So, She Wants To Defend Asian Fetishism

July 13, 2012
Because nothing says love like racial fetishism.

Earlier this week, a Huffington Post blogger Vivienne Chen wrote an article — So, He Likes You Because You’re Asian — which quickly made the rounds around Facebook. The basic thesis of the article is that there’s nothing particularly racist about a non-Asian man who exclusively dates Asian women. It’s not real racism, asserts Chen, but the kind of silly mundanity more deserving of our bemusement than our wrath. Further, thinks Chen, it’s us Asian women who stand to lose by calling this behaviour out as racist.

And, boy. Never has an article made me want to gnash my teeth and rip out my hair more. Writes Chen:

The problem I see is that this constant espousal of the stereotype of men who like Asian women oversimplifies complicated race, gender and sexual politics, and actually damages the dating prospects of Asian females and non-Asian males alike.

By promoting the “creepy [white] man with Asian fetish” stereotype in public discourse, we Asian women are shooting ourselves in the foot. We subtly reinforce that the predominant narrative of interracial dating between non-Asian men and Asian women is one of patriarchal, racist power structures, when we know that is not always the case. There is a world of difference between the old, ignorant fetishist and the average guy I’ve met who dates Asian women. In the areas of California where I grew up, where Asians range from 20 to 50% of the student population, a college-age male would have to make an active effort to exclude Asian females from their dating pool. And that, my friends, would be pretty racist.

But by constantly projecting this idea that men who specifically like Asian women are creepers, we risk making otherwise decent, respectable guys avoid dating Asian girls for fear of being labeled a creeper — until we have nothing but creepers left.

Now, I admit it — it’s been about 13 years since I’ve gone doggy-paddling around in the dating pool. But is this really a concern for all the single Asian ladies out there? Moreover, is this really a thought that crosses a decent gentleman’s mind while he debates asking the cute girl out?

"Man, I totally dig Jodie. But, I can't ask her out for coffee because if I do, she'll think I've internalized Orientalist and misogynistic stereotypes of Asian women as part of a long-standing fetish I have for the Eastern arts and culture, and that my interest in her is part of an elaborate ploy to engage in kinky recreations of Western colonialism of the Asian continent and its people using my recently purchased "Naughty Geisha" Halloween costume and discount foot-binding kit. Gosh, it's hard out here for a White guy."

I guess you learn something new about the male mentality every day.

Chen paints an elaborate portrait of the meager dating options for single Asian women today (one that certainly makes me relieved that this isn’t something I have to worry about). She asserts that there are two — and apparently only two — different kinds of non-Asian guys available for Asian women to date: 1) White guys who exclusively date Asian girls and who are fetishistic assholes, and 2) White guys who exclusively date Asian girls… but who are also “nice guys”. Or:

"Yeah, I only date Asian girls."

Versus:

"Yeah, I only date Asian girls. But -- I also like puppies!"

I admit, I was up until this point, completely unaware that the past few years’ Recession had also hit the dating economy so hard.

Apparently, we Asian American women have so saturated the dating market that we simply can’t afford to chase away the opportunity to date the “nice” Asiaphile, lest we while away the rest of our days as elderly — if morally superior — spinsters. These are good men, argues Chen, who just happen to be attracted to Asian women (and who just happen to have a huge collection of samurai swords, who just happen to have backpacked through Asia after college, who just happens to speak Mandarin, Japanese, and a little bit of pidgin Vietnamese, who just happens to have watched all the latest anime series, and who just happens to know where all the good bimbimbap restaurants in K-town are). We can’t blame the guy who just happens to fetishize the East, right?

... I mean, maybe he's only got Stage I Yellow Fever...?

After all, argues Chen, sexuality is all about objectification, isn’t it?

But how do we as Asian women deal with an overall decent, respectable guy who doesn’t just like Asians, but likes us because we’re Asian? Is it really a dealbreaker? This gets even more complicated. A thoughtful (Asian) female friend of mine points to a quote from Stephen Elliott of The Rumpus.net:

To be desired is to be fetishized… this idea that I want someone to desire me but not objectify me with their desires is absurd. It’s like saying I only want to date someone who is not attracted to people that look like me. Here’s the thing, you already are a fetish. You are your lover’s kink, exist within their circle of desire, starting with gender, and getting more specific from there.” (emphasis added)

“In fact,” he says, “there’s no bad reason to love a person. A person is not less enlightened if they’re only attracted to their own gender, or Asian women, or skinny people, or latex, or feet. You can objectify someone without treating them like an object.”

