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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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Real Favorite Things of Foreign Men    

By Peter V
3449 Views | 5 Comments | 6/1/2010 1:04:12 AM
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A Chinese woman seeking clarification wrote me the following:

“I find that most of the blogs and forums are just concerned with the character of Chinese women. Why is there not a blog about foreign men? I would hope there could be a place for Chinese women to learn more about the real favorite things of foreign men. For example, what they like or dislike in the character of women?”

My first reply to her query was to say that the reason you write so much about Chinese women and so little about Western men on an internet dating site is that, well, men are easy. It’s a simple on/off light switch versus the control panel of the space shuttle. It’s Pong versus Grand Theft Auto. It’s, well, you fill in you own analogy (and see the attached diagram).

On further reflection, I realize, of course, she has point. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If, as I argued in my last piece, there are certain generalizations about Chinese women that are helpful for Western men to know in part because Chinese women are different in some important ways from Western women, then there should be corresponding generalizations about Western men that would doubtless be useful for Chinese women to know because Western men are different in some important ways from Chinese men.

What might those be? In trying to answer this question, I couldn’t help but call to mind the website “Stuff White People Like” (www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com). This wildly popular website, which has now spawned a best-selling book, discusses a variety of phenomena that seem particularly appealing not—despite its title—to all white people but to Caucasians in a certain income and education bracket. The various entries manage to both lampoon this group’s habits while providing a good amount of cultural insight. Some of the things listed include: Camping, Bob Marley; Taking a Year Off; Promising to Learn a New Language; Black music that black people don’t listen to anymore; Facebook; Comparing People to Hitler. In case you were wondering, “Asian girls” is #11 on the list. The entry reads, in part:

“Another factor that draws white guys to Asian women is that white women are jealous of them. Take for instance the fact that Asian women well into their 30s and 40s retain teen / college girl looks without the help of botox, yoga or a trendy diet. Asian women also avoid key white women characteristics such as having a mid life crisis, divorce, and hobbies that don’t involve taking care of the children.”

In any case, I have an idea for a similar venture based on my correspondent’s suggestion. It would be called “Real Favorite Things of Foreign Men.” Following the stuff white people like model, these would be objects, activities, and institutions that have a unique appeal to the group under consideration (foreign men in this case) while revealing something significant and insightful about them. Obviously there will have to be different categories for different nationalities, although perhaps there can be a category that includes things that are common to all foreigners (one thing that comes to mind is, “complaining that your country’s cuisine as found in China is vastly inferior to the cuisine of your country at home”).

So, without any further ado (whatever ado is), here is my contribution to the list for Real Favorite Things of Foreign Guys, middle-aged American version.

1. The Neighborhood Bar: The concept of the neighborhood bar is both unknown in China and the basis for one of the most popular and beloved television shows of all time in America (Cheers). This fact by itself should tell you that there is something different about the two cultures. Indeed, going to a bar alone strikes the average Chinese as only slightly less pathetic than being over thirty and never married, while for the average American it’s a rite of passage, as American as apple pie. At the neighborhood bar, a guy—by himself—can walk in, order a drink, and either sit alone in dignity or strike up a conversation with a stranger. By contrast, the last time I was in Chengdu, I could not even buy a single drink or a beer in the Chinese bars I visited, since everything had to be done by ordering bottles with mixers.

2. Trashing Soccer: Girls, your American boyfriend or the American guy you are communicating with thinks soccer (which you should not call football in his presence) is a sissy sport, and the guys who play it are pseudo-athletes who couldn’t succeed at a real athletic endeavor should their lives depend on it. I mean, it’s kicking a ball for God’s sake. Try hitting a 98 mile slider, sinking a 30 foot jumper or holding on to a Brett Favre bullet while being simultaneously smashed by two men the size of dump trucks. Now that’s what real athletes do. The point being, even in the in the most educated and well-travelled a certain chauvinism remains. You need to understand this and humor him.

