On a Saturday, a group of us were sitting around the table after tidying up the mess from the party that was the night before. We were eating and talking, and the atmosphere was very harmonious. Suddenly, a student threw the question at me: By the way, do Chinese people really eat dogs?
This question is no stranger to me. Occasionally, this question will pop up. It sometimes comes from friends I’ve known for a while, sometimes from acquaintances. The first time I heard it, I was overwhelmed, confused, and panicked. For a very long time I could not answer such a question with calmness, and could never give an answer in a decent way that would satisfy me.
Where do they see the inference that I eat dogs? Why? Is it just them asking out of curiosity, or is it out of ignorance?
I know it very well: Germans love dogs.
Marta had to rush home after an afternoon class because she was unsure about her dog Toto, who had been home alone for three hours. One of her future goals is to buy a house with a big garden so that Toto can run around in it; Anna goes for four walks with Eille every day, even when she is busy during exam preparation; My language partner Gaby got her dog Casanova years ago when she worked in a restaurant in Greece. Whenever I ask her what she’s been doing, the answer is always that she’s been out for a walk with Casanova…
It is because I know very well that they love dogs. So, I was even more than overwhelmed when I heard about the dog-eating issue. And that feeling of being so overwhelmed was infinitely magnified by the fact that I had just arrived in Germany, was insecure, and had not yet fully adapted to my new life here.
Last year I made a post on a Chinese online platform with the title “When Germans ask, do you eat dogs?” . The post received tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments in very short time. Some people got angry right away and said they wanted to fight back, while others said they should just ignore them. But I didn’t want to do anything. Anger or silence cannot solve this problem of mine. As I said above, I wanted to give an answer in a decent way. I wanted to understand why someone was asking, and then I wanted them to understand why I was answering the way I had answered.
I calmly looked at the person who asked me the question and said: “It is not that tasty.”
And then I waved a hand: “Just joking. I don’t want to deny that there are people who eat dog meat, because I can’t represent everyone. But I have not eaten, and I do not support eating dog meat. Most people I know also don’t eat or plan to eat dog meat. Many people have asked me this question, and I think it’s a prejudice, a stereotype.”
Have you experienced similar situations? How would you handle this kind of situation?