Once a societal taboo, interracial dating is a common sight throughout Asia these days. But is there a hidden message expats don't understand? And why does it always seem to be a foreign man with a local girl on his arm, and not the other way round? Malaysian Nicholas Ng Delves into the issue.
We often hear of the term SPG, short for Sarong Party Girl. For those who are not acquainted with this term, it refers to an Asian woman who nearly exclusively dates Caucasian men. Yes, a very common sight in Malaysia and Singapore, becoming almost part of the natural fauna. The common perception is that they tend to date these men thinking that they’re all here making big bucks and are posted here by international companies. It’s only a half-truth, not every Caucasian man is. The bigger question is, why is there such an obvious racial bias based on gender? What is less common is the other way round, where an Asian man dates a Caucasian woman. Is there even such a thing as a Sarong Party Boy who dates only Caucasian women?
The notion of a Sarong Party Boy is not a natural phenomenon in Malaysia. Why is it that Asian men find it hard dating Caucasian women? I think many factors play into it. For example, there is the culture issue. Asian men are generally set in their ways and traditions. They all go for the ultra skinny and slender long black hair stereotypical Asian woman. What do I mean? Go to Velvet or Zouk on a Saturday night and you’ll see an army of them. This already works against the Asian man/ Caucasian woman dating factor.
For some reason, many Asian men think that Caucasian women simply do not want to date Asian men. There is an innate fear of rejection from someone that seems very foreign and would not be able to understand or worse yet,reject them readily, so be it because of language or culture. Maybe because not only has Hollywood portrayed Asian men in weak stereotypes, but also how Asian cinema has portrayed Caucasians as being superior. Name one Asian actor who is a lead role model that isn’t a stereotype. Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee much? Also, Hollywood has defined what our standards of beauty are… which are usually based on Caucasian features.
Then there is the issue of… er… size. Perhaps some Asian men fear they do not “measure up” to their Caucasian counterparts. Asian men need to know that this stereotype isn’t necessarily wellfounded. The adult film industry has given us the illusion that all Caucasians are that well-endowed. In reality, every cloth is cut differently; the only difference is some are cut from cotton and some from silk.
Intimidation may also occur because of another size issue. What do I mean? Well, it generally seems that Asian men find Caucasian women physically too big. Gender roles are well-defined in Asia. Women are cast as the fairer and weaker sex. Men are the strong breadwinners. Therefore, when an Asian man sees an attractive Caucasian woman, he would generally not approach her. Caucasian women, on the other hand, might find Asian men too small as well and with them, may not feel as safe and protected.
Seldom do you hear of the Asian man/ Caucasian woman combination. Perhaps there is some truth to objectification. Many Caucasian women in KL have said that they are made to feel like trophies on the arms of an Asian man who they would date but never consider marrying.
Caucasian women are also seen as wilder than their Asian counterparts, which some Asian men see as a plus point. They don’t have to obey society’s rules because they are not in their home country. Caucasians are brought up with more feministic qualities and gender equality. They are more daring, bold, and regularly speak their mind.
Asian men possibly feel that Caucasians see them as inferior. Many Asian men seem to have a confidence issue dating Caucasian women, and most of the time, this works only because of the right social dynamics. Rich, tall, well-built Asian men will tell you its not hard dating Caucasian women. But is it only because they tick all the right boxes, which is not far different from the Caucasian male.
Dating should not be based on race. We try to avoid talking about it, but it’s a real issue. Asian men just need to tuck their egos aside. Definitions of masculinity are changing, and so should our dating norms. It’s fine to for Asian men to date someone of whom their mothers may not necessarily approve. It’s also fine for a Caucasian woman to date an Asian man if he has been brought up right and is respectful towards women. Cultural barriers need to be broken down and accepted for what they are. We shouldn’t be intimidated by what is just a skin colour. It’s not about the skin, but what’s underneath it.