So you wish you were Asian.

harmonykilledthehonk:

My parents came to the United States with a suitcase filled with things from their previous lives. They worked two jobs, seven days a week, while studying as full-time students to complete their education. My dad tells me stories about how he waited tables late into the night, while my mom sold shoes at flea markets on her days off to earn spare  cash to buy a car. They built the privilege affirmative action says we have from nothing but hard work.

I was given the gift of being able to be born into a family that defined the American Dream. My parents taught me English and Chinese simultaneously, spent hours reading me stories of Snow White and Cinderella, and the Monkey adventures in Journey to the West. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that they had learned English from memorizing vocabulary cards and reading old textbooks on grammar.

And though my parents taught me English, they ask me to deal with scheduling doctor appointments for them; they ask me to proofread emails for them, out of embarrassment that they feel their English isn’t sufficient to be taken seriously, it sickens me when I realize that while their mastery of the English language is more than proficient, it doesn’t matter, because the rest of the world doesn’t care.

But you wish you were Asian.

I grew up, hearing the words of boys whose only “standard” for the girls they were interested in was “Asian,” realizing that the disgustingly scary fetish of Asian women is actually a reality. I grew up, watching the world’s understanding of my cultural heritage be reduced to ching chong’s and ling long’s, kimonos, and fortune cookies. I grew up, being asked if my parents belonged to the communist party, when I held in me the stories they told me of labor camps they were sent to at the age of 13, of how one day, they couldn’t go to school anymore, of how my grandparents tried desperately later on, long after Mao’s regime ended, to force their children, now adults, to eat copious amounts of food, as if to make up for times when there was nothing to eat.

But you want to be Asian. 

I live in a country that has yet to realize that yellow face is not appropriate on mainstream television, a world that somehow doesn’t realize that statements like, “Kill the Chinese!!” are not acceptable to be aired on talk shows. I live in the 21st century, where the only understanding I can get about the story behind my heritage comes from my own parents, where the only times I can see people who look like me on screen is on Youtube.

I grew up as an Asian American, an individual in a group of people that never really belonged anywhere. Because in the United States, we’re nothing more than descendants of the people who invented orange chicken, and in China, we’re foreigners who fail to adopt the careful nuance of the dialect spoken there. We grew up, holding our ethnicity as something of great pride, and at the same time, of great burden. 

Our representation in the United States government practically is nonexistent. There is no proof that we as a group of human beings existed beyond the pages of Amy Tan novels. The caricatures on television taught us that we were nerds, deficient at English and social skills, bound by our supposed tiger parents to live out their dreams.

And because we apparently don’t exist to the rest of the United States, the inherent racism my “fascinating” ethnicity faces also ceases to exist.

But still. You enjoy your green tea and kungfu movies and paper lanterns. You love your Chinese 1 class and your Japanese Civilizations course and Wang Leehom. And my goodness, what you would give, if only you could be Asian.

(via weareallmixedup)

stuffhappening:

all autocompletes were screenshots of actual searches on 12/3/2013

photo credit: Mike Allen

This Photoshoot

The idea was inspired by the UN Women campaign by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai. 

Racism from Absence

In my 19 years in America, I’ve never been stopped and frisked. Cops are always nice to me. People have no problems sitting next to me on the bus. No one’s scared of me no matter what direction I pointed my cap. 

The kind of Asian racism that makes headlines is cultural misappropriation -when some “insensitive” entertainer wears silk kimonos and painted faces to look exotic.

This never bothered me.

It’s the subtle, slippery racism that’s far more sinister. The absence of Asian leads in a non-martial arts movie or TV shows means I grew up knowing only non-Asian celebrities and role models. And if you’re an Asian guy, you are not the stuff of fantasies girls grew up dreaming about.

The absence of Asians from politics and upper management means that Asians can be hard workers and geniuses but never leaders.

Above all, there seems to be some perma-foreignness about Asians. It’s not unusual to be told to “go back to China” and to be mocked for an accent we don’t have. The manifestations of this viewpoint range from the seemingly harmless to the outright hostile. But the underlying message is the same. Asians are not real Americans.

