Editor’s Note: Eliza Romero is a Baltimore-based, Filipino-American fashion photographer and style blogger behind the website Aesthetic Distance, a blog critical of pop culture. The views expressed in this piece are solely her own.
I am a member of a lot of Asian Rights and Feminist groups on Facebook. One of the biggest topics in these groups is the WM/AF (White Male/Asian Female) phenomenon. Something I see often is Asian women calling out white men for having an Asian fetish. I’m going to turn it around on Asian women because I’m getting a bit frustrated reading complaints and articles about this topic. I’m also noticing a pattern from the women that post about it.
Every time an Asian woman complains that only white guys want to date her and that white guys fetishize Asian women, it usually turns out that she herself has only dated white guys. Interesting how that works, right? You can go ahead and say it’s ok for these women to have a preference but what about the guys? Why is it a fetish for them but not the other way around? Why the double standard?
Here are my theories:
1. Asian women experience a much greater amount of privilege in a white-dominated society than Asian men, specifically lighter-skinned East Asian women.
2. Asian women have been societally influenced to think that white men are more attractive than Asian men because Western media has emasculated Asian men.
3. Asian women just don’t want to admit that they have a white guy fetish so they put the blame on the dudes.
Since the day you were born, different influences on your mind – the bedtime stories your parents read to you, the cartoons you saw as kid, the school you went to, the movies and shows you watched, and the wallpaper on your computer – have come together to create a cohesive image of the world.
While many Asian women I’ve had this debate with want to call me out by saying it shouldn’t be a problem if someone has a preference, I would like to argue that the same way we are trying to remedy the idea that only white models and actors are attractive via greater representation, we need to do the same in our personal lives. Beauty is a social construct that is amplified by pop culture. Many times, the same women who make these complaints about white men having an Asian fetish are the same women who decry the lack of diversity in fashion and entertainment. I’d like those women to zoom out and take a look at their own personal choices.
*Please don’t reference the Ok Cupid article on NPR if you want to comment on this post. I’ve already read it. I want to talk about the offline world, not dating apps.
** I am aware that there are some white men who have an Asian fetish. I am not defending them nor am I saying that they don’t exist. This post explores a different part of the narrative that I don’t believe is discussed enough.