Single Girl, Asian Daughter

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Connie Sun is known for creating comics that are just as funny as they are based off of reality. The rest of her work can be also be found on the page that harbors this pictorial description of “The Inevitable Lowering of Parental Standards for Asian Daughters”.

The second cell depicts the stern mother and father of an Asian teenage girl. They tell her to stay away from relationships and instead focus on school. Interestingly, this is the only scene in which her father offers guidance. The third “cell depicts her mother permitting her to date once she enters her early twenties. However, this is restricted only to men of  Taiwanese background. Her mother is smiling, as this new stage of life in which she starts dating is an exciting one. The bottom half of the comic depicts the quick transition to the mother’s fear of her daughter not finding a partner. Her mother continues to ask her to find an Asian boyfriend, but her smile turned into a frown as she is still single in her mid twenties. At this point, it is acceptable to find any man of Asian descent as long as he has a job and can support himself. The next cell made me laugh. Her mother has thrown away all practically all restrictions. She took off her glasses in desperation and demands that she find a man of any race as long as he is not a serial-killer. For her mother, being single in her late twenties is unacceptable. Finally, in the last cell, the mother appears apathetic. All she wants for her daughter is to find a husband. After thirty, all the mother cares is that she finds someone – anyone.

Though quite dramatic, Connie’s comic gets the point across that every year an Asian woman ages, her parents care less about who she marries. If this is so, intermarriage would be more prevalent across the older Asian female population. It is difficult to go against one’s parent wishes so it is most likely worth it to an Asian woman to wait until her parents are more accepting of her dating a man outside of her ethnicity.

What do you all think is behind the increasing lenience with age? Is it because the parents are worried about their daughters not procreating?

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Jews Should Marry Jews

Here’s a bit of a politically charged and highly controversial piece I found on YouTube.

This famous Rabbi, who originally hails from America, is really persistent on “keeping it within the tribe.” Although I wasn’t able to find much information about him online, Rabbi Gutman Locks has a quick page on chabad.org. Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah—wisdom, binah—comprehension and da’at—knowledge. It is the short term for Chabad-Lubavitch, which states that it is “a philosophy, a movement, and an organization. It is considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today.”

His extremely short description on their site says:
“Gutman Locks – also affectionately known as “Guru Gil” – has been a fixture in the Old City of Jerusalem for two decades. He is the author of several books and musical tapes.” There are also several of related articles, stories and videos about him.

Exploring a bit further, I found an archive called The Jewish Magazine that has a more in-depth article about Gutman Locks and his book entitled “Coming Down to Earth.” This strange account tells of all the places he’s been across the globe and the stories of people he has encountered. Some incredibly strange and some awe-inspiring, they say that he has truly ‘been there, done that.’

Gutman Locks is said to be a born-again Jew, finding his way from Christianity to Chassidic Judaism (an extreme form of the religion). It all began when Locks gave up his successful career in business and deciding to search the world for “truth.” Ending up in India and studying from the great masters of meditation, Gutman also became a successful guru and led long meditations in Central Park.

Seemingly a bit of a quack, he even has his own website. Check it out here: http://www.thereisone.com

Back to the video I’ve posted after a bit of background on the long, white-bearded character. Rabbi Gutman Locks spends hours a day near the Kotel (The Western Wall) for the past two decades herding flocks of young, Jewish blood and employing – almost forcing – them to promise him that they will marry a Jewish woman. Not only does this leave absolutely no room for any sort of difference in sexual orientation, but it is objectively racist and problematic.

The funny thing is, I’m sure half the boys in this video were Jewish, American boys on their first trip to Israel – often times through the trip organization “Birthright.”  Lisa and I have actually been on the Birthright trip and I can verify that I know many boys from my trip with the personal story of feeling almost attacked while trying to simply touch and kiss the wall. Religious men in black hats would rush them to put on tefillin (the black wraps around the arm with a prayer box) or to wear a keepah (yarmulkah) and tallit (prayer shawl). Some even went as far as to question whether their mothers were Jewish and deny them access to the wall if they weren’t.

This issue is highly controversial and presents a new low in religious Judaism. Why should Jewish men be convinced and coerced into marrying a Jewish woman? What is this to say about non-Jewish women in general? Is something wrong with them? Are they pure evil?

To tie this back in with Asian-American culture, I think we see a similar stereotypical tendency for Asian parents to strongly desire and even force their children to marry within their race. There are a multitude of comedic sketches online documenting this exact phenomenon. There is commonly a strict demand from Asian parents that their child marry within their culture or else they will not accept them.

