The Cultural Contrast between the West and Far Eastern Asia

This post compares the fundamental values and norms of Western and far eastern cultures, and examines how they influence the formation and interaction of male-female relationships.

The Contribution of Asian Culture

The majority of Asian societies are patriarchal. One of the most outstanding aspects of a patriarchal society is that people are expected to be respectful towards parents, seniors, and certain other people, especially males, who hold an authoritative position, such as a supervisor, manager, business owner, teacher, professor, community leader or even simply the head of a household.

The Chinese value of filial piety is a good example. Generally, filial piety means to be good to one’s parents, to take care of them, to show love, respect and support; to display courtesy; ensure male heirs, uphold fraternity among brothers and eschew rebellion. Children are expected to advise one’s parents wisely, support them financially, defend their reputation and sense of moral righteousness, and display sorrow for calamities afflicting the family, such as financial turmoil, sickness and death. Filial piety also entails that one should engage in good conduct, not just towards parents, but also outside the home so as to bring a good name to one’s parents and ancestors. It is considered honorable to perform the duties of one’s job well, so as to obtain the material means to support one’s parents.

Thus, those people, especially women, who grow up in these societies value education and professionalism, and learn to honor and respect others. During their lives they hone these skills to a fine art. This particular aspect of eastern societies does much to set in place many of the other qualities described later.

Perhaps the most significant point about this aspect is that men in general value the respect of a woman, perhaps more than any other non-physical characteristic, so Asian women naturally appear to be leagues ahead of non-Asian women, in terms of their ability to show respect, which is extremely valuable in men’s eyes.

Some other important characteristics of Asian cultures are described as follows.

Asians tend to be very emotionally reserved and not outwardly expressive of their deeper thoughts and feelings, unless you personally know them for years, or if they happen to have a personality that is uncommonly out-going. They have a hard protective layer that you have to peel off, step-by-step.

They also have a strong sense of collectivism, so they are very sensitive about the context and implications of any particular idea. People who think or behave in any manner that is ostensibly different from the norm, would typically be either rejected, or labeled as an outsider, by some definition. So, far-eastern Asians absolutely cannot understand individualism as a value.

Also, because of the pressure to conform and cooperate, the majority of Asians tend to be pretentious by Western standards. Hence, people spend more time obsessing over family interests, and since weighty matters are decided by the leading patriarch of the family, the others are free to pursue various interests that are light-weight by comparison, such as health and fitness, and following gossip and fashion trends prevalent in popular media outlets.

In many Asian cultures, females are less valued than males. Thus, females are considered to be a man’s property, or subject to a man’s control. For this reason, some Asian women who wish to have more freedom in forming their own role in a relationship are attracted to non-Asian men, especially those from Western cultures, and especially those who are white, for the aforementioned reasons. Also for similar reasons, some Western/white men are attracted to those Asian women who appreciate the aforementioned values of their own culture, and who prefer to play a submissive, dependent and receptive role in the relationship.

Asian men are very concerned with finding a partner that their parents will approve of, seeing as how their children would be carrying on the family name. Thus, Asian men are more conscious of, and more likely to conform to, their parents wishes, compared with their female counterparts. Perhaps this is because Asian women are granted less consideration than Asian men in this matter. Many Interracial and Cross-Cultural Relationships (ICCR) fail because of familial involvement in Asia.

Also, because of various factors related to gender roles, cultural experiences, familial expectations and education, the English fluency of a typical Asian woman is very likely to be much greater than that of a typical Asian man. This gives Asian woman even greater latitude in choosing a partner.

The Contribution of Western Culture

The majority of Western societies are matriarchal. One of the most outstanding aspects of a matriarchal society is that people are expected to be considerate towards women, children, seniors, and certain other people who are disabled, handicapped, or somehow disadvantaged in society through no fault of their own. The French concept of chauvinistic Romance, and the English axiom, “Ladies first” are good examples.

The western “empty nest” phenomena is another good example. Parents are expected to allow children some degree of creativity and self expression with the implicit goal of building the child’s confidence and self-esteem. Parents permit children an increasing autonomy as they pass through adolescence, especially in their decision making. In turn, children are expected to attain full emotional and economic independence by their mid-20’s, and therefore become functioning contributors to society in some respect. Here, the focus is on the development of the individual, and not the preservation of the family, which is quite the opposite of Filial Piety in the east. In fact, in the west, it is considered strange for one to be extensively attached to their parents, and shameful for young adults to continue being overly dependent on them.

Thus, those people, including men, who grow up in these societies are confident, independent thinkers, who value love, generosity and compassion, and who learn to consider the needs of others as a prime virtue. These values are repeatedly stressed so much, that many Westerners simply cannot imagine a world without the moral duality of good and bad. This particular aspect of Western societies does much to set in place many of the other qualities described later.

Perhaps the most significant point about this aspect is that women in general value the love of a man, perhaps just as much as the excellence of his personal characteristics, so Western men naturally appear to be leagues ahead of non-Western men, in terms of their ability to show love, which is extremely valuable in women’s eyes.

