Thursday, August 31, 2017

living and loving as an expat in Japan

This article by a Japan-loving Englishman with an Australian "significant other" is interesting, and I'm still chewing it over. The comments, however, are even more interesting because they're almost universally negative. Basically, the commenters think the article's author is sexist, predatory, and not a little colonialist in his attitude toward foreign countries and those countries' women. Read the article for yourself and tell me what you think.

(h/t to ROK Drop)


Anonymous said...

I think the comment by Riley Anderson is spot on. This was an honest attempt to present a difficult, complex issue. Of course it will not be accepted by the SJW crowd. It does not agree with their limited view of the world. It's no wonder that the great classics of literature are no longer taught. The current crop of students is totally incapable of understanding them.


Charles said...

I think the problem is that the author made no attempt to depict his many girlfriends as people. Now, he may not think of them as simply objects, or "notches on the bedpost," as one commenter says, but the truth is that we as readers learn nothing more about these girls than their nationalities (and, in a few cases, some rather superficial and possibly stereotypical traits). Can a reader be blamed for feeling that the author is objectifying these women? While I am somewhat more hesitant to make judgments on the author's character, I do think it is fair to say that he could have done a better job of getting his point across.

I'm still trying to digest that point, to be honest. I have my own experiences, and they do not seem to jive with the author's experiences. So I think even if I do have him right, I probably don't agree with him.

Kevin Kim said...


I was curious to hear your opinion in particular, as a scholar married to a Korean woman, because the author spends some column-inches talking about the seeming inevitability of finding an East Asian life-partner if you're a white guy living in East Asia. I was rolling my eyes during this section because I'm pretty sure that the real reason for that near inevitability has as much to do with this being a numbers game as with the cultural dynamics the author mentions (he mentions yellow fever and the Westerner's cachet, for example): if you're a white guy in East Asia—thus surrounded by East Asians—and you're looking to date someone, then chances are that your date(s) will be East Asian. Duh. This was a screamingly obvious, commonsensical point that I'm pretty sure the author left out of his essay.

I also had to wonder how rare or how common the author's attitude might be: is he really saying that his association with an Aussie life-partner offers him a therapeutic reprieve from his otherwise-headlong plunge into Japanese culture? I'm still trying to make sense of what that even means. The author loves Japanese culture but also feels so imprisoned by it that, like a whale coming to the ocean's surface, he needs to take a breather now and again? This sense of "love" is confusing to me because the author seems to be saying that love has the potential to strangle you, whereas I'd say that true love involves deep and total commitment while also providing a sense of liberation. If the author often feels suffocated by the culture he's living in and studying... does he really love it? So, yeah: color me confused.

I don't know. Love is a complicated thing, and I'm no expert on the topic. The people we love can drive us crazy, but we love them all the same, flaws and all. Maybe that's all the author is trying to say if interpreted charitably. "Let there be spaces in your togetherness," Khalil Gibran wrote on the subject of committed love. Then again, if we're at a point where we're using words like "prison" to characterize a relationship, we're probably no longer talking about true love: not love of another person, and not love of a different culture.

King Baeksu said...

The SJWs flaying Flanagan seem to think that being a "feminist" means denying the agency of actual women. Kawaii.