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Wokking Tall

I'm a 20-year-old college student who grew up in an area that was mostly Asian-American. Naturally, most of my friends from home are Asian, as is my girlfriend of four years. Thanks to social networking Web sites, anyone at my (mostly white) college can see pictures of my friends and girlfriend. A disturbing number imply -- or outright say -- I must have a “fetish” for Asian girls. My girlfriend is brilliant, beautiful, and makes me laugh like no other. I hope to marry her one day, but I’m worried that people will never believe I truly love her. How do I stop them from getting this impression?


Whatever happened to “Hi, howya doin’?”/”Wicked hangover. You?” These people get right to it: “Excuse me, but do you have a racially based sexual obsession?” You could respond with the truth: “Actually, I fell for the girl next door. She’s Japanese, as was the girl next door to her, and the girl next door to her.” But, maybe you’d rather give them what they deserve: “Actually, I’m just biding time with the Asian chick between crawling under tables at the library and trying to suck unsuspecting women’s toes.” In other words, perhaps their time would be better spent pursuing another disturbing coincidence from your MySpace page: Your sordid history of dating women with feet.

If you couldn’t get turned on without feet, you would have a fetish -- a sexual compulsion for an inanimate object or non-sexual body part. If they had to be Asian feet, you’d have an Asian foot fetish. The “Asian fetish” you’ve been accused of is slang for an obsession with the stereotypical Asian woman -- submissive, subservient, and demure. That woman is readily available in porn and old movies, but if you’ve got to have her in real life, good luck. I know a number of Asian-American women, all complete failures as “fragile lotus blossoms” -- for example, my comedienne friend Sandra Tsing Loh who got fired from the Los Angeles NPR station for saying a word you’ll never see on one of their pledge-drive tote bags.

Sure, it’s a bit of a surprise for a kid from some Midwestern suburb where everybody’s as white as a paper towel to meet a white guy whose friends are all named Park (the Smith of Korea) or Chan (the Jones of China). If only he’d get knee-jerk inquisitive instead of knee-jerk ugly. Unfortunately, humans have a hard-wired tendency to be “tribal” -- most likely a holdover from when early humans had to band together to make it against the elements, wild animals, and other early humans. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson writes in “Sociobiology” that xenophobia -- fear and hatred of outsiders -- “has been documented in virtually every group of (higher) animals.”

Yes, The Naked Ape is now a college sophomore with text messaging: “Got geisha?” Translation: “Here you are, selfishly pursuing your own happiness over the comfort of friends, acquaintances, and web-trolling strangers.” It doesn’t have to be that way. The sooner you dump your girlfriend, the sooner people will stop assuming you’re an Asian fetishist and start assuming you’re a girlfriendless loser. Of course, this won’t open their tiny little minds. Your best shot at that is letting them get to know you and your girlfriend. This takes focusing on what’s really important -- not whether people believe you love her but simply that you do. Ultimately, even if college isn’t quite the higher learning experience you thought it would be, with your girlfriend around, at least you won’t have to remember it solely as “Pee-wee’s Bigot Adventure.”

Posted by aalkon at November 15, 2006 9:58 AM

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Posted by: Juliette at November 17, 2006 10:27 AM

I really don't quite understand Amy's reply though I'm 100% sure it's good advice. There'e sometimes a language barrier over the pond.

You ask "How do I stop them from getting this impression?" I don't know that you can. Do you want to live by other people's standards? If so, either find a girlfriend that's acceptable to them (how will you know?) or move somewhere that doesn't go in for lynch mobs. If you want to live by your own standards, tell them to go to hell. Or to mind their own damn business. Literally. They'll respect you for it, and they may just learn a new point of view.

