Cross-Cultural Relationships: Stereotyping, Assimilation, and Cultural Similarties and Differences

by New Dealer

This is a kind of flip side to Vikram Bath’s article on Racism and Cross-Racial Love and expands on some points I made in the essay.

I taught English in Japan from 2002-2003. During that time, there was a popular comic for ex-pats called Charisma Man. The comic was about a wimpy unnamed Canadian fast food worker who became a  living Adonis when upon landing in Japan. The whole comic was a satire but like all satire based on an fair amount of truth. Lots of Westerners go teach English in Japan for a year or two and sometimes more and a lot of the guys seemingly go with the hope or chance of getting a very attractive Japanese girlfriend. There is also a belief that these guys would be able to level up in Japan. One popular expression among the ex-pats was something like “2 at Home, 9 in Japan” for the belief that being a Westerner in Japan made you exotic and therefore more desirable. The above link is the first Charisma Man comic from 1998.

I never asked my co-workers about their romantic success rates in their native countries. Nor did I ever have a Japanese girlfriend. I had a huge crush on an Australian woman with a boyfriend back home but that is my own melancholy story. I never really tried to hard to get a Japanese girlfriend. I think part of the reason for this is that I would cringe when a lot of Western guys talked about their love of Japanese or Asian women. A lot of guys that we would now call bro-dudes openly and loudly talked about how they had “Yellow Fever”. The racism of this comment made me cringe. They also had a lot of stereotypical reasons for wanting to date Asian women. They seemingly believed that Asian women were more likely to be submissive to their husbands and put the needs of the man first over their own. There was probably a sexual compliance undercurrent to this as well. On the flip side, Asian women allegedly believe that Western Men are more likely to practice “Ladies First” and be more attentive and courting partners. These stereotypes seem to largely come from Hollywood movies. It is an old book but for further reading, you can check out: The Modern Japanese Butterfly: Fantasy and Reality in  Japanese Cross-Cultural Relationships by Karen Ma.

Vikram’s post was about how it can be bigoted and potentially limiting to refuse to date out of your religion, culture, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, educational levels, etc. However, there are plenty of examples when it seems that people date outside of their culture and group for both benign and malignant stereotypes. A Malignant stereotype is the Yellow Fever/Madame Butterfly version.

A begin stereotype often seems to happen to Jewish men. We are seen as being economically successful but also very sensitive and docile. In Tablet Magazine, Rachel Shuket described this stereotype as being “a cross between Alan Alda and a never-empty ATM machine” in her article on billionaire Charles Saatchi strangling his wife in public. The article is called “What happens When the Myth of the Obedient Docile Jewish Husband Gets Busted”.

While the Jewish man stereotype is more benign than the Asian women stereotype it is not great because it does place pressure on Jewish men to live up to a high standard. Is a Jewish man less than great if he is still freelancing in his 30s and hasn’t made partner yet? Does it matter if he finished his education at a really bad moment in the economy or was he supposed to be able to rise above national trends? What about the Jewish guy who wants a more medium-chill lifestyle?

In short, I probably avoided dating Japanese women when I was in Japan because I was very aware of the “Yellow Fever” bro-dude and never wanted anyone to make that assumption about me. I am still conscious of this kind of thought pattern to this day. This is probably wrong and limiting in its own way but I have not been able to overcome my aversion to having someone judge me as being a Charisma Man relying on stereotypes to get romantic success. Charisma Man is a figure of mockery.

The other reason touched upon in Vikram’s essay is about assimilation and the loss of identity. I know many Jewish men and women who have dated and married non-Jewish men and women. I have also gone on dates with women who  had one-Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent. In my experience, these couples often try to make a good-faith effort (pun not intended) to give their children pride and awareness in both heritages but one culture or religion falls to the wayside pretty quickly because it is too much effort or one parent did not really care that much. It is usually Judaism that falls by the wayside or becomes a point of identity for nothing more than a kitschy bunch of Seth Rogan-esque jokes. This usually happens because of Christmas. Not religious Christmas, but secular Christmas. I’ve discovered that a lot of people really love all the trappings of Secular Christmas and my friends who are new parents are very big on putting on Christmas Magic for their children. While Judaism has Hannukah it is a much more subdued celebration. There is no Santa, no Tree, no mistletoe, no Carols, or mounds of sweets and food, songs constantly played on the radio, etc. Even a lot of Jewish people fall under the spell of Christmas and believe that it is a path to being more American and potentially less of an outsider. I’ve seen friends describe their husbands and fathers as being the “Most Christmas Loving Jew.” It is usually Jewish men who get that description.

