us, but also sorta not like us. But as for scientific studies, on mixed-race people and perceptions of exaggerated beauty, I haven't heard of any and have no idea how one would carry it out. I've seen ugly mixed-race people, too.

It may also be that parents (especially in North America, where "self-esteem" is such a big issue) are trying to tell their kids that they're special because mixed-race kids in some places have such a hard go of things. Overcompensation may be a bigger part of it that colonialism.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Roboseyo: "That out-of-context pull-quote misrepresents what I was trying to say."

Nevermind, then.

"How can you say anything about James' relationship with his wife, when I'm guessing you don't know him, you don't know his wife, and you don't know anything about their relationship (except what James mentions on his blog, which is next-to-nil)."

It's just odd to see an avowed feminist with an Asian woman. After all, the only kind of man who does that just wants a subservient slave because he can't handle Strong and Independent Women (tm). Or so feminists always say.

Seoul Searcher: "If you're trying to prove or disprove a scientific fact, then sure."

It applies to everything, not just science.

"So if we go back to the context of my statement, that if a white male in a WM/AF relationship in Asia wants the approval of Asian people, the onus is on him to prove it to each person one at a time."

Why should he have to prove anything?

"The idea of some white blood making the children more "beautiful" is an extension of an ingrained idea that White people are better than Asians."

davidsmeaton didn't say anything about white people. He said "Korean/foreign."

"The idea that Asian blood will make otherwise white children more beautiful plays on the exotcism of Asia."

Occam's Razor says: some people just think Asian women are beautiful.

"We mixed people aren't proof of our parents putting their racial differences aside in the name of love (yea please)."

So you're saying most mixed people are the result of rape, an accident or an arranged marriage?

Roboseyo said...

@Chiam: from your earlier comment - if Jake is, as you say, "another one of those racist assholes...that thinks their O- blood is different than my O- blood" then he doesn't deserve the amount of time and words spent on him. The issues he mentions re: media deserve a look, in my opinion, though not because he might be making excuses for his anger, but possibly because it could lead to more media accountability.

JC Supercop:

I asked you not to make assumptions about James and his wife, because you don't know them. You repeated your assumptions about them with a "just sayin'"; people making assumptions about James and his wife led to this discussion in the first place, after James responded to Jake's comment on another blog.

SS:"if a white male...wants the approval, the onus is on him..."

You:"Why should he have to prove anything?"

read what he wrote (what YOU quoted) more carefully: "IF a white male... wants approval". Why he should have to is irrelevant when that "IF" clause is included - IF means he DOES want it, for whatever reason. Not all white males seek approval - see Gord Sellar's comment above - "want to hold up a sign: 'YOUR APPROVAL NEITHER SOLICITED NOR DESIRED'"

Most of us don't want, nor expect, the approval of every stranger on the street - I'm satisfied with the approval of my in-laws, and wifeoseyo's friends. Everybody else can go to hell for all I care, if they're going to foist their racism and assumptions on our relationship.

you responded to SS: "so you're saying most mixed people are the result of..."

Dropping words like "rape" in reference to another commenter's parentage and "subservient slave" in reference to another's wife approaches trolling territory to me. We're here to discuss things, not to provoke reactions. Kindly respect, and read carefully the comments of the other players in this conversation, or you'll find your comments getting deleted as distractions.

Rob

gordsellar said...

Rob,

Of course, my neither wanting or soliciting approval also goes hand in hand with my not appreciating when people shove their negative opinion into my face, or that of my girlfriend...

Not just approval, but also OPINION is neither solicited nor desired... Actually, on second through, I think I really intended to state that about opinion, since so many Koreans seem to think they have the right to impose their views on anyone at any time, invited or otherwise.

("I disagree with living together before marriage!" students will declare even knowing someone in the discussion group is living with a girlfriend or boyfriend. "I disagree with you going on a trip with your boyfriend," a friend might say to another friend. "I disagree with you choosing to attend a different church," a parent might say to an adult child. All of these impositions are examples from real life, and all of them imply that one's opinion is actually relevant to the decisions made by another adult.)

Having negative assumptions spewed at one just for daring to go out in public isn't pleasant, does not make for a positive experience, and indeed I suspect probably accounts for a lot of the stress and depression we see here.

Which is also to note that it's not just something done to Westerners here. A Korean guy I know said most Koreans are tired with this state of affairs, the staring and judging & disrespect. Non-Koreans are probably just more vulnerable since no matter what, we stand out in the crowd. But think of the women who get told, by anyone from a random female acquaintance on the subway to their supervisor at work, "Why didn't you wear makeup today? You look bad! You should always wear makeup, it's just polite."

That said, I think there's also a racial element that shouldn't be downplayed, too... And I think non-Western non-Koreans likely get the worst of that... But it doesn't make the crap that is spewed at white Westerners with Korean women, or, even more often, Korean women at the side of a non-Korean of any kind, any less unpleasant, or any more acceptable.

What I'm saying is that there's an overall social atmosphere of people offering negative or judgmental opinions, wanted or unwanted, informed or uninformed, which pervades Korean society, and which angers at least some Koreans too. There's a bigger context. Which doesn't make it okay: the context is sucky, but while race is part of it, it's not the whole thing.

gordsellar said...

