Friday, February 02, 2007

Expat Life Is A Sexual Feast For Men And Famine For Women

“I think the main problem in Beijing is that most of the men here I wouldn't touch back home, so why would I here?" -- Juanita Hartman, 33, American.

Because you’re not back home, Juanita.

Sooner or later, The Topic arises. The Topic is always introduced by a woman, specifically, a white expatriate woman from a Western country. When The Topic arrives like an unwelcome houseguest, the men grow still. They glance at each other, seeking telepathic advice on how to make it go away. Ideally, they can change the subject after a few vague remarks but, if other expat women are present, The Topic tends to metastasize. The men now have a choice of sitting quietly, heading to the bar or bathroom, or starting side conversations and pretending they don’t hear. The men will try any gambit to avoid speaking frankly with expat women about The Topic – which is the refusal of Western expat men to date Western expat women.

Here is what many men would like to say but don’t:

“Look, I think I’m a smart, attractive, successful guy, but dating back home was a continuous assault on my ego as woman after woman – many depressingly average -- decided I wasn’t good enough to date or sleep with. Now I’m living in East Asia [or Brazil or the former Soviet Union], and young local women who are so sexy they could walk unquestioned into the most exclusive clubs back home will sleep with me on the first date. And I can do this every day, because the cost of a night on the town is so cheap here and the number of beautiful, interested women seems to be in ever-replenishing supply. So, no, I’m not interested in dating Western expat women. Not one bit.”

The numbers do not tell the tale. According to data obtained by the Wall Street Journal, more than half of all expats are between 20 and 39 years old and, of all expats, 23% are women. On its face, dating within the expat world would seem to be a buyer’s market for the women.

It’s not. To switch metaphors from business to food, expat life is a sexual feast for men and a famine for women.

"You never see Thai men with expat women, and expat men are either married, gay or have a young Thai girl hanging on to their arm,” Julie Sleva, a Canadian cosmetics executive posted in Bangkok, told The Wall Street Journal Asia. “You sit in a car near Soi Nana [a popular night-time entertainment district] and you can't believe what walks out of that place -- the ugliest, grossest men with beautiful Thai women. It's so easy for the Western man."

One expat woman summarized the dating situation in Taiwan by stating that “single ‘western’ women don't have a very good chance of dating here. Single foreign men tend to date local women, and there aren't many chances to date the local men either. If you're a single woman in your late 20s or older and want to date, then you may be disappointed while in Taipei. This is the case for every single foreign woman I have met in Taiwan.” (Emphasis added.)

"It's a stereotype, but it has truth," one Beijing expat woman told me. "Let me put it this way," said another, "if you can't get a date in England, the solution is not to move to China."

Expat women do not respond well to the situation.

“A girl who was pursued in NYC or London and comes to HK, suddenly finds her value on the dating market sharply diminished. They don't like it,” wrote blogger Conrad of Gweilo Diaries. “As for anecdotal evidence -- the reaction of white women faced with substantial Asian competition is not pretty. Hong Kong girls in particular are nearly always well turned out (their taste might often be questionable but they are nearly always made up and well dressed). Combine that with the fact Asian women tend to be petite, exotic to many and readily approachable and my distaff fellow Caucasians respond, not by stepping up their own games, but by letting themselves go to pot and becoming hostile and bitter. I'm obviously speaking in generalities here, but the generalities are based on personal observation and considered common knowledge. White women here are a good 10 lbs heavier on average here than in NYC or London. Many make no effort at all about their appearance and become bitter and offensive.”

One man’s opinion, of course.

Some expat women resort to desperate measures. In the course of reporting an article on this topic for Exile magazine in Russia, writer Antonella Morosi kept hearing the same anecdote.

“There is a story going around that I ran into more than once while researching this piece. Whether it is apochryphal or not is something I can't tell you. But it goes something like this: an expat woman -- a USAID employee, to be exact -- was said to be complaining to a bar manager at one of Moscow's expat hangouts.