Inspirational Racism

I vividly remember seeing this racism first-hand in a conversation with one of my former business partners. I wanted to create a mentoring program in a predominantly Asian school organization.

He flat out told me he had no interest in helping Asians succeed in America. I asked him, “Are you serious?” He said, “Yeah.” He laughed a little.

He was serious.

It was a wtf moment for many reasons and was a major factor behind my decision to leave my position as a co-founder. I eventually heard from a mutual friend that he said I was a follower not a leader.

In retrospect, I’m fortunate to have heard him verbalize something that others keep to themselves. It allowed me to move on to bigger and better things instead of wasting time working with someone who never saw me as a partner. 

Confessions of an ABC Banana Twinky

I’ve been uncomfortable being Asian since the 2nd grade. Back then I was the foreign kid who didn’t speak any English who became the butt of every joke.

This bullying motivated me to learn English fast. By 3rd grade, I was nearly fluent and huge chunk of my vocabulary were insults and comebacks.

In 4th grade I started seeing my race as a handicap. I thought the only way to be accepted is to break every Asian stereotype. As a result, I avoided the other Asian kids. I stopped caring about my grades. Then there was the denial. For a period of my life I was Chinese Clayton Bigsby. I actually felt like I was white. 

In the 6th grade one of my friends picked a fight with me for no reason and told me to go back to China. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have taken it so hard. But I did. I couldn’t look past the fact he was just some 12-year old taking medication for hyperactive aggression. At the time I felt the full weight of my racial identity and caused me to stray further away.

—-

When I moved to a better school district in the 8th grade, a lot of the overt forms of bullying disappeared. Despite this, I still scoffed at Asian cliques and was embarrassed to speak Chinese in public or do anything which reminded people of who I really was. 

The only time I referenced my race was through self-deprecating humor. 

—-

In college, I became “ok” with being Asian. I didn’t feel embarrassed to speak Chinese in public anymore. I also started to see some value in Asian culture and re-developed interest in the history.

I was also in a serious relationship with someone who accepted me fully. I also joined a business fraternity that was predominantly Asian.

I took a lot of steps in the right direction, but I still felt divided. It wasn’t until  my second time meditating with a Shaman that I finally confronted the self-loathing I built up through the years. 

—-

I learned that by acting opposite to my stereotypes, I’m still letting ignorance control my life. Instead, the only thing that matters is figuring out who I want to be, and seeing if my actions are consistent with that version of myself.

The challenge is being honest with myself and admitting when my actions come from a place of insecurity and defensiveness. Committing to change that behavior is one of the purest expression of “self” stripped of delusion and denial.

—-

Note: I’m just a guy with a Finance background who rescues cats and makes videos. I’ve never had diversity and sensitivity training. I just know my own experience and how it shaped the way I think today.

But, I do hope some parts of this resonates. 

If you have any comments, agreements, or disagreements please drop me a line via the confirm/deny link on the upper left corner. I’m also reachable by email here. Or tweet @stevesdrop. 

Tags: art racism

abagond:

There should be a White History Month in America. That way we can teach all about the things White Americans have done in history, like:
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Japanese American internment
Philippine-American War
Jim Crow
The genocide of Native Americans
Transatlantic slave trade
The Middle Passage
The history of White American racism
Black Codes
Slave patrols
Ku Klux Klan
The War on Drugs
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
How white racism grew out of slavery and genocide
How whites still benefit from slavery and genocide
White anti-racism
The Southern strategy
The rape of black slave women
CORE
Madison Grant
The Indian Wars
Human zoos
How the Jews became white
White flight
Redlining
Proposition 14
Homestead Act
Tulsa Riots
Rosewood massacre
Tuskegee Experiment
Lynching
Hollywood stereotypes
Indian Appropriations Acts
Immigration Act of 1924
Sundown towns
Chinese Exclusion Act
Emmett Till
Vincent Chin
Islamophobia
Indian boarding schools
King Philip’s War
Bacon’s Rebellion
American slavery compared to Arab, Roman and Latin American slavery
History of the gun
History of the police
History of prisons
History of white suburbia
Lincoln’s racism and anti-racism
George Wallace
Fox News
Cointelpro
Real estate steering
School tracking
Mass incarceration of black men
Boston school busing riots
And so on. No fear of running out of topics: there is more than one a day! I am sure my commenters can come up with tons more, probably some big ones that are not coming to mind at the moment (I did not list slavery, the abolitionist movement, the civil war, Reconstruction or Lincoln since they are, in fact, covered in history class, however poorly).
(via Why there should be a White History Month | Abagond)

