Asian Fetish

Apparently, on OKCupid Asian Women get the most messages. This preference is true for men of all races except, strangely, Asian men. Interesting! I’m sort of jealous, but also having a little bit of schadenfreude at the same time. Cuz, you know, us white women hear a lot about how Western beauty standards damage the self esteem of women in other races.

But, you can’t blame us anymore! Western beauty isn’t where it’s at, it’s passé, old news! So, I hereby bequeath all of our liberal white woman beauty guilt to Asian women (and, Middle Eastern women who apparently also get a lot of responses.) Next time someone goes on about how our beauty standard is whitewashed, you can be all “what are you, stuck in 1950?” So, for realzies, white women may still be over-represented in magazines, but that’s just a holdover – it’s on the way out, as the racist old men who control the media slowly die. Also, are we even sure all those women are being “whitewashed?” Seems to me some of them could be being “Asian-washed.” As a very white English woman, I can testify that my particular very-pale skin tone is usually not in fashion unless some Winona Ryder renaissance is happening.

However, the way liberal discourse responds to white women being desired as opposed to Asian women being desired is very different. When white women are “what’s hot” it’s an example of an oppressive beauty system that is degrading to other races. BUT, when Asian women are “what’s hot” it’s an example of Asian fetish, which is degrading to Asians.

So – to simplify:

White women hot? Seen as privileging white women.

Asian women hot? Seen as dis-empowering Asian women.

It is worth noting, that according to Wikipedia Asian Fetish supposedly doesn’t exist, and even on OKCupid white men responded to Asian women and white women a similar amount. Yes, it’s true *some* white men say some really terrible things to Asian women (and, there’s a tumblr about that) but I’d suggest that it’s more that the race difference opens up opportunities for a *particular set* of vile things to be said.

This difference in how we read preference for white women vs Asian women reminds me of how we read preference for thin bodies as opposed to a preference for heavier bodies. Many heavier women complain that they are de-sexualized, and also that the only people who sexualize them are fetishists. But, what they fail to see, is that thin bodied women are also frequently fetishized – in that, many people who date thin women are not interested in their sparkling personalities, but have an obsessive attraction to a particular body type. Many heavier women won’t see this as a similar thing, but this is because of the ways that heavy women *themselves* are privileging thin bodies. On some level, men who are attracted to heavier women are seen as “fetishists” because we view it as abnormal to be attracted to fat women. Men who behave the same way toward thin women aren’t viewed as “fetishists” because we see that as normal. So – again, attraction to fat women is phrased in a way to disempower fat women, whereas attraction to thin women is phrased in a way to empower thin women.

Similarly, we have normalized attraction to white women so we see attraction to Asian women as fetishized. If you believe it is fetishizing to be attracted to Asian women because of typically Asian physical traits, but it is not fetishizing to be attracted to white women because of typically white traits, then you have brought into the idea that the white appearance is the default, and you may want to introspect a little on that. (I’m not calling you racist, but… well, think about it.)

I’m not saying that Asian women don’t face racism, or that heavy women don’t face size-discrimination. In fact, I’m saying the opposite of that – that racism and sizism are so prevalent that they they have infiltrated liberal discourse such that Asian women and heavy women are seen as being *disempowered* by things that would be seen as *empowering* white or slim women. We are denying the Asian/fat groups access to the power that we would grant the white/slim groups (and, yes, I hope women get power outside of their physical appeal – my point is Asian and fat women don’t even get *that.*) And, the problem isn’t with the fetishists – the problem is with is the liberals whose critiques of beauty culture end up implicitly reinforcing the prejudices they are attempting to denounce.

The trap is a trap, watch out for it.