Friday 22 February 2013

He's Better Looking Than He Looks

1.    I don’t go to parties, baby

I’m something of an introvert. I realize that a bare few weeks ago I was bludgeoning you (metaphorically speaking) with the throbbing, priapic magnificence of my Brobdingnagian genitalia, so some of you may find that hard to swallow (metaphorically speaking), but it’s true.

Oh, I can dance and caper with the best of them, if there’s a specific reason for it. Getting paid is usually a fairly good motivator in that respect, but my default mode is much quieter and more introspective. I’ll generally have a kind of fun at parties once I’m there, but if you gave me the option beforehand I’d usually prefer to stay in and indulge in more solitary pursuits [wank gag goes here]. Talking in front of crowds is fine, in fact I like to flatter myself that I’m pretty good at it, but small talk is excruciating; long, drawn-out silences where I somehow feel that the onus is on me to say something amusing or ask an interesting question. That, at least, hasn’t improved as I’ve got older.

So coming to Japan was an interesting experience. Sure, there’s the expectation that you’ll fulfill the brash foreigner stereotype, but there’s also a more ready acceptance of the introvert. Poor interpersonal communication skills are the norm here, not the exception.

That’s not necessarily fair. In situ Japanese people’s communication skills are no better or worse than anywhere else, but the situ that they’re in is one where poor production-side skills are the norm – the onus is shifted far more towards the receiver – and are thus both expected and accounted for. In many ways that’s as limiting as the expectation of wonderful interpersonal skills is back home. The baseline is just different, and that benefits different personality types accordingly.

Anecdotal evidence? Sure: written tests favoured over interviews as a means of assessment, regardless of suitability; vending machines you can buy anything from and avoid the messy business of interaction with real humans; oral communication skills not taught during compulsory schooling; Morning meetings, Aisatsu, and Konpa all as ways of supplying rigid, formalized modes of behaviour that rid social situations of the threat of spontaneous ambiguity which so grips the introvert’s heart in cold, clammy hands of terror. Whereas in the West the cultural preference for a bit of gaudy patter leads inevitably to the confusion of personal style with personal substance; I’m sure we could all make a lengthy list of politicians elected on the basis of excellent communication skills despite being the bluntest of tools (and we’re back to cocks again). Once more, both cultures are fucked up, just in slightly different ways.

Excellent communication skills. I'm serious.

In my head I’m the strong, silent type, but in reality it’s probably more the insecure overcompensating type instead. And really, have you ever met anyone who actually fit that description in real life? There’s a reason the Man With No Name had no name, what with being a fictional character and all. Even then, Elizabeth despised Darcy for most of the story precisely because he refused to dance, despite the fact he looked great in a wet t-shirt and owned half of fucking Derbyshire. No, someone who remains resolutely silent is more likely to seem unsure of themselves, aloof, or just plain stupid.

But, as ever, it’s not so much what you lack that matters, so much as what your interlocutors lack. By which I mean that in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king and so sometimes just being able to smile and look a woman in the eye(s) while speaking to her can seem brazenly flirtatious.

"Why sir! Such improprieties! We shall be the subject of
tittle-tattle in parlours throughout the county!"

The Land of the Blind is Japan, in case you aren’t following, and I’m clearly trying to get a handle on the whole Charisma Man thing. I’m not going to be taking the piss either – or at least not too much – because I’ve actually got a fair degree of sympathy for your stereotypical Charisma Man. Not that I ever was one, you realize. No, back home I was balls-deep in perfect-ten minge. Really. Up to fucking here, it was. Every time I left the house I had to wear thigh-high rubber boots because my raw animal virility made every straight women in the vicinity just so gushingly wet that I was constantly wading through an onrushing tidal bore of female ejaculate. I made the effects of Hurricane Sandy look like the kind of weak drizzle that causes nothing more than a slightly disappointing turnout for the church fête.

Every. Fucking. Day.

I may be exaggerating slightly.

That, though, seems to me to be the implication behind a lot of the opprobrium directed at Charisma Men. ‘Couldn’t get a proper girlfriend back home.’ The exact reasons why they couldn’t get a ‘proper’ girlfriend are always strangely unspecified. I guess it’s an assumption of some failing on the part of the Charisma Man in question. Not attractive enough, probably. Ugly cunt. Insincere too; the sort of guy who judges people on looks and not personality, shows more interest in the many, many abnormally tiny Japanese women around him and not the fewer, normally proportioned Western ladies. Arsehole. Sounds like a right tool. Just listen to him. Wanker who thinks he’s all that because suddenly he’s getting all the attention. Not from you though, right? He’s getting nothing from you, attention or otherwise. Back home women wouldn’t look twice at a pathetic specimen like that. Look at him, enjoying all that attention, he should just voluntarily piss off back to where he came from and get disregarded like normal. Because we all know that Western women are proper women. They wouldn’t be attracted to someone just because they have above average levels of personal confidence and unusually exotic looks, no siree. They have significantly higher standards than these cheap J-tramps, as well as being far less grasping, codependent, crazy, superficial, irrational, and yellow.

