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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Chivalry ain't dead!    

By Garreth Humphris
5364 Views | 13 Comments | 6/23/2013 1:12:20 PM

One of the funniest (at the time) Chinese dating techniques I first heard when when I came to China a decade ago was, if you were dating a Chinese woman, place some food onto her plate with your chopsticks. Essentially offering to serve her was a great way to get her interested in you - and was a way of showing your affection for her based on the idea that you were actually showing a willingness to acknowledge her and a commitment to care for her!

Ok, well this sounded a little far-fetched at the time - an 'old-timer' told me this was the first 'spark' in his romance with his Chinese wife! I laughed but, of course, in Chinese culture this idea is alive and well! Chinese etiquette dictates that a host, in order to show respect to the guest, will often ’serve’ their guest throughout the meal - sometimes offering food from their own plate (and with their own chopsticks rather than communal ones). It is a little on the hackle-raising side for new visitors to China - especially in a post-SARS, HxNx world! But it is considered polite and respectful in China.

In general, as a foreign man in China, many of the things your mother taught you about being polite and gentlemanly do put you in a good position with many ladies - they are not necessarily expecting you to carry a bag of shopping, hold a door open for them, walk on the road-side, thank them for cooking etc... I guess we have some of the oafish tactics of the typical Chinese boyfriend to be thankful for!

So you might be thinking... "What a magical place!" - having women swoon at you for holding open a door or carrying a bag for them! But this can also get you into a certain degree of ’trouble’ when your genuinely good-natured or gentlemanly behaviour can be misconstrued as ’tenderness’! We also have the good-heartedness of the women here in that they might elevate meaning in our simple acts of everyday decorum!

For example; when a friend asked me if I could help her with some research for an assignment she was writing (She needed English Language sources and wanted a summary of some papers that were taking her far to long to translate herself!). I obliged, thinking I could knock the task over in a few hours but, as you know... procrastination takes it’s toll on time and I ended up fast approaching the deadline with little progress. My response, sit in a darkened room for a few hours one evening, do the task and email the results to her! But of course, as I did this, the time got later and later - and by the time I’d checked it, cross-referenced and proofread it a few times it was approaching 3am! Well, the next morning the document had arrived with a big juice time stamp showing my commitment to her via the burning of midnight oil! Her reasoning was that she was significantly ’touched’ by my effort - in truth, it was I had been lazy/busy and I was just catching up! But never the less, it left a ’love impression’ for her! My commitment to her had shown through in an email header!

I won't say that it is not a ’nice’ feeling that people think you are good by your actions - but it is also a little strange for me that people might place ’special emphasis’ on a situation I find mundanely commonplace. My view is that if someone is approaching a door and there is a risk they will hurt themselves if you walk through or slam it into their fingers, holding a door open for someone is a no-brainer, but at my local Starbucks if I do it, it is akin to valet parking and preferential seating!

So, here is a little tip for men choosing to visit China! Polish up on your etiquette and chivalry actions and make them a part of your persona... they certainly stand out in the overcrowded and sometimes impersonal world that is big-city Mainland China! And you never know, the next lady you open the door for might be your next sweet-heart!!

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 10 of 13) 1 2 More...
#2013-06-23 14:37:41 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Of all the little things that really seems to leave Chinese women in a state of wonder, opening the car door for them seems to me to be number 1. They are shocked that someone would care enough about them to walk out of his way to help them into a car. And they really don't know how to react, but there's no question they really appreciate being made to feel special.

However, while it certainly works to our advantage, it's hard to blame Chinese men for not doing these things. The simple fact is that the Age of Chivalry, from which these acts of politeness we perform for our women without even thinking were handed down to us, is a uniquely European historical reality, so why should Chinese men be expected to follow the rules of etiquette that we follow.

