Asian Girl Problem #115: White Fever

If I was white, I would go live in China right now and ca$h in that ivory skin. I’d learn some Chinese, memorize a folk song or two and become famous, then marry the most eligible bachelor out there.

We talk about yellow fever a lot. The subtle suspicions about Asian women being docile and domestic and petite, everywhere. Or Asian men being loyal and hardworking and—wait, never mind—if anyone knows a case of the fever (I mean straight up ignorant fetishization) for Asian men, let me know because I’ve yet to see it.

Yellow fever disgusts me because it’s rooted in the sexual subordination of an already weaker minority. White fever disgusts me in a different way. It doesn’t pertain to only one gender, or one area of prejudice. It’s much bigger; it’s a deification of everything from the Western hemisphere.

The obsession with pale skin, blond hair, blue eyes, height, and other features Hitler would be proud of.
The money and power associated with the country someone’s from, even if s/he earns minimum wage.
The automatic assumption s/he is more cultured, worldly and intelligent.
The instant validity someone white brings to the table, whether you’re engaging in business or politics or entertainment.
The deep desire and pressure to earn their respect and appreciation, no matter what it costs.

This last one is especially gut-wrenching because I see it everywhere in ways large and small.

I see it at the salon in China when my aunt proudly tells my hairdresser that I’m from America, something I usually keep to myself. I don’t need people to know. I don’t need them to see me in a different light, suddenly more serious and reverent, but also more distant. Wanting to ask questions, but scared at the same time. I don’t need him to “treat me well” by spending over two damn hours just blow-drying my hair. I’m not even white, but I ignite the fever by association.

You see it in European/American male ex-pats who go to Asia intending to stay for a year to teach English, and get trapped by cheap living, easy women and constant ego-massage by everyone from their bosses to kids to police.

I see it in a girl on Craigslist who applies to be my housemate, who spent the past few years in China and is still “homesick” for it, wandering around in Chinatown bars to make herself feel better. Everyone was so nice and treated her special there, she said. Back home in America, she feels like a nobody.

You see it in how the government immediately shuts down the country right before the APEC summit so foreigners can enjoy decent air. How millions are poured into banquets and gifts for visitors, while their own people are forced to stay at home for two weeks so they don’t increase pollution. How the government cancelled school, weddings, milk deliveries, taxis—basically put off educating, feeding, acknowledging civilians—to make a good impression on the rest of the world.

It’s can be a good thing, looking up to another country, especially one that’s much farther along in human rights. It’s no doubt beneficial for the country to be seen in a positive light, under blue skies. Even the ex-pat who goes home telling his buddies about the primo pu$$y is probably doing the economy a favor.

But sometimes I’d wonder how a person can begin to wish they were someone else. How they can accommodate others to the point where their own self-respect is compromised. How they willingly give over more power and validity to someone who speaks or looks English. Then you get a whole bunch of people who act this way. And they try to earn affection through sheer adulation, which anyone over six years old can tell you doesn’t work—the more you do it, the less you’re respected.

Most Chinese people are proud. They have a lot to boast about, and they do it a lot. But ultimately, the government’s like, shut up for a minute. We’re going to put your collective feet in your mouths to make the rest of the world recognize us. But actually, the rest of the world is laughing at China, not with it. That’s the part that I hate. And I don’t know what I’m getting at anymore but I’m pretty sure this is all connected to the root of this evil.


Asian Girl Problem #88: The Asian-American “Villain” of Jeopardy

Been busy doing fieldwork for this blog, aka eating mochi and naming my vagina. In the interim, consider some wack responses toward’s Jeopardy champ Arthur Chu’s winning streak. But also that the internet’s just really awesome at picking out the 1% of trolls.

Obviously some of the most offensive tweets are openly and unabashedly racist, so you can’t argue with that. That said, I’d avoid playing the race card too openly—I’m sure if I were Asian but I otherwise looked like a “good guy” out of central casting, I was thin, and charming, and smiled easily and all of that, that the narrative would be somewhat different. No offense to you personally, Ken, but I think you may have seen  where I said that as talented and charming as you are on TV, you were also kind of lucky that you look like a cherubic boy next door from a Hallmark card.”

So articulate and gracious. This angry Asian girl has a lot to learn from him, not including answers to the trivia that won him $238,200 and counting.

Asian Girl Problem #70: My Ugliest Feelings about Interracial Dating

Ever since I became more sensitive and proud of being Chinese-American (about four years ago), I’ve developed a lot of issues with interracial dating. It never comes into play when other couples are concerned, but it affects my own dating M.O. in many negative ways. I hate that I feel these things and don’t think they reflect well on my personality or enhance my life in any way. But I can’t control them any more than I can control my skin and hair. Just a sampler:

– I want to “represent” by dating someone Asian. I think we look better aesthetically and probably have more in common culturally, but I rarely meet an Asian guy who’s a good match for me.
– If not Asian, dating a person of color means something similar to me. That I didn’t bow down to the white man.
– I don’t want to perpetrate the played-out Asian girl/white guy combo that is rampant everywhere in California. The times I feel this strongest is expressing PDA with a white guy.
– If a white guy says he likes Asian food or has taken any sort of college course on an Asian language or history, I want to run away.
– I can’t help but think white guys who have had a majority of Asian girlfriends are the worst.

“I can’t really control who I find attractive–it’s like being gay.”

A white guy I think I could really like said this on our second date last night, after we had made out on my couch, when I asked him if he had an “Asian thing.” He had a pretty good explanation for it, but this was the part that annoyed me. I know we were keeping the tone casual and he was being jocular, but the comparison unearthed a lot of my anger. All I wanted to do was write out a list of reasons why accepting a strong predilection for people of a certain race is not like accepting the decision to like someone of the same gender, and why you can’t ignore that this issue brings legitmized pain to communities.

I don’t know if I can ever wonder if part of why he likes me is for political/cultural/inborn reasons that I have no control over. Or feel like I’m in competition with every other Asian girl. Or what happened in childhood in his 90% white neighborhood led him here.

But what is he supposed to do to repent? Learn everything he can about an Asian country to understand more? Racist. Only date within his race? Racist. Claim he doesn’t see color? Ignorant.

It’s not hard for me to like white men, at least before. For lack of variety, I had crushes on only white guys up until high school. When I went through a day without seeing my reflection, I felt like I was just as white as my classmates. But somewhere during my re-Asianification I consciously tried to program myself to like people of color, and it worked. Nowadays, 8 out of 10 guys I “like” on OkCupid are at least half-Asian and 100% are POC.

Giving someone less credit because they’re white feels really wrong on my part. So does giving someone more of a chance because they’re Asian. So I guess this week is all about feeling kind of wrong, because I eagerly accepted a first date with an Asian guy this morning, as if it would wash away my guilty feelings of dating a white guy with “the problem.”

I’m going to keep dating guy #1 because he has been awesome so far in almost every other way. But if it’s to go anywhere, I’ll need to change something inside.