Dear Q: Yellow Fever

Dear Q,

I’m an Asian girl and want to know what exactly qualifies as an Asian fetish. If a guy suffers from this syndrome does it disqualify his interest in me? I know deep down that I should do what feels right, but what if he only likes me for superficial reasons? I feel that we connect incredibly well but he also seems to have connected incredibly well with five other Asian girls in his recent romantic history. Should I be suspicious?


No Yellow Fever


Dear No Yellow Fever,

It’s hard not to notice the abundant white men / Asian women (occasionally the other way around) pairings in every part of the world. What’s behind this and should you or I be worried? I say “No” (in most instances involving consenting adults anyways).

Attraction is attraction, whether based on physical or cultural attributes, or both. Selective attraction makes the more politically correct or sensitive among us nervous, but it’s still legitimate. I have friends who mostly date black men, be they African American, Jamaican, or Kenyan. Why should they be ashamed of their obvious attraction to certain physical traits? Do you know a girl who has fretted over her ample bosom, slim waist, or red hair drawing men in? We seem to second-guess the mystery of physical attraction the minute the traits in question form a clear racial set.

Cultural affinity is also a legitimate means of selecting love interests. I don’t find it shameful for a student of French language to enjoy the company of French women, or for a lover of Chinese art to find himself in a Chinese marriage. I myself had to discover what set of cultural traits appeal to me through trial and error, dating “full on Chinese” and “full on American” men before finding my favorite cultural mutt (a racially half Japanese-half German who is culturally fourth-generation Hawaiian-American).

Before we get too fussed up over “Is my boyfriend an Asian fetishist”, lets look at how we use this term. In the globalization age can we really diagnose “Asian fetishism” based on the color of his ex’s skin? I’m guilty of using this term too, but it’s just an easier (lazier) way of referring to the many couplings in Asia where I see one half (usually the man) in an unbalanced power position due to some financial, cultural, linguistic, or physical mobility not shared by the other half. Unless we’re talking about true objectification and fetishism (say, sweaty old men buying Japanese school girl erotica) it seems you would have to know a great deal about someone’s personality to label him “victim of yellow fever”.

As for your man, do you know what drew him to his previous romantic interests beyond the skin deep? How “recent” is his recent episodes with the other Asian women? Do you have a gut feel for whether he’s seriously dating women who happen to share some physical traits, or simply hooking up at random with anyone dark-haired and almond-eyed? I think you know deep down that there’s not much cause for worry. If you like him and he likes you (and he hasn’t asked you to dress up in knee-high white socks or act out demeaning fantasies), then put on your color-blind shades and just go with it.

*For some comic relief on this heavy topic, read The Onion’s satire, “Asian Teen Has Sweaty Middle Aged Man Fetish.”




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