Recently, I’ve been reading blogs, journals and so on to get myself mentally prepared for my return to America. In particular I’ve been reading about race relations between Asians and Americans just so I can have an understanding about how San Francisco might be for my girlfriend who is Japanese.
I’ve found a lot of useful information, but during my research, I’ve found a lot of bizarre and twisted cultural phenomena going on in the states these days. Apparently, America being the wonderful diverse place it is, also has an ugly side which has given rise to new terms used to describe these ethnicities mixing together. The most common which I learned in High School was the term “wigger” which was a white person acting as though they were black. We didn’t have very many Asians at my school which must be the reason why I have never heard of the following terms until now.
1. Twinky – An Asian who is yellow on the outside but white on the inside.
2. A “Wapanese” – which is apparently a white person who takes “too much of an interest” in Japan but “usually through a Western filter.”
There are a few others which I’ve forgotten. I found these terms used in people’s blogs, which then lead me to Wikipedia and then to articles discussing this topic. These articles go into depth, analyze, over-analyze, criticise, leaving the author and reader in a conundrum.
Here in Asia, if a white person can speak the native language or take an interest in the culture, it is seen as a positive thing. But from the articles I’ve been reading it appears a certain segment of America (usually the overeducated with too much time on their hands) have twisted it into something negative and derogatory. The article (here) which really got me to write this post was written in the Harvard Business newspaper and reminds me of the nonsense from the liberal schools at my old university. For example, everyone is supposed to be “aware” or “sensitive” to everyone elses culture, but apparently now, if you take too much of an interest, you are called these new derogatory terms.
It’s a Catch-22! Study the other cultures and learn about them, but not too much!
I’ve pasted the article on the extended entry and commented upon it afterwards…
Article from the Harvard Business Journal
Have you heard of terms like Yellow Fever or Rice King? These terms are referring to people who have an “Asian fetish,” (i.e. a strong preference in dating Asian people over other races). It might be due to the fact that I am an Asian myself, but when it comes to ethnic preferences, I have found that the term “Asian fetish” is the most distinct and often the most talked about compared to “White fetish” or “Black fetish” or whatever.
What is Asian fetish exactly? What is it about Asian fetish that keeps people talking?
As an Asian person, I can immediately sense when someone has an Asian fetish. You spot someone staring at you from afar and next moment coming to talk to you at a crowded party. You see a guy walking down the street, hand-in-hand with another Asian girl, and he still checks you out as you walk by him. Undergraduate majors of any East Asian language or East Asian Studies or post-college work as an English teacher in an Asian country are easy give-aways. Back in the day (circa late 90’s), these Asian Studies types were the only people with Asian fetish, but now, they seem to be everywhere, and their Asian fetish is not restricted to any one particular Asian connection!
One classmate, a self-acclaimed Rice King, confessed to me that his life and perspective was forever changed after he dated an attractive Korean-American girl for a couple of years. Apparently, it was the contrast between her petite figure and strong libido that turned him on.
Another classmate, a European, commented that he finds Asian women very sexy and feminine. So perhaps it’s the exotic look. Perhaps it’s the femininity. But I can’t help but think that some of it is men’s chauvinistic fantasy about petite, reserved submissive women.
Is this about American men, tired of Anglo-Saxon feminists, seeking more traditional Asian women who would be dependent on them and make them feel good about themselves? Others would argue that the fetish has developed due to the increased exposure of beautiful Asian celebrities (e.g. Lucy Liu from Charlie’s Angels).
Regardless of the rationale behind it, as an Asian woman myself, I have a mixed feeling about this phenomenon. While I’m glad that Asian women are getting the attention that they deserve, I feel uncomfortable about men who are attracted to a woman just because she is Asian.
On the other hand, I also feel that Asian fetish has positive societal effects – as more people engage in interracial relationships, perhaps the color of your partner won’t matter so much. So if you consider Asian fetish simply an evolutionary stage in interracial dating, we should probably celebrate the fact that people are becoming more open-minded.
