Thursday, May 26, 2011

“White woman will divorce you.” You better believe it.

white women in the Philipines

This photo is courtesy of my expat friend Meggan in Taipei. It was posted to Facebook and was commented on by some other female expats in Taiwan, part of which I have reproduced here (with permission):

“Krista-Lee: ‎"no matter how horrid you turn out to be ..." wow what a vote of confidence for Philippine men!

Anna: I feel like I have heard this verbatim from the men I met there...

Krista-Lee: yeah Anna, I heard something similar from an expat during his explanation on why he doesn't date white women.”

I have written here before about the joys of being a female expat. I said previously that it gets easier, and it does, in part because we just get used to the way things are here.

As can be derived from the text in the photo this warning was not about white women in Taiwan, but there is a special challenge in being a minority woman in Asia. All the expat women I know here occasionally travel to other areas of Asia and come back with stories; more than one have echoed the sentiment described here.

Although on one level this does disturb me because of the rash generalization being made, this text did not offend me. On one hand it was a reminder of how very lonely living in Asia can be, but on the other hand it makes my very appreciative of my independence. Yes, I would say that in my case that text is probably accurate. There is a reason I have never been married; and if I ever do, I would likely leave a man before I found out “how horrid” he could be.

I guess (something approximating) equality kills the romance.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Second Cold War

This past Wednesday there was a raid drill in Taipei. It began at 2pm while I was still in class. Being a Chinese language class, naturally all of the students were foreigners and none of us knew what was happening when the sirens went off. Our teacher politely explained that it was a raid drill and that we would not be able to leave campus until 2:30pm. When someone asked why they have raid drills, she said “in case we get raided,” and I immediately added, “in case China invades.” My teacher just smiled and nodded her head.

Technically speaking I was alive for the end of the US Cold War, but it ended before I was old enough to be politically conscious of its reality. It has been for me more of a historical event I have read about. The Chinese Civil War is also a historical event I have read about and not a lived reality (of course this would be the case since my parents weren’t even born yet when it started and my family isn’t Chinese). Legally speaking, the Chinese Civil War never ended though, and so technically that would make this a cold war now – if you can call two countries with economic ties at war.

I knew everything in that last paragraph before Wednesday, but on Wednesday a new reality sunk into me. I am living in the center of the capital city of a country whose neighbor has a lot of missiles pointed directly at it.

On Wednesday the bustling city of Taipei shut down. I walked out to the gate of campus and looked upon an empty street. A street that is normally a major thoroughfare and is always packed. There were police at the intersection to ensure that no vehicles or pedestrians were moving about. It was creepy.

Oddly, it was also peaceful. This was the first time I have experienced quiet since moving to Taipei. Although the raid drill did on one level bring a new appreciation to me about the reality of the political situation here, this does not mean it brought any fear. It would not benefit China to invade and it would not benefit Taiwan to voluntarily join them, so from my perspective I don’t foresee an end to the status quo anytime soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I like living in Asia

I recently became the topic of a Facebook thread. I certainly did not mean for this to happen, but it did; and for reasons unrelated to the couple of personal insults directed towards me, I did get a little angry.

The thread started with a post about the concealed carry law being proposed in my home state. I will admit up front that I know nothing about this. I have been a little too busy to keep up-to-date on all of the wonderful ways in which Walker wants to put WI on the path to 3rd-world-ism. I digress.

In response to the post I made a joke concerning weapons, Bush, Palin, and Walker. My friend who made the post recognized this as such since he is a wise person and can realize that I do not lay awake at night waiting for Palin to shoot me from a helicopter hovering over my home in Taiwan. My friend is for the proposal, but I am not. This is not a problem between us because, again, my friend is a wise person and can understand that a difference in opinion does not mean that either of us thinks poorly of the other.

One of his FB-BFFs however got personal with me. I have seen posts from this individual before and so I already know to expect as much from him. I am not personally bothered by this. My sweet friend perhaps was bothered though because he proceeded to defend me. The thread digressed into a discussion over my intelligence. I would have been amused, but then the “difference” between “intelligent” and “educated” got thrown into the mix. This is where I needed a break from FB.

I won’t deny that intelligent and educated are not synonyms, however, this particular little debate has arisen in several conversations I have been a part of or have read online recently and the implications being made are clear. Educated has become a dirty word in American English, and intelligence has become a meaningless word that describes everyone.

The attacks on education in my own state aside, I see this also in the right wing descriptions of president Obama as well as in other areas of the media. To be a teacher is to suggest that one wasn’t intelligent enough to do something meaningful with their life, and to be educated is to be shunned. The educated have become the ranting sidewalk lunatics. “Just ignore the crazy man sweetie, he’s just educated, he doesn’t count.”

I don’t have this problem here in Taiwan. I don’t go around with a sandwich board announcing that I am here to do research for my PhD, but when people ask me what I am doing here, I tell them the truth. In some cases people react as if they are a bit intimidated, but in most cases people are simply impressed. Either way I have never been treated like a leper for what I have chosen to do with my life, and rather than being ignored when I give my opinion on something I am engaged in healthy debate on the topic and taken seriously. I can say the same for my life in the States.

This is, in my opinion, the rot of American culture. America is a great country, but this is at the heart of our current slow downfall. It makes my angry because I am an American, wherever in the world I may be, and I am tired of being the brunt of other people’s jokes. Yes, America, many people around the world still envy the image of you, but just as many are laughing at you.