Teaching English: Culture Shock
Now, I agree with one commenter on Michael Turton's post that this isn't really journalism and was fine for a blog but has no place in a newspaper, but that's not why I'm writing about it here.
Dealing with it all may have been easier if I’d been able to build a stronger network of support. Although I was there with my boyfriend, I longed for female friendship. I’d met a handful of foreign women, but we didn’t have much in common. I did become friends with an Aussie named Kate, but we lived far apart and didn’t see each other that often.
Foreign guys seemed to be having an easier time. Insects and chaotic streets didn’t seem to bother them as much, and Taiwanese women treated Caucasian men like Hollywood stars. The bigger the nose, the more handsome the man, they said.and:
Pardon me asking the obvious question, but why come to Asia at all if you aren't interested in the men? Why voluntarily choose to live in a culture and society in which you have no interest in the people? That's what I don't understand about many foreign women in Asia - they whine about how their dating life sucks, yet snub their noses up at 99.999% of the population. Why just not move to Sweden or Brazil or wherever, where you actually like the men?
Which is echoed here, too:
"Maybe they're just not that interested in traveling, or they don't want to learn Chinese or they want to travel to countries in Europe or easier places?"
We are adaptable, we can be tough when necessary and we are good at forming the social networks necessary at getting us through trying situations, something that some researchers say men often have trouble with. We are not the shrinking violets of yore who can't handle some spit 'n bugs.
If anything, the reaction I've heard to most female expats who do stick it out to Lindsey's article is along the lines of "wow...she's not very tough, is she" and my own "well, she's going to need an all-inclusive bracelet if she ever decides to travel outside of Europe - most of the world is worse than her complaints about Taiwan."
I refuse to get into any tripe about how our "standards are too high" or we're "bitter and fat" or "we won't even look at what's available" or "we're not interested in local men" - a few anecdotes does not make a body of evidence and these are all unfair stereotypes. I have met very few (if any, come to think of it) Western women abroad who conform to them - it's almost as though this White Harridan is some sort of projection of a collective knock-kneed male subconscious. I certainly haven't met her in the flesh.
I'll save exploring why it's harder to date for another post, if I write it at all. It's been covered quite enough - and with quite enough invective - and if you're in that particular demographic of single, willing-to-date Western female expat, you know the reasons well enough. It's enough to admit that yes, this is an issue. I might choose to frame the issue in terms of advice to single women living abroad, though.
A few thoughts from a friend provide Nos. Four and Five:
Fourth, that women looking into moving abroad are aware of the fact that sexism is far more of an issue in Asia (not nearly as much in Taiwan, though it's definitely there), just in terms of local culture. That likely keeps some women away, and for those who come anyway, it may be a reason for those women to go home earlier: imagine how much greater the culture shock is for a foreign woman in a country with traditional (and therefore, by Western standards, sexist) values than for a man. Foreign women do get trump cards in many cases - basically, "It's OK that you're weird and you don't share our social values because you're foreign" - but there are still some real issues here, and the ensuing culture shock is likely a huge factor.
For the record: