Thursday, June 28, 2007

postal scrotum: for you to ponder

Before I went to the States, my brother Sean emailed me the following:

Dr Bigglesworth,

Here's something to address on your blog that bothered me when I was in Korea.

I have come up with a theory that many (not all) male foreigners working in Korea are there just to get a date. I remember seeing a disproportionately large proportion of ugly white men with pretty Korean girls. It's obvious that so many of these men could never get a date with someone as pretty in their own home countries so they come to Korea to get a date with women from a culture that is predisposed to liking western things and finding them exotic. Any self respecting korean-american girl would never be caught dead with these men. This really bothered me because the men were taking advantage of this cultural predisposition and it also bothered me that the pretty korean girls would fall for it. I also think that a lot of these ugly men just have yellow fever and want a more submissive woman (which is obviously the western stereotype of asian women).

What do you think of this theory?

I know that this sort of question provokes lengthy comment threads at places like The Marmot's Hole. Anything of a "they're here to fuck our women!" nature does that. My own take is that, yeah, a lot of foreigners are here to scope, but that there's nothing inherently wrong with being a guy on the lookout for chicks. The cultural problem you refer to-- the one about the "submissive Asian woman" stereotype-- is less of a problem than it might seem at first blush, because Westerners who go into the game with the wrong conception about Asian women usually get straightened out pretty quickly by the women themselves: they're anything but submissive for the most part. That might explain why some Western losers, unable to deal with that reality, turn to the hos. But as I'm sure many expat commenters will point out, Koreans can't really blame foreigners for the bustling sex industry: the sex business is fueled primarily by Korean clientele. Blaming foreigners for a systemic internal problem is an easy way out. Not that these foreigners are helping the situation, of course...

For my part, whenever I see a pretty Korean lady with an ugly-ass Westerner, I think: Woman, how can you not see what a freak that dude is? But the funny thing is that this works in reverse: by Korean standards, many of the girls who date Western men seem not to fall into the Korean notion of what counts as pretty. A big international example of this aesthetic disconnect is Lucy Liu, whom many Western guys find beautiful, but whom East Asians mostly regard as plain. Some veteran expats here, whose senses have been recalibrated more along Korean lines, might agree that Liu is plain. I, too, agree she's no big shakes (though I think she's a great actress), but I do believe she's blessed with a fine, fine ass. It will never be mine, alas. I'm the wrong income bracket, belt size, and sperm motility level. Anyway, my point is that this aesthetic disconnect cuts both ways.

Notions of beauty and ugliness are globalizing, but we're not totally globalized by any means. So maybe it's appropriate that a guy who's ugly by Western standards should meet up with a girl who's not that pretty by Asian standards. The black sheep from both sides of the cultural fence can meet up, get busy, and produce racially superior hybrids who will eventually take over the planet and rule forever.



Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree with you, as a lot of the submissive stereotyping goes on with the Indian culture, too. I was encountered with every negative stereotype from mysogyny to dowry related deaths by my over-concerned parents when I married the Maharajah. And though I cannot comment upon the "dirt hut" village dwelling experience, I do know that in mainstreamed, educated, metropolitan (Indian) families, on the surface it LOOKS like the father has the upperhand or control, yet it is almost-always the mother who rules the roost.

And regarding the attractive Asian hooking up with fat/fugly Westerners, I counter with, "The brain can't tell the heart who to love."

I should know. To some, if not most Western guys, I have been deemed fat/fugly/what have you, yet my fat/fugly western ass ended up marrying an upwardly mobile, educated, handsome Indian man, 100 pounds less and six years my junior.

Shit happens.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I think your response was spot on. I think we should be careful about looking only on what is outside (as one of your responders put it already). Also, I think the idea of a socially-enforced caste-by-beauty system is repugnant. Finally, the whole "submissive" thing is a wildly untrue cliche that needs discarding once and for all!

Unknown said...

Well, I posted a comment to your later post. I just want to say something about Lucy Liu.

She's not all that hot. If I met her in person, I would probably think she was an attractive woman, but not one who I could not tear my gaze from. She is plain by TV/movie standards.

You know, I've always thought Mingna Wen is a very attractive actress. I know she didn't take the right type of roles, but I kind of hoped she would get more popular. She is definitely a billion times prettier than Lucy Liu. Why they couldn't pair her up with an Asian doctor on ER (it was a show about doctors and there are no Asians! Have you ever seen a med school graduation?) is beyond me.

Oh, and one more example of Western audiences not getting Asian beauty -- Sandra Oh. Don't get me wrong. I think she's a wonderful actress and I'll watch anything non-soap opera she does. I watched _Double Happiness_ ten years ago for Christ's sake. But she is in no way a beauty. It's actually distressing when I see her discussed as one.

hardyandtiny said...

I've never seen a good-looking Korean woman with an ugly western dude.