A friend of mine is a big proponent of inter-faith marriages. She describes this as getting more holidays with great joy. Sometimes I wish I can be like her but I am not. I have strong opinions about how a person can be Jewish or they can celebrate Christmas but they cannot do both. Even though marketers try to make Christmas a completely secular and gift-giving holiday, it is still about the birth of Jesus Christ and this is always at the back of head. I’ve been encouraged by non-Jews to adopt super-secular Christmas and these non-Jews are often not-religious themselves. My temptation during the time is always to say “Christ Mass” instead of Christmas. Being Jewish does involve not accepting Jesus as the Messiah and to me civil liberty and free exercise of religion means that I have a right to be myself and not-assimilate to even secular Christmas.

I am not sure what the solution to the problem of stereotypes and cross-cultural love in terms of making sure you are not dating across cultural lines for stereotypical reasons or refusing to do so because of a fear of being seen as a stereotyper. One start is probably to limit references to your spouses ethnicity. Say my cute husband instead of my cute Jewish husband. Or my lovely wife instead of my lovely Asian wife.

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82 thoughts on “Cross-Cultural Relationships: Stereotyping, Assimilation, and Cultural Similarties and Differences

  1. My parents were an interfaith marriage. They were both the first generation born in the US from immigrant parents; my father’s parents were from greece, my moms were polish jews. Not many greek orthodox/jewish mixes out there. But neither was religious or traditional in many ways so it wasn’t any issue. In fact just about all my aunts and uncles married outside their faiths/cultures. Growing up in suburban NJ there were a lot more jews around so that became a more natural default culture then the greek except for the weekend of the big greek festival in Newark. My parents did go for the secular christmas though which i enjoyed and was fine with me, which also came, sort of, from my fathers side.

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    • To be fair, I’ve been on dates with Asian women and other non-Jewish women.

      But I still think that there is a lot of (possibly unconscious) stereotyping that happens when people decide to go for cross-cultural relationships. More than unconscious for the Yellow Fever crowd. This is not to say that cross-cultural relationships are bad and to be avoided.

      I think Jewish men sometimes are running away from the stereotype of the brassy and bossy Jewish women when they decide not to date or they are not attracted to Jewish women. Sometimes the stereotype of the bossy Jewish woman gets played for laughs. When I was living in New York in the mid-2000s, I remember seeing posters for a play about a non-Jewish guy determined to marry a Jewish woman. I don’t remember the play or whether it was successful. I do remember that one poster had copy along the lines of “One man’s quest to marry a Jewish woman so he never has to make another decision again for the rest of his life…..”

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      • Stereotyping is inevitable and irrepressibly human. Our choice is whether to try to push past it and to try to see it..

        I think a lot of people can find commonalities across cultures that help them build relationships. My BIL and SIL both hold to their Jewishness although neither go to synagogue or are highly religious. They follow many customs and rituals. But the SIL was born and raised in Puerto Rico with a strong Hispanic/jewish heritage. The BIL was raised mostly in AK with a basic white jewish guy heritage but he has spent many years in latin america. So they have significant commonalities as well as differences.

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  2. I think I prefer Spacemoose more. :)

    I can’t speak for ALL asian women, and certainly not Japanese, but I did date a Korean woman, and she said all Korean men were a**holes-mean, selfish, etc. She was dating white guys as a result, having been married to a Korean guy for a number of years before moving to the states.

    Interestingly enough, she fit the typical “asian woman driver” stereotype. 7 accidents in 2 years.

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  3. I sympathize with the reluctance of a white man to try getting a Japanese girlfriend as an expat. How much of a cliche are you willing to be? It’d be like a Wellesley graduate marrying an investment banker. You’d know that other people would see you and decide they already knew everything important about you. (I do still maintain, however, that one ought to endeavor to put such concerns out of mind.)

    Would a secular Jew be acceptable to you? What about an agnostic who would be willing to convert to Judaism?

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    • Hey, I’m a guy who went to Vassar. Quit knocking on the Seven Sisters.