#2013-06-24 21:44:46 by prana @prana

@JohnAbbot
抱歉,我想说的是,现代的中国人,大部份没有信仰,没有对上天的敬畏……
现在的中国家庭里,仍然存在着一种习惯,就是:男孩子在家庭中的地位高人一等,处处特殊照顾,爷爷奶奶可以不过生日,男孩子过生日得买大蛋糕,让他像“小皇帝”一样。
女孩子就没有这么幸运了。
可笑的是,有些女性结婚了以后,她对孩子们的爱,仍然沿袭了这种坏的风俗习惯……

#2013-06-25 11:48:45 by anonymous6678 @anonymous6678

这是东西方文化的不同之处,在中国通常提倡的口号是: ‘男女各占半边天,男女平等!巾帼不让须眉’! 等,。这类的语言和口号是在告诉人们,女人不是弱者,在中国,男人不为女人开门,绝不会被视为是不尊重女性的表现,不像在国外,单举一个例子就足以说明,国外的女人生孩子,男人多数都会站在产妇的身边,具说能减轻生产过程中的疼痛,而在中国,女人生孩子男人是绝不可以进产房的,门口就竖着醒目的牌子;‘男宾止步’,,所以,这就不能说,进产房的男人就是‘准丈夫’知道疼爱妻子,而不进产房的男人就是不关心妻子的‘坏男人’说穿了这还是不同文化的习惯,但是给别人夹菜,还是应该使用公共的筷子和勺子。

#2013-06-25 16:43:52 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@prana - I am sure your comment here was not intended for this article, but for some reason it was here. If you'll please reply and tell me what blog article my comment was on that you are responding to I'll be happy to move them over to that article. I'm also keen to see what I said that led to your response.

#2013-06-25 17:06:52 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

On the other hand, I think there are some acts lf chivarly I feel no self-respecting Western male should engage in. I am referring in particular to the "holding the purse" thing, which I see all over the place here in Chengdu. I'm sorry, I just can't go there,

#2013-06-25 18:16:53 by prana @prana

中国的待客之道,除了吃,还是吃!
我也曾帮助过一些异性同事,也跟他们聊了几句话,只是帮忙而已,只是多说了几句话而已。
结果,他们认为我对他们有那个意思。他们问我:我是不是喜欢他们了……
他们的夫人、女朋友对我“恨之入骨”……
我快要疯了……
不止女人会想入非非,男人也一样!
不稀奇!

#2013-06-25 18:30:59 by prana @prana

@JohnAbbot
我是回复这篇博客文章的。
我的意思是:中国这样的教育方式,一些人不是学会了感恩,而是学会了贪婪、自私……最终是自己害了自己。

#2013-06-26 18:24:40 by dongmei883 @dongmei883

分析称,当代中国家庭错位关系现象有以下几个方面:一、地位错位,父母敢为佣人,子女荣升主人;二、待遇悬殊,长辈穷困潦倒,晚辈养尊处优; 成才期待:父母王子成龙,子女难负重;消费倒挂:父母艰苦朴素,子女穷奢极侈;文化差异:父母如同古董,子女肤浅怪诞。

#2013-06-26 19:59:10 by anonymous6704 @anonymous6704

道德问题更多是中国人自己的事,最起码公共道德方面都缺乏教育, 是中国人都应该清楚怎么回事. 也许这正是众多中国女性选择外嫁的原因之一吧.

#2013-06-26 22:17:37 by anonymous6705 @anonymous6705

中国传统文化本来就重男轻女,对女性不尊重, 口号和现实两回事. 女的果真半边天了就少有妇女被拐卖了. 生孩子做丈夫的陪护就是人性化. 中国人生孩子好像就是当媳妇自己的事儿.我从来很少遇到中国男士给女士开门的. 更别提男的不分场合给女的难堪的. 还有借着酒疯刁难女同事的, 流氓一样的, 哪个单位没有几个?近来男校长屡屡侵犯女学生, 哪个妇女团体或其他组织挺身而出声讨过?

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