I launched www.bigbadchinesemama.com, a mock mail order bride website that targeted Asiaphiles with images like the above. Now, 13 years later, I find myself dating the descendants of the same men I once loathed.
If my vagina had a guest book, it would look like the roster of the United Nations (if the United Nations consisted of a small group of broke-ass ambassadors of different ethnic backgrounds). Lately, though, with white guys I’ve dated, I’m consistently finding out that I’m one in a long line of Asian women they’ve dated. It’s awkward.
White guys with Asian fetishes used to be easy to spot -- pathetic social pariahs planning their sex tour vacations to Thailand, creeping around Japanese language classes. Now, Asiaphiles are attractive tattooed hipsters that possess fantastic social skills, and we meet them through friends of friends.
When I ask these guys: “What’s up with your long history of dating so many Asian women?” It’s like I’ve triggered the shaming meltdown of a lifetime -- dudes get nervous, defensive, and very rarely, are willing to engage in an inevitably uncomfortable conversation about race.
9 Wack Things I’ve ACTUALLY been told by Asian Fetish Guys in Denial
1. “I can’t be accused of having an Asian fetish because my Russian Great-Grandfather looked Asian.”
I think Latoya Jackson looks Thai on the “We Are the World” album cover, shall I ask for her pad thai recipe? First lesson in Race 101: There’s a difference between having a distant relative “look” like a member of an ethnic group and having lived the experience enough to claim it.
2. “If I really had an Asian Fetish, I’d be buying sex slaves off the Internet.”
According to Wikipedia: “An Asian fetish is usually understood to be an interest, attraction, or preference for Asian culture, things or people.” Just like “racists” are not just people who scream the N-word and wear KKK robes, not all guys with Asian fetishists do drastically evil things. Your fetish may be an admiration of Asian people and culture, not an all out need for colonial conquest. STOP DEFLECTING.
3. “How is being into Asian women any different than a woman being only into guys who wear glasses or have a certain color hair?”
Because moron -- my history, my culture and my racial identity is not the same as a pair of glasses or a hair color. Race is not something we choose to be born with or can add or remove to create sexual attraction. I am not “amping up” my race so you find me more sexually attractive.
4. “I lived in China/Japan/Thailand/Mongolia/Studied Buddhism for a year. I know more about your culture than you!”
Just like I don’t assume to know what it’s like for you to be a presumptuous white man, you don’t know “my culture” until you’ve spent 18 years raised by my Chinese mother and another lifetime fighting off the guilt that I’ll have from publishing the opening sentence of this essay. And who are you to define what my culture is? “Culture” is an ever-evolving diasporic phenomenon; it’s not just about language and ancient customs.
5. “I don’t see race.”
Then how is it that your dating habits have me feeling like I’m on an assembly line of Asian blow-up dolls?!
6. “I don’t date only Asian women. I once dated a Puerto Rican girl in college.”
If your bar tab has one daiquiri and 17 Singapore Slings, I'm thinking rum isn't your drink.
7. If you only date white men, does that mean you have a white fetish?
No, it means I live on the East coast or Midwest or the South or a work in an environment teeming with white men. Or it means you creeps keep making a beeline toward me.
And can people stop making analogies of race where white people and people of color are interchangeable?! White people and People of Color have different histories of power, so it is problematic to interchange them in an analogy as if they are equal.
8. “I don’t know why you keep insinuating I have 'white privilege.’ I grew up working class and was bullied as a kid for my big nose. I never had white privilege.”
EVERYONE has felt left out. EVERYONE got picked on. Do women clutch their purses tighter to themselves when you pass them on the street? Do people constantly assume you can’t speak English? Are you part of a race that systematically receives the worst health care, education, and environmental policy? Would you ever want to play the DNA lottery and come back to this life as a black man? This is the white privilege I speak of.
9. “When I approach a group of women, I tend to be better at picking up the Asian ones. So that’s why I tend to go for them.”
Thanks for using an obvious metaphor that dating is an act of colonial conquest where Asian women are the injured gazelles and you the stupid insecure hunter with one bullet. Keep digging yourself that hole you are standing in.
Guys! Here’s the better response to give me next time I ask you why you only date Asian women: “I acknowledge that I’ve been gravitating towards dating Asian women, and it probably has to do with a subconscious racial preference. I want to explore my racial biases, my racism, and my privilege as a white male. I vow to actively unlearn my racism and white privilege, build cultural competency and sensitivity, so that the women I’m dating feel less creeped out.”
I know. It’s a long, wordy, unrealistic statement to follow through on that you will have to read to me off a notecard. But openly talking about race is sexy to me. Admitting your privilege and wanting unlearn racism is sexy to me. If you say it and mean it, you’ll improve your chances of signing my vagina’s guestbook.