「鬼佬一定好飲得」 Being “Gweilo” and the Expectation to Drink

在這文章裡,方禮倫想我們反思將西人標籤,會對香港成為真正的國際化社會,會帶來甚麼影響。「香港身份計劃 (HKIDP) 」由方禮倫創辦,是私人資助項目,旨在記錄、歸檔和探討各種關於香港身份的活動。譯文由 Sally 提供,英文原文在譯文之下。

In this extract from a longer essay, Evan asks us to consider the way our own “Western” stereotype shapes Hong Kong’s international community. Evan Fowler is the founder of the Hong Kong Identity Project (HKIDP), a privately funded initiative to document, archive and explore the Hong Kong identity. The Chinese translation is provided by Sally.

*****************

「你喜歡香港嗎?」

最近,我去了一個小型的社交聚會,在場的都是些年輕的專業人士,他們互相認識,具備相若的優越背景,譬如是從小就在外國人圈子中長大,如今仍自豪在香港紮根的本地人。有人向一個剛從倫敦來港,看起來接近 30 歲的人問了以上那條問題。我本來並不太著意他們的對話。想不到,他卻沉入了思索,沒有立刻作答,這反而驅使了我的好奇心。

「我挺喜歡這裡,」他最後答道。這只是小小的「甜頭」,此後的才是重要的評價。

「香港是一個不錯的城市。我喜歡她。」然後,他再頓了一頓,加了句,「但它絕不能媲美倫敦。」

聽到這句話的人反應不一。有人嘲笑他的無禮。也有人四處張望,大概在想這場對話怎麽這麽快就已經完結。無可否認,有些人被這年輕人的誠實冒犯了。另一些曾參與討論的人,現在卻目光遊移,明顯不想再繼續這話題。

我一直認爲,一旦面對相反的立場時,就本能地退縮到自己的「舒適區」,是教育的失敗。現在連這幫自認已得到最好教育的人群也這樣,實在令我失望。教育不就是教我們以開放及勇敢的態度懷疑自己的立場,並瞭解及迎接反對聲音的挑戰嗎!不是說真理越辯越明嗎?

「你最不喜歡香港的甚麼地方呢?」我再問道。

他的回應令我吃驚:「我實在無法忍受這裡的喝酒文化。」

這時,你幾乎可以聽到有些人深深地吸了一大口氣的聲音。有把聲音說出了大家的疑問:「你從倫敦來,而你覺得這裡的喝酒文化令你很過份?」

「每個人都覺得我一定會喝愛喝。」他答道。

然後,他說無論在工作或社會圈子裡,其他人都理所當然地覺得他一定很會喝酒、交際,並沉迷於某些「娱樂癖好」,只因為他是一個銀行家——他所描述的不過是其他人對其職業的偏見。更貼切的說是,我城這種「期望」源於強大的社會、種族和職業偏見,程度據他所說遠超於倫敦,這也依他所言是「對鬼佬的期望」。

在香港長大的我對這種偏見實在太熟悉了。被標籤為鬼仔鬼妺的我跟妹妹,無論在本地人或外國人圈子,總被認定我們作爲西方人必定符合某些典型,而這些典型純粹是種偏見,跟我本性戓行為全無關係。這其實種族歧視,原因是「你這個鬼佬不是中國人」。

這種歧視即使在我的家庭裡亦存在。幾年前在一個家族聚餐中,我表姐的丈夫嘗試跟我妹妺打開話閘子:「你總共有幾個男朋友?」我的妹妹雖對他的弦外之音有點惱火,但仍禮貌地答他只有一位,那就是正坐在一旁的未婚夫。「來吧,你每個週末肯定有很多男朋友!」他接着說。然後,他轉過來問我晚上是否要去蘭桂坊。我吿訴他我並不喜歡去那裡。他頓了頓,然後用一種可惡的聲音說,「别耍了,我知道你的把戲。」看來,他是非要我承認自己符合他心裡的典型,即家中另外那些鬼佬的形象。

