Dating As An Asian Woman

Most couples look like siblings who shop at the same clothing store.

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?

Au revoir,

R

20 thoughts on “Dating As An Asian Woman

  1. I think there’s definitely something to be said for being attracted to people of another ethnicity- their “exoticness,” in a way, can make them more interesting and exciting. That being said, I would say I’ve got a bad case of yellow fever (notably Koreans) but my friends say that’s impossible, since, I, too, am Korean lol. What do you think? Especially given that I’m fairly white-washed for an Asian, do you think it counts if a person has a “fetish” for their own kind/themselves? (I’m a narcissist, too haha)

    • Hmm your case is certainly interesting. My most recent ex was also a Korean with yellow fever, but in his case, he was simply attracted to what was familiar to him and he was very traditionally Asian. If you’re more white-washed, though, maybe it’s about reconnecting with a part of your heritage that you don’t know well? I don’t think it has to do with narcissism, unless you date girls who look EXACTLY like you. What about Asian girls attracts you? Is it physical or is it about having more in common?

      • Both aspects appeal to me- of course, it’s nice to have someone with a similar background that I can relate to, but I feel like I’m also biased physically, as well. Damn K-pop skewing my perceptions of girls…

  2. Most people in interracial relationships seem to put up blinders to this sort of thing, but certainly most of what we think of ideal is associated with being white and/or upwardly mobile — that seeps into the way people of color view themselves and what they’re capable of. Self-racism certainly exists wherever there’s an emphasis on class and what’s supposed to be really good, including in the world of arts and letters, but it’s something of a misnomer since people have a way of detaching themselves from the perceivable ‘otherness’ of a self’s look when it’s convenient.

    .

    • Hmm I’m not sure I’m understanding you correctly. Are you saying that self-racism is a misnomer because people who are self-racist don’t identify with their own race? I.e. when an Asian woman dismisses Asian men, she is not self-racist because in that instant she doesn’t consider herself as the same race as the man? That’s certainly possible and quite interesting.

      • I was being a bit facetious, but I was trying to point out the hoops some people jump through in order to not see themselves as non-white — except when it’s convenient, which is the most “positive” relationship some people have with being considered an other. I would chalk it up to self-racism.

        It should also be pointed out that in many Asian countries, self-racism exists like anywhere else. European features are desirable, even when there’s a xenophobic dislike of all outsiders. Being light-skinned is also frequently part of a hierarchy in which being naturally tanned is associated with being poor. ..

        • Ah, I see what you’re saying. I agree completely. As for the European features being desirable, it’s somewhat true and somewhat a myth. If you look at Korean standards of beauty, for example, yes they value light skin, but they also hate strong jawlines and foreheads, which are characteristics of Europeans. The lighter skin, like you said, comes from the outdoor worker stigma.

          • Interesting to note about the dislike of strong jawlines and foreheads. It’s hard to imagine what exactly a strong forehead is, beyond the so called ‘caveman brow.’

            I certainly don’t have the kind of perspective on Korean culture that you do, but the plastic surgery for double-eye lids that seems (relatively) popular in China and Korea — I’d think that has something to do with a European standard of beauty. And all across Asia there seems to be a particular affection for half-white pop stars. …

            • Yeah, the double eye-lid thing could have something to do with European standards, but I think it’s just a universal standard of beauty — double eyelid = larger eyes = symbol of youth.

              Anyway, I don’t mean to disagree with you on everything. Just playing devil’s advocate. 🙂 Out of curiosity, what is your ethnic background?

              • Black, though one of my parents isn’t — so one could say mixed.

                Unfortunately people seem to see less ‘otherness,’ or at least a more desirable kind in the latter.

                And no worries about disagreeing with me. That’s fine both ways, I hope, because I’m not sure that ‘larger eyes’ as a standard of beauty is universal. I mean, how can it be universal if it’s perfectly natural for some people to not have double eyelids — did ancient Asian art disfavor this look in its depictions of beauty?

                • When I referred to a universal standard of beauty, I meant the traits that humans are drawn to as a result of evolution. For example, large eyes are a marker of youth, high-pitched voice, shiny hair, hip-to-waist ratio are markers of fertility, and symmetry is a marker of health. So yes, these are ideals found in every culture across space and time, regardless of the fact that single eyelids are naturally occurring.

                  I’d be fascinated to know if ancient Asian art favored the double eyelid, but I have no idea!

                  • I can see all of those things being accurate throughout the course of human history, except that let’s say there’s a village where everyone has the single eyelid (for generations) — I have to figure there’s a slightly different reference point for beauty beyond what we generally think of now as ‘large eyes.’

                  • Don’t mean to harp too much on this; it just seems like you can certainly have the single eyelid and be on the wavelength of ‘universal’ beauty — the idea that having the single eyelid and that meaning that one’s eyes aren’t large enough to be considered beautiful seems to me to be a decidedly post-‘universal’ standard of beauty.

  3. Just wanted to say that the tagline in your photo is so true. Your post brings up some good discussion about this preference that Asian women have for white men. But a lot of women who are minorities I know also have this preference for dating white guys. It seems like my white friends are more open into dating Asian guys, and some of them have a preference for non-white guys in general. I hope this made sense because it’s late and I’m tired but you’re right–I did find quite this interesting. 🙂

    • No worries, you made sense! I completely agree that the preference for white men exists in all the minorities, and I wonder if minorities feel subconsciously that dating white men makes them less of an “other”. I think it’s great that your white friends are open to dating non-whites — otherwise, poor Asian dudes would have a really sucky time. 😉

    • Okay, I was actually never really clear on that haha. Are you mixed? Because your last name is Iglesias. And what is your first name exactly? I never know what to call you. x.x

      About the height thing, you and me girl. I feel bad admitting to it, like I’m the female equivalent of the guy who says “nothing over 140 lbs”. Can I blame it on the fact that my dad is tall and it’s weird for me if the guy I’m dating isn’t at least taller than him?

      • Eh. My great grandpa was pure Spaniard… and I’m from the Philippines, a former colony of Spain for 400 years, so yeah, lol. Filipinos have Spanish last names. 90% Catholic, culture more Hispanic than Asian, even our currency is the same as Mexico, Philippine peso. Not so Asian, huh. Filipinos are the odd man out in Asia.

        • Yeah I find the Philippines super fascinating. Some of my filipino friends have non-Spanish names, though, like really long things I can’t pronounce. Are those “native” names?

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