Are Jews and Asians really more alike than we think?

sources:

http://www.chabad.org/search/keyword_cdo/kid/4662/jewish/Gutman-Locks.htm

http://jewishmag.com/79mag/locks/locks.htm

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The Shiksa

We see the iconic and widely loathed “shiksa” across a spread of platforms.  Simply put, a shiksa is a non-Jewish woman.  A threat to the continuum of the Jewish race, a woman that seemingly has a strange appeal to Jewish men everywhere.  Many Jewish women can’t stand a shiksa – they are typically good looking and arguably desirable.  To put it in perspective, Rabbis have said that a shiksa is seen as an inter-marital threat to the survival of Judaism, parents believe that the shiksa will lure their good, Jewish, bagel-eating boy away from his faith and into a world of goy-ish tendencies, and Jewish men themselves fantasize about the shiksa’s sexual and social benefits.

To put the term Shiksa into a more refined definition, I have found a book by Laurie Graff, entitled, “The Shiksa Syndrome: A Novel,” in which she explores if shiksas really have more fun and how they play a role in potential Jewish relationships.

She defines a shiksa as:

“shik•sa (shik’sa)

n. Yiddish

1. A non-Jewish woman. 2. A quintessential blonde beauty. 3. The polar opposite of the quintessential Jewish mother. 4. A type of woman who instills deep longing in short, dark, swarthy Jewish men. 5. A Jewish boy’s dream. 6. A Jewish girl’s nightmare.”

HA! Who would have thought that non-Jewish women possessed so many (perhaps unknown to them) destructive qualities?  Although this is not entirely pertinent to Asian-American women, we’d like to note how they do fit into the qualification of a shiksa if they do not have Jewish blood – that is, if their direct maternal lineage is not of Jewish decent.  This analysis goes even deeper on the realm of conversion, but that is highly controversial.  There are some Jews in the “Jewish hierarchy” who don’t believe that certain types of conversions make you a Jew, and therefore, you’d still be considered a shiksa.

Let’s just say one thing – If my cousins ever brought home a shiksa, my bubbe would DEFINITELY be kvetching!

source: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/excerpts/2008-08-22-THE-SHIKSA-SYNDROME_N.htm

Examining Asian-Jewish Marriages

KoreAm magazine wrote an article in their June issue of 2011 that directly responds to the growing prevalence of Asian-Jewish marriages.  Two sociologists from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, Noah Leavitt and Helen Kim (pictured below), who are also a happily married couple, took on a bit of their own research to delve deeper into this topic.

Noah Leavitt, a Jewish American and Helen Kim, a Korean American, both began realizing this growing trend, similar to the case of their own marriage, as they noticed all of the Asian-Jewish wedding announcements popping up in the Sunday New York Times.  They could even list couples in their network of friends who also fit this description.  So, this pair of married scholars began their research in 2009 and interviewed thirty-seven couples (out of an initial 300 who responded to their online survey) in which one partner was Jewish and the other was Asian and who could represent the broadest range of Asian-Jewish marriages.  The couples interviewed were from California, Philadelphia and New York.  They even included gay couples in their studies, and almost all of the couples had children.

Here is a picture of one of the couples interviewed, Katherine Kim and Benjamin Levy, posing with their children.

The article states that, “some were newlyweds, and others had married ‘illegally,’ before the Supreme Court declared state miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. While most of the Jews were Ashkenazim, the Asians’ origins included Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Southeast and South Asian.”  Through their research, they found some surprises and learned more about their the dimensions of their own relationship.  They specifically explored the way parents incorporated both the Asian and Jewish aspects into their children’s lives.

Here are five of questions I liked best from KoreAm’s interview with Noah and Helen on the topic of Asian-Jewish couples:

How do they deal with the way others perceive Asian-Jewish marriages?

Kim: These couples were incredibly loving. Odds are in a society that is not blind to race—and even if you live in San Francisco or L.A. where we see lots of mixed couples—there’s still a general perception that this is kind of weird. To be committed to work through that, even if not on a conscious level, is an expression that “my love for my partner is strong enough that we’re going to be able to weather anything.”

What did you find important to the Asian members of these couples?