      I think I said I was pretty secular-culturally Jewish in your post. I don’t keep kosher and when it comes to the actual existence of a deity, I am an apathetic agnostic. But celebrating Christmas or raising kids in a religion besides Judaism is a bridge too far for me it seems. I’m very proud of my Jewish heritage. And for reasons that I can’t quite fully articulate, I also don’t want to live in a house decked out with Christmas stuff. It makes me uncomfortable. I can visit it for a party but seeing it for months on end feels odd. I could write a whole post on how “Christmas Magic” is baffling to me.*

      Marrying another secular Jew or if a spouse wanted to convert would be fine.

      *This is not to say that I dislike Christmas but I have my own weird reasons for liking the Holiday. It is a completely free day!

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      • Perhaps the key then is to select for “doesn’t celebrate Christmas”, rather than a particular faith tradition. Many atheists celebrate Christmas, but there are some who don’t. Equally, someone who followed any non-Christian religion would presumably be OK with giving Christmas a miss.

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      • James K,

        Perhaps. Presumably the atheists who don’t celebrate Christmas come from non-Christian backgrounds but I could be wrong. I know a lot of atheists from Christian backgrounds and they still love Christmas.

        Perhaps I am not as lax with my Judaism as I let on. I still feel a need to go to High Holiday services and celebrate things on their date not for convenience. A few years ago Matt Y wrote a blog post about how is family celebrated Passover on a Saturday because it was more convenient than the weekday it fell on. My response to that post was “You can’t do that. Saturday is not the first night of the Holiday or the night for the Seder. Tuesday is!”

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    • The Seven Sisters comment was meant in jest. I forgot the smiley face though but it brings up another point. Angela’s response on how dating within your own can seem easier because there might be a lot of shared cultural assumptions.

      I must admit that these do happen when I date Jewish women and I like them. I also find that women who went to small, liberal arts colleges have another shared version of culture and communication.

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    • What this might come down to is a philosophical issue on whether “opposites attract” or not.

      There are people in both camps but I’ve always been fond of the idea that the best couples have the most in common. This could be seen as “path of least resistance” dating and it does not necessarily exclude cross-cultural dating.

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      • Chris,

        That makes sense.

        I have my own experiences with letting my mind wander about opposites attract experiences. In my case (sorry if this is TMI) it involves hipster/indie girls with multiple tattoos who work in bars and coffeeshops.

        It seems like it could be fun for a while but fizzle out over differences of lifestyle preferences and goals.

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      • +1 Chris and ND. I have an admiration for those with more adventurous spirits than myself, especially if they reproduce, but ultimately anything other than doing what I did – marrying someone from a similar background with a similar perspective – was the only route for me. Like ND, I had daydreams about tattooed girls (and religious girls, and crystal-waivers), but we would have annoyed each other to no end by the time all was said and done.

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      • It’s probably been a net positive that I think I give off vibes to women that I am incompatible with. Like “Omigod, this guy is going to be such a drag” or “This guy is such a nerd.” So daydreams aside, I have defaulted to people who are not too, too different from myself.

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      • I don’t know if I’m necessarily attracted to women that are the opposite of me but I like sophisticated and elegant women that dress well and are good conversationalists. Sort of like how people stereotypically view continental Europeans. I’m a very good conversationalist and into high culture but I don’t know if a possess the polish or background to be sophisticated and elegant. Whether I dress well or not is also subject for debate.

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  4. As I mentioned on Vikram’s thread, I am in an interfaith marriage with a woman who herself is the product of an interfaith marriage. Her mom is Protestant, her father Jewish, and my parents both Roman Catholic. Growing up, her family “skewed” Jewish, but I think living on the east coast, attending a Jesuit university, and spending many school vacations with her Protestant aunts and uncles have made her feel more connection recently to her Christian side. Oh, and marrying a (former) Catholic probably moved that along. We are now in a bit of a debate as to whether we will do Christmas with Mayonnaise. I would rather not, because neither of us actively practice Christianity or even believe in it. Zazzy is very drawn to the secular Christmas tradition, which I suppose we could build our own tradition around, but there is no getting away from the fact that the holiday celebrates the birth of Christ. I’ve proposed, half-seriously, that we adopt Festivus, but she somehow never saw that episode of “Seinfeld” so even the joke is lost on her.

