Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve heard about Lily May Mac’s scandalous tweets that have landed her some seriously negative publicity. As the days go by, more and more tweets are uncovered, such as her disdain for Asian men, her likening Black people to animals, and even appearing to support White power. Even her mother has made some questionable comments in an attempt to protect her daughter from the backlash she’s received.
But while we can easily understand that making racist comments about naming her “Black baby boi” dog (preferring names like “Africa” and “Ebola”) and supporting White power are bad, some netizens are having difficulty understanding why her comments regarding Asian men are negative, even inadvertently coming to her defense and reasoning that it’s “just her preference”.
In reality, Lily’s “preference” is much more problematic than it first appears, and maybe not for reasons that are easily seen to the average person.
As someone who has worked with JT Tran of “ABCs of Attraction” for years, I speak from experience when I say I’ve come to know what it’s like for men in the dating scene. I’ll be the first to admit that, if dating happened in a textbook scenario, it’s actually fairly straightforward for women. We just wait around until a guy asks us out, and then we decide if we’re going to let it happen. Now I know that it doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s the way society has long since defined dating, and plenty of women still get asked out to this day. As such, the man still feels responsible for doing the bulk of the asking.
Ladies, have you ever asked out a guy before? Like walked up to a really, really cute guy and asked for his number? It’s scary. It’s nerve-wracking. And for some people, it’s paralyzing.
Now imagine being expected to do this in order to find a romantic partner, then try walking up to that really, really cute guy. Maybe you get in some witty banter or buy him a drink before he turns around and tells you that he doesn’t date “your kind” — whatever that kind may be. Maybe he doesn’t date women in a certain age range. Or that weigh a certain amount. Or that are a specific race. Something that you can’t change (or don’t even want to change).
It hurts, right?
Pretend you heard that from someone who looked more or less just like you. Someone who was also “too fat”. Someone who was also “too skinny”. Someone who was also “too Black”.
Someone who was also “Asian”.
It hurts more, doesn’t it?
If it doesn’t hurt, I think you’re lying, because to not be accepted for who you are as a person is pretty crushing — especially when you’re trying to get to know them since there’s some sort of attraction there. And when they look just like you? The hypocrisy can be infuriating.
Unfortunately, this is an all-too common story for Asian men. JT Tran has stories galore, both personal and from his students, where an Asian woman turned him down because of his race. Even my Korean-American husband was told by an Asian woman that she “didn’t do Asians”.
Her: Scoffing. Laughter. Disgust. Dismissal.
Him: Shock. Embarrassment. Shame. Anger.
This is what many Asian men are constantly put through. This is the belittlement and dehumanization they are made to feel. They go out with their hopes up of finding a human connection, only to feel worthless through an interaction that was, quite frankly, rude and uncalled for on the woman’s part — as the saying goes, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.
So telling an Asian man to his face that “I don’t date Asians” is bad, right? But what about Lily’s preference for White men? Is that bad as well?
Inherently? Not really. People will like who they like. The media certainly can condition us to like certain things, but at the end of the day attraction happens outside of any theoretical constructs we discuss at length.
What is bad is the approach to the attraction women like Lily take — that “cute White boys with yellow fever” give her hope, and that “I don’t date Asian men” is actually code for “I only date White men”.
For one, yellow fever is dehumanizing as well and reduces the Asian person to an object. Run away from the guy (or girl) with yellow fever.
Second, how many of these women that flat out say “I don’t date Asians” actually date from the entire “non-Asian” pool? There’s an entire world full of non-Asian men, but more often than not, that’s not what they really mean when they say that — it’s White or bust.
Another thing is that there’s a toxic trend with this type of Asian woman where she’ll try to validate her attraction for White men by putting down Asian men or Asian culture at large, as if it justifies her desire to glomp onto a White man. The things she likes about White men are often rooted in things she dislikes about Asian men/culture – therefore, not seeing the White man as an individual but instead distancing herself from her heritage as much as possible by dismissing it in the arms of a White man and mainstream Western culture.
This kind of Asian woman may be dating “Brad”, but when you ask her why she likes him, it’s because “Tadashi” is shy and doesn’t bring out the best in her, or that “Tadashi” isn’t confident.
Since when do we have to compare men to one another when choosing a partner? That’s like choosing a new boyfriend based off your ex. “I like Mark because he’s not like Dan, he doesn’t leave the toilet seat up like Dan does, he opens my car door but Dan wouldn’t…” All it really sounds like is that this hypothetical Asian woman is REALLY obsessed with DAN (Asian men) but doesn’t actually like Mark (White men) for who he is. That’s toxic to Mark and their future relationship (and for the potential half-Asian sons they may have).
It’s one thing to like White men for who they are as individuals, but it’s quite another to like White men for who Asian men aren’t.
Asian men aren’t crying “over the loss” of Lily May Mac. They’re not sad that a young woman has deigned them unworthy of her affection. Not at all. To most, it’s just another paper cut amongst the scars — it might have stung the first time they received one, but after a while they barely feel them anymore. Just another Asian woman professing her love for White men at the expense of Asian men, nothing new to them.
But Lily will most likely date and marry a White man. And they will most likely have children. And if her comments (and her mother’s) reveal anything, it’s that those children will grow up HAPA in a world that already minimizes the injustices they feel and a home that offers no respite from it. That their Asian heritage comes second to their White ancestry, and that their Filipino blood isn’t something to be proud of.
It’s these children that will have a lot of self-hatred to work through. And it’s these children that are the ultimate victims of this toxic mentality.
So is it just a preference?
But we can be a little nicer about it, not publicly put down men (or people in general) for something they can’t control, and maybe even have some tact, grace, and civility — something no amount of publicity will ever be able to give Lily May Mac.
About the author: Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven’t completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I’m kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad. For more from Heather Johnson, follow her on Twitter/Instagram @