Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taiwan culture shock: It is hard being the superior sex I

As foreigners in Taiwan we had the opportunity to play above our league. It may seem straightforward, but Taiwanese girls are different (see Culture Shock: Women) and there is alot of adjusting to do. It is difficult for all of us but for Eric particularly so.

Eric looked around at the people sat around him in the teashop. It was quiet considering there were twenty people inside. About half were reading magazines or Japanese comics. He looked at the cover of the magazine the girl to his left was reading. It was another image of a late teens girl pulling a kooky innocent smile while holding tight her teddy bear. She is not twelve, he thought. Two tables down a bunch of girls had just gathered together to take a photo with the obligatory V for victory sign, and were now clapping each other with that elbows and wrists together clapping style. He looked across at Diane and slowly dragged himself up straight in his chair, and yawned. “You know I read today the government wants to make Taiwan the Asian information services center. If you are going to become a center of learning, expertise and innovation your teachers and bosses need to learn to be questioned. Can’t keep prompting someone because they know someone or are older.”

“Yes. You know this is Taiwan,” she said.

“What? If you don’t agree you can say. No need to be so polite.”

I am not interested in this stupid topic, she thought. I am bored to death with it.

“We are taught to respect men, it is natural,” she replied before going back to catching glimpses of the front of the Cosmopolitan magazine on the lower shelf of the table, the one I said she couldn’t read. That was another thing she didn’t like about the foreigner - if there was no conversation why couldn’t she read a magazine or newspaper? Why did they have to sit desperately trying to make polite conversation? She wanted to be in that new Californian restaurant that had opened last week, and was the place to be seen for young internationally-minded Taiwanese like herself. Eric had vetoed it by saying it was no better than TGI Friday, and he didn’t come to Taiwan to hang around in American theme restaurants. Now she was drinking ice-green tea with lemon in a teashop on Shih-Ta Road, the kind of place she hung out at when she was a student.

Didn’t he fucking know she was brought up on this stuff?

She thought after graduation she would be leaving behind this area and hanging around in the more upmarket areas around Ren-Ai, Fu-Hsing, and Dun-hua Roads, but it seemed another drawback of being with a foreigner was hanging around student areas, and in particular Shih-Ta Road.

He sighed – Won’t anything provoke you? He was dying to have his character picked apart, to be argued with; he had no intention of changing but enjoyed the discussion - actually needed it – as opinions left languishing in his brain would start to lose their shape and self-esteem after a few days or weeks because they hadn’t been challenged. He wasn’t a great conversationalist, preferring to argue, and he now fondly remembered noisy afternoons being picked on by his two older sisters and mother; respect wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

“You know I am not a Taiwanese guy. It is cool to argue with me. I won’t suppress you.”

Hmm, thought Diane, What about not being able to read the magazine? Go to KTV on a Sunday afternoon because I should be out enjoying nature? - Tonight and this teashop? But she said nothing because she had never expected much from men. Foreign men were just a different kind of stupid, but they let women do whatever they wanted.

She sat up slowly in her seat. “That is why we want to go to school in America.”

“I know so you can learn to question. You know if enough of you go to school abroad it will set up an irresistible momentum.”

“Yes…Uh, if I have the MBA I can be the boss.”

She leaned forward putting her mouth around the straw, looking down through the glass table top at the Cosmopolitan. “One of my uncles live in San Francisco,” she said out the corner of her mouth.

“Never been there,” he replied thinking he had got a girlfriend to avoid the conversation about their American Dream, hoping things would move onto other topics.

“Really? You know I push my parents to emigrate. I am so disappointed they didn’t send me to university in America - Berkeley is my dream. You know I have a cousin at Berkeley and his mother is so proud. His mother has so much face now in the family. I want to give her face.”

“That is the mother who beat you,” he said. And I have had to hear about so many times.

“I forgive her now. She was under pressure from my grandmother. Everyday, she humiliate my mother. Tell my father to divorce her - She think my mother is too low class. So my mother have the bad temper.” She continued, “And her son is useless so she have push me because I am smart - Will give her face.”

He wrestled with getting another refill of water for his pot of fruit tea. He took the spoon and ate the fruit at the bottom of his jug (kumquat, orange and apple), finished up the last of the roasted broad beans, squeezed the last of the peppered peas from their pods, and got up.

“Are you finished?” he asked. “Ok, let’s go.”

“Please you drive?” pushed Diane on seeing Eric get into position near the back of the scooter.

