Kristina Wong in I’m Asian American and I want Reparations for Yellow Fever is a good attempt at shining light on the existence of Asian fetishes and highlights some of her personal experiences while dating men. The problem is not in the highlighting of the daily weird behaviors that comes along with dating as an Asian-American woman in the US. The problem is the over-generalization, the refusal to acknowledge that dating between race can be okay, and she most certainly does not acknowledge other cultures and their racial preferences. In this blog post, I intend to give an analysis of the problems with asking for reparations for yellow fever in this manner.
Here is a link to an article by Kristina Wong that is the clear basis of this episode of I’m Asian American.
To start, this article/episode focuses entirely on white men and gives a sweeping generalization that all white men exhibit this behavior when dating Asian women. She attempts to specify and say that this article is based on men (white) who have a series of relationships/ hook ups with Asian women. Now it may be true that a white male can date 20 Asian women and have a fetish and it can also be true that a white male just dates 1 Asian woman and has a fetish. However, the opposite could also be true. She uses the excuse that she only dates white men because: A.) They are all that she’s around on the East Coast, Midwest, or South (I believe all these places have other races too, but maybe that’s just speculation) and B.) All white men make a beeline to her (which I guess means she needs to date them). So if a white male were to live in China for 15 years and only dated Asian women, because that is what was predominantly around him, does that mean he has a fetish? He simply dated what was around him, so calling someone out on having a fetish for simply a “track record” (for lack of a better term) is a pretty flimsy argument to sit on. There has to be more details to define a fetish over preference. My point here, is there is a clear overgeneralization happening, and just because a person dated a single Asian woman or 20, does not necessarily give all the information to call it a fetish. Especially if Kristina Wong is allowed to use the same excuse.
What’s the line between fetish and preference? Fetish holds an obvious negative stigma to it, and preference tends to be associated with hair color, height, facial hair, or glasses. Once race is added in, it’s borderline impossible to say you have a preference for a certain race without being labeled a racist or having a fetish. As the charts in the beginning portion of the clip above highlighted, most races in modern America, prefer partners in a race outside of their own. Where this chart definitely doesn’t do the justice of defining the magnitude of various races in the US, it does point out that race can often come into the realm of attractiveness to different individuals. Again, she generalizes that, because men prefer Asian women, she can say (statistically) that no matter what she does, men will be attracted to her. My point here is that, race might be a part of attractiveness for the general population, but there are also other attributes. Just because statistically, this interview shows that “most men” prefer Asian women, does not mean that ALL men do. It’s important to acknowledge that healthy interracial relationships exist and that not every (specifically) white male approaches Asian woman because of a fetish. This is common knowledge to most, but I do believe her argument would be made a lot stronger if she did acknowledge that there are good people out there.
In closing, fetishes can be damaging and definitely deserve the attention put on them by Kristina Wong. However, it would be helpful to strengthen the argument by acknowledging these arguments made in this post. I think Kristina Wong is hilarious and makes a lot of useful points, but I believe that this overall argument/theme could be strengthened by addressing various flaws.