abagond:

There should be a White History Month in America. That way we can teach all about the things White Americans have done in history, like:

  1. Cherokee Trail of Tears
  2. Japanese American internment
  3. Philippine-American War
  4. Jim Crow
  5. The genocide of Native Americans
  6. Transatlantic slave trade
  7. The Middle Passage
  8. The history of White American racism
  9. Black Codes
  10. Slave patrols
  11. Ku Klux Klan
  12. The War on Drugs
  13. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
  14. How white racism grew out of slavery and genocide
  15. How whites still benefit from slavery and genocide
  16. White anti-racism
  17. The Southern strategy
  18. The rape of black slave women
  19. CORE
  20. Madison Grant
  21. The Indian Wars
  22. Human zoos
  23. How the Jews became white
  24. White flight
  25. Redlining
  26. Proposition 14
  27. Homestead Act
  28. Tulsa Riots
  29. Rosewood massacre
  30. Tuskegee Experiment
  31. Lynching
  32. Hollywood stereotypes
  33. Indian Appropriations Acts
  34. Immigration Act of 1924
  35. Sundown towns
  36. Chinese Exclusion Act
  37. Emmett Till
  38. Vincent Chin
  39. Islamophobia
  40. Indian boarding schools
  41. King Philip’s War
  42. Bacon’s Rebellion
  43. American slavery compared to Arab, Roman and Latin American slavery
  44. History of the gun
  45. History of the police
  46. History of prisons
  47. History of white suburbia
  48. Lincoln’s racism and anti-racism
  49. George Wallace
  50. Fox News
  51. Cointelpro
  52. Real estate steering
  53. School tracking
  54. Mass incarceration of black men
  55. Boston school busing riots

And so on. No fear of running out of topics: there is more than one a day! I am sure my commenters can come up with tons more, probably some big ones that are not coming to mind at the moment (I did not list slavery, the abolitionist movement, the civil war, Reconstruction or Lincoln since they are, in fact, covered in history class, however poorly).

(via Why there should be a White History Month | Abagond)

#BlackPowerYellowPeril & #BlackPowerLiberAsian

imageimage

Following the success of last week’s #NotYourAsianSidekick and yesterday’s #nopologetics, @suey_park will be hosting a conversation today on building interracial solidarity and biases and barriers to coalition building in #BlackPowerYellowPeril. This refers to the history of Black-East Asian solidarity during the Civil Rights Movement and reappropriation of the derogatory phrase “Yellow Peril”. @nonamekyla has also created #BlackPowerLiberAsian for a broader discussion on Black-Asian relations.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in #NotYourAsianSidekick yesterday! We trended for over 24 hours across the world!

fascinasians:

This is NOT a passing trend, but the beginning of a movement.

Media round up: 

Buzzfeed

BBC

The Stream (keep an eye out, Suey will be a guest in the near future!)

Blogher

International Business Times

Carbonated.TV

more forthcoming!

Keep up with Suey Park at @Suey_Park (and her secondary account for when Twitter freezes her, @SueyinJail) and her Facebook page.

Keep up with me at @Juliet_Shen (and my secondary account @Fascinasians) and my page.

KEEP THE CONVERSATIONS GOING, Y’ALL! YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN!

