The White Knight, Third World Damsel in Distress Syndrome
Originally posted at Chinese Community Forum (CCF)
August 23, 2000
The summer heat is lingering on. What we have here probably does not help cooling it down. Bevin Chu contributes to the heat when he shares his observation of how some China-demonizers are created following marriages of Western men and Chinese women. He offers an explanation for this "syndrome."
-- CCF Editors
It's extremely tempting to assume that Western men with Chinese wives will naturally be more benevolent toward China, will be less inherently hostile.
It seems so logical, so reasonable. However, it is a priori logic. I have discovered empirically, to my deep dismay, that the contrary is often the case. Some of the worst, most virulent China-demonizers I have had the misfortune to come across are Western men with Chinese wives.
I confess I was shocked at first. How could this be? What the hell is going on?
Why does one after another Western husband of a Chinese wife harbor such intense hatred of China? What did China ever do to the Western husband, other than supply him with a wife?
As I dug deeper I began to get a feeling for the psychological rationale for this perverse hatred of the wife's country of origin, a hatred shared by both the Western husband and the Chinese wife.
The couple will collude in a peculiar "White Knight, Third World Damsel in Distress" Dynamic.
The shared premise is that the Western husband has swooped down from an "advanced, more civilized" nation and rescued the Third World lass from a "fate worse than death," namely being trapped in a "primitive, backward country," and here's the kicker, "filled with primitive, backward men."
The Western husband gets to stroke his own masculine ego. The Chinese wife gets to live out her Chinese "Cinderella Complex" fantasy by being rescued by a "superior" Western male.
The Western husband immerses himself in a warm sense of "racial superiority." The Chinese wife distances herself from her own "inferior" identity by indiscriminately bashing all Chinese men.
Their own innocent children alas, are the ones who will suffer the most from their shared racism. Especially sons, if any. Daughters can simply reenact the mother's pattern. This is an option not open to the sons in this by definition unequal and unbalanced relationship. It is truly tragic.
Instead of relating to each other as fully equal human beings, instead of acting as a bridge between two cultures, instead of promoting peace and harmony between the West and China, as they might reasonably be expected to do, but don't, the couples I describe unthinkingly perpetuate a uniquely repugnant strain of sexism and chauvinism.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying, deliberately or otherwise. I did not making a universal statement. To allege that all Western husbands of Chinese women were involved in the distasteful dynamic I outlined would be an absurd, and bigoted claim.
My own cousin is married to big-hearted German man, who is my personal friend. One of my most simpatico internet pen pals is married to a considerate, un-chauvinistic American man whom I like. One of China's most admired heroes is USAF General Claire Chennault of WWII Flying Tigers fame, whose widow Anna Chennault is Chinese.
My remarks apply only to those couples who have indicted themselves by their own behavior.
Those who have had the misfortune of encountering one of these men know exactly whom I'm talking about. These Caucasian husbands often seek out China-themed fora for the express purpose of bashing China as a nation, and Chinese men as a racial class.
[For the record, I was referring to National Review Online's China-baiter in Residence, John Derbyshire, who decided to amuse himself by "trolling" the Chinese Community Forum online forum.]
Men and women of goodwill, both Asian and Caucasian, can only be grateful when they encounter couples who don't fit this regrettable profile. Individuals of high self-esteem, who chose each other on the basis of personal affinities and not sexual politics, provide gratifying counter-examples to this all too common Madama Butterfly/Lakme/Suzie Wong Syndrome.