Surely the other female foreign teachers at my college had secret crushes of their own.
Or so I thought, until one day when I was sharing lunch with my colleagues.
Whether in forums or blogs, the negative online discourse about Chinese men is consistent with Psychologist Zhang Jiehai's findings from surveys on "Chinese Men in the Eyes of Western Women" as reported by China's Xinhua News Agency in 2010 (I provided an English translation on my blog).
This Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences professor surveyed over 100 Western women from diverse countries including France, Germany and the USA via questionnaires, and then interviewed over 20 of them in a focus group in Shanghai.
At the time I was only beginning to learn about negative stereotypes of Asian men that American TV, movies and the media had perpetuated over the years: effeminate, weak, nerdy and, worst of all, sexless and less endowed in a (ahem) certain department.
In September 1999 -- my first month in China -- I had a huge crush on a guy.
My heart melted at that first sight of his big sesame-oil brown eyes.
The question haunted me as I pondered my crush on Tian.
But it wouldn't be the last time I would find myself up against these ideas.