Posted by: Norman at November 17, 2006 11:09 AM

As a white,professional,female college professor from South Georgia who has dated in and outside of her culture, I often have this same problem. You can tell the look on peoples' faces when they "find out" about you. You can see them trying to figure out what is wrong with you because you don't always date white people. Although it never bothered me much really, there are the times when, say, your job is at stake or your childrens' friends' parents find you repulsive because you are not a racist fuck, so your kid can't go to the party, that you worry about your style of choice. What I have done in the past that gives me an immense amount of pleasure is to discuss racial identity studies, especially white racial identity. I will tell particularly overt white racists who question me that white people receive unmerited, unearned power and prestige in this modern American society and continue to do so because of their lack of intelligence for differing cultures and self-righteous belief that they deserve it based on spiritual mythology that has perpetuated throughout much of the European "White Man's Burden" history. Most average overtly racist fucks cannot follow half of that conversation, which may not especially help the real issue much, but it is of exceptional entertainment. You should watch their faces distort into infantile-like expressions as I talk. You should see the blank smiles and nervous, fidgety eyes trying to feign understanding. Sometimes I will even throw in the little tid-bit of information that Jesus could not have been white, which is basically a sin below the Mason-Dixon line. Then I might say, "I hope Jesus doesn't think of you the way you think of me." And walk away. I wish I could capture in one written sentence the look of ignorant anger, but I cannot, as I have tried many times. I guess I am amused easily, but whatever. To each his own, which was the basic point anyway.

Posted by: Kg at November 17, 2006 12:19 PM

From the ladies at Sisterly Advice: 1)Jena: Why is this man even asking this question--it says a little bit about his maturity level; 2)Michelle: I am so totally feeling this man because everyday I get up and wonder "What are people going to think about me because I'm dating a fellow African American?"; 3)Elana: I wonder if my sister has a foot fetish--all the men she dates wear a size fifteen or larger.

Posted by: Sisterly Advisors at November 17, 2006 8:24 PM

The term, I believe invented by our college generation, which I am part of, is "yellow fever." Their is growing obsession with all things asian in my agr group; I see lots of people who love Japanese film, and theres an entire culture devote "anime" or "japanime" or whatever people wantt o call their animated films. I knew kids who would greet me with a "konichiwa" or however you spell the japanese word for hello. I don't find it strange, just very interesting; the way for some, french life is very in vogue (a.k.A amy), many people of my generation or living there lives with an asiatic trend. What makes this funny is that these are kids form my town, where everybody is white.

As to your problem, don't let it bother you. Who gives a shit what other people think if your in love?

Posted by: scott at November 18, 2006 6:21 PM

As a slightly overweight middle aged white woman who is no longer arm candy, I find ethnic men to be much more passionate and accepting of me as I am, than the average barbie doll obsessed middle aged white guy. Also, check out the new Borat movie, it's a scream. He cuts right to the heart of ethnocentrism.
Boy did I catch hell from my friends, coworkers and family though, when I once dated a man from Iran. Even those who were staunchly antiracist shocked me when they said things like "They are all liers, you can't trust them." I'd say, "Your predjudice is showing." and they'd say, "No really, they are." My sister who was once married to a black man and is still antiracist (I thought) suggested that he might be into gunrunning and I'd better be careful. I would have bet a thousand dollars, her of all people would not have any predjudices. Of course all these comments and warnings were unsolicited. I pay them no heed and make my own decisions.

Posted by: chicknlady at November 18, 2006 10:33 PM

Misunderstood or Miss Understood?

Unsolicited advice from a guy who spent 5 years in Japan, and (horrors) married a student from an English class that he taught over there(scandal also, I'm sure). Thirty years and 3 kids later, I'm a happy guy. She's still the cutest girl I've ever seen, a great mom, good cook, and the love of my life. She's even a good driver - another stereotype destroyed. Submissive? No way, so watch out for the stereotypes.

I don't know what happened to the "friends."

"Friends" who were desperately trying to figure out is she some sort of bar girl or what, without being obvious about it. Answer, no but thanks for asking.

I suppose I could mumble something about the lack of opportunity to meet and date Caucasian girls in Japan if I cared. I don't.

Short version. Live your own life the way you want to. As long as you aren't hurting other people, who cares?

Posted by: MarkD at December 20, 2006 10:11 AM

I have to say that unless these are friends you actually spend time with, why worry? I get the impression that this gentleman is upset b/c a dozen people who've flitted by his MySpace account have noticed all his ex's are Asian. Well, who cares?! I mean, if they're spending that much time critiquing your love life, they probably don't have one of their own. And who cares if your day-to-day friends notice that every girl is Asian? As long as you don't go around saying things like "Only Aian women know how to..." or make similar blanket, racially inclusive statements, they're not gonna perceive you as anything other than yourself. And if they don't, than they aren't such great friends.

Posted by: CornerDemon at December 22, 2006 12:07 PM

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