One of my favorite movie lines comes from the overlooked gem Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. My hazy memory of the set-up: Some rich socialite declares her intention to raze all the trees on a stretch of the Amazon rainforest she owns and build a giant mall. Her sycophantic gay amanuensis (hairdresser? interior designer?), cradling a yapping Pekingese in his arms, lisps excitedly: "What a horrible, fabulous thing to say!"
Roissy in DC, a blogger who applies the pitiless revelations of evolutionary psychology to the contemporary dating world*, is an excellent source for horrible, fabulous things. His blog's motto, "Where Pretty Lies Perish", pretty much says it all. Don't say you haven't been warned.
One Roissy find is a study conducted by a Kazakh gender studies researcher on Kazakh womens' views of women of other nationalities. That is, what stereotypes do Kazakh women associate with chicks from other countries? I'm not really sure why this study was conducted, but why nitpick when we can learn such things about Uigurettes as "she is a hospitable cook, a good hand in cooking lagman; lagman and manty are her best cooked dishes and she can cook economically from everything she has under her hand." "Dungan woman", however, "is associated with national dish – Dungan noodles, lagman, as well as djussai herb, carrot salad, funchesa salad." Good to know!
But there's more. Much, much more. Here are the traits Kazakh women associated with German women:
Probably, the most typical ethnographic image of German woman, known from textbooks, is a blonde in white flounced apron, with plump hands, shaking off flour.
German woman usually is bright-eyed blonde, often stout, plump, sometimes wan, awkward, plain. Often respondents present German woman as unattractive, thin, without make-up, manlike. Undoubtedly, she is a good housewife and spouse, she has a strong united family. One can easily guess which features are typical for German woman in the most concentrated way, serving as a national attribute. They are accuracy, cleanliness and pedantry. This is supplemented by practicality, prudence, diligence, strictness, discipline, thrift, solid sense, honesty, punctuality and we have a business portrait of German woman. However she is characterized with poor spiritual qualities: coldness, dryness, cruelty, secretiveness, boring.
Physically, these Kazakhs are all over the place. Some are thinking of Ulrike Meinhoff, while others are thinking of an Oktoberfest beer-tent maiden. But there seems to be uncanny unanimity on the 'spiritual' qualities. But wait, what about the Americans?
American woman is described in quite contradictory way. Most amazing is a negative estimation of her appearance. There are many variations on this topic: not well-groomed, not stylish, does not dress well, not fashionable clothes, not ironed shorts and T-shirt, sleepers, put on bare feet, elderly woman in shorts, emancipated woman, for whom it is not important how she looks, a girl without make-up, happy fatty woman, stout and shapeless person, a short hair-cut, a knapsack, waddling walk, tennis shoes, dentures, plain, manlike, unisex. Positive estimations are given less frequently: smiling, loudly speaking, stylish blonde, jeans, jeep, cowboy hat, cigarette, uncommonness.
Knowing a kind of our sampling (activists of female organizations and researchers of gender issues), we are not surprised, that most people relate image of American woman with achievements of the female movement in the USA: feminist, independent, free, self-sufficient, uninhibited, emancipated, enjoying equal rights, wealthy, hater of men.
Besides, American women are emotional, uninhibited so much, that they look ill-mannered, snobs, arrogant, hypocritical, empty, with complexes, cold, dry, egoists, superficial, non-constant and impudent. Their actions are often characterized with regulated character, black and colored women are distinguished with a habit to rely on social support and not to undertake anything to change their life.
Despite this, business qualities of the majority of American women – intellect, professionalism, activeness, self-confidence, discipline pragmatism, career-mindness – are worth of great respect.
I could go on, but I'd just end up copying the entire study, which you can and should read for yourself. To find out, among other things, which women are "not attractive, nothing extraordinary, a grey bird in everyday life, but she can show off with her night beauty; often she is bow-legged and has a voice of smoking person. She is free and not alien to feminism, but prefers to remain within proprieties and good manners. The main thing, of course, that she is light-minded, frivolous, uninhibited, romantic, inspired, very popular with men and she has no equals, full of love."
* Briefly, Roissy's worldview is this: Almost everything men and women say about what they find attractive in partners is nonsense. It's rationalization driven by societal expectation, and has little or nothing to do with how most men and women actually behave. Men are attracted 95% by looks, and have been equipped by evolution with a drive to inseminate as many young, attractive females as they can get away with. All things being equal, the men who have the highest status and the most dominant personalities (alpha males) are always going to get the most nookie. The man's ideal position is to find a stable, reliable partner who will raise his children, while (as the wife ages) simultaneously enjoying occasional flings with young hotties. This is why so many cultures permit men to marry multiple wives, or unofficially recognize a responsible married man's 'right' to a mistress.
Women, on the other hand, are attracted mainly by a man's indicators of status. Cash, titles, dominance, physical size, respect shown him by other men, roguish charm. Women may claim to be attracted to sensitive, caring, honest wimps, but actually have sex with aloof, domineering bad boys. The ideal set up for most women is to find an meek, easily-dominated beta-male provider to marry. Then, have the occasional fling with the hot bass player/tennis pro/biker. Extra points if beta-male husband is willing to raise the offspring of the alpha males, who sure aren't going to stick around to do that themselves.
Not sure I agree 100% here, but the paradigm certainly does have some explanatory power.