Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where are all the men? A research proposal

The other day it dawned on me that after living here for the past three years, I have an abundance of American girl friends and not a single male American friend. Even when I was studying abroad here ten years ago, the vast majority of the students on my program were women. Here in Seville, as an expat, you can join the American Women´s Club, but to my knowledge, there is no American Club for men and women (at least not in Seville).

I have never really been a girlie girl, have always mixed socially with both men and women indiscriminately, and looking back note that my greatest girl friends have been slightly tomboyish. Girls night out in fact, is a new concept for me, and even seems a little weird sometimes. And while I love my americanitas (could not live without them), I am starting to realize that I miss the company of American men in a social setting.

So where the hell are all the American men?

In an effort to distract myself from my dreadfully boring job and being the sociologist that I am, I would like to examine this matter further. Here are my research questions for my imaginary study:

Is there a substantial difference between the rates of emigration of American men compared to American women?

Does gender inform country of choice? (i.e. are American men less likely to emigrate to a country like Spain, whereas they are more likely to emigrate to a country like Japan or Germany?...If so, why?)

Do American women have more tolerance for permanent cultural change due to how we are socialized?

Is there a difference between men and women with regard to retention in a foreign country (I mean, are women more likely to stay after spending time abroad and men are more likely to return home after a time?)

My admittedly weak hypothesis that is based on no real data other than my own experience is that most American men in Spanish-American relationships end up living permanently in the U.S. with their Spanish partners, whereas American women in Spanish-American relationships end up in Spain. Why? I think that in mixed Spanish-American marriages, traditional roles and expectations of gender are a factor in determining whether or not women will stay in a foreign country long term (that is, we American women are more likely to “follow our men” because it is ingrained in our skulls that that is what the good wifey does), whereas American men are more likely to convince their Spanish wives/girlfriends to go back to their country (cause that is what good Spanish mujercitas do too, follow their men). I could be way off here, which is why I should carry out the study and find out. Any thoughts? (or stones to throw at me?)

The main problem I can see with my study is that it would be impossible to get rates of emigration. There is no official data of who leaves the country and where they go. Anyone have any ideas of how one could obtain a list of emigrators that would be representative of all American emigrators?

Now I just need to quit my job, go back to an academic setting and do sociological studies all day. Is that asking so much?


Sarita said...

I think about this all the time! We have a teacher here at the school from Boston and he has NO American friends here. He hangs out with us sometimes and has some British male friends, but he probably has some thoughts on the topic.

I miss hanging out with American guys too!

Mother Theresa said...

I don't know if the same happens here in Pamplona, since I have no American friends, women or men. Could it be that women are just more sociable and need to get together more? Maybe women are more likely to seek out the company of people from their own country than men (not in my case, though). It's a good question in any case. :)

kate said...

Hmm, one of dh's female cousins married an American, and now they live in the US.

One thing might be related to employment possibilities. My (Spanish) husband is an example-- he works in telecommunications and worked his way up in the company-- he never finished his engineering degree because it got to be too much with working full time, and he didn't need it (at that time) to get ahead at his job. But it would be hard for him to get a decent job in the US without going back to school. And since culturally speaking (in both cultures) men are supposed to be the breadwinners, perhaps it seems easier for the woman to sacrifice her career. Not to mention that the employment situation isn't great here so maybe Spanish women find it easier to get a job in the US.

And American men are probably much more likely to find good jobs in the US as well.

I'm sure there are many other factors at work, though I suspect that this is an important one.

Mexico Way said...

Very interesting! It also might have to do with wages and where one can make a better wage in the relationship. Since men generally make more than women, and will most likely make more in their home country, it would make sense to move back there.

Not to mention, women are just way more adaptable than men. And they smell better and are better looking and all that fun stuff. Woah I went off track with that huh? lol.

Rivergirl said...

The U.S. Dept of State has a registry for foreigners living abroad, so they must have some numbers. Not all Americans living abroad register there, but I think about half the Americans I know in Mexico have registered.

Here in Mexico my impression is that American women feel comfortable moving here for adventure, change and to escape bad divorces. While American men move here because either they are wanted in the U.S. or they married a Mexican who doesn't have a U.S. visa (yet) and can't live in the U.S.

Kristy said...

women are suckers

Marcel said...

You bring up an interesting question. I am an American man living in Seville and have wondered the same thing!

I have lived here for 5 yrs but don't know any American men. As you say, there is an American Woman’s Club-- but no such club for men (that I know of).

My wife (Sevillana) and I lived in the US for several years and she had a good network of Spanish woman friends. She often says that having those friends made it easier for her to live in the states and says I should make some American friends here. But it doesn’t seem easy...I don’t know where I would meet them??

Apart from college students and occasionally an American professor here for a semester, I haven’t met American men really living here.

Well, I don’t have stats for your study but I think you are on to something. There does seem to be a pattern, at least from my personal experience.

If you do find where they are hanging out, let me know :)

Bluestreak said...

Thanks for all your comments. Good, I'm glad I'm not nuts. I think Mother Teresa has a good point about women being more likely to seek company from their own country. It's something I hadn't thought about before.

Hi Marcel! Thanks for your post. Nice to "meet" an American guy living in Seville, and to get your perspective on this. If I find any others, I'll point them your way.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Japan for 5 years. There are good reasons why American, or even Western(i.e. white) girls dont stick around.

I got laid to hot Asian chicks a lot. Not easily though. But once I learned their game, I did well.

The white girls I knew in Japan were Fat, Ugly, embarrassing to be seen in public with, and had crap personalities. Everything I assumed about fat ugly chicks changed after I meet the ones in Japan. For example, I thought that if your a fat. ugly chick you try to make up for it with personality. WRONG. Be it Australian, Canadian, British, or American, white girls in Japan are embarrassing to be seen with even if you are alone with one.

I did meet one pretty girl from Chicago. She was a Jew from Chicago. She moved to Japan to be with her ex-professional soccer player boyfriend, Junrou. Of coarse we called him Jew-rou. I knew at the same time that the Passion came out. Why did she kill Jesus? Chick got sick of me. She really was a nice girl. Too nice.

So Where are the American men? Why do American girls prefer Europe? and American boys prefer Asia?

Global Gal said...

This American and Spanish couple solved the question of who's country to live in by opting for a third country. We'll retire to Spain, though, someday.