Tag Archives: stereotypes

Asian Attraction, Part 2

The documentarian who is producing “seeking asian female” has also produced some short video studies of the Asian attraction.  Her first goes like this:

The studies look into the term “yellow fever.” The fever refers to something one cannot control. Elaine Kim, a UC Berkeley Asian American Studies professor puts it this way, “Part of it has to do with a fascination with something that seems totally different … even physiologically different.”

A young woman is interviewed here who has dated men who have this “yellow fever.” She laments, “Can you not tell me to change my race? I can do anything else but that!” I wanted to sit down with her and say, “Don’t change anything about yourself. Just find the person who loves you for yourself!”

What are we doing? Why do women feel the need to change themselves? Why must Asian women scrutinize love for fear that it is a fetish?

In the second study, she addresses whether only white men have Asian fetishes.

Words that describe Asians?  Exotic, petite, gracious, have a level of maturity, sweet, beautiful.  The author of The Asian Mystique, Sheridan Prasso hits the nail on the head, saying, “Everyone has something that turns them on, and there is nothing wrong with that … what is wrong is when it crosses a line into expectations with behavior.”

But the quote I most reacted to is this one from Dr. Benjamin Tong, Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies,

“What fixed images tend to be prevalent in fixed communities? It would be the case that in the white community, ‘Latina women are hot, difficult to control, exotic as well, but they’re fiery, ’ ‘Asian women are more controllable; they live to please,’ ‘Black women, wow. They’re too powerful. Watch out for the Super Mama! She’s really the boss in this house.’ That might sound corny, talking like that, but in everyday language, you still hear these things.”

As an Asian American with Puerto Rican roots, I do not feel that I fit any of these white perceptions of my race. If you asked my husband, I’m sure he would tell you that I am strong-willed and certainly not submissive or controllable. In my Puerto Rican family, we have a term for such a woman. Strong women who love life, are Gonzo Girls. We relish it, celebrate it, and live it.

We spend too much time compartmentalizing people. I suppose it is human nature to make sense of ourselves by generalizing and grouping. We live in a world that wants facts, data and percentages. I argue that we are far more than that.

Wait … I’m Asian?

Take yourself back to the most memorable day in your life. Remember the elation? Remember the sheer joy you felt? Remember those who surrounded you?

This past weekend, my boy and I felt that feeling again. A couple of years ago, on a cold weekend (Aren’t most days cold in Wisconsin?), with the man away, I set out a Times Square 1000-piece puzzle.  I said to the boy, “If we put this puzzle together before your father returns on Monday, I will take you to Times Square.”

He worked diligently and completed it. So, last weekend in celebration of his journey into teenhood, we met up with our best friends from Virginia, Adrienne and her son, Nick. Our relationship with this family is like a favorite pair of pajamas … immediately comfortable.

Adrienne picked us up from our hotel in DC, and we set off to Gettysburg to pick up Nick from a school trip. 

As you may recall, Adrienne and I are both Korean. We both married Englishmen who studied at Cambridge University. Essentially being of the same genetic background, we often joke about Asian myths. Of course, the jokes this time were rooted in truth. It took us well over an hour to exit DC, despite having paper Google directions and two iPhones running Apple Maps and Google Maps. Adrienne describes this fiasco here in her own blog.

We arrived in Gettysburg at a small motel to pick up Nick. The lobby was simple with a small “Retail Therapy” shop. This shop did not put us at ease with its Confederate flags flying. Another reality … uneasiness in rural areas where few Asians live.

This uneasiness was quickly dispelled as we made our way to the Big Apple. We arrived in New York City and immediately, Adrienne and I began documenting the boy’s trip! We were fulfilling the next Asian myth … obnoxious camera-slinging mothers.

These boys are no strangers to this behavior. My boy carried his camera around as well, and eventually the boys captured us.

Adrienne also writes in more depth about our photographic obsessions in her blog. We continued to document our travels around the city that never sleeps.

 

 

Back in the days of my youth, I hated the references by others, mostly Caucasian, to those Asian myths … good at math, poor drivers, obnoxious camera carriers. 

 

Today, I relish these commonalities with my Asian friends, and I am comfortable in my own skin. I see the same things in my son and daughter.  Their love of paper, Asian design, Asian foods and Asian trinkets emphasizes my connection to them. 

 

New York City was the perfect place for me to connect with our friends, my son and our Asian side. In that vast city, we discovered Pearl River, Chinatown, and Uniqlo.  Asian myths … bring ’em on!