    Oddly, there is a part of me that is drawn to exploring her Jewish roots. I grew up with a lot of Jewish friends, in a town that was heavily Jewish (with various denominations ranging from reformed to Hasidic). I don’t know how much of my interest is legit and how much is “grass is greener”. It is not that I believe in Judaism, but I think, at the current moment, I find the Jewish cultural elements (including those related in the faith) more intriguing and far less bastardized than Christianity’s. Of course, I know intimately of Christianity and its many faults, so it may indeed be grass is greener.

    Needless to say, this is all very, very complicated. My hunch is that Christmas will predominate for us because so much of our family are Christian/Catholic. My side is much more secular about it, at least in terms of seeing the holiday as a time to come together, share gifts, enjoy time together, fight/argue/throw stuff… ya know, “tradition”. Her family is a bit more religious… there is usually a grace and they regularly attend church.

    Ultimately, I’d prefer we just say, “Hey, why don’t we get together without all the trappings and enjoy each other.” But that’s crazier than anything any faith has ever proposed.

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    • My wife was raised Catholic, though now identifies as Deist. I was raised Episcopalian, and identify as either Episcopalian or Ecclesiastical Christian (but not as Christian – it’s complicated). In some ways, I have more of an interest in Catholicism than she does. Not that I would ever convert, but I’d be more willing to baptize our children into the Catholic faith than she would. The most pertinent difference between us is that Episcopalianism gave me a positive view of faith and church, and Catholicism gave her a more hostile one.

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      • Interestingly this is one of the arguments that people give me about celebrating secular Christmas. They note that most of the secular Christmas traditions were imported from pagan cultures and religions as a way to get people to convert.

        This might be true but they still are not Jewish.

        A lot of people are perhaps much better at compartmentalizing secular/pagan Christmas from religious Christmas than I am.

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      • ND,

        Do you object to celebrations like New Years, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July? I know some Jews who don’t celebrate some or all of them, but they tend to be the more orthodox ones.

        Is solstice an issue because it harkens to a broader belief system/faith, whereas the others are uniquely cultural*?

        * I suppose Thanksgiving may have some religious elements at its deepest roots, but I’m not an expert on the subject.

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      • Kazzy,

        Thanksgiving and July 4th are civic, not religious holidays. Every nation needs civic holidays. Though the people I know who don’t do Thanksgiving tend to be left-wing.
        I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that the ultra-Orthodox would not celebrate either but I’ve never heard of that.

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    • Or you could harken back to the pre christian festivals that fell at the same time, and celebrate the winter solstice (all be it a bit late), or Saturnalia (Dec 17-23) but since that is a Julian date, you could pick any date around then. After all a good bit of the celebration beyond the name is effectively the winter solstice celebration songs such as winter wonderland etc.

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    • Speaking of Christmas and expatitude, I used to semi-seriously say I vastly preferred Christmas in Japan to Christmas in the U.S. The Japanese version has the gift-giving, the time off work (it’s not a holiday, but is situated right before the New Year, which means at least a few days off for most people), the parties and the family get-togethers. It also throws in Kentucky Fried Chicken and “Christmas Cake”—Japanese people are generally astonished to learn these are not standard for Christmas celebrations worldwide. What it doesn’t include is religion, and thus no one getting freaked out about being wished a happy holiday in not precisely the way they wish to hear it.

      After the last decade or so of Xmas visits to the U.S., I now say the above wholly seriously. Religiously-based huffiness has really ramped up in American culture, and I say this as someone raised in a time when school boards seriously debated whether all rocknroll or just heavy metal was literally the same thing as Satan worship. Christian-Americans then just didn’t come into contact with different religions often enough to feel defensive about their own, but now, yeesh.

      New Dealer, did you have a chance to attend any Japanese weddings while you were here? If so, what did you think of the obligatory Christian ornamentry surrounding the whole thing?

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      • IIRC New Year’s is a big family holiday in Japan and more sombre than the American counterpart. I seem to recall almost everything shutting down.

        I also seem to remember Christmas having romantic connotations in Japan. I made a student of mine (college-aged kid) blush red by asking “So what did you do on Christmas Eve?”

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      • Not only Christian, but kind of specifically Western. Almost all weddings have a Christian priest or quasi-Christian officiant, hymns (I don’t think “Amazing Grace” is really the right choice for a wedding), an altar, etc. Oftentimes, the ceremony is in English, entirely incomprehensible to the participants, and often with a foreign officiant who may not be able to speak Japanese.