Which is to say, on a personal level, that while I don't really care whether people approve, I also don't care to have them advertise their disapproval.

I come from a (relatively) urbanized culture where people learn to keep opinions about things that are none of their bloody business to themselves, period, in order to live and let live.

But live and let live is a foreign idea here, and hasn't yet achieved a kind of currency. They're sort of still stuck at "don't ask, don't tell" (which is why so many adult children living at home lie to their parents about everything in their social lives, and their parents seem willing to play along when anyone can see the lies don't make any sense); this means when one's ostensible "deviance" is apparent at first sight, all bets are off and surprising (distressing? disheartening?) numbers of people suddenly start acting in very obnoxious ways.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@JCSupercop

It applies to everything, not just science

Okay then, the next time you're in that situation and some Korean or Kyopo charges your relationship with being not kosher for whatever reason, you can respond with "Burden of proof." I bet he'll suddenly change his mind.

davidsmeaton didn't say anything about white people. He said "Korean/foreign."

No actually he was talking about what Korean students of his were saying about mixed children, and to Korean people, "foreign" means white. Blacks are black, Southeast Asians are Southeast Asians, but "foreigners" are white.

And when they say mixed children are beautiful, they are almost always talking about Korean/White mixes, esp given the way that older Koreans feel about blacks or other Asians.


I'm really not going to answer much else of what you wrote because it seems you just want to pick at straws to disagree with me rather than have any actual discussion on the subject.

The Seoul Searcher said...

@Roboseyo

I'm satisfied with the approval of my in-laws, and wifeoseyo's friends. Everybody else can go to hell for all I care, if they're going to foist their racism and assumptions on our relationship.

If everyone in that kind of relationship had that attitude, I think this discussion (here anyway) would have been a lot smaller.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roboseyo said...

Go pick fights on someone else's blog.

gordsellar said...

@Robo,

Thanks for deleting that comment. I surely wasn;t offended by you misunderstanding what I wrote (or, indeed, understanding what I miswrote).

@Seoul Searcher

Okay then, the next time you're in that situation and some Korean or Kyopo charges your relationship with being not kosher for whatever reason, you can respond with "Burden of proof." I bet he'll suddenly change his mind.

Well, yes, people tend to be illogical and especially when it comes to their bigotries, it's hard to expect change.

While, as you point out, it's unrealistic to try to reason with a bigot, it's also somewhat cynical (in a way I don't wish to be) to simply take it as given that people of every racial background but one simply have to prove their worth because so-and-so many of them are sketchy, dodgy, or scummy.

Despite some odd attitudes towards some ethnic groups, my mother always insisted to me that there are good and bad people in every culture, every race, and so on. (That was the same belief that led her to go be a nurse in Malawi for a few years, to help others whom the nuns in her Catholic school said were going to hell for no other reason than that they were not Catholic.)

It's the dearth of that kind of message in Korea that is disheartening, but what is heartening is that Canada was pretty much as overtly, unrepentantly, and unapologetically (is also unselfconsciously) bigoted as the picture of Korea you present today.

There's still racism in Canada too, of course, but a lot of effort has gone into combatting it, to at least getting people to think about a multiculture, to anti-racist PSAs, and so on. Which is to say: things can get better, and thus we ought to expect--nay, demand--that they do.

Just because bigotry is (or is within the range of) the status quo, does not make it acceptable.

gordsellar said...

@Seoul Searcher (continued)

Which is not to reprimand you. I'm just sayin'...

No actually he was talking about what Korean students of his were saying about mixed children, and to Korean people, "foreign" means white. Blacks are black, Southeast Asians are Southeast Asians, but "foreigners" are white.

This is a practice that maps very weirdly onto Koreans speaking other languages. Both in English and, interestingly, in Indonesian, the same set of associations get carried over by a lot of people.

My girlfriend was studying Indonesian in Jakarta. When I visited, one of her classmates got all weird and tried to shame her in front of the class by asking, in Indonesian, "We know all Korean girls want to date 'foreigners'... how did you catch this one you have now?" and stupid crap like that.

She stopped him and pointed out that in Indonesian, the Indonesian word "foreigner" applies to Koreans as much as to whites. "We're all foreigners except the teacher, in this room. So... what?" But the guy didn't get it. "Korean" referred to Koreans, "foreigner" applied to whites, "African" applied to blacks, and "Southeast Asians" (or "locals") applied to people from SEA.

And, for the record and in the interests of fairness, not only the Russian and Japanese woman in her class were horrified by the man's behaviour: some of the Koreans were a little disgusted as well, they confessed later on.

(They didn't show it at the time, though, which is part of the problem. Calling people on their crap is much harder in a society where it sometimes seems there's someone in every informal social group who will make every effort to avoid confrontation and serious discussion of anything at all. This is one thing that frustrates my girlfriend every time she comes back here.)

And when they say mixed children are beautiful, they are almost always talking about Korean/White mixes, esp given the way that older Koreans feel about blacks or other Asians.

True. Though from the smattering of TV I see, I've seen more Afro-Koreans in the last year or two than I ever saw before. Do you think attitudes are changing, slowly?

cletsey said...

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