I am glad that an Asian Australian woman wrote about this issue, because it is one not spoken enough about in the mainstream. Now, before I get on with this post, I do want to say that we should never diminish these lived experiences of Asian women. It is not only disappointing behavior from white men, but it is also humiliating and is reducing Asian women into a negative stereotype which is exploitative and predatory in nature.
It is easy to rule this out by saying, “well, why doesn’t she ( or Asian women) just stop meeting/dating/talking to white men whilst dating”, and it is also easy to say “stop pining/dating white men” – but this “Yellow fever” phenomenon is not about stopping women from dating who they choose, nor is it about policing their dating choices, but it is to say that this behavior is unacceptable and when we see it happen we need to call it out. When behaviors like this from men ( and in this case white men), don’t get called out, it enables the normalization of this behavior and makes white men think it is a “compliment”. Of course most white men will never learn and so the blame needs to be placed there, not on Asian women. Before I get into more on my thoughts, let’s first talk about the associated article.
Writer Jessie Tu, publishes a piece on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Daily Life, titled: Because I am small and Asian, I am fetishised by some white men. In her piece she calls out white men she has met on dates who have severe yellow fever and make no secrets about it. She talks about some of the men she has went on dates with who without shame comment that they love her “small body”, “clear Asian skin”, Asian face, soft speaker, docile, subservient etc. She points out how uncomfortable this makes her feel and how this is RACIST and hyper-sexualizing Asian women. Most of these white men will rule that this is a preference than anything else, but as we all know with white male privilege and white supremacy, white men in particular will never see how this behavior is problematic.
Earlier this year, I went on a date with a man who told me he had a thing for Asian women. We were sitting across from each other at a table in a fancy restaurant and he stood up to do a head-to-toe scan of me.
“Your body is just so soft and perky and tanned,” he said.
I told myself to run. Here was yet another man with what is not-so-jokingly referred to as Yellow Fever: the lazy and discriminatory hyper-sexualisation and fetishisation of Asian women, primarily by white men, solely based on race.
When I tried to break it off with him, he texted: “I hate you. Thankfully, there are thousands of gorgeous Japanese, Chinese and Korean girls in Sydney, so I will be okay.”
This is not unusual. I have spent most of my adult life expending psychological and emotional energy fending off men like him. And don’t tell me you can’t help who you’re attracted to.
“Yellow Fever” is not a preference. It’s a racial prejudice.
I have a small body. I have an Asian face. Women like me are handcuffed to a double bind. We have to fight off men who infantilise us because of our small bodies, and who also believe the Asian face carries some special gene that makes us soft-spoken, gentle and non-confrontational.
This is both oppressive, and racist.
I continue to be astounded by the number of white men who still see me and immediately assume I am “submissive, docile, compliant, accommodating, sweet in the kitchen, tiger in the bedroom”.
My body is viewed as a literal and symbolic site upon which to construct their fantasies of the perfect Asian lover.
So more on my thoughts: As Asians we need to call out this behavior by white men, not shame or victimize the Asian woman for dating a white man. Of course as I said the easy way out is to tell an Asian woman, not to date a white men, but in a globalized society that will not happen and it is no ones business who an Asian woman decides to date. The fault is on men and on white men and that is the behavior which needs to be called out. One must remember this “yellow fever” stereotypes stem from centuries of white men going into Asia and fetishizing and/or exploiting Asian women. It was like this centuries ago when European traders went into China for trade, it was like this when European and Western colonialists invaded Asia, it was like this during the Korean, Indo China and World Wars when American soldiers sexually exploited Asian women and this racist sentiment has not changed till today. In addition, this is also an issue in the gay sphere, where Asian men are also fetishized by white men and among Asian transgender women. So if you think about this as a bigger issue, within the Asian space, we really need to talk about this problem and call it out quick smart.
Images via Sydney Morning Herald
To read the original article, please click on: Because I am small and Asian, I am fetishised by some white men