Why Yellow Fever Is Different than “Having a Type”
Last year the documentary Seeking Asian Female was released by
local filmmaker Debbie Lum. It captures an American man’s
obsession with finding a Chinese bride. I haven’t seen the movie yet,
but I did start watching Lum’s related web series They’re All So Beautiful,
which offers discussions about Yellow Fever – an uncontrollable
desire for Asians that is so powerful, having it is comparable to
contracting an illness – and racial fetish, where people choose
partners based solely on race. I recoiled as I watched multiple men
offer such insane generalizations about Asian women as “Asian females
are willing to listen, willing to adapt, willing to accept what the guy says.”
In my mind, though, these are sleazy, incompetent guys I’ll never
interact with. I’m comforted by that separation – it’s okayish for them
to act and think like this, since I won’t let them influence my life.
However, what astonishes me to this day is when some of my
Foul BallsLet’s say you were born into a family of hardcore Giants fans.You had no personal choice in the matter. You are and always will be a Giants fan until the day you die – you know you might as well never go home if you change the team you cheer for. In fact, you have a Giants logo birthmark on your forehead (“It’s in your blood!” your parents say proudly each time), and you do not plan to surgically remove it.
You grow up to be a handsome, confident man with various passions in life. One day a cool girl (we’ll call her Lindsay) hits on you at a bar. After dating her for a few weeks, you meet her friends for the first time. Y’all are having a good time, when your gal excuses herself to the restroom. One of her friends, who is a bit too drunk, then smirks to the group, “You know, this is just like Lindsay to go out with another Giants fan.” The others quickly shoot this friend dirty looks. You laugh awkwardly and ask, “What do you mean by that?” The friend scoffs, “Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t notice! All of her ex-boyfriends are Giants fans! She moved to SF because there are so many of you here.” You’re trying to process this info when Lindsay returns, and a new conversation topic starts, thankfully. Later that week, you’re still thinking about what her friend said. Details that seemed insignificant before begin to leap out at you now: Why does Lindsay already claim to be completely in love with you when she doesn’t even know what you do at your job? How come she never asked you about your hobbies? When you two passed by a group of LA Dodgers fans on the street, didn’t she start a random rant on how they are the worst and said that you are “so much classier and just manlier,” when she knows you have many friends who sport the blue and white? Also, she did ask if you have any single cute Giants fan homies or cousins for her friends to go on a baseball date with.The question that keeps lingering in your mind and unsettling your stomach is this: Does she really like me for who I am, or does she just have a Giants fan fetish?
Race to the Bottom
know the person as an individual is unfair and disrespectful. It’s an
awful feeling to realize that the cute guy who approached you is as
interested in you as he is in every other girl who shares your race:
You’re as special as millions of others.
Kink ConRacial fetish is also different than other types of kinks because it’s not just about a self-chosen lifestyle (S&M, for example), a self-determined action (thanks for making Golden Shower well-known, R. Kelly), or sexualizing a body part (feet fetishism seems pretty prominent). Yellow/Jungle/Salsa/Curry Fevers are about exotification of groups of people based on a part of their identity that they have no control over.Also, I would like to think the participants of these sensual activities have a mutual agreement of doing so! If one day I want to dress up as Catwoman in bed, that is my personal choice – and I would ask my partner if he’s cool with wearing a Batman costume for a while. But I have this face with Asian features on it 24/7, and I do not ever consent to play anyone’s pretend Dragon Lady, submissive geisha, or exotic Oriental Sex Machine. What it all boils down to is that it’s important to distinguish between treating someone like she’s your dream girl and making her your fantasy. Fantasies by definition are unrealistic, irrational, and not meant to be sustained, while dreams are the hopes and high goals we strive for and then keep. We all have the right to be seen as more than one-dimensional characters, and we all deserve to have fulfilling relationships in which we understand our multifaceted partners. Wouldn’t you agree?
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