It may seem clutch to be an Asian girl and date Americans, mostly white Americans, in the States.
The phrase “yellow fever” aggressively hints at this preference. It’s a cliche. Asians, well, Asian girls—are the most desired and fetishized ethnicity amongst straight caucasian American men.
Interestingly enough, it seems like even traditionally conservative Americans go crazy for Asian women. In a recent opinion article in the New York Times, writer Audrea Lim dissected this topic, even citing how exclusively dating Asian women is practically a “white-nationalist rite of passage.” The irony here is not lost; perhaps it speaks to a larger trend in how some white Americans view women of Asian descent.
Here’s the reality; as an international Asian girl (by which I mean a non-American Asian girl) living in San Francisco, dating can prove to more than the usual struggle.
It is difficult to know if a person is interested in who I am, or just my ethnicity. Once a possible romantic interest discovers I am Japanese, he never ever misses saying “I love Japan!” or, “I’ve been to Japan and it was awesome!” or, “I’m so into sushi and ramen!” They’ll keep talking about how amazing Japan is. I appreciate their love for my country, but I can’t help but also wonder, don’t you want to know about me? Where is the line between attraction towards me, versus a wish of fulfilling a stereotypical dream of dating a Japanese woman?
To a certain degree, the interest may be genuine. Maybe a guy is just trying to build a conversation by talking about Japan on a first date. But if it still happens on a second or third date, I’m increasingly more suspicious. I had a Tinder profile, and it basically said I like dogs, hitting the gym, hiking, writing, and fashion. It doesn’t say much, but it’s a fair amount of information for a guy to just start a chat by not asking if I am Japanese. Still, I got many messages starting with “are you Japanese?” or, “I love Japan.”
Other cliches exist here as well; a lot of Caucasian men think Asian girls are interested in them and absolutely want to date with them. It’s often said that Asian girls are shy, rarely say “no,” are easy to bring home. I feel a lot of men believe this stereotype.
The truth is, however, I am not a shy girl. A couple of months ago, a white guy sent me a friend request on Facebook. I accepted it because we had some mutual friends. He started with, “You look familiar. You are Japanese, right? I have been to Japan and loved it!” We messaged for a bit, then a few days later he invited me to come over his house because he baked a good banana bread. I guessed at his intentions–those being that I would meet at his place and sleep with him if all went well.
I was curious as to how this would pan out, so I decided to accept his invitation.
He was very nice; he gave me a glass of red wine and a slice of the banana bread he had baked. He was talking how much he enjoyed his travels in Japan. When I asked what he did for a living, along with other some personal questions, he avoided answering and instead redirected the conversation. Time continued passing; he tried to make me sit directly next to him, and he reached out to touch my legs. I silently communicated my uncomfortableness with the situation. As soon as he understood I was not interested in cuddling or making out, he stopped talking to me and concentrated on watching TV. He even fell asleep for a good fifteen minutes. At last, he said he was sleepy, so I probably should go home.
I sometimes wonder if other ethnicities struggle with similar situations. I believe these kind of race-related relationship obstacles are more common in a country like America where many different ethnicities live together. Everyone is different, everyone has a certain type –and this is totally natural. But the thing is, you cannot just fall in love with the idea of “dating my type.” You need to fall in love with who the person is, don’t you? It doesn't matter if you like Japanese looks or Brazilian features or whatever, what you need is to show the person that you really care about her or him and truly are interested in who she or he is—beyond the ethnicity.
// Illustration by Andy Sagal.