        I hope I don’t come across as mocking this, though I know it’s a handy item to go in the “Japanese culture is so wacky” file. I admire the Japanese approach to religion – take the parts you like, add it to the Golden Rule, everyone’s happy. It does end up with some weird aspects w/r/t weddings, though.

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      • Mr. Blue, the joke is that the Japanese are born Shinto, marry Christian, and die Buddhist.

        Western-style weddings have pretty much replaced traditional Japanese style weddings in Japan decades ago for a variety of reasons. Besides the advertised fairy tale aspect, Japanese brides consider Western bridal gowns more beautiful and more importantly, more comfortable than the Japanese bridal kimono. Another reason is social. Its my understanding that in a traditional Japanese wedding only the immediate family of the bride and groom could and would attend the ceremony. Most of the guests would just show up at the reception afterwards. In a Western wedding ceremony, the guests can actually attend. Maybe Nob could correct me on this.

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      • Let me betray more ignorance! How much of this is related to the Post-WWII rebuilding? How much of this is what they got from us Americans, and how much they got from western culture more generally? Being an ugly, egocentric American, I want to think it’s us. Or more charitably to myself, I find the Japanese relationship with the US interesting, so it just interests me is this is a part of that.

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      • Kroger,

        I’ve only observed some Shinto weddings while they were happening at places like Meiji shrine. It was just a processional but I remember the wedding halls and such.

        One older student told me he wanted a “Western” wedding but the father-in-law vetoed the option.

        Nob,

        I liked New Year in Japan. It was very restful and quiet.

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      • Mr. Blue,

        The Ozu movie Late Spring is about a widower trying to marry off his daughter who is quite content to just take care of him. There is a line where she says that the prospective groom to be looks “Just like Gary Cooper.”

        I don’t know why but I found it rather endearing that everyone gets compared to Hollywood Celebrities.

        Though my favorite bit of Japanese taking of American culture are Japanese variants on American denim and work clothing. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. Anything featured in Free & Easy magazine really.

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      • I worked for a year and a half at a Japanese company. It was mostly Americans who worked there, but there were a few Japanese from the Home Ship. Including my boss. It was an IT job and I was with IT people. It should come as no surprise that some of us liked anime. Some had anime backgrounds on their computers, for example, and so on.

        So it was kind of funny, with the Americans’ interest in Japanese cartoons… to go into my boss’s office and see all sorts of memorabilia and trinkets for Winnie the Poo, Mickey Mouse, etc.

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      • Mr. Blue, the Japanese began adding bits and pieces of Western culture to their society ever since the Meiji Restoration. Christmas and Valentine’s Day became a big thing in Japan during the 1920s because Japanese business people saw it as a gold mine. Baseball was a mass spectator sport in Japan before WWII.

        I’m pretty sure that the taste for Western weddings started after WWII and it wasn’t probably in full flower till at least the 1970 or maybe even the 1980s.

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  5. Every time I see a white dude talk about asian women, I feel like a little part of me dies.

    Then they try to talk to me about it and expect me to confirm their stereotypes. This is where I walk away, lest I be thrown in jail for assault.

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  6. I’ll say this much: from a purely subjective standpoint, cross-cultural children tend to be more attractive than pure-bred ones. It is like it softens out the hard edges.

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  7. Seems all I ever did was date across race boundaries. Had an Asian girlfriend, a brilliant, shy, lovely woman. We were both kinda damaged people at the time.

    Had a Hausa girlfriend, exuberant, hilarious, deeply musical. Met her here in the States. Learned to do her hair. Never quite worked out why we didn’t end up together. I was Christian and most Hausa are Muslim, her parents hated me for it. All their relatives found it spooky to hear a bature speaking Kano Hausa. I still remember shrieks of amazement and fear when I was introduced at a family gathering when I began to speak Hausa. She was clever and wise, her family less so.

    Dated a Jewish girl. Same problem, only reversed. Fairly religious family, I would have had to convert and was talked out of it by her parents, who really didn’t want either of us to be hurt. Learned pretty good Hebrew, a nice little legacy of that relationship. I dunno if I would have gone ger or not. Judaism is deeply appealing to me, the scholarship, the history — the insularity and smugness, less appealing. Nothing fun about Judaism. It’s a melancholy belief structure, if taken seriously. HaShem clearly doesn’t love his people any more, withdrawn into the tzimtzum of the Torah itself. Sort of an abusive relationship, if you ask me. Easy to see why so many Jewish people are atheists. Kafka: “Es gibt unendlich viel Hoffnung, nur nicht für uns.” == There’s an infinite plenty of hope, just not for us.

