Thursday, June 28, 2007

postal scrotum: more on fugliness

UPDATE: Blake's response to my response is now at the end of this post.

Blake N. emails:

Hey Kevin,

Your brother writes, "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..." And then you yourself add, "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?"

There seems to be an implication here that ugly guys simply don't deserve good-looking women, and that an ugly white guy who comes to Korea and succeeds in scoring a date with a pretty Korean girl is guilty of gaming the system by taking advantage of a girl who is "predisposed to liking western things and finding them exotic." I'm wondering: is it just ugliness that makes these Western guys unfit for these Korean girls, or is there something else wrong with them?

Also, I thought maybe you might be interested in this article:

Why White Men Prefer Asian Women

It's only tangentially related to the issue at hand, and I think the author oversimplifies matters a bit, but I also think he provides a better explanation for why some Western guys are interested in Asian women than the old "they're submissive" canard, which your brother mentions.

Anyway. Love the blog; keep up the great work.

-- Blake

Thanks for writing in.

I disagree that the implication is "ugly guys simply don't deserve good-looking women." That would be, as philosophers call it, an uncharitable interpretation of what Sean and I are saying. As Clint Eastwood grated to Gene Hackman before blowing his head off in "Unforgiven," "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." No: the reality is that like usually associates with like. We see this played out all the time: a good-looking lady is on the lookout for an equally good-looking man. Athletically inclined men, more often than not, aren't looking for slothful, out-of-shape couch potatoes as partners. As the doughy but honest Carlos Mencia famously noted in response to his wife's question, How did I end up with you?: "I was the best you could do; you were the best I could do." Or something like that. Evolutionary psychology seems generally to support this rationale. Bizarrely enough, so does the culturally iconic movie "Shrek," in which the object of Shrek's desire must become an ugly ogre herself before the couple can be truly happy. I think, though, that this general rule is unclear when dating is cross-cultural. You might be right that Sean is implying that some ugly white dudes could be "gaming the system," but my own take is a bit less cynical: I'm simply shocked whenever I see what appears to be Beauty and the Beast walking hand in hand.

(Personally, I sympathize with the more romantic notion that ugly guys can win the hand of the fair princess, but in reality, ugly guys who bang hot chicks are usually rich and powerful, or potentially so. Keith Richards, Steve Tyler, and Bill Clinton come immediately to mind as examples. I admit I didn't like the ending of "Shrek" for this very reason: it spoiled the romance for us ugly guys. Fiona should have stayed human; that would have been a statement! Considering all the interbreeding that has occurred over the course of three Shrek films, I don't see why Fiona and Shrek had to become the same race. But my point is that a hugely popular movie confirms the general wisdom that like pairs with like. Americans in particular may find that notion hard to swallow, but living in a more homogeneous culture brings that point home pretty clearly. Here in Korea, danil-minjok is a prominent catchphrase. Whether we're talking "like" in terms of race, or personality, or socioeconomic level, or religion, or language community-- birds of a feather generally flock together. I'm not saying that's good or bad; it's simply how things usually are. Note, too, that "Beauty and the Beast" is the template for "Shrek": the beast becomes a handsome man in the end.)

I read the interesting post over at Fred On Everything, and largely agree with it, though I know it's going to drive some of my female readers nuts. For me, the best support for Fred's thesis is the American culture of shoulder pads-- an abomination we still haven't gotten away from. Large shoulders suggest a surfeit of testosterone-- not a charming quality in a lady. Once again, I have to drag out Camille Paglia and say that Paglia offers a better form of feminism for women-- one in which women don't have to equate "equal status" with "being masculine." In Paglia's worldview, biology matters, and women should capitalize on their virtues, all without becoming pawns of patriarchy. That said, I agree with your assertion that Fred is oversimplifying things, though I suspect such oversimplification is inevitable if the object of the game is to write a brief, pithy essay. We bloggers are almost all guilty on that score.

Thank you again for your email!

Blake responds:

I'm actually willing to admit that Sean is probably right about Korean girls hooking up with Westerners because they find them exotic or whatever. I guess I was just a little irked by the instant cynicism you both seemed to exhibit: you're right that hot girls usually prefer hot guys and vice-versa, but occasionally people DO look beyond outward appearances, and I think it's possible that at least a FEW of the hot Korean girls you've seen with fugly Western guys successfully did that.

As a stunningly handsome man, this is all academic to me, of course.

-- Blake

PS. My website is Check it out if you're ever bored.

NB: Blake's site includes a well-written and perceptive review of the late Shawn Matthews's memoir, Island of Fantasy. His site also reviews plenty of animé... which leads me to believe that Blake's got Da Yellow Fee-vah! Admit it, Blake!

By the way, for those turned off by cynicism, heed the Jedi Master:

But as we grope our way through the tunnel of doubt, uncertainty, restlessness, dissatisfaction, and physical and mental exhaustion, we must remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and remind ourselves of the feelings of hope and happiness that got us into the tunnel in the first place and the beauty and inspiration that make this light worth fighting for. We must remember that anything worthwhile in life can only be achieved through hard work and dedication, and that the truly valuable ideals and passions that we yearn for must be earned, not taken, through diligence and perseverance.

Carpe diem.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Instead of mowing the yard, I'm reading your god damn blog. My "submissive" Asian wife is going to have my balls for this. :)

Fred needs a knuckle sandwich. Let's see, he goes to a bar to ogle the waitstaff and is surprised when the women who go there don't compare. Well, who do you think they're marketing to? Perhaps the women go there in full frumpage and potty mouth because they know the Yellow Fever-infected men there will leave them alone. There's no one to impress, so they can just engage in their girl talk without self-censorship. The febrile will just direct even more attention to the waitstaff who, for professionalism's sake, cannot treat the men like the dirtbags they are.

I live in Northern California where you see tons of mixed couples. Acculturation of the Asian partner seems to have a big influence on the relationship. In short, if the Asian partner is highly acculturated to American culture, the Caucasian partner is usually quite a bit better looking. Male or female, this seems to be the dominant case. It goes from the fugly all the way to the borderline attractive. At least out here, Asian morphology seems to equate with attractiveness to Caucasians.

We do have the "pervy white guy with youthful, mostly attractive Asian woman" couples here. These women give off a distinctly non-American vibe, though. Their English is usually non-native and they just don't carry any type of confidence around.

These are broad anecdotes. Though I've seen them enough that I would be very surprised if they were proved untrue.

In college, a friend told me about studying mammalian mating patterns. Apparently, there is a strong hypothesis that individuals who are visibly healthy, but different looking (transplanted from a different population) get more than their fair share of reproductive attention. The hypothesis is that, in the aggregate, mammals have an instinct to diversify their offsprings' gene pools. I told my friend that if I went to Europe, I would make sure to bring all the condoms I wasn't using in college.

Finally, I would expect expats in general to get more action. Hooking up with an expat is relatively risk-free in terms of social networks. The two have a blank slate with each other and there's very little risk of the expat spreading rumors. In a large urban area, one could have a discrete affair/fling/drunken alley sex with an expat without anyone of consequence ever knowing. Those notorious English teachers are not taking advantage of sexual permissiveness amongst Koreans, but instead on the lack of social consequences. So, let's see. Your typical English teacher in Korea is young and free of obvious health deficiencies. They should be getting a lot of action. No scandal. Nothing to see here. Please move on.

Oh, in the interest of disclosure. My parentage is very similar to the Big Hominid's. Korean mom and Okie dad.