Elliott points out that the complexities of desire, objectification and fetishization affect all of us, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.

I agree that there’s a certain amount of objectification that comes with sexual desire. Peruse any local “Love Boutique”, and you’ll find ample examples of male and female (and trans) bodies being reduced to mere objects of sexual pleasure. In particular, you’ll find sexist and racial stereotypes given lewd form — fist-sized Black dildos juxtaposed next to decapitated rubber latex female torsos juxtaposed next to DVDs scrawled with images of barely legal Asian schoolgirls screaming “Fucky, sucky, long time” in jagged ChinkyYellowface font.

That doesn’t make it okay.

In fact, there are reams of writing from women, LGBT, and ethnic studies majors who have argued about the damning consequences of pornographic objectification of the human form, be it through the lens of race or gender. Objectification is a fact of human sexuality, but that doesn’t automatically give it a pass as politically acceptable.

And for the many people who lauded Chen’s article because (apparently) you can use it to rationalize anyone’s sexual fetishes, including (apparently) heterosexuality; I think there’s a big difference between having a particular sexual preference (re: hetero- vs homo-sexuality) hard-wired into your brain v.s. having a fetish for a woman of a particular race. Specifically, there’s a difference when viewed in light of the many damaging hypersexualized stereotypes that affect Asian/Asian American women in particular.

Unless someone's going to show me the scientific data that men are born with an Asian schoolgirl fetish.
Dehumanization is still dehumanization, whether for the purposes of sex or otherwise. It doesn’t matter why you’re objectifying me; if you’re objectifying me because of my race, you are still viewing me as less than human.
And, I'm nobody's Asian fembot.

I don’t know how more plainly I can put this: the simple act of objectifying a person based on their race is, in and of itself, racist. Chen jokes:

[M]ore often than not, I find the advances of fetishists to be less infuriating and more amusing — because they are just so darn bad at seduction. Their attempts to woo me with their poorly pronounced “ni haos” and “konichiwas” are on par with little old ladies who exclaim “but you speak English so well!” to classmates who innocently ask me to translate a “Chinese” tattoo. Ignorant? Yes, but hardly worth griping over.

But, whether you want to subjugate Asian women for your latest bedroom kink, or whether you merely want to ask us to translate your Chinese tattoo, you are still seeing Asian women as mere representatives of a racial whole. Manifestations of racism, no matter how mundane they might appear to be, are still based on racism. It’s still a person who isn’t seeing past my race. It’ still someone treating me differently based solely on the colour of my skin. And, that’s racist.

Yet, Chen argues, we Asian women should be more tolerant and forgiving of the Asiaphile because we are guilty of limiting our own dating choices; thus, to condemn the Asiaphile would be hypocritical.

We Asian girls who complain about Yellow Fever know for a fact that not every guy who dates Asian girls is a creeper — as many of us tend to exclusively date non-Asian men ourselves. [Marie Claire’s Ji Hyun Lee] admits this in passing, but waves it away with the age-old excuse: “Asian guys rarely hit on me, perhaps because many aren’t raised to be assertive with women.” Bullshit. Let’s be honest: We have grown up in a Western culture, with Western standards of beauty and Western ideals of romance — which is why we value “assertiveness” at the bar in the first place. We prefer Western men because we grew up in a culture that prefers Western men.

Chen is right — it would be hypocritical to condemn Asiaphiles while exclusively dating White men. Which doesn’t mean that Asiaphiles aren’t racist; it means maybe we should interrogate how racist it is when Asian women exclusively  date White men, or  exclusively date Asian men, or any other permutation of limiting one’s mating choices based on racial qualifiers.

Let me put it bluntly: a girl (Asian or otherwise) who only dates guys (White or otherwise) of a particular race because of their membership in that race is racist. And if you want proof, look no further than the casual racism of Chen’s article, which laughs about (rather than challenges) Asian notions of “light makes right”.

