Are you ready for a completely inappropriate-for-the-internet personal anecdote, which I haven't made public up to this point? Good. Here it comes.
Last year, I had a very close male Korean friend. My friend made friends with a gyopo, who, being that he lived exactly in the middle of my place and my friend's place, started hanging out with us a lot. I really liked the guy, and enjoyed a lot of our conversations together, even though we, both being strongly opinionated people, could lock horns over an issue every now and then. It was always friendly. Until something came up that I couldn't abide.
One night while I was sitting in the restaurant with the two, my phone buzzed with a text from Smalltown. I was overly tired and stressed out from work, and it was nearing 11 pm. I hadn't wanted to go out to meet them, but they had showed up outside my apartment unannounced, and persuaded me to give up at least an hour of my time. I knew it was a bad idea from the beginning, but I felt like I couldn't possibly end up being more bitchy in person than it would be to just send them away. Turns out, I was wrong.
I sighed in exasperation, as my phone continued to buzz. The boys questioned me about who was blowing up my phone, and I filled them in. I believe the gyopo, who we'll call G, made some off-the-cuff comment about there being some kind of romantic involvement between the two of us. I informed him that Smalltown actually had a girlfriend. Just a note to clarify, in case you don't know, Smalltown is a foreigner.
"Oh. Is she Korean?"
"Oh nothing. Call me conservative or whatever, but I still feel uncomfortable when I see a white guy with a Korean girl."
I should have gotten up and left right then and there. But I'm me. So that didn't happen.
"I'm sorry. What?"
"Well, it just reminds me of Comfort Women."
I'll stop using quotes at this point, as this conversation took place nearly a year ago, and I'm not sure I can be quite accurate in direct quotes. Suffice it to say, it took about five minutes for the conversation to escalate. I tried my honest best to give G a chance to make his points and have his say, but it only got worse from there. He informed me that:
- Korean women date white men for social esteem.
- Korean women being systematically raped by the Japanese is exactly like a white man and a Korean woman in a mutual adult relationship.
- Seeing white women date Korean men also made him uncomfortable because
- A Korean man dating a white woman is an indication of self-hatred but
- It was okay for him, a gyopo, to date white women, because he was Westernized, via culture but
- It was not okay for female gyopos to date white men, because they were only doing it because it was what the media told them to do, and the white men were using them based on somehow concurrent ideas of Asian women being simultaneously submissive and slutty.
In summary, then: White men can only date white women. Or at least, not Korean women. White women may also not date Korean men. Korean men may only date Korean women. Female gyopos may only date male gyopos or Korean men.
Somehow, amazingly, the only category that escaped his rigid system of morality based judgments about interracial/cultural relationships was the male gyopo. AKA, himself. He was allowed to date whomever he wished. None of the rest of us are free to form love-based relationships with who we choose, or who chooses us.
Isn't that convenient?
My Korean friend sat there smiling silently throughout this entire ideal. I don't know exactly how much he understood, or agreed with, but I'm quite certain the atmosphere shift would've been impossible to miss. After another 20 minutes or so of having let the subject drop, when G conveniently switched back to Korean, and trying to get the fuck over it, I informed the gentlemen that I would be going.
That conversation pretty much ended my relationship with both of them.
What got to me the most about the entire evening, upon reflection, was actually the very first moment it started. Without having ever met someone who he knew was my friend, or his Korean girlfriend, this man had equated their relationship (which he knew absolutely nothing about) with rape. Smalltown couldn't be further from the stereotypical idea of a white man charging into Asia, with his fetish tucked under his arm, ready to capture his first submissive, naive and easily charmed little victim. I wouldn't abide his company for one single second if there was even an ounce of that present in him. He is remarkably respectful to all women, extremely well-balanced in his view of gender relations, and couldn't give a fuck in the world what race his girlfriend is, so long as she genuinely loves him for who he is. And who he is, is incredibly worthy of being loved.
While I agree with nearly all of the points in theory that Jake has made, and I see where it all is coming from, the point is, categorizing people's relationships with other people based on race is not okay. It's not okay from one end, and it's not okay from the other. And I find it disturbing that it seems this "revolution" in the Asian male's image of himself has to come at the cost of feminsim, in his view. Not only has he placed Asian women in a shockingly condescending box with his characterization of their relationships with white men, he has also shown a shocking ignorance of how the Korean media treats the image of white women. To say that it's the pot calling the kettle black is an understatement of epic proportions. And you can argue that Korean media influence is not as prevalent and wide-reaching as Western media influence until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't remove the facts of the situation, or what those facts mean for those of us who are living this life. Just as nothing can remove the reality of his experience as an Asian-American male.
You don't have to negate the one to validate the other. And if his revolution is to be a successful one, he'd do well to acknowledge the fact that Asian men are not the only ones who have ever seen the short end of the stick. In fact, you might call it a ripple in the overall scheme of things, considering what it is women, both white and Asian, have had to overcome (and are still overcoming) in both Western and Asian society and media.
Welcome to our world, Jake. Thanks for being part of the problem. So long as you promote the idea that you have the right to categorize the choices that women make in regards to the race of the person they choose to love, and why they are making those choices, you will only be enforcing what it is you are supposedly taking a stand against. This is not a male issue -- you don't get to have all the control. I suggest a little self-examination and consideration of the powerful allies women can be, given that we've been doing this for a lot longer than you have. At the moment, you're coming off as a bit of a scorned frat boy. Not attractive, regardless of ethnicity. In the meantime, and in the case that you don't see it in your best interest to adjust your views, please keep in mind that you don't get to speak for us, and our relationships, or our motivations. We are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves.