I came across a very interesting post on the Apple Daily forum, where a Taiwanese girl named Mia shared a short story about her Russian boyfriend (now husband), and his struggles to find a job that would allow him to stay in Taiwan longer, and be with his sweetheart. The article highlights the common prejudice Taiwanese have about white guys, and the relationship problems of dating a foreigner. I'm republishing the article in Chinese with my wife's English translation further below. The title "白人達令 養台妹做粗工" could be translated as something like "White darling to keep Taiwanese girl does heavy labor" (the word "達令" darling is here a loanword from English, which I find kinda neat). If you can read Chinese, here's the whole article:
我們出遊時，總是有些白目多過黑目的女人，想搭訕他，先是亦步亦趨跟在後頭，竊竊私語巧笑倩兮，再撂幾句英文，無非就是想引起注意，等到我們不堪其擾，他只是淡淡瞄了一眼，這些女生好像中獎那樣的驚喜盯著他發愣；我呢？被他牽著手的我，彷彿只是空氣！還有次在夜店更有趣，我只是去小解，回來就看到兩個女人使出渾身解數纏著他，不外乎擠胸露溝擺臀，我站在不遠處聽他笑著說：「我老婆來了！」她們似乎不覺不妥繼續痴纏，直到我走近，打破了充滿愛的光波氛圍，她們才悻悻然離場，不忘酸一句：「You are a lucky girl！」 諸如此類層出不窮，本想說是不是因為我在身邊，他才不敢作怪；後來有機會去了澳門工作幾個月，回台後我的眼線告訴我他真正乖！就算跟朋友出去也不曾帶哪個女生回家，一切如他所說。
"White darling to keep Taiwanese girl does heavy labor"
I'm married to a foreign husband for 6 years. At the beginning I was just like other xicanmei*. I couldn't resist the features, the taller body of foreigners, and romantic imaginations. When we started the relationship it was quite smooth, but my friends keep telling me about the issues of Taiwanese women with foreign men. Maybe I was brainwashed for a while, I started to have suspicions, and asked myself: Is our love true?
It's love, not cheating for sex
Common question 1: Foreigners who come to Taiwan have no money. They only want to cheat you for your money, cheat for sex, and cheat on you with other girls.
Cheat me for my money? I'm just a part-time worker, I don't have much money, how can I get cheated? When we went out for a meal we always went Dutch. Because I knew the money he earned in Taiwan was also not easy, we always did it this way. Later we had the deal that one time I pay, the next time he pays. And if I wanted some gifts in a reasonable range he would like to pay for me.
Cheat for sex? If you have the needs, then you could have sex, otherwise you can just refuse. This happens from our own willingness. It's no point that you only ask the guy to pay the money and work hard, and you just lay down and "feel great". What's the point of cheating for sex?
Common question 2: He will get a lot of attention from women, the women will try to attract him nonstop?
When we go out there are always some baimu** who want to talk to him. First they follow us, chat and giggle behind us, and try to speak some English just to get my boyfriend's attention until we feel annoyed. If my boyfriend just glances at them a little, these girls feel like they won the lottery and feel so happy, however they didn't see me, they pretend as if I wasn't existing, even if I was holding his hand.
One time we were at a night club. I went to the toilet, and after I came back I already saw two girls trying hard to get my boyfriend's attention. They were showing their cleavage, and shaking their butts. I just stood close and heard my boyfriend say: "My wife is coming." Those two women didn't want to give up until I was close, and shattered their imagination. They finally left, but unwillingly, and said: "You are a lucky girl!" This kind of cases happened many times. I thought he is loyal because I was always with him, however when he worked in Macau for few months, and my friend who was his colleague and watched him told me he was very loyal. Even when my boyfriend went out with friends, he never brought girls home.
Russian performer's difficulties of teaching English
Common question 3: Do we have future?
A lot of foreigners who work in Taiwan are mostly English teachers, dancers, or performers. My boyfriend is performer, and their working way is when the contract is finished, they have to fly back home, and then wait for another contract. When my boyfriend's contract finished, we didn't want to be apart, so I accepted his marriage proposal which he mentioned a long time ago. And then a lot of people asked me: Don't you worry that he just wants to get the resident certificate? Honestly, I really struggled with this question. He was jobless for a while, and it was not very easy for him to find a job. Because he is Russian, his English is not very good. He once taught English in kindergarten for nearly 2 months, however the boss of the kindergarten disliked his way of teaching, so he wasn't able to teach English. When he was about to run out of his savings I told him seriously: If you can't find a job, and you don't have any savings in your bank account, I will leave you. I even beat him, and complained how come you can't succeed, and eventually my he cried out of frustration. Although I felt very sorry for his situation, but the warnings of my relatives and friends keep repeating in my mind. I can't remember how long this kind of situation went on, but my boyfriend didn't give up, and also didn't give up looking for jobs. Finally he found a job which my friends and relatives could not believe: A tall handsome white guy was working as a laborer carrying heavy steel bars at a dusty construction site, and he was giving me all of his earnings. He proved with his action that he is not a foreign cheater who is relying on women. Who says that interracial relationships were just a fantasy?
Now we are waiting for our child to be born.
Mia/New Taipei City
* xicanmei (西餐妹) lit. "Western food girl", derogatory term for Taiwanese girls who like to date Westerners
** baimu (白目) lit. "white eyes", people who don't know the situation or ignore the facts, but still do it their way
This story reads almost exactly like my story. I was also struggling to find a job when I first came to Taiwan in 2010. Unlike the Russian guy, I failed and I had to return to Europe with the plan to try it again a few months later, which was very challenging for me and my wife (girlfriend at that time). But the good thing was that she never threatened to leave me. She was always very supportive and encouraging, she truly believed in me. I would probably give up, if it wasn't for her, because failing made me very disillusioned about the whole idea of moving to Taiwan, and leaving behind everything I had back in Europe, especially my family. Once I got a job here, and we officially announced our love to people close to her, I was constantly suspected to be cheating her for money or sex, my intentions of coming to Taiwan were perceived as dubious, I was guilty until proven innocent (and it was a long trial). Yes, there was a happy end: I'm married, accepted by her parents, relatives and friends, but the things I went through in the first two years took a toll on me. I don't always show it, but the wounds are still not fully healed on my side. All this is the reason why I like to talk about issues of being a foreigner in Taiwan, and why I believe we have to talk more about it in an honest and open way. It can't just be put aside with a "你想太多了" (a common phrase in Taiwan meaning "you're thinking too much." It's often used by people to stop discussing an issue that might arouse negative emotions or conflict). Every cross cultural relationship is different, every love story unique. Even if we are white, we have different backgrounds, we are culturally diverse, we come with unique personalities, and we deserve the benefit of the doubt. If I could somewhat help to change the perception of few of my readers, then I will feel that all the effort I put in my blog was rewarded.
How do you feel about the girl's story? Let me know in the comments.