Xenophobia fear or hatred of anything strange or foreign
I read this fascinating blog post at Speaking of China called divorcing your Chinese spouse written by an American woman, Susan Blumberg-Kason who was married to a Chinese man whom she eventually divorced, not because he was Chinese but for events that were caused by his personality. Her blog post is full of nostalgia for the China she left behind coupled with her attempts to stay in touch with Chinese culture although she now lives in Chicago. She has written a book called Good Chinese Wife that sounds very fascinating. It is said to be ‘a stunning memoir of an inter cultural marriage gone wrong.’
I’m interested in intercultural marriages and what can and often does go wrong in them because my own parents come from diverse backgrounds – my mother is German and my father was Indian. Their childhoods were in many ways very different from each others and in some ways so similar since they both grew up in the countryside and had common values and interests. But that’s from an offspring’s point of view – who would yearn to notice more similarities than differences.
Is it possible to be xenophobic in a marriage? It would be a very rare occurrence I think. And racism in a divorce – well yes I guess it can rear it’s hydra headed ugliness depending on the situation and the people involved. Although I’d like to think it unlikely – if you’ve gone to all the trouble to marry someone so different from you (against your family’s wishes most likely) you probably knew what you were doing and know that you love the race you’re marrying into. If the marriages don’t work it’s very likely a clash of personalities rather than races.
What I found interesting were the comments on the blog post – some of which smacked of xenophobia, to the tune of – men from that part of the world are all sexist and patriarchal which a few other readers decided to take on, setting off a war of words saying you can’t just generalise that all Asian men are the same. It was lovely to read how people defended a man they didn’t know, who had been violent, refusing to accept a concept gained by inference.
Other commenters were concerned about a different aspect of the book. They worried that Susan, would be unable show Chinese culture sympathetically. Perhaps they feared she would be biased against everything Chinese and would allow her bitterness to seep into her writing.