Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mr Ts 'Lonely people in TST' picPosted by Picasa

Disparity in Asian-White Dating

I was reminded again after being reunited with Mr T in Hong Kong of our uniqueness as a mixed race couple. The stares we get when we are together are unbelievable and they are not stares like they are in melb where you catch someone out and they look away, no they are lingering stares.

I was so excited to see another couple 'like us' when i was there that i squeezed his hand and I smiled. Its refreshing to know there are others like us!

A little while back a friend of mine directed me to a website which discussed the 'Disparity in Asian-White Dating' as it is referred to.

As you have probably seen there are plenty of interracial couples the other way around: White males and Asian females. When i was in Hong Kong on my latest holiday there (11 days) I tried to count and come to about 40(WM-AF) to 1 (WF-AM not including us). Interesting though American marriage stats are actually not quite as extreme. Its about 3 to 1. However as Tanaka's notes:

People I've talked to in the various parts
of this country told me that these ratios seem too low.
That is, the observed ratio from real life is somewhere
between 10:1 and 20:1. We suspect two reasons for this
discrepancy: (i) Most of the A/W couples that we see are
casually dating, not married (and will not marry). Among
dating couples the ratio is somewhere between 10:1 and

Also factoring in the Gremlin to god syndrome it starts to make sense.

Tanaka attempts to explain why there is such a big difference. While I don't agree with all of his theories, two things stood out for me personally from his article. First he talks about pervasive media bias. Particularly the under representation of Asian men in American media and then the way they are portrayed within the media. He quotes Alan Hu [1994]:

[...] Asian men are portrayed as: asexual martial arts
masters, asexual viet cong guerrillas, asexual servants, and
asexual geeks.
Asian women get to be prostitutes, geisha,
emperors-(there's another male role)-waiting-to-be-sexually-
liberated-by-a-real-(white)-man, and recently, newscasters.
As another data point, look at the (infrequent) interracial
couples in films: the man is almost invariably white

Thinking about this on a personal level it makes sense. For me dating an Asian man was not something I thought about previously (this is something that appears to be very common amongst WM by the sounds of it). I'm sure I was surrounded by attractive asian men from time to time on the street not to mention some of my good AM friends in Melbourne but I wasn't really seeing them. In fact it wasn't really until I moved to Hong Kong that it started to see them in a slightly different light and I can't help but wonder if it was the affect of starting to watch more and more HK movies with some very nice looking actors. I would hate to think that it was that simple: that the media influences me that much, but I can't rule it out. I'm very much aware of the lack of good female roles within movies and the male gaze so i can't believe I never noticed this before.

The second thing was the height issue. I prefer taller guys than me (my one superficial requirement- i know i know ...), I'm 173cm tall and AM often struggle to meet that requirement. Little did I know that MR T (who is 6ft2) was out there.

My google searching also reveals results on an online quiz which asks both WF and AM what factor dissuades relations with the other and the majority (almost 75% for both WF & AM) marked that they don't think that the other will find them attractive. This might help to explain why MR T and I were very close and very flirty for so long before any move was made.

I would like to re-address this issue at another stage because it is a rather complex issue. In the meantime though I will leave it (like Tanaka) with Alan Hu's advice:

On a societal level, look around you and
look into yourself. Recognize media bias and attempt to
counteract it. If you see something egregious, point it out,
write a letter to the editor, do something. If you see
racism and prejudice in yourself, attempt to eliminate it.


李智良 said...

hello kristy,

my first visit here
this is a very thoughtful article you wrote; in HK the media rules the minds of many


lee chi leung

李智良 said...

hello kristy,

my first visit here
this is a very thoughtful article you wrote; in HK the media rules the minds of many


lee chi leung

kristy said...

ah leung

thanks for dropping by

I miss your photo blog

have you started a new one?

shamash said...

Fascinating read, Kristy. Liked the quotes. Also, it reminded me of how something as personal as dating becomes such a societal issue when a couple doesn't fit in to the cultural stereotypes.