3. Slutty girlfriends: This one I actually have some evidence for. Since 1939 the University of Iowa has conducted a survey on what men want in women. Chastity used to rank in the top few traits about 70 years ago when the survey first began. Now it is dead last. By contrast, and I covered this topic in several forums with undergraduates, chastity in their mate (not in themselves) is vitally important to Chinese men. There is even a scene in Yu Hua’s popular novel Brothers, where a town holds a contest for the most beautiful virgin, only to discover that most of the contestants have undergone operations to restore their virginity.

4. Hamburgers: A little while ago an American fast food chain had a popular commercial that consisted of a guy eating a hamburger by himself. The motto was, “Don’t bother me, I’m eating.” Yes, we Americans like to do some things by ourselves. This seems just strange to Chinese. Every semester for two years I asked the Chinese students in my American culture class to list the differences between Americans and Chinese. Never once did one person put, “We are all the same.” No, you had to limit them to four or five. And first on the list would always be that Americans like to do things by themselves while Chinese do things in groups. Eating hamburgers alone in your room is cool in America (hence the popularity of the commercial), while in China it is considered a personality disorder.

5. Home Depot: Of course there are reasons having to do with relative dwelling sizes that Home Depot has not struck it big in China as, say, IKEA has. The problem is that going to IKEA with a woman in America is more of major commitment than meeting her parents. Next thing you know, she will be asking you to carry her purse (Just kidding. This phenomenon, while fairly common in China, is unheard of in America. And Chinese women need to realize that when they ask their American boyfriend to carry their handbag, they might as well ask him to put his testicles inside the bag while he’s carrying it). Drills, hammers, paint, plumbing fixtures, shovels. That’s a guy place.

6. Drinking out of cartons: I just did it five minutes ago. American guys do it all the time and it drives American women nuts. Why can’t we just pour it into a glass? I can’t say for certain Chinese guys don’t do this, but I don’t think they do, since Chinese convenience stores hand out straws with containers and as a result this disgusting habit may never have gotten started. Is it socially significant? Perhaps. It could demonstrate an admirable pragmatism, or it might be indicative of the fact that American men are slobs.

7. The Three Stooges. These were a comedy trio of the 30s and 40s in America whose shtick consisted of one member of the group physically harming the other two in ever evolving and more painful ways. American guys of a certain age love the Stooges, and younger guys love Stooges-influenced humor. (Indeed, much of the fart jokes and physical humor in American film can trace itself back to the Stooges and their imitators). To be sure, Stephen Chow (周星馳) is a great comedian who does a good amount of physical. But he is really not operating on the same level as the Stooges. In addition, take away slapstick from Stephen Chow films and you still have great plot, dialogue and acting. Remove physical humor from the Stooges and you have, well, about thirty seconds of footage per episode.

So there it is, my starter list. If you have any more, whatever your nationality, please pass them along. If my book idea for this takes off, I promise to reimburse anyone for their suggestion if I use it. And, Chinese women of CLM, if you think it is a good idea to have a forum devoted to this topic, please let us know.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2010-06-01 01:57:11 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

This is such a good idea for a Forum Category that we're really ashamed we haven't done it already. This is the beginning of the weekend for CLM, meaning we take Tuesday and Wednesday off (well most employees do, so we're short staffed) but on Thursday when the webmaster is back we'll be putting up a category called "Western Men" and perhaps a second one under "Dating Western Men", so if anyone wants to be first to add a topic, you can leave it as a comment here and we'll post it for you as a topic once the categories are ready to open. Thanks Peter. If you don't see it up by Thursday evening please give me a little nudge.

#2010-06-01 02:17:39 by abi513 @abi513

Great post Peter and right on target. I grew-up in The Three Stooges era and drove my Mother crazy mimicking them incessantly. It was also the era of Sears and Roebuck in its glory days before K-Mart and later Wal-Mart when the family ritual every Saturday was to go to Sears and just look if not buy anything.