Those of us who come from more traditional Asian families know our parents would faint if we brought home an African American boyfriend; I’ve seen my friend’s mother scream at her for having a Berkeley-educated Brazilian beau. Asian cultures can be remarkably xenophobic, and white people are sometimes given a “light-skinned pass.” Long before the White Man set foot in China, having light skin was a sign of wealth and status, as it meant you didn’t spend long hours toiling in the sun. Remember, Asian cultures are the ones that mass market skin-lightening creams, where people often get eyelid surgery to make their eyes bigger, i.e. less Asian.

In short, it’s perfectly acceptable to be an Asian girl who fetishizes White guys, because Asian people are just oh-so-awesomely racist like that! Or, as Chen pithily puts it:

My friends and I often joke about this study: White guy says, “I love Asian women, you’re so exotic and feminine!” Asian girl says, “Well, at least you’re not black.”

Hilarious.

'Cuz what self-respecting Asian girl would demean herself with a guy who looks like this, right? I mean, he's just so... Black.

(Aside: Shemar Moore is insanely, inhumanely good-looking. I mean it, he is just impossibly handsome. It’s not fair to us mere mortals.)

Guess what, Ms. Chen? We all grew up in a Westernized Asian American culture that idealized Eurocentric ideals of beauty. We also all grew up with brains that are perfectly capable of challenging social programming to break out of racist stereotypes of beauty, sexuality and dating. Many Asian cultures suffer historically from deeply ingrained colourstruck programming that would discard or ostracize African American or Latino dating choices, while prizing White or Asian mates.  But we’re also supposed to be an enlightened generation of people who can move past their pre-programming and accept people for who they are rather than the colour of their skin.

Which leaves me with the crux of why Chen’s article so offended me.

Let me be clear: I am, in no way, arguing against interracial relationships. I am not denigrating Asian American women who have dated, and/or who are currently dating, non-Asian men. I make a very big distinction between Asian American women who date non-Asian men, and Asian American women who exclusively date non-Asian (or Asian) men. In short, I have a problem with the deliberate act of excluding one’s dating choices based on race.

I’ve been blogging as an Asian American female and feminist for nearly a decade. Back in the day, the issue of Asian female outmarriage was a seething undercurrent of the Asian American blogosphere (not that it doesn’t remain a hot-button issue these days, but nothing like 8-10 years ago). During this time, Asian women at-large were being typecast from within the community as being racist sellouts based primarily on the phenomenon of Asian American outmarriage. We were treated, as a whole, as folks who had internalized anti-Asian stereotypes of Asian masculinity, and this served as a real obstacle for female political participation in the online Asian American community. Gigabytes of digital type were dedicated to arguing that (all) Asian American women suffer internalized self-hate leading them to date White men, and this was why Asian American men should be suspicious of any Asian American woman’s involvement in APA political activism and community organizing. Unlike Asian American men, politically engaged Asian American women had to defend our “down-ness” with the Asian American cause in reference to the race of our significant others.

You'd be pissed too if the state of your love life was more important to some members of the Asian American community than what you had to say.

Because I am an Asian American woman in a stable relationship with an African-American man, I’ve been the target of the worst sexism that the Asian American community has to offer. I’ve been called a sellout, a hypocrite, and worse because the man I fell in love with is Black. I am part of the Asian female outmarriage statistic, and yet I still have the nerve to be involved in uplifting the Asian American community.

Here’s the difference, and it’s a critical one. I never exclusively limited my dating choices based on race. In the very brief period between when I was both post-pubescent and single (and I do mean brief — we’re talking 3, maybe 4, years?), I was attracted to men of all shapes and sizes, and all colours and creeds. As far as I’m concerned, limiting oneself to dating only a certain physical type — racial or otherwise — is as superficial as it is racist, and is almost a guarantee to miss out on the potential love of your life.

In short, Asian women who conscientiously choose to exclusively date White men are just as racist as the Asiaphiles they defend. And, as someone who has spent years defending non-racist Asian women and our right to be in meaningful interracial relationships (and to do so without having our Asian-ness questioned), I’m galled and disappointed by this blatant example of an Asian woman getting it so very racist and so very wrong. Asian American women shouldn’t have our political activism questioned based on who we date; but nor should we so brazenly embrace racism, and being racially subjugated, in our own lives.