I'm going to check out your vegetarian/food sites now. I've been a vegetarian for going on a year, and I feel great.

I'm also a 43 Things gal!!

lah lah said...

Hi Kristy,

This is Lah Lah from 43things. Thanks for writing to my blog and I found your article really great. As a Chinese woman, I think sometimes it is difficult to judge whether a White guy is dating you for fun or for serious. It seems that, since Madame Butterfly, that White guys are dating Asian women just for fun. Personally, I knew a few American guys who dated dozens of Asian girls but eventually married a White woman for good. I'm not trying to be racist but just pointing out some examples.

Lah Lah

jlp said...

Hi, I came here from 43 Things a while ago, but haven't commented until now. I couldn't resist this post.

Another factor is the masculinity/feminity hierarchy. I read about this in a university class years-upon-years ago (because I'm so old), so I might not remember the exact details. But in the U.S. at least, according to sterotypes the masculine hierarchy goes: Asian to White to Latin to Black. (With Asians being the "least masculine.") And it's in the completely opposite direction for the feminine hierarchy with Asians being the most feminine.

I don't hold this opinion, personally. But it seems to explain why there are more AF-WM couples than AM-WF. And it also explains how only a few types of inter-racial relationships show up in pop culture before it starts becoming an issue.

kristy said...

Wow i feel so popular :-)

shamash you should check out the food blogs too-mostly veg with lots of beautiful pictures. I actually found your site through 43things and love the phrase 'Gremlin to God syndrome' obviously.

Lah lah i agree. I've seen white males just wanting fun with asian females but then I've also seen white males wanting just fun with white women too. Perhaps though it is more of an issue with them dating outside of their own race.

jlp, i'm glad you did leave a comment. Its a good point, and one I hadn't even thought of -just goes to show how complex the issue is! Will check out your site/s.

李智良 said...


i am trying to incorporate all my stuff at one blog (

chinese men also tend tohave a hierarchy of women in terms of "desirability" so to speak; with white europena women on top of course; and chinese men posit himself in realtion to such a hierarchy to demonstrate curtein kind of power paramenters...

my 2 cents; you see even now, some things residents in the HK island are "cooler" than those who live in New Territories; let only the sphere of sexuality


lee chi leung

-A. said...

As one of the many WMs in a relationship with an AF (in my case, an AAF), I have to report that there is also some negativety toward 'mixed' relationships, even of this more common form. Part of it comes down to deep-seated negative stereotypes about Asian women - that they are trying to marry their way out of poverty, that they are passive and easily dominated, that they are happy to be confined to 'housewife' status. Whilst these are manifestly untrue, they colour (pardon the pun) perceptions of the relationship, particularly calling into question my motivation as the WM in a relationship with a 'poor, passive, housewifely' AW.

kristy said...

Leung, your suggestion that Chinese men position themselves in relation to an invisible hierarchy saddens me. It reminds me of the Anthony Wongs quote:

'Of course expats love HK. We have this colonial mentality of thinking of Westerners as superior so they live in Mid-Levels'.

I imagined that if one tended to place themself in hierarchies they would do so favouring their own race over others, not that I agree with that at all (obviously) but another race placed higher seems even crazier.

A, wow I'm really surprised that those attitudes are still there for your slightly more mainstream version of inter-racial dating.

Particularly with an ABV (Aus born Vietnamese) gal. I figured that most of those stereotypes didn't extend to overseas AFs.

Having said all of that I have noticed that within the media there seemed to be a rise of some very good looking AFs as models and actresses. There also seemed to be a rise of more WM-AF relationships in the media. I know that some of the roles are not great and may actually reinforce those beliefs however its not quite as bad as AMs who seem to be forgotten all together.

If those attitudes are still there for your relationship god knows what people are thinking about in regard to Mr T and I.

Anonymous said...

White Dating