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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
My question is about the racism I encounter in dating, which has essentially caused me to stop trying. I’m Asian American, and what I have consistently found is that when I am dating someone, once the relationship becomes committed, the tone of the relationship changes and suddenly I am asked or expected to perform subservient duties–cooking, cleaning, child care, pet care, all these kinds of things. I have asked my white female friends if this happens to them, and they have repeatedly said NO.

This behavior has come from educated, professional men. In every case, I’m pretty sure it had something to do with how they perceived Asian women (docile/subservient/submissive/happy to be a domestic servant to a man) and I didn’t know at first that these men held such attitudes and views. I’m not sure how a woman would screen for such things. I do know that, living in Texas and surrounded by southern white men, I can expect to encounter such attitudes pretty regularly.

I will be honest that the repeated number of experiences I have had with this have completely changed the way I feel about dating, which I have not done in quite a while and am not sure I want to do again. Having something not work out is one thing, but repeatedly being exposed to overt and covert racism is another, and I don’t see any way of solving the problem.

Me: 48, master’s degree, my own business, no kids, and a pretty happy and healthy life.

Thanks,
Elaine

Thanks for the question, Elaine. It’s the first time I’ve gotten this and I want to offer you something both honest and thoughtful.

Let’s start off with a few things I think we can agree upon:

  • Racism is wrong.
  • Racism against Asian women, expecting them to be subservient, is wrong.
  • It’s probably harder to be an Asian woman in the South than in other places.
  • You can’t “solve” the problem of societal racism.
  • You can’t stop racist men from revealing their racist selves.
  • Not all men in Texas are racists who expect women to be subservient.
  • The only way you guarantee you will never find love is if you give up on it.

Hopefully, I’ve laid that out logically and have left little room for disagreement.

Not all men in Texas are racists who expect women to be subservient.

I will acknowledge I’ve never walked a mile in your shoes, so my knowledge of your situation is only limited to what you shared with me and what I believe to be true (as a white, upper-middle class, straight married man in Los Angeles.)

One sentence in your email really stood out.

“I have asked my white female friends if this happens to them, and they have repeatedly said NO.”

I believe you. I also believe you’ve taken an entirely unscientific straw pool and interpreted it as a larger and more verifiable study by Gallup. What you seemingly have not considered:

  1. You have likely not asked many women this question about men wanting wives who are more domestic. 5? 10 max? That is not a subset of anything, no more than my wife, kids, mom, sister and their partners are an accurate subset of America. Talk with a small group of close friends and you’ll likely get a homogeneous response.
  1. You cannot be positive that your friends were telling you the truth. That’s what friends are for — to be supportive when you’re angry at the world — not to challenge you. I don’t know the real answer as to whether all men in Texas feel all Asian women in Texas are subservient (I strongly suspect a good percentage don’t) but I know the EASY answer for your friends is “you’re right, Elaine!”
  1. The big blind spot is that it’s entirely possible that traditional men prefer traditional wives, but that doesn’t inherently make them racist.

A man can desire a woman who is willing to make him dinner or do his laundry sometimes without wanting her to be his “domestic servant.”

Women like this (I know; I married one) use a different word to describe their plight: wife.

What you feel is subjugation may be nothing more than different views on marital roles.

Stop getting angry at traditional men for wanting traditional wives.

For example, if a woman wants her partner to earn more money because it allows her to lead an upper-middle-class life, does that mean she’s a “gold-digger?” Of course not.

Yet, you’re using that same exact logic to assume the worst of all men.

Man wants a wife who takes care of the lion’s share of domestic duties while he’s out making 250K/year? He must be a racist!

Of course, that’s not true. But this is:

Your solution doesn’t rest in leaving Texas or changing others’ antiquated views of Asians.

Your solution is inside of you:

Stop getting angry at traditional men for wanting traditional wives.

Keep searching for a man who wants a 48-year-old woman with a Masters degree and her own business who has no desire to perform any domestic duties for her partner.

Yes, there’ll be a smaller pool, but at least you can let go of the myth that all Texans are racist.