I know I’m a bit late to the game, but I had to give my two cents on the article published in Marie Claire last week, The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women.
I first heard about this piece through Catherine_Sr.’s blog. I was still in San Francisco in vacation mode so I didn’t want to read the article right away, assuming I’d get really upset. I finally read it a day or two later, and as I wrote in the comments section of the Marie Claire website:
reading this article, i was prepared to be angry and offended. however, i’m mostly just shocked at how poorly written it is. it’s as though the author simply rattled off a bunch of headlines, common stereotypes, and personal assumptions, smashed it all together, and called it an article.
Basically the author (an Asian woman, btw) lists a dozen well-known old white guy-younger Asian woman couples, then finds a half a dozen ways to say “ew.” Then she tries to “explain” these relationships through a variety of stereotypes, for example:
“Asian kids’ intrinsic work ethic”
a) What does this even mean? that these Asian women worked really hard to snag their sugar babas? and b) I’m sorry but I was pretty freaking lazy as a kid, and coasted because I went to an upper middle class school that expected me to excel.
“power divorcés of a certain ilk make the perfect renegade suitors for these overachieving Asian good girls — an ultimate (yet lame) attempt at rebellion?”
These women probably are overachievers – aside from being married to Rupert Murdoch, Wendi Deng is also a Yale graduate, and do you think Zhang Ziyi will be best known for marrying some random white rich guy, or the fact that she was in freaking Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? But marrying some old rich dude hardly seems rebellious. Marrying the pool boy, on the other hand. . .
“Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliché that is predominantly true)”
Predominantly true based on what? A story in your head? Your own daddy issues? How about the rest of us billion and a half Asians around the world? My dad for one is the emotional one, and my mom the hardass, a cliche which I find predominantly true among the Asians I know.
Of course I have my own theories as to why there seem to be a lot of Asian women-white guy relationships (seem being the operative word here), like that we all actually marry our mothers, not our fathers, and with so many Asian moms being skerry badasses, both women and men look for that. Not that white guys are skerry badasses (HARDLY), but, and I’m sorry but Asian men will hate me for this, a guy raised by a badass mom will more likely be a momma’s boy. (Not that I know all half a billion Asian men, so there goes that.)
Plus with a white guy? No even-skerrier, even bad-asser ASIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW. Duh, duh, duuuh! An Asian mother-in-law who expects you to cook and clean, to wait on her precious boy, hand and foot.
But really who knows why anyone is together? Even as I wrote the above, it seemed dumb and full of holes and colored by my own experiences.
While there’s no denying that 1) Asian women-white guy relationships do exist, and 2) some non-Asian guys have fetishes, do not tell me that while dating a white guy, I “may not know if it’s a fetish thing.” As Disgrasian says it so well in the Huffington Post:
Um, excuse me? Really? So Asian women are not only submissive Suzie Wongs and geishas, we’re also fucking brain-dead, too?
The complications of sexual politics notwithstanding, fetishists are easy to spot. They come at you with their prayer-bead bracelets and their suspiciously in-depth knowledge of your “culture.” They come with transparent dating histories, and many of them are more than happy to offer up that their last eight girlfriends have been Asian. . .
Um, yeah, I’ve been there. Dated a guy whose last three girlfriends were Japanese. The icing on the cake was when he spoke Japanese to me by mistake – during sex. Red flag, anyone? (Then again, the last three guys I dated plus my current boyfriend are all white, and we speak English all the time! Does that mean I have a fetish?) Disgrasian goes on:
[Fetishists] unabashedly expound–based on their dating experience alone–on the fundamental difference between, say, Korean women and Chinese women. Fetishists tend to talk about you like you’re only a member of a larger group; e.g. instead of saying, “I really like your shiny hair,” they’ll say, “I really like Asian girls’ hair.” And, frankly, they’re creepy, like noticeably-remarkably-right-off-the-bat-creepy, like konichiwa-ni hao ma-what are you?-as-an-opening-line creepy, and stalk-you-on-Facebook-where-they-have-381-friends-who-all-happen-to-be-Asian-women-creepy, and follow-you-to-your-car-in-a-parking-garage-after-you’ve-shared-two-minutes-riding-an-elevator-together-creepy. It’s not rocket science, people.
