While the “Cross-cultural interracial relationships – Jewish boys and Asian girls” debate post was written over a year and a half ago it remains one of this blog’s most popular blog posts, with some recent surges in traffic. At first, I couldn’t understand why the sudden interest in this topic, but I quickly came to realize it has to do with the new movie coming out called “Social Network” about the creation of Facebook. The two connections to this topic are the fact that Mark Zuckerberg, a Jewish guy now among the richest in the world, is now seriously dating an Asian girl, as well as some scenes from the movie showing some of the Jewish-Asian trend taking place in Harvard. Renee Ghert-Zand helped me put everything into place with the mind baffling “The Social Network’ on the Lore of Jewish Men and Asian Women” (highlights not in original text):
In a scene in the film, in which the Mark Zuckerberg character pulls his friend Eduardo Saverin out of an AEΠ (a Jewish fraternity) party to talk to him, Zuckerberg glances over at a group of Asian female Harvard students and asks what they are doing there. Saverin answers with something about how Asian girls like “us,” meaning Jewish guys. A bit later, two such students come on to Zuckerberg and Saverin and one ends up going out with the latter.
As someone who has observed the growth in the number of couples made up of Jewish men and Asian women (especially so in Northern California, where I live and where there is a relatively high rate of interracial relationships in general), I took note of Saverin’s offhand line and wondered whether he was referencing a false stereotype or a legitimate trend.
A young Jewish woman I know who is studying at a top university told me that, in her experience, the AEΠ scene was accurate, and said she “laughed in recognition at that scene in ‘The Social Network.’” In fact, she posted on (where else?) Facebook a recent video — a send up of a Flight of the Conchords song — made by science grad students at the University of California at San Francisco. Called “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Lab,” the video shows a couple of “geeky” Jewish guys (one guy is referred to by name as, “Zev”) serenading a young Asian woman in a lab meeting.
Now that sounds interesting. It took me a while to find a copy, which infringed copyrights for the song, but thanks to the Chinese I quickly found that “Most Beautiful Girl in the Lab” – the Jewish-Asian twist of “Most beautiful girl in the room” :
If you’re wondering about this “Social Network” movie, here’s the trailer :
If you don’t find that convincing, you might want to check out the UCSB “Jewish Men Who Love Asian Women” Facebook group with Woddy Allen staring in the group profile photo and having the following description:
I think the title pretty much speaks for itself. But for those who didn’t read the title, I’ll explain. I have a theory that there is a connection between jewish guys and asian women (see Harold and Kumar.) Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a fine asian woman, I cannot help but give at least two glances in her direction. So please, if you’re jewish and have the hots like me (if you’re not its still cool too), please join the group.
As for the ladies, if you also enjoy asian women or you are one yourself, please don’t hesitate to join (or call me).
Okay, back to Renee and her interesting story (again, bold not in text):
I decided to ask some Asian women who have married Jewish men what they thought about all this. All three of the women I spoke with — one Japanese, one Korean and one Chinese — converted to Judaism and are moms in the local Jewish day school and synagogue communities where I live. Given that they are all of my generation, they reported that they are surprised at how much more common it is for them to see young Asian women with Jewish men these days. When they met their husbands, they were one of the only —or the only — such interracial couple they knew.
As opposed to what my young acquaintance thought about the attraction between Jewish men and Asian women — mostly having to do with (pernicious) stereotypes that Asian women are submissive and Jewish women are demanding — these older Asian-Jewish women thought that the affinity was due to a common emphasis on education and family that is shared by Jews and Asians. “Asian women don’t see nerdiness or lack of athleticism as a negative,” said one of the women. “I would have had a much harder time bringing home a big football player who wasn’t doing well in school than a scholarly Jewish guy.”
No doubt, there are similarities between the two cultures, but there is something more basic about the attraction. Let’s just say that I don’t think it is mere coincidence that there are online discussions about the Asian woman being “the new shiksa.”
That second paragraph was especially interesting. The general stereotypes for Jewish men are that they’re nerdy (American Jewish, I would emphasize, as the mandatory military service makes Israelis less lacking in athleticism), for Jewish women that they’re demanding (that might hold for Israeli girls as well, but more of a good way IMHO), and for Asian girls that they’re submissive (while in HK they’re anything but according to my earlier post about HK boys and gals).
