East vs West
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Cultural Differences: Crocodile Dundee in China

The Revelation Of The Laowai (老外) Stereotype

I have had a bit of a revelation in my mind.

Before, in previous travels overseas to China, I used to think, “Wow, you can really talk to a lot of girls every day.  If you keep it up, you can get a girlfriend.  And you have to treat them with the same respect and the same rules that would apply in Australia, or a Western country.”

How naive I was.

I have talked to many people in China on this trip abroad, and encountered new kinds of people and therefore new perspectives.  In a Taiwanese English teacher’s class in Starbucks I met 12 Chinese sophomore girls.  I also became acquainted with a British English teacher in my new English academy.  Both are in their 50’s and both lead suspiciously bachelor-like lives.

After one sophomore girl gave insights into how the Taiwanese teacher conducted one full English class talking about sex and blow jobs, and additionally, in my English academy induction I saw how the British male acted around all the Chinese girls telling one how delicious his dumplings tasted, then I got an idea that you really can get away with a lot of mischief in China just by being a foreigner.

You can play that stereotype up.

With the growing awareness that all these foreign guys do these promiscuous things, and having overheard the age of consent in China is 14, I think that is what the term Laowai (老外) means.

Judging by these people, I could turn into a Laowai (老外) if I end up a 50 year old single foreign male in China who can’t hold a steady relationship, because of the basic fact that every single girl in China is deliciously hot, and at 21 years old, they still want to have sex with a 50 year old guy for an experience.

The Laowai (老外) Stereotype

I think this a problem inherent in Chinese society.  I think the Taiwanese teacher and the British teacher seem to have played that stereotype incredibly well so that they can get the girls in this country, China.

Because, if you dress like that British guy in Britain, you are going to get laughed at.

But in China, they think that this guy dressed in belt-strap pants and a high-hat is the alpha male of Britain; he is the archetype that all British males aspire to be.  It is just outrageous, but it is cool actually.

I don’t think I would ever get to the point of making a caricature of myself.  I have too much self-respect.  I still get the girls.  I don’t have to be a stereotype of my country.

I don’t have to come out like Crocodile Dundee in China, with a knife in my hand, saying, “That’s not a cock!  This is a cock!”  And then attacking her with a cock.  Although… that would be fun.

I just be myself.

The Fundamental Dynamics Of The Laowai (老外) Stereotype In Chinese Society Shifting?

I don’t think China is ever going to change that basic, fundamental fact of their society, until the point that there is such an influx of foreigners coming into China that is just becomes commonplace to see them – like in Australia.

But even if you have a million people immigrate to a country of one billion people, that is still a drop in the bucket in terms of how many foreigners you can actually see on the ground.

I heard the population of people from African countries in Guangzhou in 2017 alone is 300,000 people, but I just do not see them all that much, unless you are in their neighborhood, Little North (小北).

Then, once you see the foreigners, as a Chinese you still need to come to terms with being able to approach them without being guarded (保守), which is another attribute exclusive to traditional Chinese.

I guess, when China becomes a cosmopolitan place, the Chinese will stop calling people foreigners and Laowai (老外), and the Laowai (老外) stereotype will have been well-and-truly demystified.

Nevertheless, the question then still remains… will the attraction to the Laowai (老外) stereotype still be there?



Author: 钨宝

The author of Diary Of A Mad Chaos from 1996 to 2018, The Lost Years book, Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘) book series, and Foreigner (华人) an exploration of race relations in Australia. Fluent in Chinese Mandarin, Macedonian, and English, the author currently resides in China, Guangzhou where he continues to make comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies.

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