My Observations of Chinese Men


The single most attractive quality of a man (in my opinion) are his hands–aside from his facial features, his body structure, and oh yes, his personality (so easily overlooked). My friends know this about me. Big, strong, and rough, but I can do without the dirt under the nails. I’ve found plenty of these in America and Europe, which I think explains why I have always been attracted to “Western” men and rarely Asian, particularly Chinese, men (NO OFFENSE, CHINESE MEN, IT IS JUST A MATTER OF PERSONAL TASTE!). Biology might also have something to do with the difference between western and Asian hands, but I’m not gonna go there because I got a 540 on my SAT IIs in high school.

People ask me all the time why I don’t find a Chinese boyfriend. Well, here’s the thing; most Chinese men don’t have the kind of hands I’m looking for (that is as shallow as I get, I swear!). Why not, you might ask? Here is my answer based on my observations:

Since I moved to China where I ride the subway daily, I have been able to observe many hands. Most of them are silky smooth and delicate, with nails firmer and longer than my own (especially the pinky nail–I think Chinese people have long pinky nails to clean their ears with. Gross, I know, and they do it in public all the time). Once in a while I will see darker and rougher hands amongst the tender ones, and I know right away that hand must belong to a working man. But then I’ll look at the hand to his left attached to an arm in a suit-sleeve that belongs to another man and I’ll wrinkle my nose and think, huh?

This happens all the time. Then the realization hit me. Men with fragile, snow-white hands are often young and decently dressed, on their way to work in an office while men with rough hands tend to be older or are dressed in working gear.

So, my theory is that the new generation of China who grew up alongside the blooming economy generated a larger group of men who do not have to suffer from hard labor that wrinkle and toughen their hands. Instead, they are wealthier bank tellers, home realtors, retailers, and accountants–jobs that do not require much “handy” work. Migrant workers, construction workers, restaurant chefs, and farmers, on the other “hand,” are laborers that require physical strength. Also, older men of my dad’s generation have such toiled hands because during the Cultural Revolution everyone–men and women–were sent to the fields, thus producing a generation of rough hands. It was also generally much poorer back then so everyone had to work.

So, isn’t it interesting that even hands can (mostly) identify the classism of Chinese society? Hm…

Another observation (1 of 2) I’ve made is of two family friends, both married men of my dad’s age with children. Jack and Bob I’ll call them, have been to the United States and think it’s a wonderful place, especially to raise children. They believe the US has an awesome education system (compared with China, I’ll have to agree) that prospers the mind rather than injects you with facts and details that turn out to be useless anyway (wait, does this happen in the US too? Arguably…). Anyway, they always talk about how great the US is and how independent the children grow up to be (like moi), and how they wished their own children could live there. Jack and Bob speak so highly of the American way of life and want their children to grow up with western morals and values (?!?!?!), yet, Bob will turn to his wife and say, “Don’t speak! You’re a woman. A woman should not interject with such idiotic words!”

You can imagine my horror when Bob said that to his wife at the dinner table. Bob is not a bad guy–in fact, he’s actually quite a loving father–but his treatment of his wife does not reflect well on his daughter who he wants to send to America so that she can grow up to be an independent lady with thoughts and opinions that she can freely share.

And Jack, who wants to move his entire family to the United States, he is also stuck in some age-old man-wife traditions where the mother is the child-rearer and the father is the ricewinner and gets to go out with his friends (Bob also brings home the rice, at least since his daughter was born). I went out to dinner with Jack and family a bit ago and his wife barely said a word!

I have portrayed Jack and Bob unjustly here because they really are good people who love their families, but I wanted to point out how some Chinese men who have been exposed to western culture are stuck somewhere between western values and Chinese ones. Of course people should keep their traditions, but we’re at a weird point in life where it’s hard to balance the old and the new. So instead, we’ll adopt two opposing values–independence and patriarchy–and raise our children.

Paradox seems to be a way of life in China, a Communist country with wealth gaps noticeable by comparing men’s hands.





9 Comments on “My Observations of Chinese Men”

  1. I have to say, I did a photo shoot with a ‘Hand Model’ once, all he had to do was hold this rather expensive pen, and do you know what, I couldnt stop looking at the perfection of his hands. They made mine look like 2 bunches of sausages!!!
    I now moisturise everyday. eerrrrr is that a bit too much

    • E. He says:

      Hahaha! 2 bunches of sausages! Oy! Moisturizing is good for you, especially during the winter. Dry, crackly hands hurt!

      • I find the observations you mentioned fascinating, my appologies for trying to be humerous.
        I always make a point of shaking hands with clients in meetings / people IO work with on commissions etc…, purely to see how firm the grasp is recipricated, this gives me an instant into wether or not I would have an ongoing business relationship with them.
        I know it sounds odd, but I can’t abide a limp handshake, I just can’t! From a man or woman, if its not firm, I believe there is something being held back. Its the same too for eye contact during conversations too, less eye contact, less likely to be an ongoing thing.
        Human beings are fantastic with thier non verbal communication, hands are also a map of someones history.

      • E. He says:

        How interesting! Thanks for sharing that, especially since I was feeling nervous last night after about offending anybody. I think I generalized quite a bit…but they are personal observations after all!

        I have heard about this firm handshake shaping one’s character before, so I guess it really does say a lot about someone as a first impression. Also, I like the words that you used “hands map someone’s history.” Oooo

  2. Hoo Sze Ling says:

    I feel the same way about most Chinese guys. Hard to get excited about them. Somehow dating them has always made me feel I’m dating my brother or worse, my FATHER!! Maybe the similarity in cultural background is just too close to home.

    • E. He says:

      Hahaha, sometimes people just need something different!

      • I just found this quote that I had be meaning to send to you for sooo long, I found it in a book about photography called ‘ The Ongoing Moment’ by Geoff Dyer, its a truly excellent book.
        The quote is

        ‘Hands have a history of their own, they have, indeed, their own civilization, their special beauty’
        Rainer Maria Rilke

        Sorry if thats a bit heavy for a Friday afternoon /evening.

      • E. He says:

        Quite alright, it’s actually Saturday morning here now! Ha! Thanks for sharing that quote which justify my observations! Now I’m reassured that I wasn’t talking about of my bum.

      • Alan says:

        Well, that my dear, is an entirely different discussion, that will probably result in a greater line of prose / poetry and a sensible quote or two! I will get back to you soon.

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