Asian fetishes and the myths that perpetuate them.

I find most conversations with people about the fetishization of Asian women mind numbing. Even when people have the best of intentions with comments like, “you can’t help who you are attracted to,” or “Asian women are hot,” you begin to realize that often people are just trying to explain away their own or someone else’s racism. Myths such as Asian women are hotter, or they are more docile and therefore better wives, are not only mythical and generalizing, but they hinge on essentialist stereotypes that silence the voices of Asian women and Asian feminists that have been shouting for years about how they are not your fantasy.

Carmen at Racialicious
emailed me about this piece on Jezebel, that seems to be calling out the problematic reality that a lot of men have hard core Asian fetishes, but unfortunately ends up reinforcing the very stereotypes that reinforce this complex situation.

A bunch of economists are once again putting their decades of rigorous study to a societally optimal end and dispelling the “myth” of the Asian fetish. In studies of speed dating communities, it turned out, Caucasian men showed no racial preference at all for Asian women; in fact, male speed daters showed no racial preferences at whatsoever! To which I call, “bullshit.” (Remind me to tell you about my “Asian” phone sex persona one time!) And I know because I practically am Asian that when talking about the AZNs we are allowed to talk about stereotypes without regard for the numerous and glaring exceptions out there, so here goes: there are a few reasons some dudes prefer Asian women, and it starts with the fact that they are very rarely unattractive, and they are even more rarely stupid, and they are even more rarely than that fat. They have really nice skin and they’re not afraid to tell you yours looks bad.

Um, no. It is very difficult to talk about Asians as one whole group of people. There are a lot of different kinds of Asian people and sometimes, Asian also includes South Asian. And while Moe concedes that it is difficult to homogenize when there are so many exceptions, the reliance on still perpetuating the same myths that fetishizers use to justify their fetish, well that is not cool. I mean I am South Asian and you will not hear me say, “oh we are nerdy, tee hee, that is a positive stereotype, so it is OK!” Because in reality, the Indian nerd stereotype is often used to justify unfair work conditions or low self esteem in South Asians that are not “nerdy.”
The fetishization of Asian women by the media, by men, by women, by Westerners, it is not just coming from a few people. It is supported by not only myths and stereotypes, but the objectification of Asian women’s bodies through pornography that is focused on Asian women, the global sex trade that is disparaging in Asia and South East Asia and the culture of sexual tourism. It has somehow become OK to have racist sexual preferences, even in progressive circles. The thing is, it is usually one sided and that being white men, into Asian chicks. We are not operating in a vacuum. There is a long history of white men lusting after Asian women because of certain qualities they felt were “natural” to Asian women, qualities that make them more desirable than us loud mouth American gals.
I mean Asian women that are choosing to be with white men (even when they are racist or just into them because they are Asian) is their choice as well. I mean if they feel OK with it, who am I to say anything otherwise. But for the rest of us, that are sick and tired of white men being into us because we are “exotic,” well this shit is just tired. I am not your fetish, I am not your fantasy and, yeah, I might be good in bed, but my race is not why.

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