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October 28, 2018 by
Dating dynamics are always interesting to observe, especially the variances in how different cultures or people in different locations perceive certain behaviors or unwritten rules. In China, a currently trending topic is that of the “easy girl,” referring to a certain perception that local girls (commonly those in East and Southeast Asian countries) favor foreign men.
This was a subject that interested me because it's show up in lots of personal discussions with friends both in and out of China and of varying cultural backgrounds. I had a lunchtime discussion with another self-media personality — someone intimately engaged on the planet of Chinese social networking — on the cultural weight and importance of this topic. He described the niche as a cute chinese women, the one that touches on a country's cultural pride, making it particularly fascinating in the Chinese context.
The word “easy girl” is pervasive on the Chinese internet, and can often be within the comments part of stories or videos involving interracial relationships. As an example, in the summer of 2017, one story that ignited heated debate was each time a Spanish man was filmed making love with a Chinese woman in Chengdu. The responses varied from inappropriate taunting to anger at the perception that foreign men just see Chinese girls as “cheap” and as “toys.” Incidentally, state media also enjoys harnessing this subject (for aims I'll not speculate). “Do China's women obsess over foreign men?” asked the Global Times. Not to be outdone, “Do Chinese women obsess over foreign men?” asked the China Daily. Google “Chinese girls are easy” and you'll find much more.
It often is like the truth that an interracial relationship can exist at all is just a reason behind anger. “BBC actually made a video on the best way to date Chinese girls, netizens outraged,” reads a headline on an item in Sina. Never mind that the BBC video in question is in fact titled “How Not To Date A Chinese Girl,” and is just a satirical take on, well, what white men should not do if they want to date a Chinese girl.
A lot of people have reached least superficially conscious of the stereotypes related to Chinese men and women. Perhaps, as a Chinese American, I've always been conscious of the stereotype of the appeal (or lack thereof) of Chinese men; the idea that Chinese girls are “easy” could be the flip side of this coin — it is a misogynistic and dangerous idea, yes, but we can't ignore so it exists. It's why it made me want to help make the following video (I have a different one discussing the perception of Chinese and Asian guys worldwide).
The reactions on my Weibo and Bilibili accounts, while not reflective of “China” (nothing could be, really), at the least represent a certain section of China's hundreds of an incredible number of online citizens. Some say the easy girl stereotype exists because “easy girl” is shorthand for the objective reality that Chinese girls do prefer foreign men: Hollywood and other Western standards of beauty have seeped into the Chinese subconscious, thereby making foreigners seem attractive by comparison. Others are nationalistic: vehement within their stance that Chinese girls are not easy weighed against girls in Southeast Asia or other areas of East Asia, since being “easy” implies these girls are “gold diggers” who are now living in an economically disadvantaged country. Some comments are nakedly sexist and xenophobic, blaming women to make themselves too readily available for “foreign trash” who have money and prestige, while blaming foreigners to be overly promiscuous.
It goes without saying, but they are not what we'd call good opinions, and they're a far cry from the thoughtful and nuanced answers my participants gave: They spoke about the influence of Hollywood (34-second mark), the truth that many single young foreigners tend to come to China (4:15), and even the cultural impact of Japanese media (6:42). At the same time frame, many participants also emphasized that there are lots of ways to view the stereotype's existence, and that there are plenty of Chinese that are not conditioned to place foreignness on a pedestal. Possibly the most crucial viewpoint is articulated by one of my participants at the conclusion: No real matter what a connection looks like on top, only the folks for the reason that relationship understand why they're together, and ultimately, it's not around others to speculate.
Alas, in a country where issues of race are openly and shamelessly discussed, this was the most liked comment on my video on Bilibili: “Chinese people like white skin, it's not as a result of foreign influence, this has been such as this since ancient times.”
Posted in: Lifestyle