First of all, I want to acknowledge that my posts lately seem straight out of a gossip magazine. Sometimes, even I feel like I’m writing a column called “Love and Sex in the 21st Century”. I promise you that, very shortly, I’ll get back to our regular program of rants about writing interspersed with rants about the world. But I tend to write about whatever is on my mind at the moment, and lately that has been dating. So if you’re not interested, skip this one and I won’t be offended in the least. My agent promised to get back to me on my novel by the end of the week, so I will update you all when she does. If you remember from before, there’s a bit of a marketing issue with the concept of the book, so I may end up having to do tons of rewrites.
Today, I want to talk about dating as an Asian American woman. When I started going out with my first Asian boyfriend, I wrote a piece on interracial dating. My conclusion then was that people generally preferred to date people who were similar to them, which explains the relative rarity of interracial relationships. In the past few years, though, it has become increasingly clear that there are many daters who exclusively seek partners of a specific and different race (usually white). When a white male has an Asian fetish, the similarity argument is no longer justifiable…unless that white man happened to be raised in Asia. Same goes for Asian women who only date white men. In fact, it seems like Asian women are the most racist in the dating world. They are the group most likely to be in interracial relationships and OKTrends helpfully gives evidence of their white men fetish — they write back non-whites at a terrible rate of 21.9%. Certain Asian American women unapologetically flaunt their fetish. Jenny An writes that she drinks “the same Kool-Aid as everyone else”, referring to white supremacy. For her, a white man is her card to the American club.
Well, I just wrote a paragraph about Asian American women in which I referred to them in the third person plural, when in fact I should have used “we”. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out that I struggle with identifying as an Asian American woman. While I hate the self-racism that people like Jenny An perpetuate, I admit that I too have drunk from this “Kool-Aid”. I’ve always preferred white guys and, if I’m completely honest with myself, I feel that I can indulge in this preference now that I’ve already dated an Asian dude. At the same time, though, I’m extremely wary of men with an Asian fetish and I’m well aware of the double standard here.
Yesterday, I spent an amazing evening with a guy I’ll call Hans because it was, according to him, the most stereotypical German name. Yes, he’s German and white. We watched “Midnight in Paris” and laughed a lot. I liked that he understood highbrow cultural references in the film, but could enjoy the lowbrow content of the film itself. I liked that he didn’t give two shits about pirating the movie. While I understand people who are against this practice, I find their self-righteousness a bit grating to be around. I asked him a lot about Germany, because I never had much contact with the country, and I love talking about linguistic and cultural differences. In the end, I found a round-about way of asking if he had an Asian fetish and was happy to find that he didn’t. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I’d love to explore all the possibilities with him.
As I reflect on our evening now, though, I am critical of my own feelings for him. I’ve realized since my time in Paris that my French ex, Luc, was right. I was drawn to him because he was white, French, older, a musician, and a filmmaker. Now, as I continue navigating the dating scene, I want to be sure that I’m attracted to someone for their personality and character, not the superficial boxes they check. And that is exactly what I encourage other Asian American women to do. I don’t believe that interracial relationships are bad. After all, if you are a woman dating in the US, statistically you’ll end up with a white guy because they’re the most common. But all Asian American women, and probably all women of color as well, should reflect on the possibility of self-racism in their relationships. You shouldn’t date someone because their ethnicity makes you feel like less of a minority.
Do you have a preference for a certain race in a significant other? What are your thoughts on self-racism?