Guest post – My husband is Chinese

This post was written by my good friend Heather, about her new life with her husband Huichun. I had the honor of being the best man in their wedding and wish them both all the best as they work through the immigration process.

None of my friends or classmates of other racial backgrounds have EVER asked me to elucidate my experience as a “white woman.”  So now that I have been called upon to give a kernel of insight into White American woman–Han Chinese man marriages, I can understand a little better the plight of the lone Black American in some of my high school and college classes who would frequently be expected to give the “Black” outlook on the topic.  How can one person speak for such a large and varied group?

First of all, depending on the area in China your husband is from, there will be any number of stereotypes which will come with him.  He’s from Shanghai? So he does a lot of housework, henpecked, gentle, short.  Beijing? Elitist, cares about hierarchy, looks down on migrant workers, talkative, humorous, generous, possibly tall and an alcoholic. Hong Kong? Ostentatious, vulgar, crass, materialistic.

Fortunately my husband is from Nanjing, a city located on the Yangtze and thus neither northern nor southern.  No one seems to have a problem with Nanjing – the city’s worst stereotype is that its people are naive in the business world (possibly true!).  For me, dropping the “I speak Chinese and my husband is Chinese” card to a Chinese person opens the gate to instant friends and discounts (in fact, you might want to start saying “I’m buying this for my Chinese husband” even if it’s not true, at least the vendor will like you!).

Strangely enough, Chinese people themselves do not seem to have much confidence in their men’s ability to “catch” a white girl.  When my husband and I are together, strangers rarely assume he’s a local, preferring to guess he’s Korean, Japanese or Hong Kongnese.  Also, although, most Chinese assume that my husband has wooed me by flashing money procured from wealthy parents, they don’t directly voice it.  Actually, as far as his stats go, he’s a very normal Chinese guy: average height, lower middle class, graduated from one of the (as my Chinese host put it) “worst of the very best universities.”  Although he’s probably in the top 99 percentile as far as friendliness and handsomeness is concerned.

Of course, I also have to deal with stereotypes from non-Chinese.

Acquaintances: “He’s actually quite good-looking for an Asian guy.”
College trash: “Soooo, is it true that they all have small penises?”
Non-Asian, non-American men “You have a husband who’s Chinese!? That’s not possible. How could a Chinese guy get you??”
A couple of friends: “I want my kids to look like me…”
Other friends: “OMG! Your kids will be bilingual! Soooo awesome!”

So now I arrive at the question you all have been dying to ask: “in spite of these stereotypes, what IS different about being married to a Chinese man?”

Firstly, since Chinese women have collectively decided not to consider marrying a man without a house, a Chinese man frequently comes with a house (or down payment) donated by his family.  I did not realize this until a couple of months ago and have been forever endeared to my in-laws with my protests of not wanting it.  By the way, if a Chinese person compliments you by saying you “understand matters,” it is actually code for “resourceful, not greedy, low maintenance.”

Chinese men also come with involved mothers…continued

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About T

I have been working in China for nearly five years now. I have traveled to more than 30 cities and towns, and have lived in 3 provinces. I am interested in issues concerning development in China and the rest of the world. I hope to provide a balanced look at some of the issues facing China as it continues its rise to power.
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19 Responses to Guest post – My husband is Chinese

  1. Chinesefunnyguy says:

    It’s a Chinese version of “Break Prison”.Congratulations to this Chinese buddy on his succeeding in breaking world’s most largest notorious prison – People’s Prison guarded by the big brother-CCP.
    Right now I’m also desperate in trying to break it but you know It’s hard for me:no money,underclass, not a member of the party,also bloody ugly.
    Any foreigner who wants a chinese guy to be her/his boyfreiend can contact me:no restriction to apperance,height,weight,color or gender.

  2. Broadly speaking, the stereotypes you mentioned are quite accurate, particularly about Hongkongers. Maybe I should blog about those particular Chinese stereotypes that turn out to have high predictive value – but that’s another story.

    The funny thing (especially from a Hongkonger’s point of view) is the mainland Chinese attitude to the ostensible requirements for landing a European/white woman. I can appreciate the need for reasonably presentable looks and how social class comes into play – both those factors operate just as much in other countries as they do in China. The really odd one is party membership, even if we were to make allowances for the institutionalised fabric of Chinese society.

    ‘Underclass,’ non-party member and ‘bloody ugly’ (apologies to chinesefunnyguy) are not barriers to finding love and marital bliss. Trust me, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. ‘Game’ is much more important. If you’ve got game, you need to get your game up. If you’ve got no game, then better find a way to get some game. And those who (still) don’t know what ‘game’ means here, then it’s basically “You Just Lost The Game.” Just my twopence worth.

  3. Wei says:

    “No one seems to have a problem with Nanjing”? Not true, at least back in the days…Ask a Shanghai “native”.

  4. Yaxue C. says:

    Heather, I wish you and your husband the best. I am waiting to hear about the “involved mother” :) It’s very hard for Chinese parents to leave their children alone and let them live their own life. But then again, this is just a generalization, and I know parents who are not like that at all. I look forward to reading the second part.

  5. Sara says:

    Those stereotypes sound so familiar! I guess most of the foreigners dating a Chinese guy get to hear these.

    I would just like to remind that even though “Chinese man frequently comes with a house”, it’s not the case with all the Chinese men. Surely Chinese girl usually don’t want to marry a man who can’t afford a house and in some cases it’s understandable. But I have noticed that this have also become one of the stereotypes.

    Once in an expat meeting one foreign man said this when he heard I date a Chinese man: “Then you don’t have to worry about money at all because Chinese men always buy everything for their girlfriends.”

  6. canrun says:

    “Chinese men also come with involved mothers…continued”

    Ahh…the in-laws. Let’s see if your experience can top this:
    http://rantsaboutchina.page.tl/In_laws-from-HELL.htm

  7. Collins says:

    My problem is that I don’t see any comments on Chinese forums that suggest getting a white woman is a good thing. They’re mostly like this: http://www.ministryoftofu.com/2010/11/material-greed-of-chinese-women-turns-chinese-men-off-western-women-become-popular/ Let’s face it — whether you’re Chinese or American, you’re going to be more honest online than in real life.

    • Tom says:

      I was recently invovled with Huichun and Heather’s wedding, and I can tell you that I heard dozens of comments from Chinese guests about how lucky he was to have found a foreign woman. Just because these comments haven’t been translated by ministry of tofu, or Chinasmack doesn’t mean that they aren’t prevelant.

      • Rod in China says:

        Yes, Chinese people aren’t shy about the racist comments. I’ve been working at the same school for over two years now, and I have to hear about it at least twice a week how I “Just have to find a Chinese wife because mixed babies are so beautiful!”. Christ.

        There’s another popular blog from a white woman who married a man. I can’t remember the name of the blog, but if someone has a link, it’s a good place to post it. I’ve read about this subject before on her blog, and she had some similar stories to tell.

  8. Collins says:

    I also suspect that the small penis thing is really a metaphor for being bad in bed/not being macho.

  9. brucianna says:

    My theory is that Chinese men’s exposure (as it were) to European men’s penises comes from porn where the guys are hung like horses and they assume that this must hold true for all European men.

    I’m not sure why white guys think they must have comparatively huge ones.

  10. Kev says:

    Can’t comment on much in this case. Most Chinese men in Fujian province have faces that one of my US female colleagues described as “Fishlike”. My Chinese GF (half north/half south) describes Fujian men, in general, as ugly farmers with serious dental issues.

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