Time to stop romanticizing white men

By Li Jun An Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/23 21:28:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Recently, an American mechanic-turned ESL teacher claimed in a video that he bedded hundreds of Chinese women in China. A few weeks earlier in the UK, a Chinese young woman, XiXi Bi, was killed by her white boyfriend. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents but part of a larger pattern. Why does this keep happening and why do we allow it to happen?

The answer is the rosy, inflated self-concept of Westerners that has prevailed in our minds. The West has filled the non-Westerners with false notions of white superiority and white benevolence, and China unquestioningly accepted and reinforced it.

For example, the tendency to romanticize the notion of a white male partner while obscuring the dark side of Western behaviors - selfishness, violence, and the penchant to use other people as they've done throughout their history.

 Let's examine the manufacturing of the chivalrous "white gentleman" image - an enduring myth that survives in our minds despite reality contradicting this false idea in the news every week.

 Consider 2016's film, "The Great Wall," China's highest budget film to date. It featured a daring, heroic white male army captain saving the country.

 These plot devices are a pattern in movies; they represent a purposeful formula used by the West.

 While films may seem like "harmless entertainment," they create powerful, irrational beliefs and "preferences" in the audience's mind. They see larger-than-life, heroic "white gentleman" on film, and it becomes only natural for women to idealize them and want to date them.

But, here's a question: In America, who rapes women at a rate of 297 percent higher than Asian men? Surprise! It's the white men. Why then are we surprised when they behave rudely when living in China?

Allowing Western men to sexually exploit Chinese women is only one consequence of believing the myths about them. The unfettered Western superiority conditions Chinese people to see whites as superior in all respects, to defer to them and blindly trust them. It constructs invisible chains in the minds, mentally subordinating Chinese people in a subtle but durable way as they see whites as "better" and "right" and themselves fortunate to merely be in their presence. This paves the way for many kinds of abuse.

Why are Chinese people's perceptions of white people divorced from reality? The media's impact on the subconscious mind overpowers all else. However, this also requires Chinese complicity. Luckily, Chinese can also counteract these effects.

First, China must manage character portrayals across the most influential media: entertainment and advertising. China cannot afford to have "white saviors" in its movies like "The Great Wall" nor productions featuring Chinese women madly coveting white men. These are hallmarks of "white worship" that reinforce white superiority and Chinese inferiority.

This applies to Hollywood but also to Chinese companies such as Wanda which produced "The Great Wall." Furthermore, we must mandate that advertisers not glorify white people.

Second, the Chinese media must have a well-rounded depiction of the West and of white people, not just "the good" but also "the bad," to reflect reality. Only when we are honest with the Chinese people about Westerners will the Chinese (both here and abroad) stop being blindsided and exploited by their aggressive, predatory behavior, such as white ESL teachers preying on unsuspecting Chinese students and young women.

Third, the tendency to idealize Westerners is due to decades of seeing them as wealthy and powerful. China's instinct to repeatedly show whites as "wonderful," "romantic," "honorable" and "heroic" is a legacy of this "mental colonization."

In a world where China's greatness is being realized, it's finally time to retire this dated, self-destructive and harmful mentality.

While most Chinese are patriotic, it is our unwitting naivety that is causing China immense harm. Actively resisting "white worship" requires both awareness at the individual level and cultural leadership by the government. China can never ascend to greatness if the Chinese people themselves see "greatness" primarily in the image of Westerners.

The author is a writer associated with Kulture Media, a media watchdog for Asian Americans. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

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