“What is your nationality?” “What are you?” “I’ll eat your pussy like shrimp fried rice.” “I want to try my first Asian woman.”
These are just some of the messages Lillian, who asked us to withhold her real name, is used to receiving on Tinder. Lillian is a 20-something American woman who actively dates. She’s also Asian, which means she regularly encounters behavior on dating apps that her white peers couldn’t even conceive of.
“Most of my single white friends receive only a taste of what I get on Tinder,” she told reporter Brittany Wong, who took a deep dive into the history of Asian fetishization for HuffPost U.S. “No man has ever opened with how white women are so ‘exotic’ or opened with an assumption about how white vaginas are different from other vaginas.”
The history of fetishizing women of color is, of course, nothing new. “Yellow Fever” dates back to the 1800s, when the first Victorian men visited port cities in Japan and became transfixed by geishas. Stereotypes were only further cemented in early Hollywood movies. And it’s not just women who are pigeonholed.
“Asian guys today struggle to get dates and get swiped on, but meanwhile, Asian women are seen as highly desirable and fetishized. These sexual, racial stereotypes crop up at the same time, which I found so frustrating but also really interesting,” Brittany said. “Learning the history behind these tropes was fascinating. I knew all about the ‘Madame Butterfly’ tropes and geishas, but as an American, I had no idea some of our more lurid ideas about Asian sexuality were due to an immigration trend.”
She added: “Chinese men, fearful of bringing over their wives given racial tension on the West Coast, came over alone in the late 19th century. The only women who did make it over? Young women from poor families who took the only work they could as prostitutes.”
So is it OK to have a “type” when dating? Of course, said Katerina Jeng, co-founder of the Asian American magazine Slantd. But she added: “When you project the same kind of personality, behavior, and values across an entire ethnic group and don’t see nuanced human [beings], that’s a racial fetish.”
So take note, white guys. We see you, and your Asian fetish is showing.
I hope you enjoy this week’s edition from our London HQ.
Until next time,
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