‘Asiaphiles’ surrounding an Asian girl – picture from Orange County Weekly
This rant by Vickie Chang in the Orange County Weekly is something else. I guess the writer is a Korean American based on her stereotypical transplanted-to-America Korean girls first name (Vicky – how many Korean girls have you met using that name in English?) and the family name Chang, which is a fairly standard Korean family name. She also talks about booking clubs, and the customers of those are usually Korean.
Born and raised in La Habra, Dan* didn’t see many Asian Americans before college. Now 22, he attributes his Asiaphilia to UC Irvine, where he’s a studio art major and an astounding 58 percent of students claim Asian descent.
But his Asian fetish actually originated in high school, in trig class, where he met a Vietnamese American girl named Ann. Although born in the United States, Ann was raised in Indonesia until about a year before Dan met her. She spoke English well, but not perfectly. They shared the standard high school dating experience: dinner-and-movie dates, study dates, boba dates, kung fu lessons, meditation with the girlfriend’s Buddhist monk uncle. The relationship ended in a pretty standard way, too: Dan suggested sex, Ann resisted, things spiraled. There was an ultimatum and then a breakup, and then—classic—threats of suicide.
Later, Dan sought answers on Ann’s blog, where she labeled him a “standard American boy” and called him out for pressuring her into sex. She ended the entry with a note of disgust: “Get over yourself.”
Perhaps it was the pain of that rejection and the desire to overcome it, but Dan says Ann’s rejection changed him. When he began dating again, he found himself looking for Asian girls. He went through a string of them—one-night stands, flings and friends-with-benefits. He frequented places like Club Bang in Hollywood, which attracts a number of Asian patrons—and Asiaphiles like Dan.
Although there was one detour on the road to full-blown Asiaphilia—Desiree, whom he describes as a “white feminist with armpit hair”—Dan openly professed his preference for Asian women by his third year at UCI.
His friends back in La Habra eventually got the idea he had a fetish.
“Date a nice white girl,” they urged him.
“White girls,” he’d reply, “are sluts.”
Yes… this kind of thing never happens to high school couples of the same race, right? That is the start of quite an impressive rant. Lets look at it.
“You know, I just got back from Bangkok,” he went on. “The women in Thailand are all gorgeous. You’re all gorgeous! It’s just that whole area.”
That whole area? Bangkok? Thailand in general? Southeast Asia? The greater Asian continent?
It’s funny: Asia is about 17,212,000 square miles—nearly five times the size of the U.S. About 60 percent of the world’s population lives there. Yet these guys seem to lump all Asians together, not to mention the teeny tiny fact that people such as Christina are Americans.
Would an ‘Asiaphile’ really be so ignorant of Asian geography? The guy she is talking about is probably not an ‘Asiaphile’.
But he wasn’t finished. He inquired about Christina’s nationality and complimented her on her good breeding, background and “blood,” the last of which left her thoroughly creeped out. By the end of the night, the guy had even doted on her “delicate” fingers, and grabbed her arm when she tried to escape to the smoking patio.
Less than a month later, again at Detroit, another forgettable guy with crusty hands sauntered over to our table and said breathily, “I love this table! I just love it!” He stared at Christina, gesturing toward her with one of those crusty hands. “Especially you!”
Crusty hands? I wonder what purpose this kind of description serves. Are the crusty hands a product of his ‘Asiaphilia’? If not, what is the purpose of this kind of description if not for demagoguery?
By the time we’ve reached adulthood, most Asian American women have experienced so many episodes of Asiaphilia that it becomes something we laugh about over dinner. There was the time that one smooth-talking (and way too short—I hope you’re reading this) guy from LA Weekly’s marketing department asked me where I was from.
“Los Angeles,” I said.
“No, really, where are you really from?”
This seems kind of unreasonable. More than 65% of Asian Americans are born overseas. In a city like New York, the percentage rises to 78%. Most of the Asians the average American might meet out in casual social situations are probably not from America. If an Asian American is mistaken for a recent immigrant, then they should consider that the price of their parents having moved to America. That being said, it strikes me as extremely self centered to complain about people making assumptions that are in most cases correct.
There was the 20-year-old UCI economics major who swears that Asian women’s vaginas “feel different somehow—very smooth and naturally lubricated.” Or the guy who sauntered up to me and asked, “You must be great with a chopstick, huh?”
People really come up to you and say these kinds of things, Vicky? I have plenty of Asian female friends. It doesn’t happen to them.
It pisses us off—no, I don’t want to see your killer Chinese-character tat; it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means—but we’re not sure what we can do but laugh.
Now there is some misdirected anger. Who cares!
Asian fetishism has a long history of being brushed off as a compliment, rather than offensive or bigoted. I’ve been told I ought to be flattered that so many non-Asian men “prefer” Asians and Asian American women. But the coalescing of an ethnicity into a whole, whether exotic, erotic, oversexed or virginal, is a real issue, collectively and individually. (I guess when it comes to stereotypes, Asian women have it better than Asian men do. There are two main themes when it comes to Asian male stereotypes: virginal and emasculated. Not to mention that super-fun myth that goes something like this: small stature equals small penis equals small chance of pleasure.)
Asiaphilia brings with it a set of more intimate considerations. I get to wonder if the man chatting me up is genuinely interested in me or interested in the idea of what he supposes me to be: demure and submissive, the forever-faithful geisha girl/bedroom toy.