Kim: First and foremost, both partners talked about a similarity in values—an emphasis on education, close-knit families and hard work.  [But] even though couples often talked about the similarities in their values, on a fundamental level, [most said,] “I’m together with my spouse because we’re individuals. I fell in love with him for individual, as well as maybe for cultural, reasons.” [Personally,] I’ve experienced people saying, “You’re probably with your husband because you’re similar—hard-working and well-educated.”Why I was drawn to my husband in the first place had nothing to do with that. You can be as well-educated as you want, but when it comes to the highs and lows of a relationship, you’ve got to be on board as individuals.

How do the families incorporate Asian culture?

Kim: The emphasis on food is a big deal. I think people feel it’s a very real link to their heritage. For a non-Asian Jewish partner to be into eating kimchi makes the Korean partner feel comfortable, that he or she doesn’t have to explain that aspect of their identity.Maintaining contact with the family of origin is also important, especially for second-generation folks.  That’s true for me. My parents wanted me to assimilate as quickly as possible, so I don’t have the skills to connect my child to the [Korean] culture. For that, I rely on my mother. For example, I didn’t do the first birthday dol celebration growing up. So we went to my mom to find out what to do for my son, and we celebrated that at her house.

Did you find any surprises?

Leavitt: In just about all the households, kids were being brought up as Jews. But there was much more variability as to whether kids saw themselves as part Asian. Some kids were skeptical and didn’t see themselves, for example, as Chinese, and the Chinese dad would say, “How could my kids not see themselves as Chinese? They don’t look like white kids!”

Kim: The partners who were not Jewish were on board with the Judaism.  For some of them, it was very foreign, but the Jewish partner really wanted to do this [observe Jewish practices such as the Sabbath, join a temple, make sure the children had bar and bat mitzvahs].  The non-Jewish partner said, “If this is what you want, then this is what I want too.” And that is no small task. I take that as an expression of commitment and love for one’s partner.

Why did the families choose to raise the kids Jewish rather than in the Asian spouse’s religion?

Leavitt: There are more opportunities to join the Jewish community—organized structures that help young people develop a sense of identity. But there’s been a demographic diffusion of Asian communities into the suburbs.  Someone said, “It’s impossible for me to give the kids Japanese cultural immersion because there’s no Japanese community around here.”

Kim: Also, a number of the Jews and Asians were agnostic or atheist.  You’d think, especially if they were atheists, that would mean they’d resist raising their kids as Jews in a religious sense, but, say, my spouse says he’s Jewish for cultural reasons and wants to raise his kids Jewish. I think there’s a lot more space in Judaism for atheism.  (More than 50 percent of Jews in the U.S. identify as Jews culturally, but are not religiously observant.)

 

All in all, we know that this phenomenon is not going to be understood overnight.  It is interesting, however, to see the sociological standpoint on this issue from these two sociology professors, Noah and Kim.  We see that Asian-Jewish couples learn to coexist within their marriages and within their families.  They decide the ways in which they want to raise their children – with a calm mixture of Asian roots, food and culture, and Jewish lifestyle and religion.  Whether it is sending their children to Mandarin lessons or Hebrew school, these couples will make the choices they feel is most correct and most comfortable for their children and their surroundings.  It seems as though Asians and Jews getting married is not such a foreign philosophy, but rather, it is very similar to all other multi-cultural and multi-ethnic relationships; it is a give-and-take, a sacrifice and development of cultural growth, and an experience of worldly culture.

Source: http://iamkoream.com/june-issue-examining-asian-jewish-marriages/

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7 Famous Jewish/Asian American Couples of the Past and Present

Dearest fabulous followers,

We’d like to take a moment and sincerely thank you for the time you’ve taken to check out these semi-ridiculous, yet entertaining, blog posts regarding the cultural and ethnic cross-sectionalities between Jewish men and Asian American women.

To put it all in a more current and relevant context, we would like to introduce you to a few concrete examples of famous celebrity couples in which the male is of Jewish decent and the female is Asian American.

1.  Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

Amy Chua family

Perhaps one of the most iconic and stereotypical images of Asian American women in recent media, has been that of the “Tiger Mom,” AKA Amy Chua.  She is commonly presented as the famous image of strict Asian parenting, and works at Yale Law School as a professor and is also a published author of two books.  She is married to the Jewish American Jed Rubenfeld, who also teaches Law at Yale University.  They promote their multi-cultural household by teaching both their daughters Chinese while growing up and at the same time maintaining a Jewish household.