And what pisses me off the most, Ms. Chen? In the eyes of the small subset of the Asian American male population who would rather marginalize all Asian American female voices than to listen to us — there’s no difference between you and me.

In the end, Chen’s article isn’t about arguing that Asiaphilia isn’t racist. It’s about Chen suggesting that Asiaphilia is an acceptable form of racism because it’s more convenient for her personal life to do so. Chen isn’t interested in combatting racism; she’s interested in protecting her dating options. She wants to preserve her right to be racially objectified and to call it love. She wants to leverage her race to her own romantic advantage, and be desired with a clear conscience.

Which, in the end, is nothing more than defending your right to be in this relationship:

"My boyfriend only dates Asian girls. But it's not racist because I'm his SPECIAL Asian girl."

If that’s what floats Ms. Chen’s boat, than so be it. But, please don’t make all of us Asian American women look like racist asshats while you’re rationalizing the sociopolitical consequences of your own poor love-life choices. Neither does every person in an interracial relationship have a racial fetish, nor is every Asian American woman who dates interracially tolerant of Asiaphilia. So, please stop making it seem like the case.

In closing, let me make a humble suggestion: So, he likes you because you’re Asian? Then, he doesn’t love you. Really. Maybe you should try dating until you can find someone who likes you, and who doesn’t give a fuck what you look like.

And that might even mean giving up your own racial fetishes, too.

  • yun

    Jenn,

    1. This is what I mean by handwaving. I wrote ALL those counter points to your stats, to CN Le’s silly reasoning, etc. Yet you quote one line where he says it’s complex and the case is closed?

    2.. I’m not sure if you’re serious with the capably dismantles them. I’m not sure if it has occurred to you that the reason the reasons are one-sided is because the emasculation/discrimination has been happening only one way.

    From wiki “However, in modern times, it more generally refers to social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men”

    If this is the definiton then every place on the planet is a patriarchy especially Indians and Middle Easteners FAR more than any Asian.

    3. quoting Cn Le – “Further, when the primary motivation for such cross-racial unions include love, individual compatibility, and perhaps the desire to broaden the exposure and acceptance of Asian/Asian American culture to the rest of mainstream society, interracial dating and marriage can in fact be a very powerful force for greater acceptance and equality across racial/ethnic groups in American society.”

    sure….it COULD be love and compatibility. If that’s the case then explain the 400% higher divorce rates. The stupidity of this guy’s statement is amazing. “greater acceptance and equality”. Nearly 45% of Asian females are married to whites – the same people who continually degrade them and their brothers with racist imagery in all available channels. Asian high school students are bullied at higher rates than homosexuals.

    Why do you think many af HATE on their own culture and want to be accepted by mainstream white? Anti-Asian (especially male) Racism. They’ve brainwashed some of these af into hating themselves and their own culture that they want to “fix” the problem by marrying out. Little do they understand, they’ll still be just a racist stereotype in media and be treated with suspicion till they die.

    3. “That makes sense to me. But, again, why then the focus on Asian women?”

    We do focus on the stereotypes. That’s just one part of the equation.

    We have to focus on this because Asian women are part of the problem by pretending these problems don’t exist. Actually, their self-hating/white worshiping attitudes are proven in some of them with the many reasons I’ve listed above (the ones that I can remember).

  • yun

    correction:
    If this is the definition then ALMOST every place on the planet is a patriarchy especially Indians and Middle Easteners FAR more than any Asian.

  • Sengge Rinchen

    Jenn, “emasculation” is also just a symptom of the disease, and not the cause. “Emasculation” is a propaganda tool, and is actually just one of a suite of others that in my opinion has been used against the Asian American community.

    What is the purpose of this tool? What is the objective?

    In my opinion, the goal from the very beginning has been about removing the social and political influence of Asian Americans and making them dependent on white power structures.

    I think you put it aptly when you mentioned losing one’s keys but then looking for them under the street lamp because there’s where the light is. Same goes for “emasculation”. Asian American men have not really been “emasculated”. But they certainly have been subjected to a suite of forces.