#NotYourAsianSidekick

asiansnotstudying:

asiansnotstudying:

Starting at 10am CST (11am EST) today, @suey_park will be hosting a conversation in #NotYourAsianSidekick to discuss Asian American feminism, stereotypes, myths, pressing issues, masculinity, cross-ethnic coalitions building, diversity within AAPI, immigrant experiences, generational clashes, and more. Spread the word, and come join us!

#NotYourAsianSidekick was the #1 US trend this morning, and is still trending 6 hours later. Come join the conversation!

image#NotYourAsianSidekick still trending into the night! Right now, we’re talking about queerness in Asian American communities.

#NotYourAsianSidekick

asiansnotstudying:

Starting at 10am CST (11am EST) today, @suey_park will be hosting a conversation in #NotYourAsianSidekick to discuss Asian American feminism, stereotypes, myths, pressing issues, masculinity, cross-ethnic coalitions building, diversity within AAPI, immigrant experiences, generational clashes, and more. Spread the word, and come join us!

#NotYourAsianSidekick was the #1 US trend this morning, and is still trending 6 hours later. Come join the conversation!

#NotYourAsianSidekick

Starting at 10am CST (11am EST) today, @suey_park will be hosting a conversation in #NotYourAsianSidekick to discuss Asian American feminism, stereotypes, myths, pressing issues, masculinity, cross-ethnic coalitions building, diversity within AAPI, immigrant experiences, generational clashes, and more. Spread the word, and come join us!

whiteopinionsrwhiteopinions:

lightspeedsound:

unpopularopinion101:

pikachuchristmaslover:

north-american-jingle-balls:

privilegetoengtranslationservice:

xbmoorex:

someofmybestfriendsarewhite:

thisisminorityprivilege:

lightspeedsound:

"But Chinese ppl just have black hair what are you talking about!"

These are all pictures of me and my ridiculously cool hair.  No coloration filters were used. No hair dye is present in any of these pictures.  These are simply shots of what happens when I step into direct sunlight, artificial lighting, shadows, and against direct sunlight. 

In fact, the top picture and the bottom picture were actually taken simply by facing a window in opposite directions. 

This is a commentary on the physical perception of Asian women, particularly Chinese women. We are supposed to be pale skinned creatures with petite bodies and hair as black as night. 

I am 100% chinese and sometimes I look blonde. sometimes I even look auburn. and very rarely does my hair look 100% black as night like it does in the last shot. 

This does not mean that I must be part white. This does not mean that you can ooooh and ahhhh at my hair and touch it without my permission, stroke me like a pet dog (because oh my god white people, why do you think this is OK to do? I am shorter than you and my hair is awesome but please STOP TOUCHING IT and PS all your white girl hair advice sucks ass). 

All your stereotypes about “what a Chinese person should look like” stem from exotified stereotypical nonsense that needs to be shut the fuck down. 

I do not dye it. I am not ‘trying to be white. I can assure you, both my parents are 100% Chinese and my mother’s hair is even lighter than my own. I’m pale as fuck right now because it’s fucking winter and freezing outside, but come summertime, my skin will resemble a toasted croissant. 

And guess what?

I am Chinese.

Therefore, I LOOK Chinese.

that is all it takes.

my looks and my genetic background are not your fucking imperialist guessing game gameshow. 

or you could deal with the fact that you don’t have slanted eyes like most chinese people do…

like…

like it’s a fact or something…

Go [back] to China if white people are so horrible to live with. We don’t owe you anything.

If i was a Chinese person living in the West, I think I would be more concerned about the tyranny that the Chinese people are living under in China instead of what the “evil whitey” thinks about my fucking hair. But then again maybe not….

Translation: 

Sometimes we like to vomit pure shit. *vomits*

Wow what the actual fuck white people?

