HSTAU LIAO: Franchesca, why don’t Americans think Asian men are sexy? FRANCHESCA RAMSEY: I have no idea! [♫ ♫ ] FRANCHESCA: When it comes to online dating, Asian women are the most sought-after ethnic group, while Asian men on the other hand have an incredibly low favorability rating.
So why are Asian women desired to the point of being fetishized and Asian men almost completely ignored? Well let’s start with Asian women. Asian women in this country are more than desired, they’re fetishized and exoticized.
Heck, you’ve probably heard someone say something kind of like this: “Huh! I totally have yellow fever and the only cure is more Asian chicks. Up top!” This fetish for Asian ladies combines a presumed submissiveness with hypersexuality, all while imagining that Asian women are exotic regardless of where they’re from or what they’re like as individuals.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some things that have actually been said to my friend Lily. LILY DU: “I’ve never dated one of your kind before.” “They’re more docile.” “They’re just tighter…” FRANCHESCA: Thanks Lily, and I’m really sorry.
So how do people come to the idea that over half a billion Asian women are all kinda the same? While the history of Western Europeans fetishizing Asian women goes back hundreds of years, it exploded in popularity in the late 1800s.
This was due to an increased trade with Japan and China and the popularity of the French story Madame Chrysantheme. In the story, a naval officer travels to Nagasaki and takes a temporary wife, basically a hookup for his deployment.
The girl he was looking for had to be a “little, creamy-skinned woman with black hair and cat’s eyes”. He also wanted her to be “pretty and not much bigger than a doll”. LILY: Sidenote, we’re women not dolls.
Unless you’re talking about your real doll. FRANCHESCA: And in one scene, the narrator describes how the local women “grovel before me on the floor, placing all this plaything of a meal at my feet”.
LILY: Gross. FRANCHESCA: And this story became super popular. It was translated into every major European language and republished over 200 times during the author’s lifetime. It was also the inspiration for the opera Madame Butterfly, which itself is an enormous smash hit and it still performed hundreds of times a year.
This narrative of the exotic submissive Asian woman got further reinforced over the course of the twentieth century during America’s wars in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. After World War Two, approximately two hundred thousand Japanese women were enslaved by the Japanese government as prostitutes for American soldiers as part of the Recreation and Amusement Association.
This practice of organized prostitution continued through the Korean and Vietnam wars with 85 percent of American soldiers reporting having saw a prostitute. LILY: So that’s something to talk about at your next family reunion.
FRANCHESCA: So the first interaction that three generations of American men had with Asian women was as submissive sexual objects. Combine this with the reinforcement in popular culture and porn and it’s no wonder the stereotype of the submissive sexy Asian woman still persists.
Of course when it comes to getting dates and being seen as attractive, history has helped Asian men to face the exact opposite issue of Asian women. Since the 1800s when Asian immigrants began coming to America as cheap labor forces, Asian men have faced harsh discrimination, much of it directly sexual.
Some laws prevented Asian men from owning property, which made you legally “less of a man”. Other laws barred them from heavy industry, which forced Asian men to take on traditionally feminine jobs like laundry and cooking, which led to the perceptions of Asian men being effeminate.
LILY: Cooking and laundry aren’t inherently feminine. I barely know how to cook and barely do my laundry. FRANCHESCA: But it gets worse. In 1882, Chinese immigrants were prohibited from entering the U.
S. altogether, which left hundreds of thousands of the Chinese men who were already here without the possibility of brides. Why? That’s because due to anti-miscegenation laws, it was illegal for Asian men to marry white women in many states.
On top of that, laws passed in the 1920s made it so that nonwhite women who married Asian men could lose their citizenship. This complex system of laws was a direct attack on Asian men’s ability to marry and start families, thus emasculating them and making them less desirable to women.
HSTAU: C’mon… FRANCHESCA: And that history of emasculating Asian men lives on, especially in Hollywood. Think about Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles or Han’s broken English in 2 Broke Girls or the various small penis jokes in the Hangover movies.
Asian men are barely onscreen and almost never shown as attractive or romantically desired by anyone. I find you very sexy. HSTAU: Thank you… FRANCHESCA: Don’t believe me? Quick— without Google, how many American rom-coms can you name with an Asian male lead? And when was the last time you even saw an Asian man kiss someone on camera? “Franchesca I totally get it, I’m just not really into Asian dudes.
” On a personal level, claiming you’re not attracted to an entire group of people because of their race is sexual prejudice. And here’s the thing: a ton of people across many ethnicities are guilty of this.
But it’s not any better when you base attractiveness solely on race because that’s fetishizing. Here’s the thing: institutionalized racism fuels America, oftentimes in ways that you might not even realize.
And because we live in a world that continues to reinforce outdated and harmful sexual stereotypes, it’s no wonder that some people start to believe them. So the secret’s out: despite hundreds of years of being told the opposite, Asian men can indeed be sexy, and Asian women are more than just their sexiness.
If we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it, and the truth is when it comes to dating and race, we still have a long ways to go. We want to hear about your experiences. Have you ever been discriminated against in the dating world? Or still think dating a certain race is just a preference? Let us know in the comments, and thanks to our special guests Lily and Hstau.
We’ll see you next week right here on Decoded. HSTAU: Hey ladies. FRANCHESCA: I think that stereotype is dead wrong. Those abs disagree. HSTAU: Mmhmm, they do. FRANCHESCA: Yes! [♫ ♫ ]
This is another hot Asian.
The Weird History of Asian Sex Stereotypes | Decoded | MTV News