As a young Asian woman, I am no stranger to feeling fetishized by white males. During the year and a half I was on Tinder, white males of or around my age sent me messages such as “you’re my first Asian”, “Asa Akira”, “you look like an Asian goddess”, and best of all, “don’t Asian girls love white guys?”
I was born and raised in Toronto by my parents who were also raised in Toronto, so I was just as westernized as these guys were. When I received messages from other people of colour, they didn’t even mention anything about the fact that I was Asian. As my boyfriend (who is a white male himself) puts it, “Every white guy wants to have sex with an Asian girl, but not all of them want to date one.” We all know the popular slang term “yellow fever”, which describes a (usually) white male who fetishizes Asian women.
White boys pic.twitter.com/vw6p0lbnGz
— jessica (@jessicailam) July 28, 2014
Summary of what it's like being an Asian girl on Tinder pic.twitter.com/K524e8AfrH
— jessica (@jessicailam) October 6, 2015
On the other hand, there are also plenty of Asian women who fetishize white guys just as much. If we’re being honest here, I was one of these girls at one point. From the ages of 17 to 20, I was only interested in white guys. I felt like I was sort of “upgrading” in a way by moving away from my heritage. I felt proud that I was more white-washed than all my other Asian friends.
So, what changed?
I matured, for the most part. Adam and I have been dating for over a year, and I’ve learned that we are very much alike. Although we grew up with some very different traditions (my Chinese/Vietnamese heritage and his Canadian/Jewish heritage), we pretty much went through the same circumstances as Canadian children. I also went to Hong Kong last summer, and it really opened my eyes to my Chinese heritage.
There is a difference between having yellow fever and simply being attracted to the physical features of people from a certain culture. And you can very easily tell if a guy has the former.
I don’t ever feel racialized or stereotyped around Adam or his friends (I’ve read quite a few articles with other girls claiming this) – but that could just be because Toronto is such a multicultural place, and our generation is much more accepting than the generation before us. We once overheard a comment from a stranger saying “where do I get myself a hot Asian girl?” but he was obviously from a very different generation.
I’m proud to be Asian, and I’m working on learning Cantonese and Vietnamese (at least the basics). Dating Adam doesn’t “upgrade” me in any way – we’re both equals. I love him for who he is, not for the colour of his skin. And I definitely don’t see him as a white guy – I just see him as my guy.