Now, conceded there are these types of “asian fetish” people around, this article to me is simply your typical “Hey, an issue is focusing on something I happen to be, which makes my opinions important so you better listen to them.” What really irks me, is the typical belief that Asian women are “submissive” and any man who likes them is a chauvanistic pig. Apparently, Miss Asian girl here has never been to Asia and/or is a disgrunteled Asian American who does not understand Asian culture but since she comes from Asian heritage believes she can comment for the billions of people living in Asia. Her last name is Japanese but she has no concept of what really goes on in Japanese society.
Like most westerners, she does not understand that Asian girls ceased to be submissive a long time ago. It is in fact the wife who controls the purse strings, and even if she does not make her own money, it is her who takes the paychecks from her husband and then gives him his allowance. Vietnamese and Chinese girls may seem submissive on the surface but make no mistake about it, they will cut off your testicles should you disrespect them in any way. Let us not confuse, kind and caring with “submissive” here.
It is true some of the older generation the men still have the say, but the younger generation no longer buys that. In Japanese mentality, there is rarely a public dispute between a man and a woman but subtle cues which let both sides understand where the other is coming from. Just because it is not the confrontational western style and the me, me, me mentality which pervades many relationships, does not mean either side is giving in to the other (or the woman giving in to the man as westerners think).
A typical disagreement about something as trivial as where to eat with many of my former girlfriends went something like this.
Me: How about Italian?
Gf: No, I don’t feel like Italian.
Gf: Yea, that sounds good.
There is nothing wrong with this, and it is the western mentality. But just because the conversation goes like this in Japanese does not mean the woman is giving in.
Me: How about Italian?
(Translation, she doesn’t want Italian, so understanding this I respond….)
Gf: Sounds good!
And it works the other way around as well!! It’s simply leaving the door open should the other side really want Italian instead of the direct “No!” It’s called “being considerate!”
More on the “chauvanistic fantasy.” The first Asian girl I dated was a Korean who I met while studying in France. I had never even paid attention to Asian girls before until one specific act.
I was waiting for her to come from Lyon at the train station, and this little Asian girl gets off carrying a friggin TV! I asked, “What in the heck are you doing with a TV????” She said “You not have TV, so I bring you one.” I realized that for her to bring me the t.v. she had to physically carry it from the dorm to the subway, through the maze that is Lyon’s metro and then down the long platform into the train. Now none of my other girlfriends had ever, ever, ever done something as sweet as that for me. Perhaps I was dating the wrong girls! In fact the only one I know of that would do something like that for me would have been my mom, so I’m not trashing American girls here, just a comparison from my own personal experience. I also know a lot of sweethearts in America but none ever did something this nice for me before.
Therefore, it’s not an Asian quality, or Western quality. It’s simply guys like to be treated nicely. My experience in America tells me that it’s a one sided affair when the culture tells us that guys must continually buy crap for the girl and get nothing in return.
I also take issue with this statement; “I feel uncomfortable about men who are attracted to a woman just because she is Asian.” Where does she get the temerity to say something like this? Some people like pizza, others like tacos, some like to play sports, others prefer chess! Can we not extend this to relationships as well, or am I being a “chauvanistic pig?”
In the words of “El Guapo” from the three amigos, I too “Like all womens,” especially if they are kind to me and hands down, Asian girls happen to be quite kind. (not saying that other girls are not or anything like that, but from my own personal experience, it’s like 50 to 1.
So to the author of this article I would like to say this. You my dear are Asian only by name and appearance. You appear just as disgruntled as anyone who has taken one too many feminist classes. If a chess player liked you for your chess ability, you would probably take offense at that too! You speak like the actors who get mad at the fans who scream and shout when they walk buy because they think “we have no privacy” when their entire career and fortunes are made in the public domain and by the fans!
In conclusion, I’d like to say that you in the Liberal Arts schools have way too much time on your hands and there has to be a point when you stop over-analyzing. Some people like blonds, some like burnettes,,, by your statements, perhaps you would only be satisfied if while wearing a full body burqa (Muslim full body cover) and someone took an interest in you because of your melodious voice. Perhaps you should date a blind man?
And by the way, what the hell is an article like this doing in the Business newspaper?? Get back to crunching numbers.