Time passed and then places like Home Depot became the man’s “Kingdom” and often destination of choice that even women began to enjoy going because they could buy appliances and also flowers for their gardens.

If you return to Chengdu, we can meet at Hooter’s and I’ll wear my Three Stooges tie in your honor.

#2010-06-02 14:13:43 by huangliyun @huangliyun

The chemistry creates the sparks when a man and a woman meet. How beautiful it is, but only the understanding and communication can keep the spark alive. The understanding is mutual to the people from different cultures. If foreign men are attractive by a chinese lady, it is essential for him to respect and learn Chinese culture. And of course, vice versa.

And i was curious about how a foreign man druges the charming place of a Chinese woman. What is the most important or the core virtue for a woman they value?

#2010-06-04 07:41:58 by huangliyun @huangliyun

I come up a new comment yesterday. please

replace the attractive with attracted in the sentence " If foreign men are by a chinese lady, it is essential for him to respect and learn Chinese culture."

and druges with judges in the "i was curious about how a foreign man druges the charming place of a Chinese woman."

thanks

#2011-10-20 00:13:30 by danruble @danruble

Yes, men are simple. feed them, love them, respect them . maybe a few more things. but those are the basics and important to a large number of men. Feed means being able and willing to prepare meals. Don't just open a package of frozen stuff. simple meals. Tasty . Chow mein, hamburgers, steak. potatoes, You don't need to be a gormet, but it should be edible.cook something fresh. Not all the time, but often enough. cookies, cakes. pies. baking smells drive most men wild... An old ad said" Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven" Believe it. Maybe he will cook sometimes. when he wants to show off for friends at a backyard BBQ.. burning the steaks is a man's arena. Love them. Pretty much self explanitory. Make them glad they are a man and you are a woman. Along with being demure, an occasional agressive move on the ladies part is welcomed by many guys. Respect.. don't treat him as furniture, an ATM card, or whipping boy. Don't say bad things in public. If you have reason to disagree. DO NOT do it in the local resturaunt...It may be the last conversation you have with him.. ladies. be able to carry on a conversation. Men like to talk..BUT not all the time. we want to keep things simple. we don't need to talk about drapes or a new dishwasher for half an hour.. We don't want to talk about your cousin's wedding. We just don't.. We may be polite and say a word or two.. but talking about stuff non stop is a female thing. We LIKE big vehicles that make noise and smoke..V8, TURBO, Motorcycle...Power tools... Fixing things. If there is a problem, be it the house, car lawnmower or relationship. We, as men want to make it right. We don't sometimes know how... If He takes the lawn edger, sink or toaster apart.. And it fails to perform after the fact.. it may need replacing.. But don't remind him of it. EVER! In the middle of an arguement .. Don't bring up stuff that happened two years ago...n We like to get away and hang out with our buddies. We may spend hundreds ( mor likely thousands ) of dollars on boats ,fishing tackle, boots, bats, helmets retc etc etc on stuff that we use maybe once or twice a year. But we NEED this crap. It's a guy thing. We like stupid jokes. Your man may be a big deal in the boardroom, and dress up in suit and tie, but chances are he still like to have a beer or two with his friends and make loud noises . scream at the TV and make fart and breast comments. Dumb sexist jokes. remember why he was attracted to you. You look nice. ladylike. sexy. most men will still take a quick glance at a hot lady. It is in bred. We can't help it. It is like a Porsche or Ferrari. We shant have either, but it is for a brief moment in the genes wired to consider what it would be like to have a quick demo ride. we may take a quick look. It does not mean we don't love you. so don't get crazy about it. Don't get fat, sloppy and mean. That is he job of many American woman. If you have never been to the US , you would not believe the amazing number of women that just don't give a damn about how they look . And then they piss and moan about no good men left. Then if and when they get a good man, many will bitch at him.And about him to their "friends" We are simple. Strong and manly. with fragile egos. We are sometimes just big kids. You have the power. Men will only do what you allow them to get away with.

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