Guys, I have finally come around to really understanding Yellow Fever. As Urban Dictionary puts it –
Yeah, that’s pretty offensive. But I get it. Especially considering I’m an Asian girl that tends to not date Asian guys. But, like this article claims, thats more of “having a type”. Though I risk being racially offensive, I want to discuss this phenomenon of the offensive term “yellow fever”.
Because it comes down to this: White men don’t like being labeled for having yellow fever, and Asian women don’t like being hyper-sexualized based on their race.
What’s happening is that the ultimate stereotype for Asian women is coming to the foray of the public eye – half white/half asian babies, biracial couples etc. Am I going to assert that Asian-American women are taking over the world?? Hell. No. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Asian women are surrounded by stereotypes, assumptions, racist attitudes, and power hierarchies. I don’t know what it is – the fetishism surrounding Asian women – the petite-ness? East-Asian other-ness (or more derogatory “orientalism”-ness)? The incongruity of dark hair and fair skin? It’s unbeknownst to me, to be honest. I’ve dated many men who – for the purpose of this post – have fallen under 3 categories: those who are actively seeking out an Asian-American to date, those who happen to have a “type” that Asian-Americans fit, and those who don’t really give a shit about race/culture/ethnicity etc. (I am in fact generalizing by putting all men I’ve dated into these 3 categories – so forgive me, let’s just say for all intents and purposes). Personally, I am a bit ambiguous as an Asian-American female. I’m half Filipino and half Chinese – thus, fully Asian-American. I don’t speak Chinese or Tagalog, nor do my parents. I am the third-generation in my family to be raised in the Bay Area, CA. Growing up in the Bay Area further complicates things in that the community is very much a plethora of different backgrounds, ethnicities, races, nationalities and cultures. Though I was always (usually) the token Asian girl, I was never really hyper-aware or self conscious that I was “the Asian girl”. To further complicate things, I was raised primarily by Latina nannies (Peruvian and Colombian) – beans and rice was my staple for many of my formative years, as was learning the Spanish language through my nannies and popular music. My race never really registered to me as being in the “minority”, nor did it have a big impact on how I looked at other people around me, society, cultural aspects or the world as a whole. To me, it didn’t really make a difference. I am still a very culturally confused/ambiguous Asian-American chick with Latina flare deep inside. I have found that Asian women as a whole are perceived very differently than what I grew up knowing. In my family, particularly my Mom’s Chinese side – we are very much a matriarchy. My great-grandma who lived for more than 100 years, held the family together. My grandma was the second matriarch. My mom… well, she is the law. Everything I knew about Asian-American women was based off of the women in my family who exemplified perseverance, strength, and how to seek out your own happiness.
Chalk it up to that aforementioned fetishism, but some guys I have dated in the past have been taken aback that I am neither dependent, submissive, nor am I eager to please. “Listen to me, I’m the man. You’re just the cute little Asian girl. I know what I am talking about.” One guy actually had the nerve to say to me during an argument about the location of bar in the Upper East Side (Sidenote: he was wrong on the directions and I promptly got in a cab shortly after this exchange). To say I was disgusted wouldn’t cover it. My feminist insides were churning, but I also felt that racially charged jab as well. Contrary to popular belief, I am not one who want’s to be called, “cute” or “little”, let alone a “cute little Asian girl”. I’m a WO-MAN. The rude, disgusting, racially chauvinistic pigs aside – many men do in fact seek out Asian women – why exactly? I’m still trying to figure it out. What I’ve been able to conclude is that the men who have yellow fever, as opposed to having a “type”, want to be able to assert a certain level of power that they crave and cannot find with other non-Asian women. Asian women stereotypically, apparently, are submissive, and perhaps in some cases, a language barrier allows even more power on the male side. I cannot tell you how many guys I’ve met assume that I am (for lack of a better term) F.O.B.-y, or un-Americanized (god it’s horrible to say that but you get what I mean). After a date or two, they’ll find I don’t put up with the whole power struggle bullshit and will make a fuss rather than be submissive, which makes it easy for me to weed guys out – but for the most part they’ll make their own decisions based on my actions and behavior that are contrary to their stereotype of Asian women. It took me awhile to find that this problem wasn’t about ME… per se. Sure, half of the problem is on the men out there who depend/need that feeling of dominance in a relationship, but a lot of Asian women aren’t doing otherwise to stop this perpetuation of yellow fever. A few months ago I picked up a NYC Metro paper being handed out in the subway station…
The front page: “NYC’s first maid cafe offers more than just coffee“
Upon further reading and later, further investigation, I found that this “Maid Cafe” features (or should I say fetishizes) Asian women dressed up in whatever you call those frilly fucking dresses, that serve patrons not only food but also a fair share of baby talk, as well as refer to said patrons as “master” or “mistress”.
““Ooh, working too hard?” she asked in a baby voice. He nodded. She made an exaggerated sad face and then offered to play jan-ken-pon with a customer. Jan-ken-pon is like rocks-paper-scissors, but cuter, with bunny ears as one of the gestures. “Ooh, no. I lost again!” she said as she held her fists toward her eyes and pretended to cry. She knelt down at the side of the table, a signature touch at maid cafes, to take orders and bowed as she left the table.”
Yeah, I just gagged a few thousand times just typing that into here. It took every bit of me to not rip up the paper right then and there while riding the 6-train uptown and have an outright bitch fit. Listen, I understand these are commonalities in Japan, and culturally, there – they’re acceptable. However, Japan is in the midst of a population crisis – where artificial love has to satisfy the men. The lack of libido there makes these types of cafes there somewhat acceptable. But in America? New York City? Where there exist no population crises, and where artificial love / casual relationships can be found pretty easy on a Friday night… I think its just awful. The shit these girls do (nothing sexually, of course) is absolutely nauseating and churns my stomach. I also get the consumer/capitalist structure here: the cafe is making money off of yellow fever, essentially. But by no means is this an excuse. I find it extremely hard to believe Asian-American women are SO desperate to be loved/cared/affectionate with men that they’ll let these stereotypes and fetishizing be perpetuated and continued. Sure, I joke about yellow fever all the time. In fact, I take advantage of it – but having a “type” for Caucasian men or a certain kind of man, is much different than actively seeking out THIS man because he is X,Y,and Z. However, the problem with yellow fever is that Asians are being desired, wanted, and lusted after for all the wrong reasons. Even worse? A lot of girls play into it and do nothing to stop it – thereby altering their own personalities. And shame on them. Also see: Creepy White Guys – a Tumblr compiling messages from “Creepy White Guys” to Asian girls 10 Ridiculously Offensive Things Guys Tell Asian Women on OK Cupid – #truth Seeking Asian Female – a super creepy documentary about an old dude who is obsessed with marrying an Asian woman