Ah, bugger. That’s torn it.


  1. Bravo!

    I'll try to be more brief than I tend to be:
    - why should any man, or woman, have to be as unsatisfied as 'back home' indeed?
    - why should anyone forgo lithe and game for it on the resentment of the bovine and frustrated (as those are the true reasons)?
    - and how is a preference for Asians any more unique than for heavy-breasted blondes?
    - no, I do not have pedeophilia: every woman has looked an adult out of her togs
    - yes, Japanese 'reserve' is no less a polarity than the 'American Psycho' model of 'charisma'

    As for the fluids, good god always wear a wetsuit in Japan - the natives too often don't.

    1. I wouldn't applaud too hard just yet. There are another couple of instalments of this still to come, and I can't shake the nagging feeling that I'm missing some fairly important pieces of the puzzle. I'm sure (and hoping) that someone will point them out to me, if so.

      As for preferences, sadly my own personal sample size wouldn't really pass muster as 'statistically significant', so hard to say much on that either way. There certainly no way of identifying trends or suchlike. My wife's Japanese simply because I've spent a large portion of my adult life in Japan and probability's a powerful force.

  2. Ah, bollocks. I was afraid this might happen. That penultimate paragraph is meant to just be a general laundry list of half-arsed complaints and hypocrisy surrounding other people's views on Charisma Men. I actually spent quite a bit of effort trying to ensure it was gender neutral; hopefully the 'you' should work equally well (or badly) for both men and women. Looks like I should have tried a little harder.

    I'd agree with all you've just said (well, I don't think that about my wife, but you get the idea). The notion of 'Western Woman as Nemesis' is just as tedious as the Charisma Man she's supposed to stand in opposition to. As you suggest, a lot of the most venomous complaints are from other gaijin men.

    There is definitely a whole load of crap slung about in all directions here, and I'll come to more of that in a bit, but obviously I'm better able to speak to one particular perspective. I'd genuinely appreciate it if you called me on anything I get wrong.

  3. If you probe a bit with a lot of these men who are bitching about their wives, they generally got married in a very short period of time or are the type to not properly think things through. All the people I know in general (not many) who got to know their wives over a period of time and have things in common, mutual respect, etc., are all happily married. If you hang out at bars and socialise with barflies, then odds are they aren't going to be happy in a lot of things: a given in any country.

    One thing I am very happy about in coming here is no compulsorily trips to the night club. That was a stinking cesspit a thousand times worse than having AKB branded vacuousness in your face every day. I can't even drink anymore anyway. I like being an introvert when it comes to partying, but I also like to get up early on the weekend and ride my bicycle or motorbike with other people, so I'm not sure whether the former or the latter makes me more socialable or not.

    Anyway look forward to the next installment.

    1. Does anyone actually enjoy nightclubs? The only times I've ever liked them is on the few occasions I got laid afterwards. And in all honesty, it wasn't the nightclubs I enjoyed about those experiences.

      I am not at all unhappy that phase of my life is behind me, of which more later..

    2. I did! But, I went to a nightclub famous throughout Japan (among Japanese) for being the worst place ever to pick someone up. Like me, everyone else was there for the music, and tended to get grumpy if I interrupted their DJ worship by trying to say hi. Not exactly the glowstick and ecstasy crowd.

    3. Well, each to their own. I've never been much of a muso, and I can't fucking dance to save my life. That'll inevitable dull the nightclub experience, consisting as it does almost entirely of music and dancing.

  4. Kathrynoh, we've seen different reactions. Different circles or different eras (I may be the older)? However, I have heard Japanese women described as "grasping, codependent, crazy, superficial, irrational...", but I had similar luck with many Canadian, so what can I say? Much of my intolerance for 'Western' women bashing Japanese is when it comes from nowhere but resentment, masquerading as cultural comment. There's a lot to criticize on gender in Japan (never forgetting one can ours), but when I so often hear a 'Western' woman begin the criticism by referring to the Japanese figure...

    Let me try to make peace in another way: 90% of everyone is crap, both genders, and usually we get fooled before wasting a great deal of time. It's even easier to be fooled across cultural lines: pretty young things with the weirdest Gaijin, and university educated Gaijin 'dating down' in a way they wouldn't at home. On the other hand, maybe it's just as well. There is nothing more arbitrary than love.

    1. You could be talking about 90% of the population or the composition of crap in each individual, but you would most likely be right in both respects.

    2. To be fair, maybe a lot of bitterness on the behalf of those women comes from being constantly compared to Japanese women by Western men. If you hear "Japanese women are prettier, thinner, whatever than you" all the time, it gets very stale.

      If a guy says he prefers Japanese women or that he's attracted to Japanese women, fair enough but if he says Japanese women are better, I'm going to tear him (not the women) a new one.

      Personally, if I'm knocking Japanese girls, it's for being so freaken dozy when they are walking slowly checking their phones and totally oblivious. They can date as many white dudes as they want, just get out of my way when I'm walking! I think that says a lot about my own priorities in life.