I am ashamed of how racist we’ve gotten

Like what in the name of all that is holy and just how can you guys live with yourselves

How do you sleep at night 

If this is your biggest problem in the world sweetheart, apart from your hideous facial expressions, then wow. You say your parents are chinese, well then maybe you should go back to china, then maybe you would appreciate australias freedom of speech laws that let even stupid opinions such as yours to be posted for the world to see, and laugh at :)

…who the fuck said I live in australia what the fuck did you literally just think “what’s a racist country filled with racist white ppl” and just were like “hey australia learn to be grateful for it” 

I am never going to australia no thank you between the racist as fuck white ppl and the poisonous animals just like fuck no

Ew wtf are up with these racist comments? Looks like someone accidentally left the door to the pig pen open. White people need to go back to what they do best..

rolling in the mud.

Types of Fools

awshitthatblackgirl:

isitscary:

zorascreation:

Types of Fools

The White Apologist: “I’m so, so sorry for what my ancestors did to yours, man! It really breaks me down sometimes thinking about how despicable we were to you guys! Please forgive us!”

The Faux-Humanist: “Stop talking about race. We’re all just human.”

The Martin-Lover: “Yeah, but didn’t Martin Luther King say to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character! I have a dream today!”

The Lord of the Fee-Fees: “Don’t you understand how your comments about what SOME White people do are offensive to me and hurt my feelings? Not all of us are racist! By pointing out my “privilege”, you are spreading hate!”

The Wonderful White Friend: “I’m not racist, some of my best friends are Arabs!”

The Nigger-Lover: “Why can’t I say nigger? I saw it on the Boondocks! Why can’t I say nigger? Eminem’s a rapper! Why can’t she say nigger? What if she married a Black man? Why can’t she say nigger? What if he was adopted by a Black family?”

The Pea-Brained Peacemaker: “Maybe if you people weren’t so harsh and hostile, White people would want to listen to you? Try being a little calmer next time, why don’t you?”

The Silly Bitch: “I don’t care what you say, nigger isn’t a racist word. NIGGER.”

The Annoying White Feminist:  ”I think our shared experiences as women are more important than race at this time, look at the bigger picture! Woman is the nigger of the world, and I have a right to say it, you colored women are just being divisive!”

The Reverse Race Specialist: “How come there are no historically white colleges?  REVERSE RACISM!”

The Slave-Thrower: “Everybody was enslaved, not just you guys!”

The Fool: “I know you were fired from your modeling job because the casting agent said you didn’t ‘have the look’ and you were passed over for the job by ten other White models, but I don’t think this has anything to do with racism!”

The Colorblind Crook: “I don’t see color! There’s no difference at all between the races, we’re all the same deep down!”

The Bleeder: “Racism wouldn’t exist if you stopped talking about it. WE ALL BLEED RED!”

"The Bleeder" is also known as the "Morgan Freeman Effect".

i’m shaking because these are all really fucking true and i literally know at least one person to fit each one of these. 

Racialicious posted a similar list, The People You Meet When You Write About Race.

(via thelewdminx)

jazzy-w:

youngblackandvegan:

naturalistasays:

blackgirlwhiteboylove:

Every POC got this lesson.

I was 8.
I’ve never stopped hearing it.

and yea white people
when he says “they”
he’s referring to y’all
fyi

i remember the first time my mom told me this, i was 5

(Source: harveyxspecter, via dodounicorn)





New York artist Donna Choi wanted to create a “weird, memorable way” to discuss fetishization of Asian women, so she put together a satirical series about how to diagnose Yellow Fever—the specific obsession many Western men have with Asian culture. The over-the-top series is a discussion of race crafted for the attention span of the Internet. I emailed with Choi about her thinking behind the Yellow Fever series. Read More




ETA: Apologies. Link to the Donna Choi interview fixed and now works, so update your reblogs accordingly!

New York artist Donna Choi wanted to create a “weird, memorable way” to discuss fetishization of Asian women, so she put together a satirical series about how to diagnose Yellow Fever—the specific obsession many Western men have with Asian culture. The over-the-top series is a discussion of race crafted for the attention span of the Internet. I emailed with Choi about her thinking behind the Yellow Fever series. Read More

ETA: Apologies. Link to the Donna Choi interview fixed and now works, so update your reblogs accordingly!

