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.
So what is the real problem then? Why are there so many lonely hearts in Taiwan? I wish I had a definitive answer to this question, but I don’t. What follows are my guesses, based on mine and others’ experiences in Taiwan, mostly, but not always, in the capital, Taipei. It is also based on answers that Taiwanese men and women have given me and others when directly asked about this.
Because this one topic is clearly too large for a single entry, I will list the answers here, elaborate on the first one, and then follow up with explanation on the rest over the next few days or so. As I am trying to remain open-minded, however, there is a chance my ideas may change. If they do, I will make sure to point out what I got wrong today. So here is the short-story of what is happening:
1. yellow fever
2. white fever
2.1 masculinity is a cultural construct
2.2 cultural differences in expectations
3. language and body language barriers
4. 杞人憂天 (alternate title – not a translation of the Chinese: fear and inability to take risks)
OK, let’s begin. I put yellow fever at #1 not because it is most important, but because it requires the least amount of explanation. I’m going from easiest to hardest in this list, which subsequently means from least important to most imho.
Yellow fever is suffered by most – but not all – white men in Asia. This should not come as a surprise to any of the expat women here, however, considering the sexual eroticization of Asian women back home. For many Western men coming to Asia is akin to a kid in a candy store and white women look like broccoli. No one chooses broccoli over chocolate. Not all men are so inclined though, and for some a couple of local girlfriends is enough to cure them. This isn’t a jab at Taiwanese women, it is a comment on the difficulty of sustaining a cross-cultural relationship. of course some men will never be cured of this affliction. In those cases I would recommend any pining women to just give up. There are other fish in the sea.
Enough about the white guys. They’re a minority here anyway. So why do white women get so bitter over yellow fever? Tune in next time to find out.