And if we’re going to traffic in stereotypes here, did Marie Claire forget that Asians are supposed to be smart, too?
Haha, good one!
What makes the clueless-fetishized-Asian-woman statement even more annoying is that it’s by an Asian American woman. I know just the self-righteous type too. My college was full of them. Hell, I was one of them, looking down at Asians who dated whites (but not blacks or Latinos, that was almost a step up, like somehow that made you even more a person of color, cuz, let’s face it, us Asians are probably the least colored on the people of color rainbow).
Look, I’m not going to go on to insist that my current white (YOUNGER) boyfriend doesn’t have a fetish. But if you think he does, and that my being Asian is the main reason he’s with me, then you’re saying that I have no or few other redeeming qualities. You have reduced our relationship – our best friend-ness, our family-ness – to a stereotype. And to that I say, Fuck you.
But to say that race has nothing to do with at least our initial attraction to each other is naive. Why people are drawn to each other is complex. Maybe you’ve grown up on an island with a 90% Asian population and all your crushes were on Asian girls. Or maybe you’re from an Italian/Jewish neighborhood and all the boys you liked had bat mitzvahs or Communion. But that’s only the initial draw. It’s not what keeps a relationship going.
Basically it’s useless to make conjectures about why people are together. I can look at some old white scrawny dude with a mullet and a young Asian hottie and think, Girl, you could do so much better! But maybe she can’t. Or maybe she likes being fetishized; maybe she fetishizes pale skinny guys with bad haircuts and nosehair. Or maybe it’s just love. You never know.
This is awesome!
One thing that disturbed me when reading responses to the article in the blogosphere was that I saw several comments by Asian American men and women who agreed with Ying Chu AND said that Asian women/white men relationships invariably fan the flames of racism. Apparently, anyone who says otherwise is in “denial.”
It’s such an odd feeling having your relationship politicized like that by a bunch of strangers, especially people who have such cynical views on love. I don’t understand people who think you can make a statement by dating a certain person. That’s what t-shirts are for, not human beings!
That Digrasian article was hilarious!
those comments *are* disturbing, as though those who date/marry white are race traitors.
i was thinking more about your situation in particular. in nyc, i don’t think too much about my relationship in terms of race. the white guy-asian woman thing is so common here. it’s only when articles like the one in marie claire and annoying comments on sites like gawker or jezebel come up do i think about it.
but in countries like taiwan or china, being an asian woman in a relationship with a white man must be a whole different story. when i lived in china and would hang out with my white friends, i’d get looks and comments, like i was some kind of traitor, or thought i was better than the “natives.”
there’s that term, “dalu mei,” a chinese woman who marries a foreigner to get out of the country; to an ignorant/bitter eye, any asian woman with a non-asian man would be lumped into that category.
Living here has actually made me more aware of bigotry toward interracial relationships. I get the sense that women in relationships with white guys are often dismissed here as opportunistic whores. There are Taiwanese women who seem to make a game of chasing foreign men and foreign men who respond to that… and indeed one of the reasons I avoid a lot of expat forums is because I’m sick of reading all the “how to f… local hotties” comments.
I think you can argue that any foreign guy anywhere who is not downright hideous is going to be sought after by certain women (I’m thinking of the reception my English male friends got in college and in NYC), but of course I think there is always extra baggage attached to interracial relationships where the male half is white.
The upshot is… the people in Taiwanese female/white guy (of whatever nationality) relationships are often both stereotyped as rapacious sluts/mindless party animals. You probably read about this in one of my blog posts, but I had a language partner who told me, with a straight face, “when you see a relationship like that, usually both the woman and man are low quality individuals.”
Ron and I have gotten weird looks from certain people before, but I also get the sense that those people are befuddled as soon as they hear my American English. Maybe my being the same nationality as Ron “neutralizes” our relationship in their minds.
On a sort-of related note… I’ve actually been hit on by white guys who seem to have an Asian fetish here. One instance was when I was in an expat bar and this Scottish guy came up and started speaking lousy Mandarin to me, even when it became clear that I was a native English speaker. It was extremely annoying. I refuse to go to expat bars/nightclubs any more, because there seem to be a fair amount of foreign men who seem to think that if you are a Taiwanese woman who choses to visit such an establishment, then you are just BEGGING to be hit on.