THE NEW TROPHY WIVES: They're not who you thinkThey were certainly right. Definitely not who we thought. Upon flipping to the actual article, it became clear immediately from the photos that the new trophy wives are... Asian women. Sounds pretty racist right? The article was written by an Asian woman - Ying Chu - so Marie Claire probably thinks that whatever she says on the subject is "allowed" but eh, we're not convinced.
Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West's most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?Wow. Not only are Asian women portrayed as property, but now it's a new "trend"?
Call it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn -- 35 years his junior -- he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty!What. The. Fuck? Sorry, but the "Woody Allen Effect" is not about younger Asian trophy wives... it's about a man dating his girlfriend's daughter!
Allen was still in a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, Previn's adoptive mother, when evidence of his relationship with Previn turned up. (And by "evidence", we mean nude photographs of Previn that Allen had taken.) She was 21 at the time, which makes it all technically legal... but still amazingly creepy when you remember that they first met when she was around 8 and he was in his 40s. Even though Previn has claimed that she never considered Allen a "father figure," Ronan Farrow - Allen and Farrow's only biological son together - was once quoted as saying "He's my father married to my sister. [...] I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children".
Now we're not going to harp on a decades old news story... but it's really offensive and stupid to suggest that Woody Allen started the "Asian trophy wife trend" back in 1992 (or 1997 when they actually wed).
Sorry, but less than 8 or 9 examples in more than a decade is hardly a "trend"... if we're going to use those kinds of numbers as evidence, then marrying women who aren't Asian trophy wives is a much bigger trend nowadays.
Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng -- 17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptuals of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we've got a curious cultural ripple.
Also, the implication that marrying someone Asian or younger (or both) automatically makes them a "trophy wife" is pretty limiting. These aren't a bunch of bimbos or gold-diggers... Wendi Deng is a Yale graduate and was VP of STAR TV when she married Murdoch. (She's now director of the holding company that licenses the Myspace brand and technology to Myspace China.) Julie Chen is a news anchor, journalist and producer. Jennifer Chun and Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen are accomplished musicians. Angela Chao is a Harvard grad, an executive at Foremost Group (a shipping and trade concern) and on the board of BIMCO (a trade organization). Not to mention, the sister of Bush's Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Ziyi Zhang is a famous actress, with plenty of trophies of her own.
This isn't to say that a woman without a prestigious background or career is a bimbo gold-digger, but it's still pretty offensive to call these accomplished women "trophy wives" simply because they happen to be young(er), beautiful, and Asian. And of course, these men couldn't possibly be interested in these women for any other reason than the fact that they each have an Asian fetish:
[...] after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like backgrounds and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized.How much does this have to do with the white man's fetishizing of Asian women and how much does it have to do with the fact that the author has, apparently, dated a bunch of racist assholes? I don't know any Asian women who behave that way, so while I'm sure they are out there somewhere, I'd never assume that. And while I know there are a bunch of racist assholes out there who would believe such a stereotype... I certainly would never date them, regardless of my race.
[...] I'm petite and was in fact born in Shanghai, but - to the shock of more than one guy I've gone out with - I'd rather down an icy beer and burger than nurse bubble tea and eat dumplings while massaging his back with my toes.
Is the author suggesting that Les Moonves, Rupert Murdoch, et. al. are also a bunch of racist assholes? And that their strong, intelligent, and - yes- Asian wives are totally okay with marrying racist assholes? (Also, isn't it safe to assume that if these men truly were only with their wives because of some stereotypical misconceptions about Asian women, that they might have realized that they were stereotypes before tying the knot? You know, like the first time they asked for one of these aforementioned "toe-massages" and got shot down). Isn't it even remotely possible that they... you know... love their wives for who they are?
Tellingly, most current trophies of choice are far more exotic arm candy. They are accomplished musicians and journalists, they have Ivy League MBAs and hail from prestigious political families. [...] Why, then, are these women falling for rich white patriarchs? Why be a target for headline comparisons to concubines?Gee, I don't know... Maybe they married for love? Shocking, yes... because who could possibly fall in love with a rich, white patriarch? (Maybe they have an old white guy fetish?) Maybe the fact that these women do have educations, careers, and accomplishments then these rich, white patriarchs view them as their equals and not some exotic arm candy. Maybe they're attracted to their minds as well as their looks?
And okay... maybe there are some power dynamics and patriarchal issues that can be explored within the older man/younger woman pairing and the way we, as a society, view it. The same goes for the pairing of white men and Asian women... There's a long, complicated history there, so of course, there could be deeper issues in some of these marriages. We're not going to argue that all of the relationships mentioned are perfect, but the author doesn't really address that. She just lumps a handful of "famous" couples together as if their relationships are identical and calls it's a "trend". There's not enough analysis; just playing into a bunch of offensive stereotypes while claiming to be offended by others. And she doesn't address any deeper issues. Okay, well she tries to, but just ends up resorting to more stereotypes in doing so:
[...] could it be that power divorces of a certain ilk make the perfect renegade suitors for these overachieving Asian good girls -- an ultimate (yet lame) attempt at rebellion? Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliche that is predominantly true). Or... are these women just glorified opportunists?Wow. Stereotype... stereotype... and stereotype. Yay!
What's so perverse is that while Asians have always revered their elders, sleeping with a guy old enough to be your grandfather is just creepy -- in any culture.Wait. So these guys are old enough to be their wives' grandfathers? Really? Because last time I checked... Murdoch is 37 years older than Deng, Moonves is 21 years older than Chen, Wasserstein and Chao are 26 years apart, Cage and Kim are 20 years apart, and the age difference between Nevo and Zhang is a mere 13 years. Those are some pretty young grandfathers, huh?
I suspect there's something else about the East that's seducing business bigwigs at this very moment: globalization. [...] Mandarin classes have spiked 200 percent over the past five years[...] China has claimed status as the world's top export nation. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that Asian kids' intrinsic work ethic makes them outsmart American kids in math. [...] It's as though these Western men are hungry for a piece of that mystical Eastern formula. As such, Asians (in addition to African orphans) are hot commodities right about now -- status symbols as prized as a private Gulfstream jet or a museum wing bearing your name (neither of which goes so well with frumpy, aging first wife).Um... okay. Asian women are a commodity now? Sorry, but Asian women are human beings... not the hottest designer handbag or the newest version of the iPhone. Are men really thinking about math scores or exports when they're planning their weddings? Honestly, there's so much about this article that is offensive. The fact that it was written by an Asian woman doesn't make me feel any better about it. I'm sure her goal was to draw attention to the generalizations of the Asian trophy wife stereotype, but by calling it a hot new trend, she merely reinforces that stereotype (among others). Good thing she didn't decide to address an actually important issue facing Asian-American women... because God only knows what she'd have done with that information.
I'm sure someone will respond to this, saying that because I'm not Asian - and the author is - that I am not allowed to be offended by this subject. (Been there, done that). Or that I'm totally missing the deeper philosophical meaning or post-racial commentary behind the article... maybe so, but it's something that could easily be missed by any other random Marie Claire reader. The fact remains that someone is doing Asian women - and the men who marry or date them - a disservice here. Whether that's Chu's fault or Marie Claire's is up for debate.