Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Lonely Hearts Narrative

I’ve written before on Western women complaining about their inability to land a man, Taiwanese or otherwise, here and here. I guess this is becoming a series of sorts. To some extent I still believe everything I wrote before, to some extent I don’t. In my own journey adjusting to celibacy I have found myself joining in this “lonely hearts” mentality from time to time, but if I am honest, the narrative I have been reciting (more or less the same as the other Western women) is not the truth – or at least not the whole truth.

The narrative goes something like this:

I am single because all the white guys have yellow fever and all the Taiwanese guys are either too afraid to speak English or not attracted to white women. (Whether or not the speaker knows Chinese is irrelevant, because it is generally assumed white people can’t speak Chinese at all unless/until they prove otherwise.)

Though there is some truth hidden within this narrative, it is still just that, a narrative. It is a culturally acceptable way of expressing loneliness (to oneself or to others) that blames outside factors, thus leaving the question of the speaker’s desirability out of the equation. This narrative is loosely based on a true story.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Difference Between Conservatism and Formality

It’s been said by many a newly arrived foreigner in Taiwan that this culture is conservative. Some will continue to see Taiwan in this way for the duration of their stay, but those who stay longer and explore enough quickly learn that “conservative” is not the right word. This I learned sometime ago, but what I struggled with until recently was what was the right word to describe sociality here. I think I have found it: formality.

Thanks to Matt for sparking the formality idea Smile

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2nd Body Language Acquisition

I have about 2 years in the field now, not all at once, but close enough.  Given my particular field site (an ESL game company), my time in language classes filled mostly with college students or recent grads, and the overall topic of video games, most of the people I associate with on a day to basis are quite Westernized. Many of them have studied abroad and they all speak English to varying levels. This has perhaps slowed my Chinese language learning, but it has not completely stalled it, and I have been getting by alright… until recently.