我不喜歡啤酒或咖啡,也從無意欲或曾試過非法毒品。我從不宿醉或夜蒲。我有忠誠穩定的伴侶,不喜歡跟那些經常尋花惹草的人一處。我不喜歡看足球,不特意買名牌,看待用名牌的人跟其他人也沒有分別。雖然我不喜對其他人品頭論足,但無奈身在香港卻常被用有色眼鏡看待。

我曾見過家人跟朋友因為這些偏見而勉強自己去迎合這種偏見。居身於一個相對小但其實多元的國際化社會圈子裡,他們不被本土社群容納,社會對他們持有偏見並以爲他們的特性一致。符合這些特性的人其實只屬少數,但很多人卻只有接受或不被他人認同兩個選擇。

有些人說,我的批評不太公道。他們會說,因爲這些西方人士的典型其實很多都挺正面,而我們不是也因此拿了不少好處嘛。但是,這種觀點完全錯了。如果我得到較佳的待遇,那應該是因為我的為人,而不是我所被認定的那種人,建立在一個錯誤的觀念上的還總是個謬論。

如果我的吸引力不是在於我是誰,而是我應該符合的典型,恐怕那些被「我」吸引的人很快就會失望不已。這種錯誤的認知到最後對任何一方都不會帶來好處。不僅如此,這種典型的延續將使人不敢誠實面對自己,更嚴重的可能故意隱瞞本性來籍此達到短期好處。

雖然我也有這種「符合典型」的壓力,但我很自豪地保留了自我和個性。我確實感受到壓力,但程度不及許多同齡人。這些壓力雖非香港獨有,但基於我們的殖民歷史和回歸後中國大力宣揚民族思想的背景下,感受特別深刻。消除這種歧見對我們建立一個真正多元和國際化的城市是有莫大裨益的。

所以,我對這年輕的朋友說的並不感到驚訝。讓我吃驚的是他有勇氣將之道出來。或者他作爲一個歐亞裔人士跟我一樣,覺得把人標籤化以及逼人認同會帶來更深層次的傷害:即除了在不知不覺中被剝奪身份外,更把我們血緣中的中國人元素也一併剔除,縱使這也是我們家族文化之一。

「倫敦是我的家,因為我作為一個倫敦人,在那裏被理解被接受。」他說。

作為一個香港的歐亞裔人士,我期盼有一天我也能這樣談論我的家。

*****************

At a small social gathering of young professionals, a man in his late twenties who had recently relocated from London was asked whether he liked Hong Kong. The people gathered all knew each other and came from similar, and privileged, backgrounds; local people who were raised among an expatriate crowd to be at once international and yet also proudly rooted in Hong Kong. At the time the question was asked I was, let’s just say, not fully engaged by the level of conversation. However, having half heard the question, I found myself drawn with increasing interest by the unusually long pause the question elicited.

“I like it here”, he eventually answered. Then came a sweetener, before an unusual and important qualification.

“Hong Kong is a great city. I do like it,” then, and again after a noticeable pause, “but it isn’t really comparable with London.”

The reaction from those people present varied. One man just scoffed at his impertinence. Others looked away, considering any real conversation over. That some people had taken this young man’s honesty as offensive was unmistakable. Others, who had been among the most eager to engage now let their eyes wander, as if recognising a lost cause.

I have always considered it a great shame that so many people, when confronted with an opposing or contrary position, will instinctively withdraw into their comfort zone. If education is to teach us anything, and the assembled crowd could certainly boast of having received the finest on offer, it is to question our own positions, and to understand a test not as a challenge to oppose but to welcome. It is on scrutiny that the strength of a position ought to be based.

“What is it about Hong Kong that you least like?”, I asked.

His reply surprised me. “I really can’t stand the drinking culture.”

You could almost hear jaws drop. Someone asked what was undoubtedly on everyone’s mind: “You’re from London, and you think the drinking culture here is bad?”

“It’s the expectation”, he replied.