Since I’m already discussing the topic, might as well share more of my findings about this topic through looking at incoming traffic logs. This next article from the Jerusalem Post called “Rattling the Cage: Nice Jewish boy, nice Asian girl” by Larry Derfner also have some interesting insights :
One of my closest friends from Los Angeles, like me an old-fashioned, secular, unrich son of Polish Jewish immigrants, just married off his own first son to the daughter of Korean immigrants. From the sound of it, soon he’s probably going to be marrying off his younger son to the daughter of Singaporean immigrants. Two American Jewish sons, two Asian-American daughters-in-law (or one, going on two). Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.
The simplest reason it’s not is that both couples met at UCLA, a gigantic university loaded with Jewish and Asian students. The less simple reason is that my friend’s two sons received an old-fashioned, secular, unrich Jewish upbringing in America, and for people like them, there aren’t many American Jews of similar background and outlook to marry anymore. For people like them, there are more opportunities to find suitable spouses among Asians and other studious, hard-working, family-oriented American immigrants than there are among American Jews.
[…] They have something that mainstream American Jewry used to have, but lost after living in America so long: Humility. That heimishe quality. […]
Now, in 2008, what are the chances that my anachronistic Jewish friend’s anachronistic sons are going to find secular Jewish girls on the same wavelength as theirs? Very, very slim. Today, young secular Jews in America come from either wealthy homes, in which case they’re groomed to marry wealthy spouses, or they’ve assimilated and become really no different from American WASPs. THE ONLY large concentrations of young Jews in America today who are neither rich nor assimilated and who, like my friend’s sons, still have something of the old-fashioned Jewish sensibility, are found among the religious. This means the Orthodox, but also the non-Orthodox who, out of determination to hold onto their Jewishness, take part in religious or some other kind of "Jewish activities" from week to week.
So where does that leave my friend’s sons? If you’re a young, humble, heimishe American Jew, but religion and organized Jewish "fellowship" really don’t talk to you, where do you find your match? Among the Asian-Americans. Or among the Armenian-Americans, or the Greek-Americans, or any American immigrant group whose family-oriented, purposeful, modest way of life resembles that of America’s earlier generations of immigrant Jews.
[…] My L.A. friend’s older son married a Korean girl, and his younger son sounds like he’s about to marry a Singaporean girl. From what I hear, both girls are good, kind, hard-working, smart, modest and loyal. They’re not Jews, but they have what I think of as a Jewish sensibility. As far as I’m concerned, these two mixed marriages (or one, going on two) are preserving the old Jewish way of life in America, only now it’s an old-new, Jewish-Asian way of life. All I can say is mazel tov.
This one is on the same lines as the previous post, but goes further to suggest that today’s humble, modest, loyal Asian girls are what Jewish girls used to be when they first arrived in the states. I don’t know many Asian Americans but the few ABCs I meet that are here on exchange (biased sample, I admit) do not really follow that stereotype. Also to suggest that this stereotype is why Jewish guys are after those girls tries to rationalize what I perceive as more of a physical attraction hormonal story, which that video at the beginning speaks more of. I also think that another issue is that those coming from non-monotheist religions do not care as much to go the distance to embrace their spouse’s religion making it a relatively minor issue if they do want to get married and the guy insisting on Judaism. Most of the examples discussed above were of Asian girls who made that concession.
Here’s more of those stereotypes from an interview in Haaretz with the lady who wrote the guide on how to find a Jewish boyfriend :
Is it true that many Jewish men date women from East Asia?
"I see it, too. Asian women are very pretty, well groomed. They don’t challenge their man all the time, they accept him as he is. They are also considered more obedient, although we shouldn’t forget that’s a stereotype. I know women of Asian extraction who are fighters, but in general, Jewish men, and other men too, feel that it’s easier for them
with Asian women."
So the Jewish man is tired of the Jap (Jewish American Princess)?
"I have never heard a Jewish man say that he likes dating a Jap. The stereotype of the Jap is of a materialistic, money-loving Jewish woman, who will look for a man with money and status, a very materialistic woman who is preoccupied with herself and her image. She’s hard to maintain, and everything about her is superficial."
Other links :