In the West, the modern feminist movement has encouraged females to think of themselves as being on equal par with men, and to demand the same from their partners. Those conservative men who prefer a traditional marriage find those women who cling to feminist values to be unsuitable as a partner. Such men are not necessarily opposed to the idea of gender equity, but they cannot accept sacrificing what each man holds to be the more positive aspects of traditional masculine and feminine gender roles in order to attain that equity.

Specifically, one of the positive aspects most prolifically held by men is to be a provider and a protector of his family, which is a concept that feminists vehemently reject as it implies (to them) that women are weak and needy. Another reason why conservative men cannot accept equity is because they feel a divided leadership is inefficient and ineffective. Then, if leadership and the associated responsibilities should be concentrated, it seems natural and reasonable for the man to be the leader, whereas, it appears shameful (to them) for a woman to lead a man.

So many of those men are faced with the reality that the choices available to them in the way of a mate are severely reduced, thus driving them to consider other options. To such men, an interracial or cross-cultural relationship can appear very inviting indeed.

The Cultural Differences

In the West, confidence and emotional maturity are important cultural values that are impressed upon people from their youth. In Asia, family values and maintaining relationships with dignity and grace (which is termed “guan chi”), are emphasized.

Generally, Westerners rely on the rule of law to give their lives order and security, so within their social circles, they want to “be real” and “get to the point”. Asians, by comparison, do not trust external powers to execute justice and bring happiness within their family. So they want to construct some kind of social establishment that will create the order and security they need in which to live and breathe. These respective cultural values push Westerners to be more independent, confident and forward-thinking, and groom easterners to be more civic, family-minded and considerate of the social context.

Also, the expectations for marriage are slightly different between eastern and Western cultures. In the West, there is the Judeo-Christian principle that a newly married husband and wife should leave their parents and cleave to each other, forming a new family entity.

So, many young men and women in the U.S. are raised in the idea that once you get married, you are out of your parent’s household, and it’s just you and your spouse putting each other first to build and create your own dynamic. But in the east, the culture dictates that you should put your parents and your whole extended family first, whether you are married or not.

In addition, Asian cultures tend to promote introversion, humility, respect, selflessness… which fosters females that appear quite feminine and attractive through the lens of any culture, but creates males that may come across as “beta”/ submissive to some Westerners. In terms of attraction, Western culture tends to promote alpha males and females that are somewhat independent. Based solely on how the respective values align, it is obvious why Western males and Asian females would be more attracted to each other, than liberated Western females would be to more conservative Asian males.

In the relational dynamics, Asian men would have a very hard time separating from their parents, but this would not be hard for a woman to do, either white or Asian, because they both grew up with the idea that this would be naturally expected from them. However, a Western man would be eager to leave his family and put his wife first, and assume his place as the man of the house.

For women, some eastern women are attracted to the nuclear family model that is popular in the West, but most “liberated” Western women would have a hard time adjusting to the patriarchal philosophy if they were to date a conservative Asian man.

From this viewpoint, these respective characteristics cause Western men and Asian women to appear very attractive to the opposite sex, largely because they are very compatible for each other according to the traditional marriage archetype.

Conclusions

In summary, we see that an Asian woman marrying a Western man holds many satisfactions and joys for both parties. But for a Western woman marrying an Asian man, the expected role for a woman in Asian culture is considerably different, both in society and in the home, than for Westerners, as there is a whole family package and many duties attached. The woman will be expected to not only respect and serve the husband, but also required to love his parents, siblings and extended family. That is a tall order for most women who have grown up in a Western culture that indulges women, but this is the most basic of requirements of a wife in Asian families. Ultimately, the cultural gap is just too big for most Western women to accept a traditional Asian man as a partner.

What self-respecting Western feminist woman would allow herself to become subsumed into the male and family dominated norms of Eastern culture? From their perspective, it is the experience of being treated like a second class citizen, after being raised to be a first!

What loyal, hardworking Asian man could accept marrying a spoiled, self-centered, Western wild-card woman, who expresses discontentment for the living conditions in her native first world culture?

But on the other hand, what Asian woman would not agree to marry a confident, loving, Western man, who was raised in an affluent society?

What Western man could despise a thin, demure Asian woman who makes it her life’s purpose to support him and their family?

With this is mind, it is then quite natural for Western men and Asian woman to seek a relationship with the other. It is, by far, much easier and more rewarding.

In fact, there are many Western men who have married Asian women, and this number continues to grow over recent years.

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About Wayne

Wayne is an ordained minister of Love who studies the psychology of the Feminine Mystique during the day, and holds an undercover missionary position at night. He earned his Ph.D. in Transcendental Love Mechanics during a 12-year, self-imposed asylum in an east-Asian paradise. You can visit his solid blog for more liquid insights: Sigma Frame Where Frame is the Name of the Game!
This entry was posted in Asia, Choosing a Partner or Spouse, Organization and Structure, Relationships, Society and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Cultural Contrast between the West and Far Eastern Asia

  1. Pingback: Cross-Cultural Relationships and Dating in Taiwan | Σ Frame

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