Apr 2, 2012

Naked culture clash


In our school's course Cross Cultural Management we had an assignment to write a short story about one's own cultural incident and this is what I wrote:

"I live in a student apartment together with my Chinese husband and one day my little brother came to visit us and stayed overnight. In the evening when it was about time to go to sleep, I was walking around the apartment in my underwear preparing to go to bed. Then suddenly my husband asked me to put some clothes on since my little brother was there. I told him that it wasn’t any kind of problem to me; we always go to sauna together with whole family so why should I be so modest? But he felt uncomfortable with my answer and said that I should no longer go to sauna with any other male.

Like many Chinese in his generation, my husband is the only child and I believe that’s why he cannot truly understand the relationship of siblings. And moreover, I guess that Finns have a special culture concerning the nudity in sauna that many other countries find hard to cope with. Nowadays I respect my husband’s wish and stay clothed when there’s a guest around. But I’d rather leave without telling him about our sauna evenings when I go to visit my family... "







































I had a birthday last Thursday (turned 21) so we had a quick dinner before I went to school.


































15 comments:

  1. Yes, he needs some education about scandianavia culture.

    People are quite adaptable when they are young.

    Best solution is both to learn and adapt to each other culture. Then you both can survive in both worlds together.

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    1. You're right indeed, I'm actually having 3 different courses right now (Cross Cultural Management, International Economics and Chinese Business Culture) where I'm going to make projects about Chinese culture(focusing on business culture mainly).
      But the real way to learn about culture is to live with it. I think my husband has adapted to the finnish culture very well already, but I just have to take him to sauna with me more often..

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  2. So in Finland families are nude together in the sauna? I guess it could make for some good family bonding time. Different strokes for different folks. I think I have a polar bear like yours. My cousin bought it for me in Germany. I think it was modeled after Knut the polar bear.

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    1. Yes, and it's not the families only. I have a group of friends(men and women) who always go to sauna (nude!) together when we have a get-together in someone's house. They are always asking me to join them but I feel I cannot go anymore, I understand it would cross the line to go naked in sauna with a male friend.
      Not all the families go to sauna together, some might take turns, but our family goes together.

      I bought my polar bear from Lapland. It can snore.

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  3. So what happens if a man gets an erection in the company of female friends when they're in a sauna? Do the women just ignore it and pretend nothing happened?

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    1. What a question, I have never thought about that! I think the man leaves by himself before anyone notices.. But that's quite unlikely to happen if everybody are just friends and don't have any sexual thoughts about each other. Like in nude beach, I have never been on one but I don't think that men get erections there often either..? Then you just don't go if you think that will happen?

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  4. People in other countries are mostly only naked together when they are having sex. It could be hard for your husband to understand but he shouldn't tell you what to do. You shouldn't miss out on important times with your family and friends.

    If you get homesick in Shanghai you could go to Korea for holidays. Saunas (jim jill bang) are a huge part of their culture there. Men and women are together in the dry saunas but never naked. They also contain bathhouses which are single sex but everybody is naked.

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    1. I do understand why he don't want me to go to sauna with my male friends, it's not very common even in Finland (without swimsuits). He's okay with me going to sauna with my female friends, but my family male members are the only problem here..

      And thanks for the tip, it would be interesting to go and see other sauna cultures. Though I have heard there can be some culture clashes with Finnish and other sauna cultures;
      "A Finn threw water on the stove in the foreign sauna - got labelled mad"

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    2. Ha, mostly people don't throw water on the stones in Korean saunas -- it's automated, and there are different rooms with different levels of heat and humidity. Of course, everyone WILL stare at you like a freak, being that you're not Korean yourself, and probably even gossip in front of you. Koreans are *famously* rude that way.

      As for your husband forbidding you sauna with family and friends... I can understand who it might shock him, or seem weird, but marriage isn't supposed to including telling the other person what to do. If you told him never to do something important to him, because it was foreign culturally to you, how would he feel?

      I suppose some compromise is natural in any relationship, but it's not as if you being in a sauna with anyone at all when he isn't around will affect him in the slightest. It seems unreasonable (and maybe a tad patriarchal) for a husband to demand his wife stop socializing with family in a way she has done all her life, just because it bothers him.

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  5. Really? You go completely naked for Sauna in Finland even in front of your father and brother?! WOW! I AM BUYING THE A TICKET TO FLY TO THERE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! :D

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  6. The best advice, is to bring your husband one day to one of your family sauna gatherings (if possible). Hopefully he's not one of those stubborn Chinese people with the traditional mindset (which he already sounds like he is). By experiencing this, he might see a new positive side to the culture.

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    1. Well actually we don't gather all together in sauna then (it's too small!). When my big brother and his girlfriend visit my parents, they go separately to sauna, and so do I and my husband.

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  7. This is the best culture clash I have ever heard. Such an extreme from one end to the other end.

    I would be more concerned when someone is not comfortable to be naked on their own. Maybe your husband can loosen up a little. In China, it is more of a double standard for women.
    I would need to get drunk the first time before trying sauna in Finland.

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    1. That won't be a problem, alcohol and sauna are very common combination :P

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