    Do women you’ve just slept with count? Probably not. For a good long while, I was a serial monogamist, intense crushes. German girls who wanted to get out of Germany, Turkish girls in Germany, African girls in Germany. None of them amounted to anything but heartache.

    The Guatemalan I married. Learned Spanish for her. Her parents thought I was great. Sure wish my wife thought my parents were great. The world revolved around her parents, an understandable sentiment. So I set up shop in Guatemala for many years, tried to keep her happy. And for many years, she was happy. After her parents died, she did some soul searching and so did I. Kids were grown, it was time to move on.

    My current love is a good solid Wisconsin-American girl. I’ll stick with this girl. She’s good for me. My partner. Isn’t it curious, how “partner” has become a stale euphemism — arising from gay and lesbian relationships, what we called lovers-who-couldn’t marry? I like the word Partner. It’s a strong word. Yiddish has this odd, beautiful word beshert, the one-meant-for-you.

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  8. Another question for you, Mr. Dealer (may I call you “New”?):

    You wrote, “There is also a belief that these guys would be able to level up in Japan.” Is level up as a verb in wide use among native speakers now, or did you unconsciously pick this up from Japanese English (along the lines of “I want to skill up my sales technique.”)? Not criticizing, just curious, as I’ve lost touch with a lot of current usage.

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  9. I’m in an interfaith marriage – I’m Christian, he’s Jewish – and the attraction was ironically our shared subculture as geeks. Also, we’re both fairly liberal and after several failed relationships with guys I met at campus youth groups, I’m convinced religious liberals of whatever stripe have more in common with each other that liberals and conservatives from the same faith tradition.

    Now, our kids are being raised in his faith. I’m a Christian, but a universalist and deeply attracted to a lot in Judaism. However, it’s still sometimes a struggle for me. I want to support them in developing a strong identity as Jews, but to what extent does that mean that I’m not allowed to express my own identity?

    As far as Christmas, I told my husband early on that I would not live like a ‘conversos’ in my own home, hiding my faith and cultural practices even from my children. That’s what being able to have the Christmas trappings I love comes down to for me, especially since giving tree ornaments was a tradition in my family, so unwrapping and hanging them every year is an opportunity to remember past holidays with my parents and grandparents (when they were alive). I’m sure you and many other Jews judge me (and by extension my kids) negatively for that, but I won’t give up that touchstone to warm family memories because of those – quite stereotypical btw – assumptions.

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  10. The cultural stereotypes of the Japanese have gotten quite a few white women raped, in their day.

    Be glad you weren’t teaching adolescents! (“why haven’t you had my daughter yet? Is she not pretty enough for you?”)

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      • It is possible that the stories I hear are influenced by who is appearing in them.
        (and by this I don’t so much mean appearance as just being genuinely weird people).

        I doubt you’ll deny that Japan has a certain stereotype about Americans as being more sexually active (and unrestrained).

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      • , someone here is running around with some stereotypes, all right. No, Japanese parents don’t offer their children sexually to teachers or anyone. The stereotypes you claim Japanese people hold are not in evidence outside whatever pornography you’ve gotten hold of. Whoever’s told you these stories is a racist pervert asshole.

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  11. I am the product of a WASP background although the Methodist church I attended sporadically never made a deep impression which may be why I stopped attending altogether as a teenager. As an adult I took the search for answers somewhat seriously and explored beyond Christianity to mainly Eastern beliefs. I can’t say I ever found anything I was willing to pin my hopes on although Taoism and Zen come as close as anything I’ve looked into. I’m ambivalently agnostic I suppose. That may just be cover for my more hedonistic tendencies. Now with grown children I find myself married to a woman of Chinese and Philippine ancestry. it wasn’t a choice I consciously sought. It just happened in a quite accidental way. My wife has convinced me that stereotypes of Asians are as absurd as those of other ethnic groups. There is as much diversity in Asians as in any group. My wife is quite sincere in her Catholic faith although she often disagrees with the particulars. I find this bemusing in an illogical way but we have simply agreed to respect each others differences and give each other space to believe as we see fit. That’s one of the nice things about growing older, you learn that very few things actually require a strongly held position. Pragmatic accommodation becomes much more acceptable and rewarding as long as we can remain civilized about it.

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