  • Chris Koy

    @Jenn It Asian women that are obsessed with white men and not the other way around. The 2007 Columbia University Study stated the we found no proof for white men having a pronounce preference for Asian women. But what they did find was that Asian women preferred white men. This also back up by OKCUPID, where it showed Asian women selecting white men to the exclusion of every other race. This also matched other dating sites. You wrong about the percentage also. It 45% of Asian women that marry white men(this is both non US born and US born). Plus, look at every Asian women in Hollywood or high profiled and their all with white men and only white men. Tia Carrere, Kelly Hu and Lucy liu just to name a few.

  • Pozhal

    Chris Koy,

    If you go to a site like Creepy White Guys, you’ll definitely see that White men have an unhealthy and condescending obsession with Asian women.

    The Pew study showed that about 30% of Asian-born AF married outside their race, and about 40% of American-born AF married outside of their race. About 11% of Asian-born AM married outside their race, while about 30% of American-born AM married outside of their race.

    It’s interesting to note that when you adjust for acculturation, the IR rates are much more narrowed. That doesn’t mean that Asian self-hate isn’t a problem, but acculturation appears to be a significant factor.

    As for celebrities, yes, it’s very rare to find a famous Asian American woman with an Asian husband (the ones I can immediately think of are Lisa Ling, Grace Park, Ming Na Wen, and Yunjin Kim), but that’s probably because once you get that high up in society, it becomes extremely White-dominated. A ton of famous black women are married to White men, for example.

    Also, lots of famous and/or powerful Asian men (e.g. Harold Koh, Steven Chu, Goodwin Liu, Will Yun Lee, the late Bruce Lee, David Henry Hwang, etc.) are married to White women, so it’s a 2-way street.

  • http://www.reappropriate.co Jenn

    @Chris

    It’s worth noting that all the recent dating studies are based on the dating patterns of people signed up for online dating sites. Dating sites self-select for users who are primed to consider dating based on superficial characteristics and stereotypes (i.e., those who aspire to find mates based on individuality won’t find the dating site format appealing and exclude themselves from these kinds of studies), and are not representative of all daters. In that kind of meat market, it’s not surprising that you will find racial and gender stereotypes (of all kinds) predominating behaviour.

    And, as I’ve consistently said: I don’t deny that Asian men face emasculation stereotypes. My point of contention is the overall prevalence in the general population. Online daters are a proportion of daters, but it would be a fallacy to assume that their attitudes can be generalized to all daters. If you establish a group of superficial people, and then ask them the details of their superficiality, you will get some heinous, but ultimately skewed, answers.

    The same is true for celebrity couples. In a sample size of 6 Asian women, all sharing celebrity status and therefore by definition not representative of all Asian women, you’re going to get some pretty silly and meaningless results. If nothing else comes of this debate, I wish it would be to let go of this fanatical focus on celebrity culture from “your side” of the debate. Celebrity status is not a stand-in for scientific demography. And any assertion as such comes across as silly.

  • Keith

    Don’t get why people us anecdotal evidence in their arguments.

  • http://www.reappropriate.co Jenn

    Because it’s often easier to present anecdotal evidence than academic evidence. Anecdotal evidence is non-scientific, but (by definition) easy to collect, because you only have to draw on your own memory. It justifies and rationalizes one’s own experiences.

    If you depend upon scientific evidence, you have to think critically about your own experiences, and perhaps even reconcile with the idea that you might be wrong about how you interpret the world around you. That’s an uncomfortable place to be, for most people. It’s easier to tell a story about a guy you know — and universalize that one story to all people — than it is to study statistics and demography and confront the notion that the one guy you know is NOT representative of everybody, particularly if that realization comes with the idea that you might also be politically “wrong”.

  • Mike

    Jenn,

    I like oriental women because of their physical appearance, excluding Japanese women. Just like some men like blondes or brunettes because of their appearance, I happen to find oriental women attractive – again, excluding Japanese women. Furthermore, oriental women are not as overweight as white women, and they have less shapely figures – which I do, indeed, like alot.

    When I lived in Japan, most of the women were 5’0″, 110 pounds, drank alcohol weekly and had thick calf muscles. They also had very poor dental hygene. I wasnt attracted to these common traits amont the Japanese – about 7/10 j-girls had these features. So, in general, I am not attracted to Japanese girls.

    But, give me the average Chinese girl, even southern Chinese girl, and I am more than happy with how they look.