2. Zhang Ziyi and Aviv Nevo

Zhang Ziyi and Vivi Nevo

Aviv Nevo, also known as Vivi, is the 47 years old Romanian/Israeli Jewish venture capitalist who earned most of his fortune when he became Time Warner’s largest shareholder. He moved to New York from Israel in the early 80’s not long after he lost his beloved (and rich) mother to cancer. The money he inherited from her got him on his feet and on his way to successful investments.  His now ex-girlfriend, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi played a beautiful geisha in the 2005 film Memoirs of Geisha. She showed a different side of her acting persona as Jen Yu in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and has since been in Rush Hour II and The Warrior.  The iconic Japanese Geisha, of course, is a woman who pleasures men in all ways imaginable, which is ironic given the sexcapades for which Zhang Ziyi was accused.

3.  George Soros and Jennifer Chun

George Soros and Jennifer Chun

George Soros is the chairman of the Soros Fund Management and is also a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor and philanthropist.  Originally born in Budapest to a Jewish family, he took a job with the Jewish Council during the Nazi occupation of Hungary.  He moved to New York City in 1956 and began his reign as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” because of his US $1 billion in investment profits during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis.  His past girlfriend, Jennifer Chun, is a Chinese American violinist.

4.  George Soros and Tamiko Bolton

Billionaire investor George Soros and girlfriend Tamiko Bolton are pictured at Soros' residence in Southampton, New York

Known as a bit of a womanizer, and an apparent fan of Asian women, we see George Soros, once again, with a Asian American partner.  Tamiko Bolton, who once started an internet-based dietary supplement business, is now running a web-based yoga education business, has a master’s degree in business from the University of Miami.  Last year, at age 82, George proposed to his much younger girlfriend Tamiko, over fourty years his junior.  This will be his third marriage.

5.  Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn

Woody Allen, the infamous Ashkenazi Jew from Brooklyn, New York, began as a comedy writer in the 1950s and made his way to stardom performing as a stand-up comedian, publishing several books, writing and directing movies and even acting in his own films.  Woody Allen has won four Academy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, as well as other awards, making him extremely popular in the media and amongst Americans.  Woody’s relationship with Soon-Yi began while he was dating Soon-Yi’s adoptive mother, Mia Farrow.   Allen and Farrow separated in 1992, after Farrow discovered nude photographs that Allen had taken of Soon-Yi, who was approximately 20 years old at the time. In her autobiography, What Falls Away, Farrow says that Allen admitted to a relationship with Soon-Yi.  Even though Allen never married Mia Farrow and was never Previn’s legal stepfather, the relationship between Allen and Previn has often been referred to as “a father involved romantically with his stepdaughter.”  Woody and Soon-Yi are now married and have two adopted daughters of their own – they have been together for over 20 years.


6.  Maury Povich and Connie Chung

Maury Povich, most widely known as the American television talk show host for his self-titled show “Maury,” is also a television news anchor.  Born to a Jewish family in Washington D.C., Maury knew he was meant to be in the spotlight and studied television journalism at the University of Pennsylvania.  He later met Connie Chung, also a news anchor, while working in the news department at WTTG-TV in Washington.  Connie Chung, Taiwanese in heritage, is also a successful journalist and television reporter.  The two were married in 1984, and Chung converted to Judaism upon her marriage to Povich.  They even attempted to co-host a weekend news program called “Weekends with Maury and Connie” in 2006 but it was cancelled because of its low ratings.  These two were the “first and original” hot and heavy Jewish-Asian couple in the limelight.

7.  Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Born and raised in a Jewish home in New York state, Zuckerberg began writing software as a hobby in middle school, with help from his father and a tutor (who called him a prodigy). In high school, he excelled in classic literature and fencing while studying at Phillips Exeter Academy.  Shortly after, Zuckerberg became one of five co-founders of the social networking site Facebook, as an insanely talented computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur.  Zuckerberg is now the chairman and chief executive of Facebook, Inc. and has an estimated personal wealth of $9.4 billion as of 2012.   Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan at a party put on by his fraternity at Harvard University in 2003.  Chan is the child of a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee, who arrived in the U.S. after the Fall of Saigon, and was born in a suburb of Boston.  After years of dating and becoming more serious, Zuckerberg studied Mandarin Chinese in preparation for the couple’s visit to the People’s Republic of China in December 2010.  On May 19, 2012, Zuckerberg and Chan married in Zuckerberg’s backyard in a celebration also marking her graduation from medical school.

So to sum it up – although these may be just a few examples of Jewish men and Asian American women in fandom, there is quite a large array of this common phenomenon occurring across the board.  After reviewing these seven couples, one interesting tendency is that these Jewish celebrity men seem to go for Chinese women.  Not sure what it is, but I guess there’s just something to unleashing that feminine Chinese dragon!  Let us know if you have any leads on this deliciously intriguing pattern…Until then, keep reading!

