“You’re really cute.”
I smiled shyly.
“Thanks, you’re not too bad yourself”.
I replied and with a cheeky smile. He looked thoughtful for a moment.
“To be honest, I’ve always found Asian women the most attractive really, they are always so small and cute, I mean look at you!”.
My heart sank.
Another potentially good date ruined by another massive generalization. A generalization that was meant as a compliment but always made me feel like I was “just another Asian” and that it was only my Asianness which gave me my attractive features.
. . .
The dreaded question
Throughout my dating experience I have admittedly found myself asking potential dates pretty early on the dreaded question; Do they have an Asian fetish?
This is an uncomfortable question for both of us. For me, because I have just assumed that they have had some sort of ulterior motive for dating me and for them because they have now had to justify their reasons for wanting to pursue me in the first place.
My question poses suspicion and distrust, two things that really kill the mood on the dating scene.
However, despite the awkwardness I felt like I had to ask this question every time. I had to double check that I was not just fulfilling someone’s fantasy. I wasn’t just some small, exotic Asian woman ready for the taking. Submissive and subservient. Especially in bed.
Most of the time I posed the question in a jokey, light-hearted manner so that the majority of them could laugh it off with an absolute “No”. I always breathed a sigh of relief. Now I had a chance at building an image for myself rather than having to fight with someone’s preconceived notion of who they thought I was.
. . .
A compliment made impersonal
It is surprisingly alarming how many people have an Asian fetish and it becomes especially apparent when you enter the online world of dating. As soon as they saw my profile picture I would often receive messages such as “I’ve always had a thing for Asians” or “I’ve always fancied myself an Asian school-girl”. These messages are always posed as flirtatious compliments, conversations starters from eager strangers that want to engage.
Whilst I know that their intentions were good, I couldn’t help but shudder. I just didn’t understand why they thought to compliment my ethnicity would score them brownie points. This wasn’t even something that was determined by me. I didn’t nurture it or spend any time or money improving it. It was just my skin color, something that I couldn’t help either way.
The compliments felt cold and impersonal. How could I take credit for something that wasn’t in my control?
. . .
Breaking the stereotype
One of the worst things about being used to fulfill an Asian fetish is that I don’t feel fully Asian inside. As I was adopted from a very early age by white parents and brought up in the UK for the majority of my life, I often view myself as white on the inside and Asian on the outside.
On the dating scene, people often got excited by the fact that I am exotic. That I have come from a faraway land which makes me somehow more mysterious than other people. The truth is, I am the same as everyone else. I don’t even have the Asian culture to offer them to satisfy their cultural appetites.
Alongside this Asian’s are often viewed as subservient. I always get questions about my supposedly “strict Asian parents” and whether they would be happy with me going on dates in the first place. When I got asked these questions, I always felt like the date wanted me to say “No”. “No, they are not happy with me going out, but I am risking something for you.” By saying this I would complete their fantasy of turning a good girl bad.
Something that I always fail to do.
. . .
Putting me on an unearned pedestal
The Asian fetish puts me on an unearned pedestal that raises my status to the stranger enticed. This means that by them falling for my Asianness rather than for me for who I am, raises their opinions of me before we have even got to know each other.
They are already intoxicated, obsessed, and charmed by features on the outside which means there is a danger of becoming blind to everything else that I am. There is a danger of unearned adoration which puts me at an unfair advantage that I could easily manipulate.
When I looked for a partner, I wanted us to start on an equal platform. Not one where I was raised and distorted. I wanted to fall in love with a person who loved me for me and not just because I was born Asian.
. . .
Thank you for reading.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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