05
- November
2015
Posted By : talkingofchinese
Why this ad makes me happy (and a little sad)

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The reason this ad makes me happy is pretty obvious. It’s an Asian male/white female (AMWF) couple. My fiance Peter is Asian. I’m white.

The reason it makes me sad is a little more complicated.

When Peter and I first got together I didn’t realise AMWF relationships were “a thing”.

I paid very little attention to the fact that he was Chinese. It didn’t really hit home for me until I met his parents and realised that, while there is no cultural gap between my fiance and I, the cultural gap between his parents and I is somewhat of a chasm.

I turned to the internet and discovered the AMWF community.

Then I started to look around me.

Note: I live in Australia’s biggest city and, according to a quick Google search, up to 20% of the population in parts of Sydney are from an Asian background.

I saw Asian couples. I saw white male/Asian female (WMAF) couples. But I can count, probably on one hand, the number of AMWF couples I have seen in the FOUR YEARS since my Chinese fiance and I got together.

When I see one of these “unicorn” couples as Autumn describes them in her very entertaining blog I almost feel like stopping and talking to them and asking them all about their lives.

Since that would probably be weird, at best, and inappropriate at worst, I instead started looking out for AMWF pairings in TV shows and movies.

I had to look pretty hard. And then, when I finally stumbled across (arguably) the best one ever – when Maggie and Glenn got together on one of my already favourite TV shows -***THE WALKING DEAD SPOILER ALERT***  the guy DIES!!! Edit: according to some internet speculation he may not be dead – The Walking Dead’s version of Jon Snow, or something like that.

The fact that I thought this ad was worth stopping and taking a photo of is what makes me a little sad.

 

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Comments

  • Well, I’m a little surprised that you didn’t think AMWF couples were unusual (or “a thing”) before. Surely you’re not unfamiliar with the contemptuous attitude toward Asian men as objects of sexual non-desire in Western mainstream culture, which is embodied by popular stereotypes that characterise Asian men as nerdy, sneaky, emotionless, and effeminate.

    The good thing is, things are apparently getting better for the image of Asian men and we’re now beginning to see Asian men being represented in the media and taking on roles that seem more “normal”, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill geek or Kung fu master. This improvement is reflected in the increasing visibility of AMWF couples.

    • I think most people don’t think about what is missing when they are watching TV or a movie unless they are somehow part of what is missing, if that makes sense?

      I remember very clearly the first time I became aware of the negative views some people have about interracial dating – I was at university and I mentioned to a white male friend that I liked a mutual friend we had. I have never forgotten his reaction: “you are attracted to people of xx race?!” I can honestly say I had never given a thought to the guy’s race, I just liked him, as an individual person.

      I dismissed this as just one white guy’s way of thinking.

      It wasn’t until I started dating my Chinese fiance – which naturally seems to spark more conversations about interracial dating – that I realised race played such a strong role in some people’s dating choices. I have had people say to me “I am not attracted to people from xx race” or “people from xx race are really attractive” and I think “really?? All xx million of them?”

      I really think this sentiment is born out of a lack of exposure. I find often when you question people when they make generalisations about a race/culture/religion they will find their own exceptions and often give ‘disclaimers’ like “except xx, he/she is really great”. I am not quite sure what it is that stops them being able to apply the logic further and thinking “if he/she is great, chances are lots of other people in this race/culture/religion are probably really great too”.

  • When it comes to interracial dating, it’s not just racism at work but gendered racism as well. With regard to Asians specifically, in addition to the negative stereotypes of Asian men that I mentioned above, notice that Asian women have traditionally been stereotyped as exotic, feminine, submissive, and eager to please. What you get as a result of these stereotypes of Asian men and Asian women is white men who feel a natural sense of entitlement to Asian women.

    To say that the issues of race in interracial dating is a result of lack of exposure is being rather generous. That might be true in rural backwaters or racially homogeneous countries where people don’t come across people of different races in everyday life, but it would not explain how the stereotypes became so pervasive in modern Western society.

    Anyway, your story about your white male friend reminded me of something interesting. A few days ago, I had a bit of time to kill and so I decided to Google some names of the people I knew in high school to see what they were up to these days. One of the people I Googled was a white guy who had a reputation for being a neo-Nazi of sorts and he used to rail against Asians in school. Well, it turns out that he now has a biracial Asian daughter and he’s living in Taiwan. Heh…

    • You are right – there is definitely gendered racism.

      The town I grew up in and the town I went to university in were both places in regional Australia with well under 100,000 people living in them so while they weren’t “rural backwaters” there certainly wasn’t a lot of diversity.

      Interesting story about the guy you used to know. I hope that changed him but I have certainly seen situations where someone is dating someone from another culture and still manages to remain pretty ignorant about it.

  • A few days ago I also saw an ad with an Asian man and a Western woman. Well, the woman looked pretty androgynous, but it was still an AMWF ad.
    And yesterday in the restaurant where we were having dinner there was another AMWF couple!

    As you said, I was not aware that AMWF was “a thing” until 2 years ago, when I started finding some blogs online. But the first time I felt attracted to an Asian guy was in 2008, and I never thought it was weird.

    I have an old post about all the AMWF couples I have met in my life, not counting the online ones. There were around 20 🙂 So I never really saw it as “strange”, even though I wasn’t exposed at all to Asian people while I was growing up (there were no non-white people in my school, and only one Chinese girl in my high school. I am from a small city).

    • Do you get the same urge as I do to go up and speak to an AMWF couple when you see one?

      Yes in my high school there were only a few Asian kids and the same went for University. I think back then even in the bigger cities in Australia it was like this (not that I am that old, I am only 28 but a lot has changed in that time!). My fiance, who is 33, said that when he was in high school in Sydney he was one of only a few Asia kids but now there are some schools and universities in Sydney that are mostly Asian students!

  • Yeah, AMWFs aren’t all too common over here in the states. Surprisingly, on my 2 week trip to Europe, I saw a ton! I think they’re going into fashion over there, ha.

    That ad is awesome though! I think it will be another 10 years until something that progressive hits America.

    I really hope Glenn didn’t die 🙁

    • I would have assumed that America and Australia would be similar in terms of progressiveness, I wouldn’t necessarily describe Australia as a particularly progressive country!

      Yes, fingers crossed the internet conspiracies are right about Glenn 😉

  • AW! Late to the party, but thanks for the shoutout! Yeah, I didn’t know how unusual we were, nor had I ever thought there was a stigma attached to Asian guys. Not until I started looking for it.

    But I see more and more of them every day. 🙂

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