“What is this face thing? You have to be driven by the guy.” (He had been told before a girl will lose face if she is seen on the front with a boy on the back.)

“No, I don’t have a face problem. You are too heavy,” she replied because it was only a 50cc scooter.

“Yeah right,” he murmured before thinking she may have a point.


“Whoa! Whoa! Hsu fu! Hsu fu (Comfortable)!” screamed Diane as he and her made love, prompting him to check his manhood for recent growth.

“You want harder? Softer? Deeper?” He asked for the 10th time.

“No, no…now is hsu fu! hsu fu! You decide…Oh, my God, so powerful.”

“Are you sure?” he continued checking her face again for signs of faking.

“Just a moment, I need to put on a condom,” he said.

“What are you doing?” she had said the first night.

“I am putting on a condom,” he had replied.

“Not necessary. My period has just finished.”

“It is cool - The safe thing to do.”

“You think I am dirty girl? I don’t have the one-night stand.”

He looked at her for a few seconds, thinking of a way that wouldn’t offend her.

“Of course, you are not a dirty girl,” he had replied and threw away the condom, deciding to persuade her over time about the virtues of safe sex.

Back to tonight. He had spoken to her often about the subject over the last few weeks and he was determined to enforce it today.

“I don’t want to get you pregnant,” he explained feeling his cowardice.

“Don’t worry. It will be okay. I don’t think I can easily get pregnant,” she replied.

Again, he was stumped by her answer because it was so far out of the logic box it was hard to deal with: Was she saying she was sterile?

“Please don’t stop,” she said, looking him in the eye, pleading.

He made up my mind not to put up with the nonsense anymore. Next time he would wear the condom no matter what.

He didn’t stop, instead dropping down a gear instead so he could muse on his own stupidity. Back home, he didn’t like to wear a condom, but he had come to Taiwan to play around, and that meant he needed to. He was no different from every other guy hoping to screw himself senseless. And that was another reason for the relationship with Diane: he had failed miserably to wear one for the two months so far, and so had crawled into the relationship to regroup behind it’s relatively sexually safe walls, reeducate myself about what was important. Launch myself on the females of Taiwan with a good habit established.

“You want to change positions? What is good for you?”he asked.

“If you like?”

“Do you like from behind?”

“Whatever you want?”

“I am going to cum? Shall I wait?” he asked.

“No, no! Please cum. I want to see.”

Two minutes later: “Wow! What a man! - Look so much! Why you so powerful?” He squirmed as he always did. He hadn’t been the school football captain - chess team captain, yes, but a quick check of his frame confirmed training for this team hadn’t turned me into a ‘lean mean fighting machine.'

"Please tissues. It is dripping,” said Diane.

He gave her one tissue.

“More. Quick. More.”

He gave her three more tissues and watched her feeble attempts to utilize the full mopping power of any of them.


“Diane that is enough - Think about the environment.” The overuse of tissues was getting him down: Nobody used a cloth to wipe anything; boxes of tissues were everywhere. Go to anyone’s house and it was difficult to turn your head more than fifteen degrees without seeing a box of them; a drop of watermelon juice would hit the table, and all the women in the house would pounce, each pulling five tissues from the nearest box, throwing them away in disappointment when they missed the chance to exterminate that drop...Still he felt like a prick for mentioning now. It came out because he felt compelled to dampen the atmosphere.

“Why are so mean? I just make love with you.”

We made love together, he thought. Not wishing to count out any more tissues, he handed her the box.

“See you cum a lot. Cover all my stomach. What can I do?” she said looking him in the eyes.

I have no clue, he thought. Aren’t women supposed to be the sensible ones?

“Sorry, I didn’t make you cum. You can tell me to wait - it is cool, I am not a Taiwanese guy,” he added after a couple of moments of silence.

“No, no, no! I really enjoy. Today I stressed, next time,” she replied.

“I can make you cum, no problem,” he said determined to empower her.

He tried to put his head between her legs and she jumped up in panic. “No. No. Very dirty! I am embarrassed.”

American cosmopolitan wasn’t lying, she thought.

“It ain’t dirty. This is normal girl. You are with a foreigner now.”

“I mean it is hot in Taiwan - Very sweaty,” she replied afraid the foreigner was going to dump her for being a prude. He was relieved in a way: he had just had sex without a condom and no man liked to taste himself. And, he didn’t know this girl very well…and you had to assume she was lying about how many boys she had slept with before…and it was not your country so the unfamiliar bred suspicion…and even if she wasn’t lying about her previous sexual partners being a couple of thumbs worth, she never bothered about condoms and one of them might be one of those guys who come in and out of Thailand on a regular basis. He pushed out his tongue in distaste.