" ’I want you to understand something,’ she says. ‘I'm not a lesbian. But I've been reduced to licking pussy.’”

But many of the expat women have only themselves to blame because they, like Juanita, are still applying the dating criteria they employed back home.

"Beijing seems to attract only certain types of guys: English-teacher types straight out of college who just want to have fun, ladder-climbing executive types and a bunch of weirdoes," Emily Patterson, a 23-year-old American, told China Daily. “You don't want a college guy. Maybe the executive type is already married, busy or boring. And of course, you don't want to date a weirdo.”

Returning to the business metaphor, dating and sex are markets, and both Juanita and Emily, like many of their expat sisters, need to adapt to changing market conditions or be trounced by the competition. What’s so wrong with college guys? How do you know the businessman is boring? Maybe the weirdo’s not so weird if you give him a chance.

Most teenage boys want to have sex with supermodels. Later, they acknowledge the market reality that there is a general scarcity of supermodels and a specific scarcity of supermodels who want to have sex with them. They adjust their standards to fit the market in which they live.

Juanita and Emily need to do the same. East Asia is not Los Angeles. Here, the nerdy white guys get to be George Clooney, and the expat women will have to radically change their dating behavior if they don’t want to spend their evenings with a life partner watching women’s basketball and reruns of “Ellen” on the satellite feed.



Blogger Rob said...


If this is your way of enticing me to visit, it's working.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Dave Williams said...

Very interesting post. As soon as my wife finally tires of me, I'll immediately book a flight.

2:59 AM  
Blogger Plato's Cave said...

like u know so much about latino culture juanita. ur an asshole. mister ohio white boi

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was considering going to Beijing as an expat.. you just convinced me.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting and I fully agree! How about Asian expat women in Hong Kong who are married but living alone?

10:23 PM  
Anonymous random.user said...

fascinating article... but seemed to skip the point about why it is easy for expats to date locals but don't usually see female expats with locals... seemed you were saying female expats should be into the male expats? but what about the locals?

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...said nerd lawyer who thinks Asian girls are easy.

Also, you western girls who won't even look at me back home, you'll get your comeuppance in Asia!

Thanks Paul.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, expat men don't date expat women because the US women don't keep up their looks? Bullsh!t. I think what's really going through their head is, "gotdam! I'm in Asia, why would I date an American in Asia? Here I can get a subservient Asian chick to do whatever I want (wink wink, nudge nudge) without any of those modern feminist notions that make US women so un-fun, such as responsibility to their feelings? Heck yeah!"

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an expat in SE Asia, in my opinion western women have lost their minds. Ive been working in SE Asia for twoi years, and when I left North America I was worried about meeting woman....Not only was I wrong, I was way off on the age bracket. As my driver drives me home from work, young ladies try and get my phone number from me. I live like a king, and sure as you know, the werstern momen here have to try and corral a western man, cuz the eastern boyz will not put up with the B.S. (meaning; if you want the career, take it, but dont expect to retain the goddess tag) the eastern gisls get that, they will do what it takes to please their man so they stay happy!
So sick of the western gals B.S.

2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry NOT all men are pigs and theres something wrong in the post. I think I'm smart, quite good looking and kind (maybe kindness is the problem). I'm in thailand and I hate all these money sucking wanna be my girl friend grils. I would love to find a cool western partner, I mean any race or enthicity, who GREW UP in the western world. But all the foreign girls here date Thai guys!

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"reduced to licking pussy", honey, your are a lesbian/Bi.. tell yourself what you need to so that you sleep better, but I've gone years without sex because of military deployments and never once thought of sucking a

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about that knowing stare that happens when a caucasian sees another caucasian man with an Asian girlfried? It's a known look as if to say "you're a sellout" They are punching far above their weight for looks that won't last. For a mostly sexual-based relationship, there isn't much of a foundation for a solid future. Who's to say she won't leave him for a younger/ richer version. It all seems so materialistic.

1:33 PM  

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