The overwhelming ratio of males with Asiaphilic attraction to females suggests that this fetishization isn’t based on looks alone. Asiaphiles are looking for authority in their romantic relationships, premeditated or not.
Even if this were true, and that white guys dating Asian girls had these kinds of assumptions about “demure and submissive” Asian “geisha/bedroom toy”, such assumptions would not survive real life contact. Unless she is suggesting there is truth to what she says is a myth.
This issue moved out of the theoretical and into the personal when I dated a white boy I met in college.
“Do you like boba,” he asked me.
“Ever visited the Japanese Garden at Huntington Library?”
“I have, but I prefer the Shakespeare Garden.”
“Ever read The Art of War?”
I was devastated. Couldn’t he see I was into the same things he was—Dostoevsky, early ’90s shoegazer music and Indian food?
It hurt. When someone homogenizes an entire race of people—even if that homogenization tends toward desirable—that someone is creating a wall between himself and the person in question. No one likes to be treated as an outsider, especially in the only country she’s ever known as home
People have a tendency to ‘homogenize’ things, and that crosses racial boundaries. It is not something unique to white people. Vicky has been homogenizing people thoughout her article.
Things got worse when I heard the story of my friend Lydia, whose boyfriend’s Asiaphilic tendencies didn’t reveal themselves for months. By the end of the relationship, the guy had become an East Asian Studies/Chinese language double major, and never missed a chance to converse with her family in their native Mandarin. When she wasn’t around, he’d call her father to go out for Chinese food.
He’s gone, but his impact on Lydia remains.
“It always crosses my mind,” she says, “that I’m replaceable.”
It sounds like he is making a big effort to get along with his girlfriends family, especially his girlfriends father. A good friend of mine was dating an Asian girl and was told by her father to “Fuck off… stay away from my daughter… she isn’t allowed to date white guys“. It is good that he is getting along with her family.
As all good Asian-American Studies minors know, the roots of Asiaphilia are planted in the soil of colonialism. Our European forefathers, viewing any foreign culture as backward, erased what they could of indigenous custom and inscribed upon the people their own authority. Thus did bloom the stereotype of Asian docility, submissiveness and lotus blossom beauty.
Considering all the laws forbidding inter-racial sex in America in the past, it is unlikely that the forefathers of America are responsible for ‘Asiaphilia’. If there was a ‘stereotype’ of docility of Asian women, the ‘stereotype’ came from the extremely male dominated societies of East Asia. From foot binding to Confucian morals delegating women to the status of chattel, none of this has anything to do with any white people at all.
Moving on a bit, its a long rant, I am leaving out the ranting about Nicholas Cage and his Korean wife, and the rant about Gwen Stafani and her ‘Harajuku girls’, and also the rant about homosexual white men dating homosexual Asian men.
Dan says his last girlfriend before undergoing what he calls “The Change” was another Ann. Annie, actually. She was Chinese American, a UCI student and a born-again Christian who claimed a “secondary virginity.”
By the conclusion of their five-month relationship, the secondary virginity had disappeared just as the first one had. Soon afterward, she made Dan disappear, too. Not long after that, Dan went through a tumultuous quarter-life crisis.
He’s now dating Frida, a fourth-year film major of mixed Mexican and European descent he met while working at a local movie theater. He’s glad to have renounced his narrow-minded ways.
“I was going through a lot of changes in my life and rethinking things,” he recalls. “My obsession with Asian women was one of the aspects of myself I found to be not healthy.”
He’s a new man, he says, living by a new philosophy: “Asian women tend to be mean, stingy abusers.”
So what, now Dan is alright? “Asian women tend to be mean, stingy abusers” and “White girls are sluts”. It sounds to me like Dan is a young man with special problems, not representative of ‘Asiaphiles’, whatever they are.
I wonder where I fit in to this pattern that Vicky lays out here. I have dated Asian girls, which is supposed to be an ‘Asiaphile’ trait.. I have lived in Japan. I speak, read and write Japanese, Korean, and to a certain extent, Chinese. Obviously I can tell the difference between various Asian countries, and do not lump them all together, so I do not fit the ‘Asiaphile’ pattern Vicky describes in that respect. I hate tattoos so tattoos with Chinese characters are not an issue for me. Nor am I the kind of moron that approaches strangers and talks about the relative lubricative qualities of different races of womens sexual organs, something that seems to happen to Vicky a lot (wonder why?). I don’t know about submissiveness or anything like that – I just try to get along with any girl I date. It is hard to imagine the situation described by Vicky. So am I a ‘Asiaphile’?
Perhaps this is an ‘issue’ that we need to talk about. But if we are going to talk about nonsense issues, lets start with the issue of the white fetish that is causing Asians leave the land of their ancestors to live among white people, who are obviously the most bigoted and racist people on the planet. Now that is weird! According to Vicky, white men that date Asian women are Asian fetishists that are engaging in “offensive or bigoted” behavior. It looks like by this standard people that hate Asians are racist, and people that are friendly to Asians are also racist. Life must be hard for Asian Americans! We must make a study of this issue, and find out why Asian people continue to emigrate to America despite its insurmountable shortcomings and omnipresent racism. Perhaps Vicky can tell us the reason why?