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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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Zen and the Art of International Online Dating    

By Peter V
2977 Views | 9 Comments | 9/13/2013 6:13:32 PM

Several years ago the abbot at a Zen Buddhist residential center where I was staying for three months requested that I cease writing for China Love Match for the duration of my stay. When I asked why, I was told that this was not an issue for debate but was a requirement of my continued residence. Since I had already written enough columns to cover this period and I was intending on taking a break from writing anyway, I agreed to his conditions.

But the fact that I never got a chance to discuss this with him always bothered me. As far as I understood it, his problems were essentially the following. First, there was a concern that as a result of the site, Asian women would travel to live in the country of the man they marry and get trapped into an abusive relationship and, because they are in a foreign country, have no power to do anything about it. Second, even if the relationship is not abusive, it is one that is coereced and not entered into freely, since the woman is obviously marrying for purely economic motives.

It is not enough simply to dismiss the charges as obviously misguided, as I think they are. It often turns out that actions that seem ethically unproblematic are in fact wraught with moral peril. Nothing seems more harmless than going to the store to buy a pair of shoes. But most thoughtful people agree that if the shoes are made by school kids in some third world sweatshop, the action is morally problematic. So in general I think it is a good idea to examine the morality of our acts. This is especially true if a morally serious person raises a charge. I think the Pope's position on contraception is loony (the nicest thing I can say about it). But the fact that he espouses it means it deserves a response by those who oppose it. And in this case, the fact that the head of a major Zen center in America raised the accusation makes it even more imperative to respond to the charge.

So here goes. With regard to the first charge, that an Asian woman might move to a foreign country and get trapped in an abusive relationship, I think the abbot would be surprised how many women from International Online Dating sites do not wish to leave their own country but expect the men to move. This is not only because their ecnomic situation is improving but also because the value they put on close ties with the family. So the hypothesis behind the charge is simply untrue in many cases.

And even in cases where the woman does move to a foreign country, what is the evidence that the relationship is any more likely to be abusive than a relationship within the woman's own country? In fact, my sense is that in general Western men treat women from Asia a lot better than Asian men treat them. This is not to rule out the possibility that a woman from the dating sight might move to a foreign country and get trapped into an abusive relationship.But women (and men) get involved in abusive relationships all the time. Is there any evidence this happens with any more frequency to women from International Online Dating sites? The bottom line is that it is very important to get to know the person with whom you are getting involved. Women who seriously say they want to marry a man on their first or second chat, for example, are simply violating that responsibility. It is not the duty of China Love Match or any dating website to protect people from themselves.

But, the response might come, if the website is not responsible neither are the women, since they are in fact forced into dating websites because of their economic circumstances. Now it is clear that women are in fact forced into all sorts of terrible things. In some countries women are forced to marry against their will. Female trafficking, where women are kidnapped and forced into prostitution, is rampant throughout the world. In both these cases, an actual element of physical violence is involved; the woman is physically restrained or threatened with force. It simply diminishes the true horror of the above mentioned situations to refer to situtions where ecnomics plays a role in a woman's decision as forced.

Moreover, let's put aside for the time being the fact that many of the women of the website are doing fine economically and admit that there are some who are trying to improve thier conditions through marriage. Women from Western countries all the time make the decision to improve their economic situation through marriage. Do you think the last three women to marry Hugh Hefner did so because of his dashing good looks? The institution of improving your situatioin through marriage is as old as the instituion of marriage. It seems unreasonable and even racist to deny the chance to improve one's economic conditon through marrige to non-Western women and absurd to dub a choice to do so as forced.

Far from posing any threat to the women, sites like this one empower its female members by providing opportunities for meeting life partners that are few and far between in their own culture, especially for a segment of the population--divorced women and those over thirty--who have a pariah like status in their own country.

In his zeal to protect no one from no real harm, the abbot would have denied these women a positive benefit. Unsurprisingly, I didn't last very long at the Zen center.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 9 of 9) 1
#2013-09-13 18:34:13 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Peter, I don't know whether to be about the Monks obviously false perceptions of online dating reality or to be pleased that they even knew who CLM is. We get flak from Chinese men all the time, but this is the first time we had conflict with Buddhist Monks. Thanks for so ably defending us.

#2013-09-13 22:41:39 by Icekuma23 @Icekuma23

I am a bit curious as to why he replied to you in such a way rather than attempt to explain it to with great patience.

Good write up yet again.

#2013-09-14 01:01:11 by anonymous7342 @anonymous7342

In china some people could go to market to buy living animal then kill them only for eat.There are also some people enjoy to go to market try to buy living animal then only for free them to save them...if the market set up strict rule as requirement that all the people have to learn to save animal give their new life then can enter. By the way all people entered only know can learn kindness without hurt. When they leave the market they are all smile as they find how to make self and partner happy to own new life for self happiness future.