JDate

A few days ago I wrote about an Asian dating site based out of the Southern California area called twoasianmatchmakers.com. Let’s switch gears here and start talking about JDate.com – the most popular dating site for young American Jewish singles. I could not find any articles responding to relationships between Asian and Jews on the website so I decided to do my own research. I created an account and looked through the search criteria of finding a partner. If trying to narrow people down by ethnicity, one can choose if he or she is interested in either an Ashkenazi or a Sephardic Jew but that is as far as specifics go. I was disappointed that all other ethnicities were grouped in the ‘another ethnic’ option. The same is true for religions. One cannot specify a religion outside of Judaism. Instead, one must choose a partner based on the individual’s decision to convert to Judaism.

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Considering there is a market for Asian women, it is interesting that Jewish men cannot actively seek them out through the search options. JDate evidently does not encourage seeking out members of specific ethnicities. Perhaps this is due to the feelings of those who  initially created the site or those who are the largest share holders. Nevertheless, I searched for women who were of a different religion and of ‘another ethnic’ category.

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Not surprisingly, two out of the last four online are Asian.

One of the women who goes by Mia8822DB feels the need to explain her presence on the Jewish dating site. She writes “Yes, I am Chinese – we love family, cooking, education and of course our husband…My uncle is Jewish and this is why I am on this site. He married my aunt (Yes Chinese) and they go to temple on all the holidays. So send me your pictures and your best introduction.”

I find it interesting that she declares her heritage before anything else. This indicates that this has likely been a common topic of conversation for her on the site. However, she follows this statement with a Jewish context, most likely hoping that a Jewish man will be more accepting of her ethnicity and connect with her. Though her grammar is flawed, her introduction is clear. This 25 year old woman is Chinese but looking to explore Judaism through marriage as her Chinese aunt did.

Another user ‘Aries2B579’ writes “I have found, Jewish guys r adorable and I m often attracted to them. I just want to be around with Jewish friends, having fun, party hard. it will be cool. I’m Asian, Thai. If u don’t mind to get to know me, hang around with me. If it goes well, I love to be in serious relationship, if u don’t care I’m not a Jew.”

This woman has even worse grammar than Mia. She takes a much less serious approach. She is most interested in the attraction factor and does not appear to be seeking out marriage at this point in her life. She does want to be certain that she is with someone who accepts her for the non-Jewish woman that she is.

I searched the same criteria for women seeking men and no Asian men were returned to me. Clearly gender attraction differences are widespread. Why do you think so many less Asian men seek out Jewish women?

Not Only a Jewish Phenomenon

Though the study I described in the last blog focused specifically on Jewish intermarriage, Jewish women are not the only women to have noticed the trend of Asian women ‘stealing’ their boyfriends. This is a common concern among many white women, regardless of their religion or culture.

Elisha Lim takes the stand and offers her own perspective on the matter as an Asian American woman fully aware of this issue. She critiques an episode of This American Life (which airs on the NPR) for the ignorant white perspective of a woman highlighted on the show. Lim is exasperated by the fact that the woman who found her boyfriend was cheating on her was more upset with the fact that he was ‘offending her whiteness’ than the fact that he had been cheating on her. Her disapproval is completely understandable. This is an excerpt of the woman’s speech:

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This woman is clearly victimizing herself. I disagree with Lim for being so critical of this, as being cheated on is once of the worst feelings in the world. It would be difficult to not victimize yourself in such an awful situation.

I agree with Lim’s perception of the bigger picture. There are several problematic factors at play. Essentially, the woman is completely ignoring the fact that the Asian women described are victims of “yellow fever”. Lim is upset by men viewing Asian women as sexualized objects of desire rather than the individuals that they are. The woman does not acknowledge this but perhaps it is just the wrong time to address such a complex issue. This stereotype associated with orientalism is both prevalent and unfair.  On the contrary, the woman interviewed is shocked by the fact that her boyfriend is so drawn to Asians. Lim is concerned that the NPR is making a statement that white women should be ‘the natural objects of sexual attraction’. White women and white men appear to racially profile Asian women in very different ways.

It seems like intermarriage is so difficult because of the racism at play. It is difficult on the non-white partner in America where stereotypes are so rampant. Sadly, both men and women are quick to judge – each for different reasons. What do you all think about how people judge those belonging to other ethnicities?

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