      On the other hand, I've met gaijin women in Japan who are totally not open to dating outside their own race then complain about not getting dates. If you narrow your dating pool down to white dudes wanting a white girlfriend in Japan, you are down to what... 2 guys?

    3. I'm going to let you guys hash this out among yourselves, except to say that I think Ant's comments on 'dating down' are an important but often overlooked point (even if I wouldn't have expressed it quite like that); comparing 'Western women' to 'Japanese women' en mass is frankly a mug's game, whether those comparisons are favourable or not; and that people checking phones and not looking where they're going deserve every gutter they fall into.

      Not sure I'd go with the '2 guys' line though. I'm sure there are a good number with yellow fever, but I think mostly it's just statistics. See my comment to Ant above on probability, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

      I'm aware that from the outside my relationship with my wife might look like something of a cliche, so some people apparently think it's less valid (not you Kathryn, but it's linked). Most of the time I can brush it off, but we've been together for a hefty chunk of time now. You'd think that would register as more important than any cultural or racial nonsense, but depressingly often it doesn't.

    4. 'Dating down' was a sociological comment, not my own opinion of anyone's worth: populations do act very cynically about status, determined by education for both genders, earning capacity in men, and perceived beauty in women. Individuals make their own decisions, rational and otherwise, but always remember: '90% of everyone is crap'.

      kathrynoh, I have no idea what you look like, but it doesn't matter because you're the rare thing: cool - which is to say that men should notice you have a sense of humour. It's not worth arguing that women have that less, but I will say that, right or wrong, men perceive it in damn few women.

      "Gaijin women in Japan who are totally not open to dating outside their own race then complain about not getting dates. If you narrow your dating pool down to white dudes wanting a white girlfriend in Japan, you are down to what... 2 guys?"

      Ha. More than a little guilty as charged, though sharing some of kamo's self-consciousness, I am quick to let people know we met in Canada, not Japan, she already spoke English and had her permanent residence. kamo's pointed out that 'eggs' (white on the outside...) are going to be a larger proportion of those who came here, and even those men more 'colour blind' will go after variety, because that's what men do. I have a preference: everyone does! Mine just happens to be one that is not heavy-chested blondes. Not even Japanese, really: mixed ethnicity beats mono-ethnic most of the time... The only thing I insist on, and will insist on my own kids following, is do not date anyone whose ethnicity you wouldn't marry, and do not let them touch you if they wouldn't do the same; which is a longer version of 'don't be a racist little shit!'

    5. "kamo's pointed out that 'eggs' (white on the outside...) are going to be a larger proportion of those who came here,"

      True, but that wasn't quite what I was getting at with the probability line. Poorly phrased, sorry. If you live in Japan and are looking for a romantic partner (or whatever), then there are just more Japanese people to choose from. Like selecting from a bag containing 80 red chips and 20 blue, you're just more likely to draw a red one however much you might go for blue (or green or purple or any other colour that's not an obvious racial skin tone).

      Or, alternatively, you spend enough time swimming in the sea and you're going to take a mouthful of water at some point.

    6. Or enough time swimming in the pool and getting an ear infection at some point?

  5. Dating is f@#king hard enough without some group of people giving you grief for being a 'Charisma Man' or whatever... That being said, I've seen a lot of guys here exhibit some shameful goddamn behavior here when trying to pick up girls. I guess if one spends most of his/her nights out in places like Roppongi or Shibuya, that person is bound to develop a condescending attitude toward other foreigners (of both sexes). Seems like a lot of long-term expats in Japan make socializing and nightlife their main hobbies...

    1. "Dating is f@#king hard enough..."

      That's it in a nutshell, right there. As for the shameful behaviour, I can only agree. And I've never spent a night out in Roppongi, so I've probably been spared the worst of it.

      That said, I've witnessed only too much shameful behaviour back home too, of which more in due course...

  6. Do you think that alot of the kind of gaijin rivalry here is stirred up online and so on. There seems alot of fierceness about ppl's lifestyles but is it more just cattiness online? Ive been with my gf a while now, younger Asian girl - a fair bit younger than me...and Ive not heard of any remarks abt us, although certainly id think we could be a target. Basically Im going by if no ine can say it to my face then Im not gonna get worked up about it

    1. "..if no one can say it to my face then I'm not gonna get worked up about it."

      Generally (but not universally) a good rule for life, that one. As long as your girlfriend's a consenting adult I'm not sure age matters at all; but if you've seen fit to mention it here, apropos of nothing, then it's obviously playing on your mind a bit. I would also suggest that referring to her as a 'younger Asian girl' doesn't really do you any favours.

      As for the online thing, that's a different issue, I think. No matter how well adjusted an expat is (anywhere) there's always going to be a sense of dislocation, however small. That can be all to easy to carry over online and then you get a minority of a minority just screaming obscenities into some hellspawn echo chamber.

      I long ago forswore message boards and the like, at least with blogs you can build up a decent picture of whoever you're speaking to.