Same reason. some people get sick...go to hospital want to find medicine to get back happiness life as they need or lost ever.
You can introduce they go to the site and they must be satisfied by the health way to get or recover health happiness life back.
But if you have no correct way to protect to stop any else mislead your patient. They get more terrible life when they leave or after it.

How to explain the site was defended worth to introduce to all.

No more site can work strictly. certainly Buddhist Monks never provide anyone living there as support mistake.There are much karma in it.Don't need ask.

I am curious what's more you learned from the three months.

#2013-09-15 05:28:49 by RobertB @RobertB

I have heard of another type of abuse. Extreme feminist, new age exploitation. So, a woman gains education, then is promoted. Then is again promoted. Again. Then she is trapped. She cannot even imagine that can be more normal life than working for 18 hours a day in an office and being responsible for everything and money she earns is obviously worthless as she cannot even spend it and use the result on herself other than goad herself to work harder. I saw once a picture of such a woman, she was a head of railway in some obscure European country (some provincial level or higher) and she looked like she had no time or energy to comb her hair let alone anything else.
Yes, women are abused and in many ways. Most of the time they are told that they are successful and that makes them extremely vulnerable.
She does not even know that she is being abused.
As for the mentioned Abbot, I believe that he did not think of the lot of women at all. He was most likely concerned with old notion of women being root of all evil, so if you are staying at the ZEN monastery or whatever religious place, please do not talk or think about women.
I do not know why so many people think that women are so different or so bad. Dating site is just a place to talk to other people who happen to be very often different gender. They are still responsible citizens.
It is strange that many men sheepishly agree to women presiding in companies but at the same time when man talks to a woman, she is treated immediately like someone without any form of independence.
Also, it seems that US is a country of doubtful moral standards at best or even worse a most typical barbaric place, where if a woman just puts her foot down on her soil, she is immediately used and abused and has no say in the matter.
No one actually thinks that although there are exceptions, I have seen that it is women mostly who actually learn foreign languages.
So, a man arrives in China with knowledge of Chinese that is just about three words rich, while no one is surprised if a Chinese woman can speak quite a bit of sensible English in America.
So, who is at the mercy of whom?
Also, on dating sites are mostly women that have some education and so called social status. They may be nurses or businesswomen or whatever.
So, what is the point of taking them out of the evolving economy, where they feel quite well-adjusted, to a place that she has to start afresh?
moreover, not every American is rich. So, maybe he can start in China as well. I know, so what can he do?
That is the problem, you either continue what you have been doing at home or try something new. Surely lack of experience is the problem not so much for workers as for the employers but that is the sweetness and bitterness of international dating. Also international trade.
It had to be hard at the beginning and now everybody treats it as normal, even they call it globalism. So, it is obvious that globalism is not only about trade but also about science, culture and social interaction.
Everybody, irrespective where they come from or who they are, should have right to participate in the life of the planet.
I wish ZEN masters will understand that too. I believe that ZEN Abbot is still carrying the "maiden" -- You know that old ZEN story?
Master and his disciple were travelling and came to a stream, where a young woman was standing and did not know how to cross without getting wet. So, the master without thought picked her up and carried her over, there he put her back on dry land and continued walking. His disciple was so shocked that was speechless. After a mile asked his master: "Master, why did you pick that woman up? Is that not against our chastity vows?"
Master replied--"What woman? Are you still carrying her in your mind? I left her long ago. "
Anyway, ZEN is about flow not about fear of being taken by evil things.
I think ZEN is good thing and does not mean you have to forsake anything.
Actually trying to forsake something because you want to achieve enlightment is already going against ZEN. Be spontaneous, at that think.
That is the whole secret.
Contradiction is way of life. Everything is contradicting everything and that makes it work. Forgive me Peter if my understanding of ZEN is too personal.

#2013-09-15 21:27:37 by anonymous7361 @anonymous7361

the title should be " Zen and The Art of Not Making Assumptions"

#2013-09-16 16:35:49 by yelina @yelina

as most of Chinese knows that Buddhism originates from eastern culture and civilization with eastern 's special mode of thinking about everthing in the world. One of the most important ideal in it is emphasizing the "cause and effect"relationship. That sometiems means,in the monks'mind, all the "evil crime "happens just because of your bad immature idea in your mind or a small wrong action. On the contrary, it is also founded, "good effect comes after good idea".So the monks require themselves and the other residents in it very strictly.They wouldn't let any improper action existed around them to break the pure atmosphere and environment down.

For example, if your article inspire more chinese women who have the wrong intension , purely economic motives, to marry the wrong man on the site.The abuse ,if there is ,will probably happened. And what's the cause?they will think you are the one of the cause.So they wanna stop you to control such kind of things. Hope my personal understanding and explanation can help you.

