Actress Constance Wu called out the fetishization of Asian women at the Women’s March last weekend, and once again the internet lit up with defensive men saying that we should actually be flattered that they have a preference for Asian women.
Men will defend their fetish for Asian women as an innocent preference. “I just like what I like” is really code for “I have sexualized my racism and bought into the stereotype of Asian women.” The objectification of Asian women as “exotic lotus blossoms” isn’t just confined to modern media depictions of Asian women saying “me so horny” to U.S. military men. It links to a longer, more problematic Western subjugation of Asian women that dates all the way back to the Silk Road.
Do a simple Google search for “Asian women” and you’d think we were on sale. I’m not condemning Asian women for being sex positive, but the pervasiveness of unrealistic and hypersexualized images of Asian women feed the stereotype that Asian women are sexually available to Western men. These images aren’t just dehumanizing, they put us at risk for violence. As Rachel Kuo writes: “These stereotypes leveraged against East Asian women have been normalized, just like rape culture. These tropes can be found in representations in media, comments that harass us sexually and racially, and ways we’re constructed via laws and policy.”
I’ve been countering the truly exhausting topic of the Asian fetish since 2000 when I launched a fake mail-order bride site. I also called it out in 2013 in this viral xoJane essay, this reality television show, this web series, this TV interview, as well as all these videos. I guess I didn’t do much to change things. So I officially give up on trying to explain why being objectified and dehumanized sucks. Hear me out, my Asian sisters (and gay Asian men)! Let’s turn this would-be clickbait essay into a sarcastic white flag of surrender to white supremacy and racism!
Here are six reasons why Asian women must finally give into being fetishized:
1. Scary neo-Nazi “alt-right” dudes are into us which is slightly better than... getting killed?
When I used to see footage of the Ku Klux Klan carrying nooses and chanting “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” I was like omigod, are these racist freaks going to hurt me just for being alive?
According to this New York Times op-ed, it turns out they actually want to bed me! Perhaps in the same exact sheets with the eye holes in them! Even that white nationalist guy who ruined the Macklemore haircut for everyone, Richard Spencer, has a noted history of Asian girlfriends. And what woman doesn’t want to be a human consolation prize to a loser who says dumb sh*t only to get sucker punched?
2. Why work on having a personality, integrity or humanity when you can just be a category?
I used to have things like aspirations or desires for people to see my depth of character. Turns out that if I don’t even try, dudes will just see me as an exotic, submissive lotus blossom who doesn’t threaten or challenge their power. White supremacy needs allies if its antiquity is to survive the global majority (memo: White people are outnumbered by people of color on this planet). And what better way to fan the flames of structural racism and inequality than to literally allow yourself to be viewed as the “perpetual foreigner” who will never be considered fully American until you are white?
3. No matter how bad things get, there’s a white dude out there who’ll treat you to Sizzler.
Are you doubled over in bed with period cramps, unemployed and depressed? Has your borrowed Netflix password stopped working? Perhaps you just hit menopause and feel old and unloveable? No problem! An Asian woman of any age can always count on some Asian fetish dude at the bottom of the Tinder barrel to see past all your misgivings and look straight to your black hair and brown eyes with a false perception of who you are. Besides, it saves him all the trouble of having to import a mail-order bride from Asia! Yes, you have to endure the fact that he literally thinks the last Asian woman he dated has reincarnated into your body... but hey... free dinner!
4. Isn’t it easier to just go through life as a rare Pokémon to be collected?
Face it, Asian sisters. Our destiny is not to have goals, aspirations or dignity. It’s to be like Soon-yi Previn and marry our neurotic white stepfather. And who doesn’t want a husband who claims to have “saved” you, as Woody Allen basically said of Soon-Yi in Vanity Fair:
She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage. And so I’ve been able to really make her life better. I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them.
Yeah, it’s paternalistic, but HELLO, Annie Hall was a brilliant work of cinema so can we just give that alleged child molester just one pass? But don’t worry, if love with a guy who is only in love with the idea of you doesn’t pan out, he will just move onto some other Asian woman after he’s done with you. So it’s not like permanent or anything.
5. And who wants to break a freakin’ nail trying to smash the glass ceiling?
The unfortunate aftermath of being seen as part of a monolith of passive, soft-spoken Asian women is that it becomes much more difficult to be taken seriously when we actually want to move up in the ranks. Give up! It’s too much work to try to get ahead and change structural inequity; just keep working twice as hard as your mediocre male peers to get half as far. It makes for good cardio. It also keeps up that pesky “model minority” stereotype ― the one that says that Asian-Americans are inclined to higher levels of socioeconomic success, and therefore no action needs to be taken to reduce the real socioeconomic disparities that exist.
6. We need to stop buying into this “racial and gender equality” thing and accept a dominant white male power structure. Why? I don’t know, because I’m making this list! That’s why!
As Asian-Americans, we have benefited from the work of black and brown activists who literally died so that we could reap the rewards of the Civil Rights movement. And unfortunately, while we have benefited from their work, those communities are consistently left behind. Some would say this is incredibly unfair and as Asian-Americans, we owe it to them to not leave them behind. But hey! We’re basically enabling white supremacy when we allow white power structures to view non-whiteness as pleasurable or interesting. We also allow them to control the consumption and appropriation of us! It’s like we can bring all non-white people down by accepting this BS as a compliment! Efficiency!
NOTE: A lot of people are bad with reading sarcasm online. It should be emphasized that this essay is written with sarcasm, and I don’t actually believe the Asian fetish is a good thing. But do what you do internet — drag my name across the web for the next 24 hours then forget about me until I pump out the next clickbait essay on Yellow Fever in a year when you will get mad at me again!
Have a compelling first-person story you want to share? Send your story description to firstname.lastname@example.org.