Attraction to Asian Women
Note: This text is archived here for historical purposes, and does not necessarily reflect how I feel today. See the footer text for more info and licensing.
This started out as an email to a friend, but I thought it might be better if I threw it online for all the world's eyes to see. You can let me know what you think, but don't expect me to like it. I'm just saying....
I stumbled on this online journal by Min Jung Kim, and her web cam. The web cam wasn't that exciting. From the little I've seen, it was just a Korean woman sitting at her desk at work, ostensibly doing something.1
What exactly, who knows. I poked around, and found out she feels nothing in particular towards white men. Why does it matter? I don't know. No, I do. It's because I'm attracted to Asian women, and this seems to be a constant thread: the vast majority seem to want to have nothing to do with us whiteys. I've tried to rationalize this. "No, it's not Asian fetishism," I tell myself. "No, I don't want the stereotypical Asian who apparently is submissive, etc.," I try to remind myself. "Being attracted to a race other than your own is perfectly natural, and it's basically the same thing as only being attracted to your own race," I reassure myself, which gives me much comfort actually. So, this is the thing that bugs me: Why do I still feel guilty about it?
Another thing that gives me great comfort is that every Asian woman whom I've gotten to know has treated me with kindness. But the attraction is more than just subliminal, more than that my experiences with them as friends have been good. There is a physical quality that Asian women share. Their skin color is just a few shades darker than mine (to those women who try to make their skin color lighter, I say why bother?). Typically the women I'm attracted to are slim, with varying breast size, but generally on the small side. But the defining characteristic is the shape of their eyes. I could use a lot of words to describe it (i.e. slanty, slinty, almond shaped, etc.), but the epicanthic fold generally does it for me. A website called AsianWhite.org has sprung up and tries to defend whites attracted to Asians in the face of charges of fetishism and the like. The site doesn't satisfy when it comes to finding the reason why.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a student of political science2, and my main area of interest is China. I studied Chinese politics and history for a couple years, and starting in January of 2000 I started taking Mandarin. In the Summer of 2000 I went to China for two months, and the experience was incredible. It was the first time that I was the minority, that I was being gawked at. I don't exactly stand out in Vancouver, home to one of the largest concentrations of Chinese people in North America. I kind of liked the attention I got. But back in Vancouver, I'm just another gwai lo. Which means I want to go back, mostly to work. But even that I am less sure of, because it's starting to feel like a phase, a phase that may be waning. Maybe I need a break, which I think comes next semester when my classes have less to do about China.3
But this does not resolve my central question: is it okay to be attracted to Asians?
I've gotten both flack and...what's the opposite of flack? Anyway, I got that too, about the "my attraction to Asian women" thing. One guy, though, says "How about 'I like girls that are nice and if they're Asian, so be it.'" A fair point. I guess that's the way I feel about it now.
He also lumped me in with Asian fetishist apologists. Really? I thought I was kind of the opposite of Bill Clinton: I feel guilty about it, but I'm not sorry. I am still sensitive about it, but a lot less than I used to be. Writing about it, in public, has helped a lot. Reading the comments about it from 'viewers like you' has also helped. (Yes, I did get a "no, it's not okay" email.) But I think the realization that one of the 'types' of people I'm attracted happens to be Asian. I have friends who would probably not date Asians, because, well, it never occured to them. Some probably would, because they think that they're just as Canadian as they are.
I saw a WM/AF couple today4, and they looked like a couple where race wasn't really a factor. They just seemed to like each other. That's what I'm looking for. Someone that I like that likes me too. Do I want one of those cutesy Taiwanese girls in Metrotown that talk on their cellies with all those Hello Kitty knick-knacks on it? Not really. Do I want someone who will wear a silk red dress with a dragon on it, do tai qi every morning, and do some weird Asian sex thing? Please, give me a break. What about someone who's smart, quotes Simpsons episodes, and thinks that going to the airport to people-watch and eat ice cream and run around to the various terminals, pretending to sadly say goodbye, then pretend to change your mind after all to the delight of the onlooking crowd would be a fun date? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
So basically, I'm looking for a woman that laughs at my jokes. That knows what irony is. That cooks about as good as I do (which probably means we would both have a lot of learning to do). Who is spontaneous enough to decide to go out but not decide where until we leave, and lazy enough to enjoy sitting on the couch reading a book.
My point is that maybe I agree with a modified quote of the above. "I like girls that are nice and if they're Asian, so be it...Asian being first-among- equals".
I got an email from a well-wisher (in that he wished me no specific harm), and I quote without permission. 5 He read Parts I and II (before this part was written) and came up with his own thesis as to why white men like myself are attracted to Asian women. It rung true, but rather than quote the whole thing, I'll just summarize it, and intersperse it with quotes.
His argument centers around human desire and the structures that feed it and shape it. "All that needs to happen for a desire complex to take root," he writes in the email, "is for a person to make a positive association with the pattern of that desire complex and sex." Things Asian, for as long as Western man (and, to a lesser extent, woman) has known about them, have held a certain mystique, and have largely associated with sex. Especially Asian women, he says, which has to do with "Oriental mysticism, colonialism and the assumed superiority of the white race (which we all still inherit, even though intellectually it is largely dismissed nowadays)."
He goes on, and makes a startling link between the shape of the epicanthic fold and a woman's hips (thereby, again, linking things Asian to sex). He is cautious though, and he notes that while he knows that he is not studying Mandarin to pick up chicks (but rather, because the language is beautiful) or interested in Chinese film because Gong Li is stunning (but rather because the films of the last ten years are works of art dealing with a host of complex issues). It's hard for guys like him—and myself—to explain to people that we are interested in Asian culture in general as well as its popular culture because of its significant value to the Western world. All credibility is lost when people find out about this silly attraction I have. Usually, I let people come to their own conclusions. I'll point out that woman and say, "now she is pretty". Then I'll say something like, "Zhang Ziyi is quite attractive." Usually that's all it takes before they say "So, you like Asians eh?"
A friend and I were walking in the mall one day, and there was this necktie store. Every now and then, I like to dress up, just for the sake of looking like a professional. (A professional what? most people would ask...) So I walk into the tie store, and the woman working there is Asian. And extremely attractive. I asked questions about ties, you know, questions people normally ask when shopping for ties. It only occurs to my friend about five minutes later that I had gone in the store because this woman was Asian. True enough, but it was also because she was attractive. People walk into stores and flirt with the salespeople, right? Or is TV not an accurate portrayal of real life like I think it is?
3 See footnote 2.
The above represents the concatenated version of what was originally a three-part series. Part I was written in December 2000, Part II a few months later, and Part III some time after that. The vagueness on the dates is due to my not actually remembering when the last two parts were written, but three or four between each part seems about right.
Furthermore, edits were made to the original text. These edits include:
- updated or removed dead links to websites
- removal of the names of some people and added updates in footnotes
- minor typographic and stylistic changes; more significant semantic clarifications are footnoted
Other than that, the essential argument is just as it was when originally written.
If you feel inclined to call me a racist or a moron, or if you think that by publishing this I'm trying to "get some Chinese ass", or that you think I should stick my head in a blender, people have already told me those things, so if you want to criticize me, by all means. But if you must criticize me for any of the above, yeah, real original.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You may copy and publish part or whole of this document without my permission for commercial or non-commercial purposes, but only if you attribute me as the original author. If you publish it, I would appreciate a link back to the original, but you are under no obligation. If you've published it, or see it published elsewhere I'd love to hear about it, but again, there is no obligation.