In my opinion, online dating is one method to find someone who are you interested in most. But all is just beginning, no matter you have married him/her already or not. Even getting marry happily already is just the beginning as everyone knows marriage is not only passion. it needs two people who are love each other truely and have the power and abilities to solve all the problem which they will come across. They should be two person that grown up together in mind in their marriage. Of course,CLM is the best one that I trust most at the moment.I do appreciate every work the staffs do here.

Anyway, all is just my personal opinion reply. Hope it will not be difficult for you to understand my clumsy English.

#2013-09-16 20:42:44 by yelina @yelina

as most of Chinese knows that Buddhism originates from eastern culture and civilization with eastern 's special mode of thinking about everthing in the world. One of the most important ideal in it is emphasizing the "cause and effect"relationship. That sometiems means,in the monks'mind, all the "evil crime "happens just because of your bad immature idea in your mind or a small wrong action. On the contrary, it is also founded, "good effect comes after good idea".So the monks require themselves and the other residents in it very strictly.They wouldn't let any improper action existed around them to break the pure atmosphere and environment down.

For example, if your article inspire more chinese women who have the wrong intension , purely economic motives, to marry the wrong man on the site.The abuse ,if there is ,will probably happened. And what's the cause?they will think you are the one of the cause.So they wanna stop you to control such kind of things. Hope my personal understanding and explanation can help you.

In my opinion, online dating is one method to find someone who are you interested in most. But all is just beginning, no matter you have married him/her already or not. Even getting marry happily already is just the beginning as everyone knows marriage is not only passion. it needs two people who are love each other truely and have the power and abilities to solve all the problem which they will come across. They should be two person that grown up together in mind in their marriage. Of course,CLM is the best one that I trust most at the moment.I do appreciate every work the staffs do here.

Anyway, all is just my personal opinion reply. Hope it will not be difficult for you to understand my clumsy English.

#2013-09-17 06:56:18 by RobertB @RobertB

Apparently kharma means only doing. That I know from Alan Watt's lectures.
Doing, that means that it is simple cause and effect principle.
Still, despite the fact, that we talk not about what should be done but rather we guide people as what ways of life can give them more happiness and peace if they desire that. They can choose whatever they wish.
Also, sometimes if not mostly, people react rather than act. Kharma versus Dharma. I hope it makes sense. In other words, do whatever , just be aware of it. Life will guide you. As someone said, do whatever you want, just love at the same time.
Someone struck someone because felt offended or tried to defend.
Someone gave someone else help because felt pity.
These are all reactions. Still, we do not have to just act.
Sometimes feeling and thinking can be as powerful.
It is easier to act or to refrain from doing when there is a general acceptance or dislike for something.
It can be felt. Sometimes subconsciously.
Generally I say, the reason why there are so many of us is that we can try various ways.
If there had been exactly one way, there would have been only one being.
Yes, killing and refraining from killing, sex and respect, laziness and tireless toil, selflessness and gathering and creating riches.. Are they not the two sides of the same coin?
Generally the principle of life is such that it swings from one extreme to another and at some point it balances itself, then stretches in opposite direction. If it stops, then loses interest and attention moves elsewhere.
Right now I am listening to ·让我学会做你的爱人·。 "Let me learn how to love you"<>>
I seem to like Chinese songs the most of all. I do not know why exactly.
Maybe because my dear Jessica used to listen to them, years ago, when we were still together.
So miraculously met, so dramatically separated.
When we met I did expect her arrival although we had never met in this life before, the only clue I had was a sale of the house. (Someone sold, so someone bought, you know..).
Even when we went our own ways, we did it just because of love to each other.
Sometimes the end is the new beginning, sometimes you have to wait a bit longer.
Also, the distance sometimes seems like nothing much as you can sense the other, sometimes being in the same room can give you feeling of loneliness.
Life is searching yourself. In your works and in people you love.
usually I do not hide myself. I am interested in people's reactions and I do not like to be too anonymous. After all I am anonymous anyway.
Who knows me anyway? not even me.
I may be travelling to China soon.
The possibility is that I can stay there to live.
I am afraid of smog and other things. Still I know that life just goes on.
Whatever happens I will be fine. As always.
Flower fell apart, its fruit brings new life.

#2013-11-02 23:32:42 by sandy339 @sandy339

I had expected you might write something about Zen, all you wrote is about a relationship, ok I think if anyone could analyze all these in such a clear, pratical and sharp mind, his world might not have much fun?
I remembered one of my phisophical teachers said Philosophy could give people a clear mind, but only religion could give people some comfort, I think that is one of the reasons I cann't further my study on it. I need something warmer with real person's touch...

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