Chinese women have grown up with the remnants of Confucianism creating barriers that modern society has tried hard to knock down, but even for foreign women, who are not as affected by Chinese societal issues as local women, stepping into this environment can be a difficult experience.Most of your fellow expats are males so you have a shortage of girlfriends to chat with; dating can be a bit of a minefield, with male expats usually more interested in local women; relationships with local men bringing their own set of challenges; and to top it off, Chinese society has certain misconceptions about Western women which can affect how we’re viewed professionally as well as in social settings.
The world of expats in China can be a bit of a boys’ club, and it can be hard for a woman to find her place.
As one Western woman put it, “I just thought spaghetti straps were cute, I never knew I was sending out the ‘whore’ signal to all of China by wearing a tank-top”.
All of this is not to say that foreign men in China have it easy.
However, both of these issues can be tackled and if a Western woman in China is committed to living here she will make friends, maybe not loads, but she’ll make some, and she will figure out how to navigate the dating terrain (after all, not all Western men are opposed to finding a fellow Westerner, nor are Chinese men undateable).
But what a Western woman is not able to change, at least not directly or entirely, is Chinese society’s somewhat prejudiced view of Western society.