Friday, January 4, 2013

A Filipina and a white guy walk into a bar...

As excited as I am to be traveling around Asia, I've been dreading the inevitable looks and assumptions that occur when an Asian female is seen with a white guy. When I was traveling in 2008, I had been pretty surprised to see some of the reactions in SE Asia to me just walking down the street with a guy from my hostel. So I knew to expect at least some sideways looks while Michael and I were in town. What I didn't expect was how preemptively crazy I would get in my actions and reactions, and now that Michael has left to go back to Brooklyn, I can actually reflect on why that was the case.

Sure, most people probably/hopefully don't think I'm a prostitute - while there's a lot of that around, Michael definitely doesn't look like the old, fat, ugly bastards who typically hire prostitutes, and my travel wardrobe doesn't usually include glittery heels and makeup - but I think a lot of people still assume that there must be some sort of power imbalance in our relationship. Even if it's clear that I grew up in the US, there must obviously still be some weird dynamics when an Asian woman is involved. So to ensure that Asians everywhere know not only that I'm not a prostitute but that I'm a strong, bad-ass woman who has has equal standing in her relationship, I found myself saying or thinking the following while traveling with Michael:

"Michael! You're walking too far behind me and people are going to think that I'm your tour guide."

"Michael! You're walking too far in front of me and people are going to think that I'm your docile lotus blossom or some other bullshit!!"

"Hey Michael, can you shave tonight? Everyone here shaves except for white guys with prostitutes that they don't care to impress."

"Michael! No PDA's! Unless I initiate, and if I do, you can't do more than what I'm doing."

"Michael! You can't hold all the money otherwise it'll seem like you're my sugar daddy."

Where are my North Face shorts, prostitutes don't wear North Face

hmm I'll sit so that my tattoos face the rest of the restaurant, prostitutes don't have tattoos

Crazy? Yeah. I'm sure that my own inherent neuroses don't help - I am admittedly paranoid that people will think that I'm somehow less Filipino since I married a non-Filipino, and it doesn't help that literally every single Filipino we've met thinks that I'm only half-Filipino. So it's an ongoing struggle to find middle ground and convey, hey I'm Filipino but I'm American, too, and I hopefully got the best parts of both cultures.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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