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Taiwanese girls and their Western (mostly white) boyfriends: A tricky subject that expats and Taiwanese can talk about endlessly.On Twitter, someone recommended the website e Renlai, which describes itself as „an Asia-Pacific magazine of cultural, social and spiritual concerns“.
Some Taiwanese refer to local girls dating Western (i.e.
white) foreigners as Xicanmei (西餐妹), literally „girls who like Western-style food.“ (This video by rapper Dog-G is one example.) I have also heard the term „Potato Queen“ (馬鈴薯皇后).
The subject of intercultural/interracial relationships is being discussed But I had not yet seen an attempt to give a voice to those who are directly affected by such terms – namely, Taiwanese girls dating Western guys. (Click CC for English subtitles.) The term (Xicanmei) always made struck me as over-emphasizing the difference between Taiwanese people (us) and Western foreigners (them).
The fact that it refers almost exclusively to women suggests also that there is a male chauvinist implication behind the term – it functions to undermine the individuality and independence of women in the choices they make in their love lives, and sees these choices instead in terms of a failure to be patriotic and marry ‚into the tribe‘ so to speak.
(…) (Taiwanese men who date Western girls) are seen in a much more positive light than their female counterparts – and Western girls, it could be argued that Western girls are seen as status symbols – which feeds into the Nationalistic narrative from the other end.
So essentially it’s the male voice from which value is derived – essentially translating to – ‚if she dates a foreigner – it’s a rejection of me, the Taiwanese male, therefore a rejection of Taiwan, – if I date a foreigner then it is an affirmation of me, a Taiwanese male, therefore an affirmation of Taiwan.‘ (Emphasis is mine) Another one of the e Renlai editors added his own thoughts on the matter.
He comes up with some interesting observations as to how Taiwanese in general perceive and treat foreigners from other (poorer) Asian countries differently from Westerners.
Being Taiwanese and male, he obviously does not fit the ‚male chauvinist‘ pattern outlined above.
Over the last few years living in Taiwan, I have come to share many of these observations.
But it feels good to see Taiwanese actually saying it out loud.
There are so many good things to be said about Taiwan’s society, and it has gone through such impressive developments, that I am quite confident: In a few years time, many of these problems will have been resolved.
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