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Wokking Tall
Just posted another one of my Advice Goddess columns. This kid loves his Asian girlfriend, and because he's white and she's Asian, and all his friends from his mostly Asian neighborhood are Asian, kids at college look at his MySpace page and accuse him of having an "Asian fetish." He worries that people will never truly believe he loves her, and wants to stop them from getting the impression that he's with her for any other reason. Here's my answer:

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.”

The entire thing is here.

Posted by aalkon at November 17, 2006 4:09 PM

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Shouldn't be able to graduate college without reading Sociobiology. Anything so hated by both lefty-loosies and righty-tighties has got to be brimming with Universal Truth.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at November 17, 2006 12:09 PM

That was really interesting, Amy.

The love of my life (so far) was a gay black man. One evening we were talking about the shit that gay men sometimes get for sleeping with men of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. It goes something like this: White men are attracted to blacks because blacks are exotic, whereas black men are attracted to whites because of internalized racism/self-hatred. My friend pointed out that, in addition to being simple-minded, these interpretations are patently racist. Blacks may sometimes exoticize non-blacks, and whites' sexual interest in non-whites may be motivated by self-hatred. Or it may not. And for those of us who are interested in pleasure, the "healthiness" of a sexual attraction is irrelevant. Why? Because Michel Foucault said so -- and he had the hottest fucking sex possible.

Posted by: Lena at November 18, 2006 12:50 AM

Thanks, Lean...

And I had a hard time, mainly from black women, when I had a black boyfriend for a while. Hey, ladies, lose the snarling faces. I went out with him simply because he was hot, and because he asked me very nicely. He happened to be chocolate-colored. Whatever. Frankly, as long as a guy has dark hair, I'll probably be interested in him -- provided the rudiments are also in place.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 1:02 AM

Paglia calls Foucoult "El Sphinctero Grande," and makes a good supporting argument.

Posted by: Crid at November 18, 2006 7:00 AM

Lena calls Paglia "The Cheesesteak-Slurping Wop" and doesn't really think her flabby dyke ass merits the effort of a supporting argument.

Posted by: Lena at November 18, 2006 10:21 AM

First... More than anyone in public life in the last quarter century, Paglia has been the one from whom people have dodged arguments... Because it's beneath them, or too petty, or too important, or not relevant, or vulgar, or whatever. When you look at all these people, what they have in common is that they dodged arguing with her. She need not be a perfect thinker or faultless human being to be right more often than a whole lot of other people, people who have trouble assigning meaning to language.

That Texas weasel woman, her name is coming to me as I type... nope.. googling (justasec: aha!) Molly Ivins is famous for saying of Paglia (paraphrasing): "Honey, take a chill pill!" Such a retort may be a deadly masterstroke in the country clubs of Dallas or Houston or wherever, but the rest of us are left to note that it refutes no argument. It's just the best thing she could ever say to Camille Paglia.

Secondly, when Playboy interviewed her years ago in Philidelphia, they were delighted when she took them to a restaurant famous for its meats, and disasppointed when she ordered the dykiest salad on the menu. Girlfriend takes care of herself.

After all these years, she's still Fantasy Dinner Guest #1.

Posted by: Crid at November 18, 2006 6:45 PM

What is there to argue with? Paglia is a non-entity who has never uttered anything that even vaguely resembles an idea. (I suspect it comes from eating too many fried sausage and pepper calzones in that filthy shithole of a city she calls home.) She simply does not matter.

Posted by: Lena at November 18, 2006 9:00 PM

Right, and no more wire hangers, either. Four bestsellers, including the academic work of the decade, and hundreds of speeches, interviews and columns. There oughta be something in there you can work with.

Posted by: Crid at November 19, 2006 6:51 AM

We all have our guilty pleasures, so knock yourself out. But when Fantasy Dinner Guest #1 tries to start a burping contest at the table, don't say I didn't warn you.

Posted by: Lena at November 19, 2006 8:06 AM

Hitchens, in chair number two, will take her ass with a rumbling gust of Cab-gas.

Posted by: Crid at November 19, 2006 8:45 AM

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