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What’s the difference between having a “type” and fetishisation?
And how does it feel when you’re constantly approached sexually and romantically because of your race? “I have a real thing for Oriental women.” “I’ve always wanted to have sex with an Asian.” “I travelled to Vietnam a few years ago. ” When I was 25, following a major breakup, I dipped my toes into the pool of online dating for the first time.
‘Yellow fever’ – a phenomenon whereby men (usually white) fetishise Asian women – is terrifyingly common, and in the age of online dating, your exotic dream girl is only a click away. This fetishisation often comes down to problematic stereotypes of Asian women: docile, subservient, sexually submissive but totally down to fuck.
In the eyes of these men, we assume a monolithic identity.
We’re both infantilised and sexualised – an accessory for the white man’s sexual and emotional satisfaction.
They see us as a blank page, waiting for them to bring us alive on terms that are anything but our own. Karen, 26, didn’t list her race, or that she could speak Japanese, when she used Ok Cupid “to try and minimise my encounters with weebs”.
“It kinda worked,” she told me, “but in hindsight, it’s really fucked that I have to do so much to keep them away.” Kelly, 26, has been called racist for stating on her profile that she wasn’t interested in contact from those specifically seeking Asian women (WHAT THE???
), while Tash, 28, went on a date with someone who “proudly” told her he only dated Asians, and then “got angry and aggressive” when she pulled him up on his objectification.The expectation of Asian women is that we’ll be quiet, obliging and never talk back.When I’ve told men off on dating apps for their overt sexualisation of me based on my race, their tones have often changed from sweet and flirty to violent. “You’re not that good anyway.” What’s interesting about the politics of sex and race online is that Asian men often face the opposite problem of having their sexuality and desirability erased altogether.“No blacks, no Asians” is a common catch-cry on apps like Grindr, with the more nefarious users going a step further to categorise ethnicities by food names (“no rice”, “no curry”).The archaic “small penis” myth continues to work against Asian men, who are often seen as effeminate or undesirable due to this Western social conditioning.Sexual fetishisation and racism existed before the Internet, of course, but the rise of online dating has given further oxygen to predators.You can filter searches based on who you do, or don’t, want to find.You can prey more aggressively than you’d dare to face-to-face.It becomes a game, where the prize is a person who’s seen as an object.To be on the receiving end of that is both tedious and insulting.That said, dating several people of the same race is not necessarily a sign of fetishisation – an ex and dear friend of mine currently has an Asian partner, but has also had multiple white partners, and from our interactions both as lovers and friends, I know that race was not a drawcard for him in either relationship.