    I dont see why it is wrong for me to judge the phsyical appearance of a woman, just like everyone else does. Women routinely judge a man by his appearance. Are you aware of the phrase – ‘tall, dark and handsome’? How many short, skinny guys get all the women?

  • yippa

    Like the author here (I read this whole column quickly), it seems we are in agreeement that while there’s no problem with inter-racial dating as a whole (in fact it’s great), there IS a problem with trends in inter-racial dating, especially when someone can ONLY date people of another race while at the same time explicitly refusing to date their own race.

    I always have to chuckle when I hear an asian woman ‘complain’ about men with yellow fever as 9 times out of 10, the asian women doiing the complaining are THEMSELVES in relationships with NON-asian men and in fact likely tend to ONLY date non-asian men. But you gotta admit…it’s very clever of them. You see by going on and on about this supposedly rampant yellow fever, it plants the idea in everybody’s minds that it’s all the men chasing the women…not the reverse. Everyone will wonder if her white boyfriend has ‘yelliow fever’, but no one think to question her and her possible motives for being with him. Maybe SHE has white fever? Remember it takes two to tango and as we all know, women (including asian women) are very capable of letting a (white, black, latin) man know she is interested or ‘receptive’ to him, while at the same time these same women have their own ways of letting other (asian) men know they are NOT interested. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How many men naturally find asian women simply attractive, and how many men developed a ‘thing’ for asian women because they learned the asian women have a thing for THEM? Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be desired, right?

    So many asian women feel this need to ‘explain’ why they are with a non-asian man or to ‘explain’ their preference for white men. Seems to smack of a guilty conscience if you ask me.

  • My2cents

    While it’s possible to have a racial preference based on looks, I highly doubt anyone who says they have a “preference” for Asian women given the heavy baggage of stereotypes surrounding us. (By “preference” I mean exactly that. The person should also be open to dating other races. Anyone who exclusively dates Asians or specifically seeks them out is a fetishist.)

  • Asian Guy

    as an Asian American male reading this, who doesn’t have a girl friend and would prefer an Asian girl, this picture shows how i feel

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dhCHNwBB-tM/UI6oJHOcqeI/AAAAAAAADcw/-w9i-U7GVnU/s1600/Iron+Man+vs+Batman+4.jpg

    as Spiderman!

    but in all seriousness cant we just GET ALOOONG?

    also i completely agree with Yippa

  • Richard

    I read both. First, Chen’s then this one. Frankly, both articles are quite well written in my opinion so much so that I’m still torn on the issue. As a man, I agree with Chen. I think it’s unfair that women demonize the men as “creeps” while they themselves hold the same predilections. Yet, as an Asian individual, I also agree with Jenn here, racism is racism. Tough call. I’m going to go mull over this issue. What’s for sure is that I think both ladies’ perspectives are refreshing. Most articles that I come across on this issue almost always portrays white men as suffering from mental illness, “yellow fever”, while defending Asian women’s preference as her “right” to choose.

    Personally, I want to see more Asian males voicing our opinions over this issue in an intelligent manner. I’m sick of insecure asshole Asian dudes who complain about WMAF couples. Most of times, these guys hold secret fetish for white women and are suffering from sexual frustration. Meanwhile, I think a lot of intelligent Asian males are afraid of voicing their opinions for the fear of being seen as jealous. I think we can make intelligent argument against racism and emasculation of Asian males without coming off as jealous.

  • http://www.reappropriate.co Jenn

    Thanks for your comment, Richard!

    I think we can make intelligent argument against racism and emasculation of Asian males without coming off as jealous.

    Absolutely, and I think this represents the majority of Asian American men, too! Check out this post (which I wrote in 2007 and just restored from Racialicious) saying basically the same thing!

  • Gary

    @yippa Well said brother.

  • Jessica

    A bit late to the party but I just wanted to say, excellent article, Jenn! I don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said but there’s something I always wonder whenever this subject comes up and I’d be interested to know what you think (or anyone else reading this who has an intelligent opinion to offer too, of course!)

