After reading the comment section of Kristina Wong's article, “9 Wack Things White Guys Say to Deny their Asian Fetish,” I realized most people still don't get it. Even a lot of Asian women can't quite put their finger on what gives them goosebumps when a guy hits on them suspiciously just because they're Asian.
What is so wrong about being attracted to multiple Asian girls, anyways?
I remember when I was in junior high, my friend, let's call her Jessie, and I were watching “Road Trip.” Seann William-Scott's character goes to a sperm bank and the nurse gives him a selection of porn.
“Excuse me, do you have anything with Asian women? I have this thing with Asian chicks and there doesn't seem to be any in this binder.”
As two girls who never had boyfriends, only crushes, Jessie nudged me: “See? He likes Asians,” as if, “Hey, there's a market for you! Don't worry. You won't be alone forever!” I didn't understand at the time why this made me uncomfortable. Perhaps it's because it said nothing about me except that there would be men with Asian fetishes preying on me in my future.
The definition of sexual fetishes tend to relate to situations or objects causing a person arousal. When an entire race of women have become fetishes, it's an extreme case of objectification.
Try running a Google search for Asian dating sites. It's no surprise that there would be Asian male customers interested in dating Asian females, I mean, isn't that the point of the specificity of the site? Yet, instead, most of them have a surprising amount of interracial couples in their featured success stories and ads.
Apparently, the specific interest in Asian women by non-Asian male customers is so great that they're actually the target audience. Supply and demand, right? The above website, formally Asianchats.com, has even changed its direction, advertising that they're the “#1 dating site for Asian women and Non-Asian men.” Asian women are commodities.
While there are stereotypes that follow a white woman who is either blonde or would decide to dye her hair blonde, assumptions are placed over an entire race of Asian women. The decision to have a more girlie, hippie, business, vintage, or rock n' roll style, for example, are voluntary choices. Being Asian is not.
Common stereotypes and presumptions about women of Asian descent are that they're subservient, nurturing, eager to please, child-like, weird, a little crazy, potentially kinky, have sideways vaginas, love Americans, and aren't picky about the physical appearance of their men.
When a guy reeking of yellow fever goes over to an Asian woman, he isn't thinking, “I bet she's an artist. I bet she's academically intelligent and can teach me a thing or two about science and math. She probably can't drive.” Even though these are equally annoying and offensive, they have to do with interests, talents, and skills. That would be too much credit to give a young woman.
Instead, the assumed focus is on how a girl can please him. Now, don't get me wrong. Perhaps these are not the assumptions yellow fever patients have, but when they make themselves known, this is what comes off anyways. It's an assumed glorification of a girl, just because of her genes. The belief that a guy would approach me because of these presumptions is pretty gross. This is misogyny and objectification.
An older man, probably in his 50s or 60s, sits next to me on a subway platform bench. We're far apart. He strikes up conversation with me. I'm a young, friendly person, so I intend to keep it that way. Far too soon the nationality question comes up. To which of course my response is “I'm American.”
Although he's surprised to find my perfectly well-spoken self (along with slang) was born in this country, that's not what he's “really” asking. “Oh, you mean my ethnicity!” I say in an educating tongue-and-cheek tone. When I finally give him the answer he's looking for, he proceeds to list other Chinese people he knows. Wonderful. The waiter at a Chinese restaurant gives you much cred.
He asks, “What grade are you in?” He thinks I'm in high school. I'm not. I'm in my mid-twenties, thanks.
Finally, he asks, “So can I get your number?” as if he expects me to say yes. I'm sorry, didn't you just think I was prepubescent?
This has happened to me multiple times. I'm short and I look like I'm 14 or 15, even though I'm in my mid twenties. (I don't want to hear the b.s. that I'll love it when I'm older. Right now, because seniority rules in my industry, I don't want to look like I'm in 9th grade.) To these men, that's an obvious plus (fake jail bait!).
At no point do they try to impress me. They're not trying to show how great of a boyfriend or husband, for that matter, they would be, but the very fact that they're interested should be reason enough “for me.” The media has not only fetishized Asian women into sex objects, but they've also infantalized them.
The combo is borderline pedophilia.
There I said it. This is why it's so creepy! American media constantly portrays Asian women as young, cutesy, quirky girls in school uniforms who barely speak English...that's sexualization and infantilization. To be honest, some Asian women are young at heart, myself included. Whether it's playing throwback games like hide and go seek, drawing with crayons, putting glitter on everything, or playing dress up with beautiful clothes or wearing costumes, we shouldn't feel ashamed or sexualized for that.
Here is what's wrong with the approach the older man had:
- Don't make the fact that you've assumed things about my life because of my physical ethnicity obvious. There's nothing more unattractive than prejudice.
- Don't shed light to the fact that the only thing you notice about me is my ethnicity. That doesn't make me special. Go prey on some other Asian chick.
- Don't assume I want to be a mail-order (or rather pick-up-at-the-store) bride.
- Recognize that the age difference will likely make a youngin' like me uninterested.
- Don't assume I'd be interested, simply because you're interested.
- Don't confuse my polite, “and how are you?” as flirting. That is not a signal. Neither is laughing at your joke. People are funny. I'm not attracted to all of them.
- Get to know me.
When you approach an Asian woman and do the don't's, it becomes very obvious that your interest is in her ethnicity and what she represents, not her as an individual. She feels like you're assuming the misogynistic fetishized and or infantilized stereotypes, whether or not that's your intention. When you see an attractive woman (Asian or not) think of her as a blank slate.
All you can know about her is the way she dresses herself or her demeanor, but even then you can't assume you know everything about her. If you'd actually like to get to know her better, start a conversation. And let's get this straight: knowing what part of Asia her parents are from isn't going to tell you everything you need to know (for a positive relationship) about her.
Here are some dirty little secrets:
- No one cares if you can decipher whether a person is Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Filipino. If a person looks Asian that's all you really need to know. No one is entitled to the knowledge of a stranger's ancestral heritage. What I do care about is the obviousness that this is the first and only thing you want to know about me.
- When a guy says he's just loves the culture, we can smell b.s. from a mile away. There's a difference between a person who was fascinated by the culture first (loving Asia) and a person who became interested in it second. (Pick up artistry?)
- It's okay to think Asian women are hot. (We are!) But when you're flirting with an Asian woman, the same way you don't talk about your ex or other ladies, avoid saying things like, “I love Asian women.” It is not a compliment. Don't make the girl you're hitting on feel like a byline. If I told a guy, “Men are all so handsome,” does it even sound like I'm talking about him? Well, he's a man, right? Ergo, I think he's handsome...but so is that guy over there!
- These are triggers. Yes, we're generalizing too. Why? Because we don't want to get involved with someone who sees us only for our race, our sexuality, our youth, or our potential servitude to a penis.
To clarify, I am not saying, “Never approach Asian women.” Just be selective by personality about who you date and try not to give Asian women creep stares. I hope this was helpful. Now go forth and spread awareness of the cure to yellow fever.