He went on to described a level of expectation he felt both at work and within social circles in Hong Kong to drink, socialise and to indulge in other “recreational habits”. Whilst he was a banker, what he described did not just play to the stereotype of his chosen profession. Far more pertinent to understanding our city was that the expectation derived from the strong social, racial and professional stereotypes that he claimed exists here to far a greater degree than in London. It was, he described, the “expectations of being a gweilo”.

Growing up in this city I know only too well this expectation. Labelled a Western “gwei jai” by both the local Chinese and international community, the presumption has always been that I and my siblings must fit this city’s own stereotype of what it means to be a “Westerner”. It is an identification that has nothing to do with my nature or actions, but how others perceived what I must be. It is a peculiar type of racism driven not by what society perceives you as being, but by what you are not. The gweilo is not Chinese.

This prejudice exists even within my own family. A few years ago at a family dinner I was sat beside my cousin and her husband when he attempted to strike up a conversation with my sister. “How many boyfriends do you have?” he asked.  A little upset at the implication, my sister replied she had only one, her fiancé who was also present at the table. “Come on, you must have lots of boyfriends every weekend,” he pestered. He then turned to me to ask if I would be going to Lan Kwai Fong that evening. When I told him that I do not enjoy going to Lan Kwai Fong, and that it was not really my scene, I was greeted with a pause and that knowing smirk that seemed to say “I know your game.” That I do not play such games nor wish to was beyond his expectation of the “gweilo” side of his own family.

I do not like beer nor coffee, and have never felt the urge to try let alone use illegal drugs. I have never enjoyed binge drinking nor late nights out. I am faithful to my partner and find it extremely awkward being around flirtatious people. I do not enjoy watching football, nor do I consciously buy brand-name goods nor have any particular respect for people who do. And whilst I never judge those who find enjoyment in such pursuits, living in Hong Kong I find myself constantly presumed and judged as though I do.

I have witnessed friends and family feel obliged to act against their nature to fit this stereotype. Unaccepted by Hong Kong’s local Chinese community, they feel forced to frame a social identity within a relatively small “international” community that is, though far more varied diverse than often understood, perceived by both society and those of influence in our city as being homogenous. Dominated by the voices of a minority who do fit the stereotype, the choice can often seem to be between accepting, at least to a degree, the stereotype and social exclusion from not being placed.

There have been and will continue to be those who will say that I am being unfairly critical. They will point to the many “positive” perception that this Western stereotype carries, and that those so identified have more to gain from the association. But such arguments totally miss the point. If I am to receive preferential treatment it should be because of who I am as a person, not because of what I am perceived to be. The fallacy of such “advantages” is that they are built on a misconception.

If my attraction is based not on who I am but for the stereotype I am perceived to fit, the attraction will not survive reality. It will not engage me for who I am, and will not offer any meaningful reward for either party. Not only this, but the continuation of such stereotyping will encourage people to be dishonest about themselves, to play to this stereotype when they perceive a short term advantage.

Given this pressure to conform, I am very glad to be both autistic and an introvert. I do see the expectation, but I do not feel it in the same way and to the same degree as many of my peers. It is not that these pressures are unique to Hong Kong, but they are acute given both our colonial history and our more recent return to a nation eager to stoke the fires of racial stereotyping. If we are to build a truly diverse and international city, addressing this level of stereotyping would only be beneficial.

So what my young friend said did not come as a surprise. What surprised me was that he would have the courage to say it. Perhaps by being Eurasian he shared my sense that this Western stereotype and the pressure to conform represented a deeper hurt: that we were unconsciously not only being denied the right to define ourselves and be respected for who we are, but implicit was also a rejection of our Chinese identity and the deep affiliation we have for what is also our familial culture.

“London is home because I am, and am understood, as a Londoner,” he said. “I can be myself, and people will accept me for who I am.”

As a Hong Kong Eurasian, I look forward to the day when I too can make such a statement about my home.

Respond to 「鬼佬一定好飲得」 Being “Gweilo” and the Expectation to Drink

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