Thursday, May 06, 2010


I have lived abroad for almost four years now and rarely am around American culture. During the vacation in Lanzhou, I hung out with Peace Corps volunteers and realized that I have forgotten many things that I had enjoyed while living in the USA.

So, what kinds of things have I forgotten or miss about living in the USA?

  1. Extremely personal conversations that lead to personal insights.
  2. Conversations about topics that cannot be discussed in traditional Gansu.
  3. Being introduced to great music.
  4. Sitting through amazing films with friends.
  5. I have forgotten what my dynamics are like with guys. For the past four years I have lived in a female dominated society. Female dominated? Because the countries I've lived in are strongly patriarchal a trend that results is that females socialize with females and males socialize with males. It is a bit more rare for both sexes to socialize with each other; therefore, I feel that a lot of my socializing over the past four years has been mainly with females. I have forgotten how to interact with males. I tend to migrate to women circles following the examples of the women who have been surrounding me. I feel a sense of shyness and timidity towards talking to guys from the USA.


William said...

haha, well, for a start, how about interacting with US guys as you would with US girls? compared to the places you've been, perhaps guy/girl interaction the American way is more...equal?

the Feminist movement in the US has come a long way. don't let your experiences overseas make you forget that you can stand up for yourself. remain respectful of your host country's culture, of course. but as an ambassador of American culture, it might be a good idea to let your students know (subtly) that you expect the same respect from men as women. accordingly, conduct yourself proudly and with confidence as a human being, not as a female in a male-dominated society.

oh, and there's no need to act differently around US guys...unless you are on the prowl =P

Dr. Jen said...

Even though women tend to interact in female circles and men tend to interact in male circles I don't think this trend of women's circles and men's circles necessarily indicate that male and female interactions are not equal. I think in some cultures even if there is equality amongst the sexes, women and men find a special type of support amongst their own sexes and genders.

I also think the feminist movement in China exists but just manifests itself a bit differently than in the US and is at a different stage. Chinese women often say that they feel equal to men even though there are the problems of dividing housework equally. That is still a problem in many marriages in the US too.

Why do I feel a sense of shyness and timidity towards talking to guys from the USA? Is it because I do not feel like an equal? No way! I always feel like an equal and when I am not treated as an equal I get angry and reactive to the mistreatment. The reason I feel a sense of shyness and timidity towards talking to males from the USA is 1. don't know what to talk to them about 2. don't like the underlying potential sexual energy 3. often people especially males find my reflective introspective questions pointless 4. have gotten out of practice.

William said...

really good insights. i think my courses in women studies have made me a bit hypersensitive to women "issues," at least for now.

As for the reasons for your shyness, #1 seems related to #4. practice practice practice, i guess.

#2, eh, might be something you just have to get used to, if you ever want to overcome that shyness and timidity.

#3, I, for one, think your reflective introspective questions are really interesting.