Considering Malaysia’s inherent ability to fetishize the Westerner as a more cultured, refined type of person in comparison to the Asian plebeian – it comes as no surprise that a number of Malaysian women enter relationships with Western men. Malaysians being the vitriolic, angst-ridden people that we are, have a tendency to alternate between demonizing the women who enter these relationships – claiming that they’re nothing more than golddiggers looking for a way out of the country – or extolling them: talking about how cute their potential children will be, and how the mat salleh is such an upgrade.
Sites like Jezebel have analyzed the phenomena in detail, and local magazines have done interviews with these women but well, people will be people and people will talk. We’re not done being salty about this shit. We make disparaging comments behind people’s back, and make nice in front of them – but who’s to blame here? We go out of our way to suck the white man’s d**k, so it’s not like this is unheard of.
The gender double standard is pretty bad, first off. If an Asian man ‘scores’ a white girl, he’s treated to a slew of high fives and a chorus of “good job, bro!” whereas your average Asian woman is cast out, treated as a sellout and has to endure the endless labelling of ‘slut, skank, golddigger’ and the ever popular “what, too good for Malaysian men, is it?” question.
Of course, this isn’t exclusive to Western men – the older generation and more conservative Malaysians tend to be resistant to interracial dating as a whole, but this isn’t about that.
Over the last week, I’ve done a couple of interviews and the answers I got were… interesting. I approached women who were married to Westerners, women who were studying or working overseas and of course, women in the country who simply go out of their way to look for these men. The answers are honest, unbiased and while some of you may announce your skepticism, I made it a point to not look for those ‘looking for a meal ticket’ as most men tend to look down on them anyway.
There’s Trish, who lived and worked in New Zealand for a period of time. She dated a white man because she wanted to try something ‘different’ and listed out the pros and cons. Shareen, who studied in England for a time found herself in a relationship with a white man as well. Then there’s Yasmin, who’s been in relationships with several Western men and watched several of her friends enter similar relationships. There’s also Xem and Mar, both in LDRs with Western men for extended periods of time – 5 and 4 years respectively.
The overwhelming answer was that Western men had a tendency to be more open-minded and liberal, which is a trait most ‘Westernized’ Malaysian women look for. It’s different from the same old thing you find here: the glut of ‘Asian’ traits that tend to make a person undesirable. That openness can prove to be a con, considering things like perceptions of boundaries, cheating and the like need active discussion and clarification due to cultural differences. A number of the women I spoke to said that they didn’t ‘click’ with most Malaysian men, particularly those of their own race (Malay men, if you were interested in knowing) – and it’s unsurprising, considering Malaysian attitudes towards women. When the men around you treat you like chattel, it’s normal to want something out of the norm.
On the other end of the spectrum, some Malaysian women are attracted to Western men for the aesthetic. It fulfills the idea of being ‘better than others’, because of the impression that you’re a learned person or well-travelled. This goes back to the ‘trophy wife’ mentality – it’s all about how we look, not necessarily how we feel. To quote one of the interviewees, “If dating a Westerner means that we learn and absorb new cultures and mindsets, it’s almost hypocritical since these women are hardly the image of their own traditions and cultures”. To her, it seems like it’s a way to escape the traditions and cultures that they can’t or don’t identify with.
Trish mentioned that Western men are more independent in their dating styles – there’s less of the princess-like treatment that some Malaysian men go for, but also less controlling behaviour. Going back to the ‘Malaysian men treat women like property’ mindset, the men here do have a tendency to control the movements and interactions of their partners – whether it’s who they interact with or where they go. Xem mentioned that their boyfriend was far more understanding of her personal issues than the majority of people around them, especially in regards to topics considered taboo in Malaysia.
Lisa, who currently lives and works in Australia after growing up in Malaysia has been in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend. She says that him being Caucasian was incidental, and she didn’t actively go looking for someone like that – however, she noted that the largest difference between him and her Malaysian-raised with traditional Malay values was the male dominance factor. To quote her: “I find him more open-minded and accepting of women playing a more prominent role in relationships and society”. Of course, she also said this: “I’m not sure if I have a particular preference for white men. I find that in the end, he’s still a guy, i.e. messy, has crumbs in his beard, doesn’t find things until you point them out, thinks that leaving dishes in the sink is ‘cleaning up’, etc. He’s got a good command of English which is a big point in my book and contributed significantly to my attraction to him, but that’s only because he was raised in a country where English is the first language.”
In short, Malaysian women date Western men because they’re upgrades – plain and simple. The average Malaysian man is not putting in effort to get or keep the girl – or if they are, they just end up being overwhelmingly thirsty and therefore, just fling material or worse. My advice? Up your game, boys. You argue that you want the fantasy but you’re not going to put in any work for it? You’re not doing yourself any favours. These guys are getting the girl by putting in effort and doing it with style. It’s time to stop complaining and try a new approach.