    I’ve known guys who clearly had an Asian-girl fetish, including a couple of my male family members who I really care about. They didn’t always admit it, they didn’t always say things like “I only date Asians”, but it was obvious because every girl they ever dated was Asian (and more specifically East Asian with the features typically associated with East Asians). I’m not Asian but I always kept thinking “if that was me I would feel so creeped out and objectified to be, like, the 19th Asian girl in a row…” but it’s not specifically an Asian thing. I mean, I would feel just as creeped out and fetishized if I found out that my boyfriend’s last 12 girlfriends in a row all had an unusual amount in common with me physically, say they were all tall girls with narrow faces and short blonde hair. It’s not necessarily so bad to have a “physical type”, but I think there’s a level of specificity beyond which it becomes creepy, problematic, and raises questions about that particular guy’s ability to see me as a person, an that’s even WITHOUT introducing a racial element to it.

    So yeah…clearly it’s not cool for a guy to be going around only dating Asians just like it’s not cool for a guy to only date women who check off every check box on his list of necessary physical features. I will NEVER apologize for feeling put off by that. But, like… it still feels a little weird to criticize the guy too much? I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with his fetishizing tendencies, but if a guy does have a fetish for a certain “look”, whether associated with a race or not, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do about that? Like, yeah, he should definitely question it, and explore it and try to see if he can get beyond it. Totally. But what if he can’t get beyond it? What if he has the fetish because of some repressed memory from when he was a toddler or something, and he’s just never going to be able to get rid of it? I’m not raising this question in a “what about teh menz” kind of way, obviously…it just bothers me that I can’t figure out what the right answer should be. I mean, I feel like, if I’m going to be criticizing a guy for having a fetish, I should be able to have a decent answer if he turns around and says “what do you suggest I do about it”, you know?

    So I was just wondering how you answer that question for yourself, Jenn… or anyone else here who has Jenn’s obvious intelligence about these matters. Like, I’m sure the first thing you’d say is “he needs to get himself in therapy stat”… I agree. But we all know therapy can take years to really work, and that’s if you’re lucky. So in the meantime, what is the right thing for that guy to do? It’s safe to say that forcing himself to date girls he’s not attracted to is a TERRIBLE choice, right? But what should he do, then? Date girls who match his fetish, but be extra careful to make sure he sees them as individuals too? It’s tempting to say he just should never date or be with anyone, why should he screw up someone’s life with his baggage, right? But is that really a good idea, when we know that long term isolation and sexual frustration can wreck someone’s mental health even more, which could have worse consequences for the women he encounters? And would it even be fair to say that he has to be condemned to a life of solitude because of a fetish he didn’t ask for and can’t help having? I REALLY hope that there could be a solution that would allow him to still have a dating and sex life, because the alternative just seems too horrible…but like…I’m not sure what that solution would be. I really would love to know what you think Jenn, you seem very reasonable about this and it has always bugged me. Thanks again for an awesome article =)

  • http://www.reappropriate.co/ Jenn

    Testing HTML tagging

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  • Present evidence: This space endeavours to encourage academic and rational debate around identity politics. Do your best to build an argument backed not just with your own ideas, but also with science.
  • Don't be pedantic: Listen to those debating you not just for places to attack, but also where you might learn and even change your own opinion. Repeatedly arguing the same point irrespective of presented counterfacts will now be considered a violation of this site's comment policy.
  • Respect the humanity of all groups: To elevate the quality of debate, this site will no longer tolerate (racial, cultural, gender, etc.) supremacist or inferiority lines of argumentation. There are other places on the internet where nationalist arguments can be expressed; this blog is not those places.
  • Don't be an asshole: If you think your behaviour would get you punched in the face outside of the internets, don't say it on the internets.
  • Don't abuse Disqus features: Don't upvote your own comments. Don't flag other people's comments without reasonable cause. Basically, don't try to game the system. You are not being slick.

Is your comment not approved or deleted? Here are some common reasons why:

  • Did you sign in? You are required to register an account with Disqus or one of your social media accounts in order to comment.
  • Did a comment get flagged? Comments will be default be published but flagged comments will be temporarily removed from view until they are reviewed by me.
  • Did you not play nice? You may have gotten banned and a bunch of your comments may have been therefore deleted. Sorry.

I monitor all comment threads, and try to address comments requiring moderation within 24-48 hours. Comments that violate this comment policy may receive a warning and removal of offensive content; overt or repeat violations are subject to deletion and/or banning of comment authors without warning.

I reserve final decision over how this comment policy will be enforced.

Summary:

Play nice and don't be a jerk, and you'll do just fine.