Thank you for inviting me to say something about FRIENDSHIP. I shall say what I feel most acutely in meeting people cross-cultural, and making friends, especially around Stanford Campus in recent years.
There is a paranoia about Chinese women, as though we were thieves, whores, and hookers, that would steal men away. I was personally insulted a couple of times.
Once at an academic seminar on Chinese American immigrant history, I was properly introduced to a faculty working on the Railroad Project. When I informed him that the Northern California Chinese Community Railroad Project would host a gala in SF in a couple of weeks, celebrating Chinese contribution to the construction of railroad, this white male immediately turned his back, and said to me, “Oh, my wife has a surgery. ” Then he immediately walked away.
Does he think of me inviting him to dance, or for a date? Stupid swine!
When I confided to a white woman friend, she explained to me why people have such paranoias. Her high school lover and husband over twenty years went to work in Hong Kong, fell in love with a Chinese woman. Only a few months later, he came back asking the wife for a divorce. Now she was left alone. “Chinese women are real horrors.” I was sympathetic. After all, she was a Stanford woman, able to tell the difference to trust me with her story.
In American society male and female relationships are often sexually interpreted. It’s not the same in China. Sexual harassment is not a widespread social problem there.I taught in China in recent decades. In Chinese society, I could invite a male colleague or graduate student out to dinner without his wife. It is perfectly normal. There is no sexual expectation.
Students are very close to their professors, like their children, friends and families. Men and women could be close friends for years without sexual involvement.
The wives wouldn’t feel insecure unless the husband did not come home after ten or eleven o’clock. Women were expected to manage their own men, and respect other women. Fighting with another woman out of jealousy is considered bad manner, disgrace, lost of control, failure of her management. That is why many Chinese women disrespect Hilary Clinton, who failed to manage her own man. How could she manage a country?
I was raised in China after Women’s Liberation. In my time, mostly men went after women, not vice versa. To suggest for a woman to approach, flirt, or seduce a man truly makes her “cheap”, losing respect in public eye. Therefore, it is degrading, humiliating, and insulting even to suggest the woman is plotting after a man. Indeed, when the Concerned Asian Scholars Delegates came to visit China in 1970s, they reported in a book, “Inside China”, that women’s status in my hometown was first rate in the world.
Of course things changed in recent decades, but this was only because contemporary women in China blindly imitated Hollywood culture. In the meanwhile, isn’t the “success” of American feminist agenda to “Engender China by sexual revolution in Western style” that have brought such changes—creating alienation between men and women at the same time ? That has liberated “ Chinese female sexuality ” in Hollywood style? And that has reduced our status to the stereotypes of thieves, whores and hookers?
In this Age of Corruption, academic whores are everywhere, I have seen, on and off campus, inside and outside of office. Some were Asian, some black, white, hispanic. . .not all Chinese, please. Not me, at least. True Friendship is possible only when men are liberated from Orientalist fantasy, and women are cured of “penis envy.”
JENNIE WANG PH.D. Professor of English, Independent Thinker, Scholar, and Critic; Author of Novelistic Love in the Platonic Tradition, The Iron Curtain of Language; Editor of Querying the Genealogy, China Men’s American Dreams; and numerous academic articles on Postmodern Fiction, Transnational Studies in Chinese American Literature. After her retirement, she continued to write, and published two memoirs–The Education of Jennie Wang (2015) and License Plate Number One (2018). She received an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for “career longevity and demonstrated unwavering excellence in her chosen field” in 2018. Her books are available at amazon.com