So I made the mistake of posting the following status last night, mostly just to share a hilarious mini-conversation I had with my dear father (who is…surprise…Asian!) but apparently I stuck a branch in a hornet’s nest.
Being me, I’m going to go ahead and kung-fu kick that hornet’s nest just for good measure. And yeah, maybe I should have known better than to post such a thing on Facebook, and to spare all the sensitive feelings out there, I’ve taken it down. (Honestly, my first response to the last response was, “Watch. Me. Care.” Mostly I don’t want to hear a million other extraneous opinions from people who know nothing about where I’m coming from.)
Here’s the deal.
My brother is an Asian boy-man. (Just being honest. He’s 18.) My father is an Asian man. My best friend is married to an Asian man. One of the wisest men I know, having spoken one-on-one with him a grand total of once, is an Asian pastor. I can say that I’ve been treated with kindness by the many Asian men (mostly of my father’s age/rank) I have encountered throughout my life.
I’ve only dated non-Asian men–white men, to be precise. In general, they’ve gotten successively lamer because I’ve lapsed in my judgment. Some of the most hurtful things ever said to me have been said by white men. Just by numbers alone, obviously more white people than Chinese people have treated me disrespectfully.
All this to say that I don’t have anything against Asian men. I don’t think they should be denied basic human rights. I don’t treat them as less than human. I don’t think they deserve to be used and abused. I’m not going to point and laugh if one gets hit by a car. But apparently, because I don’t want to date or marry one, I’m guilty of…what? Future miscegenation? Betraying a country I’ve never lived in? Forgetting my culture? Um, welcome to the 21st- century, nice of you to join us.
Here’s what I don’t like. I don’t like coloring inside the lines. I don’t like vanilla. I don’t like enclaves, cliques, and huddles. I don’t like being bored. I don’t like being the same as everyone else. I don’t like being overlooked and ignored. I don’t like being misunderstood. I don’t like having to explain myself. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like being forced to deny my instincts. And I run into this all the time with people of every culture.
Here’s what I want. I want someone to tell me I’m pretty. I want someone to chase me. I want someone who can’t keep his hands off me but won’t hold me back. I want someone who sees my need to be all over the place and prepares a place for me to land. I want someone to be the rock to my ocean. I want someone to play with. I want someone to take care of me. I’ve found 75% of this in a single person once in my life. The other 25% consisted of major character issues, which was slightly confusing.
Do I assume that what I want won’t come in Asian packaging? Statistically, well, yes. People. I live in Ohio. I work as an administrative assistant in real estate, and I want to get into social media and business development. Is it my fault that the Asian men are all off getting shiny terminal degrees or working fancy real jobs? My main hobby is photography, the practitioners and purchasers of which are, by and large, white, middle-class women. My friends are all women, and that is fine with me. At this point, after a string of unsuccessful relationships (all with white men, I am aware), my motto is, “If you want it, come and get it,” and because of my lifestyle, it is simply more likely that I’m going to run into a non-Asian. I’ve come to the realization that any man who wants to be part of my life is going to have to be very naturally integrated into the stream of what I’m already doing, and at this point (which doesn’t mean it couldn’t change), I’d have to go pretty far out of my way, on many levels, to build a friendship with an Asian male.
Do I have anything specifically against Asian men? If I’m honest, maybe I have to say yes. Not so much against the guys themselves, but against the culture as a whole, and that is something I am working on healing, starting at home. (Newsflash: It takes a while.) I’ve been working since college graduation to convince my own parents, who are relatively freethinking as immigrant parents go, that I’m not going to starve because I haven’t found my 8 to 5 career track. Frankly, I have no desire to ever go through that process again, with a significant other or with his parents. I’ve learned about myself that I need a fairly large amount of psychic space, in the words of Susan Howatch, and nosy, overweening, codependent in-laws are simply not going to fly. Of course that could happen in any family, but in general East Asian cultures have stronger expectations of familial loyalty and filial piety. To deny that is intellectually dishonest, and to crucify someone for feeling uncomfortable in that environment is unjust. There are just some cultural norms that I’m not well at ease with. Would you tell someone with asthma that it’s unfair for them to not date a smoker? Would you tell a vegan that they need to be more open-minded and marry someone who loves barbeque? Hell, would you tell a recovering alcoholic to go to a bar to meet people? These may seem like extreme comparisons, but for me the level of compatibility issue is actually comparable.
I respect many aspects of Asian culture, and in many ways I wish I could be more like them, as it would certainly make life a lot easier. Even as I’ve always found myself fitting in better with white American culture, I will–can–never forget that I am different. But I am who I am, I can be no other. If someone comes along who accepts and nurtures who I am, be he Asian, Caucasian, or Dalmatian, then that’s what I want.