Sunday, January 11, 2009

chuckling digs a hole

I was in southern Illinois a few years ago. You probably don't know this, but that's one of the wilder parts of America. Coal country. If you're looking for a bar fight, you won't have to look far. Shawneetown is legendary in that respect, I almost lost an eye there, but any little town will do. And the strippers? You wouldn't believe. There used to be this place called Le Maroc down near Carbondale (Carbondale? Think about that name). But let's not go there. Not now.

Anyway, I stopped at a liquor store in some little town pop. 150 or so. The guy behind the counter was exactly the kind of fat slob you see in small towns all across the back country. Dressed in camouflage. Beard. Muddy four wheel drive rusting out around back. If he didn't live in a trailer, he lived in a tumble down shack. The only thing out of place was the little Asian woman scrubbing the floor. She didn't look educated. I assumed he'd gotten her from one of those foreign bride services. Probably got sold to send money back to her family. Slaving for that disgusting asshole. Made me sick. It really did. That image of him behind the counter and her on the floor. It lingers.

A thread on Pandagon brought that image back to me. Amanda's original post was about something completely different, but some of the commenters brought up the phenomena of American men importing foreign women, presumably third world women, to be subservient slave brides, free of any kind of feminist mentality. But you know, I've spent a lot of time abroad and have dated as many foreigners as I have Americans. What do I think?

Now don't jump to conclusions. None of the women I've dated were remotely subservient. The subject came up last summer at Burning Man (you'd be surprised how many men daydream about the subservient Asian bride (well, maybe you wouldn't))and my flippant response was I'd rather be with someone I can enjoy wine, cheese and interesting conversation with than some kind of peasant slave girl who would reliably clean up after me and never say no to a spot of boom boom. Seriously. I don't see how I could possibly have a romantic relationship with a woman who isn't a feminist. Not necessarily an academic feminist, but at least someone who believes in basic equality.

But in my very limited experience (considering the population of the world), I do see a difference between third world women and Americans. Basically, my observation is that foreign women realize that men are dogs and set their expectations accordingly, whereas American women expect men to be women. I don't mean that they expect men to be effeminate. I mean that in the idealized belief in what it means to be a woman, that they expect men to be wise, hard working, and selfless. The result of these unrealistic expectations is often disappointment. Bitter disappointment. Better to be realistic, I say, and count yourself lucky if you're wrong and some guy, against nearly all odds, turns out to be decent. But realistically, you'll rarely go broke betting on the perfidy of the human male.