Pretend you’re an Asian woman working in the field of American journalism. You’ve convened with other Asian American media professionals for the annual Asian American Journalists’ Association Gala Scholarship & Awards Banquet. The keynote speaker of the evening says this:
“In fact, I’m mightily relieved that the podium covers me from the waist downwards. I’ve been having trouble all evening.”
Bashir apologized for his gross verbal misconduct, but the mistake and the apology do nothing to further the original purpose of Bashir’s keynote, which was to celebrate and empower minority professional representation in journalism. Way to insult two birds with one stone, Bashir! Did you really interview Princess Di and Michael Jackson? That’s just all kindsa off-color.
Now seems an appropriate time to introduce those of you who don’t know it to the race-based preference of Yellow Fever. Asian Fetish. The one type of woman Jenna Jameson claimed her first husband pit her against when it came to infidelity – Yeah, I read the bio.
America knows interracial fetish in an older form known as Jungle Fever – which is the intimate relations between an African American and a Caucasian American. Morris Day and the Time sing about it, wherein their lyrics “I think I wanna know ya” is really pop music code for “Methinks I would enjoy copulating with you.” It’s all over African American history, involving Thomas Jefferson and more.
Same goes for Yellow Fever. Back when it was good, Stuff White People Like posted item #11: Asian Girls. It’s currently SWPL’s top post, and it’s been up since January of ’08. There are four pages of Urban Dictionary definitions for the term, dating back to September ’03.
Asian ladies, we got some long-standing affection in our favor.
It’s hard to miss – both if you meet me and through reading my blog – that I am an Asian female. Even if I didn’t know it, I am often reminded of such. Take, for example, leaving the elevator to watch Iron Man while I was in San Diego for Comic Con:
Mayka and her non-Asian-looking friends are in an elevator. Before they reach their desired floor, the elevator stops so that other mall visitors may travel upwards. The three-to-four new passengers are all Caucasian. A bell and light indicate that Mayka and friends have reached their desired floor. One by one, Mayka’s three friends exit the elevator. Mayka heads out last.
Portly White Guy: I love you, girl in the green sweatshirt!
Mayka, often oblivious to which color she’s wearing, looks back quizzically at the passengers still on the elevator. Turns out she is wearing green, but she definitely wasn’t talking to Portly White Guy. Is he confused?
Portly White Guy: You, Asian girl in the green sweatshirt. I love you!
Though he meant well, Bongo’s remark, “Well, I can’t blame him. I love you, too.” did not comfort me. Of course I’m biased, but I’m also on the most experienced, receiving end of Yellow Fever. My Ethnic Studies graduate heart must influence the feeling of being the object of so many (usually White) men’s gazes, but the whole Asian Fetish thing makes me retch a little. When people toss around the phrase “hot Asian girls” I feel gross.
While showing my mother around Seattle one summer, a creepy White man with a 70s porn moustache wearing red-and-black buffalo plaid flannel (Before it was fashionable.) threw two comments my way:
I always thought Asian girls were so pretty.
Why are Asian girls so beautiful?
His lecherous grin made me push my mom out of the sidewalk so that we could take a different route to my internship office. I wanted to shrink and I wanted to slice his head off. He leered at me; he continued to leer at me as I tried as fast as I could to hide behind anything – a parked car, a newspaper stand, a lightpost.
As much as White boys love us, sometimes I don’t want to be an Asian girl.
It’s not all bad, of course. I definitely have friends who prefer one race over another when it comes to dating and relationships. Sometimes their preferences are congruent with their own cultural identity; sometimes they are not. The attraction itself is nothing to judge. You can’t choose who you like or love. Personally, I’ve been attracted to “everyone” and have dated within and outside of my own race.
Yet from my perspective, some Asian Fetishists act a few notches creepier than your average human beings with physical and romantic preferences. Sometimes I wonder if White guys leer at me because they’re trying to figure out if I’m Japanese and would be into posing for hentai porn. It could be the Night Stalker, for all I know, who apparently has a thing for Asian girls, asking Billy the poseur pen pal, “Know any Asian girls willing to correspond?” Other times, when I’m not feeling especially watched or targeted, I’m sure creepy undressings aren’t going on in Yellow Fevered minds. You really can’t tell what someone’s thinking on the inside, but 99% of the time when an Asian Fetishist speaks and shares his thoughts with me, I want to hurt him badly. (Without touching him, if that’s possible. I’d need to cleanse myself of any contact otherwise.)
As things stand right now, I’m in an interracial relationship. When I first saw him, I saw a man I wanted to get to know, and I think that’s really the key to determining whether an attraction is healthy or not. Whereas Asian Fetishists are often notorious for picking out Asian girls specifically because they are Asian and represent something “exotic” – something outside of their own culture’s realm – a natural, healthy attraction comes from that simple, inexplicable, undeniable pull to a person. Asian or not. Incongruous to one’s culture or not. Some people got Yellow Fever for all the wrong reasons.
Overall, Yellow Fever is both laughable and awkward. It’s funny-ha-ha and funny-interesting. It also probably comprises up to 60% of all the dating-related ads pumped out by Google AdWords:
I gave Bongo a specific case of Yellow Fever, and I’m fine with that. I’m not his Asian flower and I’m not his dragon lady. I inoculated him with my own special blend of Love Me for Me, and it’s really the best stuff anyone could lust after.
Editor’s Note: Due to a limited portrayal of masculine Asian men in significant roles in popular media and general exposure, Yellow Fever applies mainly to the partnership of Caucasian men to Asian women. It actually makes for a fun game that Bongo and I play, called “Spot the Asian Guy with the White Girl.” In the Bay Area, such a combination is as rare as a North Dakota license plate.
I’ve heard of “rice queens,” but I personally cannot speak on how Yellow Fever plays into homosexual relationships. If you have questions in that arena, I definitely know someone you can ask.