(Source: asiansnotstudying)

Not Your Fetish
Artists: Emily C. Chang & Anida Yoeu Ali of I Was Born With Two Tongues
Album: Broken Speak (2003)
Lyrics: http://atomicshogun.org/writing_notyourfetish.htm

Excerpts:

My lips, my teeth, the tip of the tongue
are ready to speak,
they’re ready to scream
I am tired of this machine
we call American history

Our sweet land of liberty 
has a stolen canvas that’s painted in white
over black, brown, yellow, red

Fashion trends and haute couture
designed to appropriate my culture…
What is it that makes me “in” this year?

Appropriate! Appropriate! Take! Take Take! 
Motherfuckers exploit my culture
out of context with no content
What is it that makes me “in” this year?

So you tell me you have an Asian fetish?…
Stop masturbating in your own glory.
Stop masturbating in my culture.

Read More


I Was Born With Two Tongues (1998-2003) was a Chicago-based Asian American spoken word collective, comprised of Anida Yoeu Ali, Marlon Unas Esguerra, Emily C. Chang, and Dennis “Denizen Kane” Kim.





New York artist Donna Choi wanted to create a “weird, memorable way” to discuss fetishization of Asian women, so she put together a satirical series about how to diagnose Yellow Fever—the specific obsession many Western men have with Asian culture. The over-the-top series is a discussion of race crafted for the attention span of the Internet. I emailed with Choi about her thinking behind the Yellow Fever series. Read More

New York artist Donna Choi wanted to create a “weird, memorable way” to discuss fetishization of Asian women, so she put together a satirical series about how to diagnose Yellow Fever—the specific obsession many Western men have with Asian culture. The over-the-top series is a discussion of race crafted for the attention span of the Internet. I emailed with Choi about her thinking behind the Yellow Fever series. Read More

Suffice it to say, this women is a complete shit and also a racist.

Living as I do in a city as vibrant and bizarre as Beijing has its good points – and its bad. Although exciting and unpredictable, from its fascinating culture to its mind-bending language, it’s certainly not an ideal place to find long-term love, no matter how beautiful, smart, successful and hilarious you may be. So at the ripe age of 30, I have given up on trying to find my Mr Right. For now, anyway.

In Beijing, even the most average Western men are able to attract pretty Chinese girls, who seem to be under the impression that they have all the style and sophistication of Daniel Craig. As a result, the streets of the city are filled with smug-looking Western guys holding hands with their pint-sized Chinese princesses. Petite and eager to please, these girls are so cute I don’t blame the guys for being attracted to them. After all, when a Chinese girl pouts, a million hearts melt; when I pout, I resemble a fish. 

So where does this leave the expat women? Gorging on crispy duck and splurging on pirated copies of Downton Abbey? Well, yes, but also having to open their eyes to the possibility of romance with expat men that under any normal circumstances they wouldn’t go near. Quite why I once agreed to a second date with a guy from Sweden who wore white socks that came up to his mid-calves and who rattled on endlessly about his Chinese ex-girlfriend, I can’t be sure. And I went on three dates with a New Yorker who proudly boasted of a book he kept that contained the names of every woman he’d ever slept with (with scores).  

However, unlike the majority of Western women living in China, who watch bitterly as 
the egos of below-average men swell from the admiring looks of Chinese girls, I took an altogether different approach and chose to date Chinese men instead. 

Most Western women shy away from the prospect of having a Chinese boyfriend: they 
find them too traditional, overly effeminate (it doesn’t help that many carry handbags and adore boybands such as Westlife), and the cultural barrier too immense to overcome.

To me, though, these obstacles seemed like things that would make a relationship more interesting. But then I always have had an unusual taste in men. Even as a teen, instead of practising my snogging technique on a poster of Nick from the Backstreet Boys, I would be daydreaming of Lister (Craig Charles) from Red Dwarf. By my late teens, when my friends were chasing football players, I had developed a thing for men with long hair. This is a period that my friends tagged my ‘yeti’ phase. 
 

