To be honest, it only took a month of living in Chinese culture to see how racist and sexist and misanthropic they are. It took a year for them to beat the little joie de vivre that I had out of me. On a visit to the West after that first year, everyone who knew me told me I had changed somehow, but they couldn’t figure out how exactly. More serious, for one. I think they chalked it up to ‘maturity’, when really, years later, I realized that constant racist misogyny had killed part of my naivete and good-naturedness. It was actually after a year of living in Chinese culture, back in 2003, that I became a person who cries easily in public and who learned to stop fighting. I became a little broken. Before that, I don’t think I’d cried in public since I was 5 and was beat up by a group of boys while walking home by myself from Kindergarten. But after that year of relentless Chinese beatings, something in me changed for the worse. I think that old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is bullshit. The 8 cumulative years I’ve spent living and working among and with the Chinese have not made me ‘stronger’. They’ve made me depressed, angry, suspicious, jaded, and absofuckinglutely disgusted with their culture. In the years since, I’ve examined the concept of culture, and I don’t understand the reverence all cultures receive (except for ‘western culture’, that is). But that is a post for another time. I have a lot to say about culture.
No, I am recording a few thoughts and experiences from a new semester here in China. I have two jobs still. Both teaching jobs. I make so little money teaching university that I started looking for extra work last year. And so a few times a week, I get up at 5:30 am, commute for 1.5-2 hours, spend all day teaching in 100 °F weather with no air conditioning, and then commute another 1.5-2 hours back to arrive home by 8 pm. It’s exhausting. And on top of that, there is dealing with the Chinese system/bureaucracy, and of course, endless racism and misogyny.
Last week, I walked into a brand new class of students only to be greeted by one of the 19-year-old male students with: “Hello, beautiful girl”. I’m 44, I don’t dress like a whore looking for sexual attention, and I also don’t dress or act like a ‘girl’ (which I’ve been criticized for in the past). I was pissed. In a country where teaching commands more respect than most jobs (unless you are a non-Chinese female), this was a serious offense of disrespect. Western men never get this. And Chinese women don’t get this. But it is common for me. I’m white and female, and thus a sexual object AND a dancing monkey that all foreigners are expected to be. Oglable entertainment. My education and experience count for nothing. I’ve never experienced disrespect like that when I’ve taught university in Western countries. And things in my classrooms can get much worse than that – from male as well as female students. On day one, I try to teach my students that respect is a two-way street. They’ll get it from me, but I expect it from them. Most don’t understand this at all. But, you know, respecting women is touchy, and white women are not really women, but objects. So why should they respect me?
There are two of us foreigners at my second job/college. Me: the white whore. And a black Muslim man from Africa (he tells everyone he is from Canada, even though his passport is not Canadian). English isn’t even his first language. I usually speak French to him. I’m sure we both have our super-special experiences at the hands of uber-racist Chinese. I’ve been curious. There are different stereotypes for different races, but some of the treatment manifests in the same way. I will say that there is no way in hell this dude is ever sexually harassed or sexually assaulted like I am. He is male. He probably gets the racist comments and looks and ostracism and fear reactions that I get. But most Chinese are too afraid of blacks to physically try anything against them. I, on the other hand, am deemed to be more assailable. Women are easier to assault, for one. That is a universal truth. But I will bet you my high salary most Chinese won’t sexually assault a black woman. Black women don’t have the ‘whore’ status attached to them that white women do. Sorry, black chicks. You are not sexualized like we are in most places in the world, despite what you say to the contrary. You are wrong. I’m tired of women of colour trying to tell me what I do and don’t experience.
Anyhow, one day, black dude and I were put in direct competition for most hated/feared object. We both won.
After a long, exhausting day at my college, all staff commuting in my general direction boarded the large coach bus (we have three staff buses going to different places) designated for us. Black dude and I ride the same bus. We were both seated near the back, but not together. The bus filled up. Chinese people seldom sit beside non-Chinese unless they absolutely have to. And they will either spill onto you or cringe away from you, depending on the message they want to send. So, seats disappeared, and we found ourselves still sitting alone. Just before the bus left, a Chinese male professor got on the bus. Keep in mind that every single teaching staff member is educated. Many have masters degrees. A few might have more than that. But education does not equal lack of ignorance. So, all the seats at the front were filled, and Chinese dude slowly walked to the back scanning the seats. He noted that there were only two seats left: the one beside the black dude and the one beside me. He started to panic. He didn’t want to sit beside either of us. I mean seriously: a white whore and a black Muslim? What could be worse? Who would YOU choose?????????
The Chinese fuck didn’t know what to do. He was spinning in circles, his face desperate. I made up my mind that I was not going to accommodate his racism. He was going to have to solve the problem himself. And apparently the black dude came to the same conclusion. We stayed in our seats and forced the racist to choose his course of action.
All of a sudden, a Chinese woman – a colleague (yes, all of these shits are my fucking colleagues) shouted out in Chinese to the man panicking in the aisle. She saw another empty seat a few seats ahead. The man very visibly relaxed in distinct relief, and practically ran towards the front of the bus. Phew!!! He could sit beside a Chinese. No foreign germs for him!
I spoke loudly to the bus at large: “You people are racist!” I know a few people understood me (including one of my colleagues in the English department – actually, the bitch who wants to get pregnant so she doesn’t have to deal with the foreign staff anymore. She is the foreign staff liaison, and she fucking hates us.) Nobody said a word. A few laughed. Chinese people don’t believe they are either racist or sexist. Every single one of them makes up excuses to me if I dare to bring up their racism. They call it ‘curiosity’ and have other euphemisms and explanations. But never prejudice. It is bizarre how much they deny their hate, and instead focus on how victimized they feel (standard Communist propaganda keeps this going). The Chinese are the biggest victims compared to everyone else in the world. It is very much like talking to men about their misogyny. Systemic misogyny, according to men, doesn’t exist. Men are always the biggest victims. They hurt so, so much. As do the Chinese (victims of Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the US – everybody!)
So I had my answer. Black men don’t have it worse than me in China, especially since they are not sexually assaulted.
The bus? Just another day in China for me. At least I had a fucking seat to myself, right?