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Revenge of the nerds
Part II

Illustration by Dot

Last Dec's "Revenge of the Nerds" rant (Issue 350)- reproaching Western women critical of the fact that "gaijin geeks pick up stunning Japanese girls" - drew some impassioned responses from our readers. As part of our special Valentine's Day issue we've decided to delve deeper into this highly contentious cross-cultural debate. Not surprisingly, the views of men and women remain polarized.

Okay, so you found a Japanese girlfriend who can overlook your undeniable geekiness. Congratulations. I'm happy for you. Really. But how do you explain "this?" What, exactly, draws "you" to "her?" Let's see. Hmm, she's probably cute, probably thin, probably a snazzy dresser. Just admit it already. It's her looks. Not to imply that every Western male-Japanese female couple is carrying on a superficial relationship. I've certainly met my share of couples who seem genuinely in love and are more inspiring than most uni-cultural couples I've known.

But don't forget the very reason that you've been hearing those gripes in the first place. (Sour grapes? Puh-leeze. Western women "do" face similar treatment.)

See, I've also met my share of foreigners who are mainly here to get a Japanese girlfriend/boyfriend, who've come with a fetish and are determined to make good on it. I've met many a couple who can barely communicate due to language barriers. I've seen and laughed at TC classified ads for people who will only take language lessons from attractive members of the opposite sex. (What do height and hair color have to do with learning?) She could very well be attracted to you for your personality, but don't merely assume. Sometimes, being a foreigner in Japan is like being famous or, to quote Chris Rock, "like being a woman with big tits." People stare at you and want to be your friend for no apparent reason. The fact is that in this media-obsessed society the same rules apply. European traits are still associated with beauty.
Jennifer Lee

It's a complaint that comes up at every gathering of gaijin, and everytime I hear it I roll my eyes and reach for my drink. What is it about gaijin men dating Japanese women that twists western women's underwear so? Admit it. You've heard this discussion before, and probably even participated in it. It always starts with the same question - why are there so many Japanese women dating geeky gaijin? Then the discussion usually slides into various hypotheses like naivete or contracts with the devil.

But there is a major flaw in this argument. My parents are living proof that geeks not only date in their native habitat, but also marry and even have children. It's a travesty really, but I guess I can't complain too much. The difference is that here you actually notice that clumsy, color-blind guy with the comb-over. He stands out, like all foreigners, instead of blending in with the curtains, like back home.

But my question, again, is why does it bother everyone so much? You can't be jealous of the poor woman. Is it offensive to the Fashion Nobility to see the commoners enjoy themselves? "Power to the little people" is what I say. They obviously have enough problems keeping their glasses on their noses and matching their socks. They deserve a little happiness. The truth is that I am thinking about wearing my socks with my sandals next Friday night and trying my luck. I can't do worse than I have been doing lately.
Andy Hayward

Despite the two-to-ten theory (two at home, ten over here), things are still a lot easier in Japan for foreign men who have Japanese girlfriends as opposed to vice versa.

I fall into the latter category. I am very tall and have blonde hair - curse my parents for dooming me to be forever branded a bimbo! My boyfriend is shorter than me, and yes, Japanese. I suppose if I was ugly or obese, or if he had large idoru eyes, then our being together might be more acceptable to people over here. As it is, he looks very Japanese and I look very Western. The result is that we have to put up with barely disguised comments about how he must be paying for my time, or must be very rich. "I wonder how much she costs per hour" is a common one, especially on the train. Then there's the "She must be after a visa" viewpoint.

Surprisingly, it's not just Japanese people who make this assumption. About a month ago I was chatted up by a foreign guy who, despite my heavy hints that I was already attached, fancied his chances. When I finally told him directly that I lived with my boyfriend, his face dropped in disbelief, "What, not that Japanese guy I've seen you with at the station? He's your boyfriend?" Yes, he's my boyfriend and why do so many foreign men assume that because we are in Japan, all foreign women must be desperate for a foreign man? Perhaps it's because their egos are so inflated from excessive pampering by their Japanese girlfriends? Sorry to disappoint you boys, but the "size myth" is exactly that-a myth.
Roisin Magill

Many of us in Japan see the beauty in Japanese people, male and female. Many white Western women automatically assume that when they see a white man with a Japanese woman they must be lovers. That is not fair. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the other hand, if they are, so what... I ask these frustrated women to think back to the last time they went to the movies in the US with a male black friend. Most white Western men here in Tokyo would LOVE to have a white lady friend. We miss them so much, although they can't imagine how much.
Mark Lavelle

Many thanks to our readers for their Rants.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249