I Am Not Your Asian Fetish
- I was a ten-year-old child the first time I was called sexy by an adult male.
- In high school, I dated a boy who befriended another Asian girl after we broke up. A mutual friend told me, “He has yellow fever.” I had never heard that term before.
- My first year of college, a fellow classmate told me, “There’s no such thing as too much Asian porn.”
- My first year of college, a Latina female student told me, “You’re so lucky when it comes to dating. Every man goes through an Asian phase.”
- My sophomore year, I learned of a male student who transferred due to an overwhelmingly negative reputation among the Asian female population.
- My sophomore year, I was told of another male student on campus who described Asian women as “the most aesthetically pleasing.”
- My sophomore year, my Asian friend was dating a white man who said that if she “died in a car crash or mysteriously disappeared,” he would date me — as if I had no agency in who I choose to date. While my friend was dating this person, she received an anonymous email one day from someone who claimed that this man fetishized women of color. New to the world of dating and to the concept of racialized fetishes, we were unprepared to handle this situation.
- The summer before my junior year, I was walking to the Farmer’s Market with an Asian friend and her brother. A man yelled at us about the “kinky Asian sex” her brother must have been having with both of us.
- The summer before my junior year, I was assumed to be my 70-year-old father’s girlfriend [Read Here].
- My junior year, I studied abroad in China. Nearly every man in my program had dated at least one Asian woman before. One man had a checklist of the ethnicities of the Asian women he had dated and wanted yet to date.
- My senior year of college, I was taking photographs of an old church. A middle aged man stopped me and said, “I myself am Christian, but looking at you I’m starting to lean towards the Buddha.” [Read Here]
- My senior year of college, a white man who had lived in Japan and Korea came to talk to some college students about the benefits of an Asian Studies degree, and his concluding reason to study Asian Studies was that “you could go to Asia and marry an Asian man or woman and make really cute mixed-race Asian babies.” [Read Here]
- A man I dated after college told me that he thought “Asians have the smoothest skin.”
- When walking to an ice cream parlor with an Asian friend, a man leaned out of his car and shouted “show us your tits!”
- When going to a public bathroom, a woman stopped to tell me, “You’re so beautiful,” and that her son had told her, “I’m going to marry a Chinese girl. They are the prettiest and have the best skin.” [Read Here]
- My first semester of grad school, a man approached me in the park and asked for my phone number because “he had never gotten a Chinese girl’s phone number before.”
To a certain facet of people, I am seen as a physical embodiment of subconscious Asian female stereotypes or a method through which one can prove their advanced level of liberalism. My network of Asian female friends and I have had to tell each other about instances with men on various campuses out of safety and concern for each other. To have to do this constantly is exhausting.
The vetting process I put prospective dating partners through is seemingly unfair to genuine people who have perhaps innocently dated another Asian person in the past but absolutely necessary given the long list of racialized, sexualized experiences I have accumulated in just a few short years. This aspect of dating was something I was unaware that I would have to do. My parents couldn’t prepare me because they didn’t know this issue existed for Asian women, and I also didn’t have Asian women mentors growing up who could have enlightened me. The learning of Asian fetish and how to address it in the dating realm was one of the most significant ways I had to teach myself what it means to be an Asian American woman.
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