“I am just going to the bathroom,” he said, deciding to stimulate himself; determined to make her cum.

Thirty minutes later he was desperately trying to ignore my tiredness and frustration; refusing to change positions because it is was already going soft, and once it popped out he knew it wasn’t going back in. He wanted to stop but that would be insulting to her, insulting to his manhood...Still he was slowing down...

Come on, man, he said to myself a little loud.

Diane looked round. “Are you ok?” she asked. “I know I don’t have so much experience. I’m sorry.”

This just made him feel worse. “Not your fault. Really,” he insisted.

She looked at his face. “Lie down! Take a rest. I know you are tired.” Diane took the pillow out from under her, patted it even and put it under his head.

“I am sorry, but...” I said.

“That is okay. No need to say.” She put her fingers to my mouth.

He desperately wanted to explain. What did she think of him? He wondered what judgments she was secretly making about him, and worrying what a chauvinist he was going to become when he didn’t have to explain. He came back from the bathroom all the more determined to make her satisfied, show he cared about her.

“You are tired,” she said. “Next time, you can make me cum.”

These foreigners can be pushy, she thought. I am watching TV now.

A few moments later. “I love you,” she turned to him and whispered.

He closed his eyes and felt the crash. The whole tissue thing had been raised to hopefully avoid this.

“Girl you have known me for four weeks. That ain’t cool.”

He had sensed this coming for a while - Then he saw the irony of the use of the word 'while’: they had slept together about six times, and once they had become a kind of item he was sure he could see it trying to squeeze out.

“Girl, I am a foreigner so need to play the dedicated girl because we had sex. You want to be with a Western guy, you have to drop the bullshit about needing to love before making love.”

“You don’t understand the Taiwanese girl, we fall in love easily.”

“And you don’t know the foreign guy, we are afraid of commitment. We don’t like our relationships to go too fast. We tend to run hard if they do - You watch our movies.”

“But you are with the Taiwan girl now. You must appreciate we are conservative girls. I only do the sex with someone I love.”

“Then it is best we break up. If you are in love after three weeks, then you will be tattooing my name across your body in another two - And it will be unfair to you as clearly you are in the end zone when I am still considering kicking off.”


“I think you get my point. I am under too much pressure to live up to your expectations.”

“Why you foreigners always so picky in your relationships? Reason so much?”

“I am just trying to think of you…So do you think we can take this slow? Or should we break up?”

“What can I do? I must respect you. I want to be with the foreigner so I know it will be hard - Maybe, you will love me one day. I am willing to take the risk.”

AHHHHHH, he thought.

Diane went back to munching away on some dried cuttlefish, already having put on most of her clothes. He knew he was going to have to take the lead. He was going to have to teach. He wasn’t sure he was qualified. He was hoping to learn a little more first. He knew he would get lazy – he always did – and she would gradually build up resentment against him and become unhappy. That was what his mother taught him: if you asked a woman to do something unfair or you didn’t treat her properly she may agree, but she would remember, and you would pay one day.

He thought about getting one of the few western girls in Taipei, but then he looked at Diane and remembered she was the prettiest girl he had ever been with. He thought about the number of women he had slept with in my four months so far. He remembered the feelings of frustration over girls he couldn’t get in college because they were supposed to be out of his league; the fear of failure, of being laughed at if he approached a table of women in a bar back home. It already seemed so far away. He decided it would be good for him to be the teacher for once. He would find myself a local girl who was outgoing and westernized in her attitude, then cut her a lot of slack to bring her out of her shell.

It was 10:30. Diane had to be home by eleven o’clock so she got up, and got dressed. First time, he had said, Girl, you are twenty-three. How can you accept that? Then he thought about the benefits to himself, and was glad she didn’t disobey her parents.

He picked up his textbook and started to look forward to some study - Then he felt restless: It was a Wednesday night, and it was Ladies Night all across the city. He was in Taiwan. One of the reasons for being here was the women. He should go out and chase.

He dragged himself to the shower, then poured himself a large vodka for Dutch courage – drinks were too expensive in that disco – and picked up the phone. “Hey, John. Do you want to go out?”

“I told you not to call me. I am not going out anymore.”

“Are you coming?”

There was a pause. “So where the fuck are we going?”

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