The experience of being in a foreign country and culture somehow liberated us from our usual American expectations for men and dating itself. We could even reinvent ourselves and what it meant to be in love with someone.It seemed natural and normal to do the same in China.Whether in forums or blogs, the negative online discourse about Chinese men is consistent with Psychologist Zhang Jiehai's findings from surveys on "Chinese Men in the Eyes of Western Women" as reported by China's Xinhua News Agency in 2010 (I provided an English translation on my blog).
" The photo leading off the post was a still from the 1980s American movie featuring Long Duk Dong, considered one of Hollywood's most offensive Asian male stereotypes.
In the still, he's locked in an awkward slow-dance embrace with a girl an entire head taller than him, but that's not even the worst of it.
In September 1999 -- my first month in China -- I had a huge crush on a guy.
My heart melted at that first sight of his big sesame-oil brown eyes.
The question haunted me as I pondered my crush on Tian.
But it wouldn't be the last time I would find myself up against these ideas.One American participant in the study actually blamed Hollywood for projecting a poor image of Chinese men around the world, and I couldn't help but wonder if she was thinking of at the time.Zhang's findings -- that Western women from around the world have consistently pejorative ideas about Chinese men -- remind me this isn't a problem confined to some insular expat circles in China.He was more of a gentleman toward me than any other man I had ever known.He was Chinese, a man named Tian who grew up in Zhengzhou.And I as I came to know him better, he didn't disappoint me.