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?
Do you love online quizzes? Do you like the idea of contributing to academic research? Are you into social justice and personal bias? Well, head on over to Project Implicit, a collaboration designed to investigate “thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control”. They administer tests on race, religion, gender, age and more.
It’s pretty interesting. I’ve taken a couple of the tests. They seem to rely upon timed keyboard response to word pairings and categorizing, and dependent variables are the time you take to respond and the mistakes you make. The idea is that how we respond is not just a factor of our conscious processing – after all some people are good at consciously self-monitoring their behaviour. We have hidden biases that can come through despite being politically correct.
There were some follow-up questions after the quizzes I took that attempt to examine what I believe influences the way I think, but likely, most people have no idea why they unconsciously behave the way they do. Only when you make a true effort to examine your privileges and biases (through reading, listening, interacting, adopting humility, etc) can you even begin to understand what is going on inside you.
Anyhow, I took a test on views on religion, as well as one on gender stereotypes with regard to science and liberal arts. With the latter, I scored in (the top – my interpretation, haha) 1% of people who overwhelmingly associated science with women and liberal arts with men. I wasn’t surprised at either the misogyny of the rest of the population or with my atypical response. They asked me at the end for possible explanations for my results. In all honesty, having worked in both science and liberal arts, all the best scientists I’ve worked with have been women. Men tend to suffer from arrogance, inflated sense of importance, misogyny, and the need to confirm their own, often strange, beliefs. Women, I’ve observed, are more humble, less biased, and thus truer to the spirit of science. Good role models, in other words. So in my mind, I always associate scientists and properly done science with women. In all honesty, I also tend to associate women with liberal arts and anything intellectual, creative, interpretive, and artistic, as well. Men? I am more and more frequently associating men with porn and violent oppression than noble endeavours, creativity or rational thinking… Hey, once the scales fall from the eyes and you decide you aren’t going to suck the Patriarchal cock anymore, you begin to see things for what they really are. But there was no text input or radio button option to explain my thinking on that, alas. I’m sure the mostly male research team will just pass me off as an anomaly or as we research types tend to say, “an outlier”.
Regarding the test on religion, that one was more interesting and surprising to me. I hate all religions, for obvious reasons (misogyny, ignorance, magical thinking, control, violence, hatred, homophobia, anti-progress, and I’ll say it again, misogyny). The test looked at the four major religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They had two lists of words. One consisted of ‘positive’ words (excellent, good, etc) and the other of ‘negative’ words (bad, terrible, etc). There was a series of groupings. In each, you were told to press one key if you saw a word from one of the religions OR a positive word, and to press a different key for all the other religions or a negative word. The test purported to tap your subconscious attitudes toward each religion.
At the end, I was given a relative placement of my negative attitude towards each of the religions, and as you can see from my outcome above, Christianity fell to the negative bottom of my personal religious shit-pile. Keep in mind that I believe that ALL religions are evil, which is my conscious attitude, but subconsciously, I suppose, I associate the most negative qualities with Christianity. I thought I was an equal-opportunity hater. I’m kind of disappointed.
* note for all dudes discovering their knickers suddenly in a twist at my audacity to associate science and competence with women, I am explaining my personal experience and thinking, not reporting on a scientific study I’ve done or treating my experience as a study. Chill out and stop getting so bloody sensitive and emotional, for fuck’s sake! Note also that women have tolerated this kind of bias from you for millennia. And you’ve been rewarded for it! At least I don’t rape or deny you employment!!!