By the time I arrived in Beijing, I found Chinese men a fitting replacement for my ‘yetis’ – they differed from what Western society deemed conventionally attractive, and to me they represented adventure, rebellion and a whole new way to escape the status quo. I’ve had two Chinese boyfriends while I’ve been in China and the second relationship was serious, the kind in which the idea of marriage and children wasn’t petrifying. 

Nikki with her Chinese ex-boyfriend

Nikki with her Chinese ex-boyfriend

Having a native boyfriend was like being given a key to China. I learned so much more about the country, its people and their values during the three years we were together. It was fascinating to be with someone from whom I learned something new every day. Thanks to that relationship, I can speak colloquial Mandarin (including the kind of swear words that one should never, ever use) and prepare traditional Chinese dumplings with the speed and skill of Ken Hom. 

I also understand what really makes Chinese people tick. I know that when I have dinner with my boss, it is best to make sure that his cup is always filled with tea, and that the quickest way to impress someone is to ask whether they have eaten. Give lots of gifts, pay for dinners and, oh yes, remember to acknowledge that the Chinese invented pretty much everything.  

However, as in any relationship, small things – which at first made our relationship unique and extraordinary – started to become exasperating after a while. His mother, although I adored her, was overbearing. She would call him several times a day with the most useless advice, to instruct him to wear a coat because it was cold outside, or to remind him to drink more water and ask him endless questions about his health.

 

To me, it seemed like mothering had been taken to a whole new level, but it’s the kind of mollycoddling that’s common between mother and son in China. It has given rise to a cultural phenomenon dubbed the ‘Little Emperors’ – spoiled boys who expect to get everything they want, and whose parents break their backs trying to make their precious heirs happy. Although I admire the strong bond people here have with their parents, being with a man whose mother plays such a fundamental part of his life undermines any sense of a mature relationship.  

My Chinese girlfriends often moan about their exhausting mother-in-laws, who become jealous if their son pays his wife too much attention. There’s a common joke here that a girl should never ask her boyfriend who he would save first if she fell into a lake with his mother. These girls are already aware that if you want to be the number one woman in a man’s life, you’ll just have to wait until you have a son of your own.  

But it wasn’t the problem of my boyfriend’s mother that ultimately destroyed our dreams of a future together. It was an accumulation of things I found increasingly hard to ignore, such as his criticism of Western women (who he would condemn for being overweight, aggressive and too easy) and my deteriorating patience with his personal habits (the stomach-churning sound he made as he spat in the bathroom sink – a daily habit of most locals – or his insistence on wearing the same unwashed clothes for several days in a row). 

We Brits have been brought up to consider personal hygiene and table manners as second nature. So when you move to a country where talking with your mouth full of food, street-side nasal cleansing and communal squat toilets are a feature of everyday life, you have to develop higher tolerance levels along with a strong stomach. But in the end the sight and sound of my beloved slurping his way through a dish of noodles, his face half an inch from the 
bowl as he sucked the meal into his mouth like a top-of-the-range Dyson, was enough to extinguish any flames of passion.

I have now come to the conclusion that my romantic endeavours will always be severely tested while I remain in China. 

I am faced with two options: either scraping the bottom of a metaphorical barrel of Western men, or dating local guys, with all the challenges that entails. My extended stay in Beijing has also rendered me a complete misfit back home. After six years away, my speech has become a cacophony of English and Chinese, decipherable only by fellow bilingual expats. 

I have picked up lifestyle habits most Westerners would find bizarre – the weekly cupping therapy that leaves me looking as though tiny spaceships have landed all over my body, the flask of hot water and green tea leaves I religiously carry around with me – and I find little in common with those who have no experience of a culture outside their comfort zone. I am not only an alien in China; I have become an alien in my home country, too. 

It takes a very peculiar person to be willing to pack their bags and relocate to a country as curious as China – I should know, because I’m one of them. But I wouldn’t change the experiences I have had for anything – least of all to bag myself a man.