Dear Men With Yellow Fever, You Aren’t Flattering, Just a Little Rapey

If Asian women were given a penny for every time a yellow-fevered, misogynistic white boy talked about his fetish on the internet, we’d all be filthy rich by now. Twitter is practically a feeding ground for these types of men nowadays. They’ve formed their own communities of bored, sexist men with racial fetishes and defend each other’s actions online, hiding behind anonymous accounts — how noble.

Last week, YouTuber COLETHEMAN faced backlash for a tweet where he announced “God I love asian women so much.” But even after harsh criticism from Asian women, he clearly failed to see why his comments were so inappropriate. Instead of apologizing, he responded by writing, “Don’t call women beautiful. They might get offended in 2019.”  — and honestly, I would expect nothing more from this caliber of man child.

The even less surprising part is that this wasn’t even his first time making comments of this nature.

And as they always do, responses were flooded with similar men telling Asian women to be flattered by these comments, after all, they’re compliments, are they not?

Well, can we really call dehumanizing fetishization a compliment?

This is absolutely nothing new, and any Asian woman who has experienced growing up in a western country can tell you the same. I was in elementary school when I first heard these comments: “You have amazing legs. I love the shape of your eyes. You’ll grow up to be a hot young woman, Asian women usually do. I love Asian women.” Should I have been flattered then too?

These comments have devastating consequences, no matter how harmless they may seem to some. The history of the fetishization of Asian women is one that is rooted deeply in war, colonization and violence. It’s no surprise this phenomenon shares so many traits with rape culture. To tell an Asian woman to be “flattered” by non-Asian men objectifying and fetishizing her is to ignore the violence it perpetuates against Asian women, and many times, against young, vulnerable Asian girls.

The dainty image of the naive “lotus flower” has always been a crucial aspect of the classic East meets West trope in films and literature. French writer Pierre Loti’s 1887 novel, “Madame Chrysanthèmehelped cement this helpless, submissive image of the Asian female. The novel follows the story of a white man who travels to Japan and takes on a temporary wife, describing his ideal wife as a “little, creamy-skinned woman with black hair and cat’s eyes. She must be pretty and not much bigger than a doll,” also with dainty, delicate and petite features. Loti’s description of the Asian female is more like an object rather than a human being. This message was eventually spread throughout Europe, and even went on to inspire other western composers and writers to produce Operas such as “Madame Butterfly” and the hit Broadway musical, “Miss Saigon.”

But of course, Loti didn’t conjure up these images out of thin air. The idea of Asian women being sexually submissive play-things can be traced back to a violent past of colonization, rape, and military presence in Asian countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea. A report on “White Sexual Imperialism” by the Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice found the following:

“White sexual imperialism,through rape and war, created the hyper-sexualized stereotype of the Asian woman. This stereotype in turn fostered the over-prevalence of Asian women in pornography, the mail-order bride phenomenon, the Asian fetish syndrome, and worst of all, sexual violence against Asian women.”

According to this report, U.S. soldiers in the Philippines during the Philippine-American war are said to have referred to Filipinas as “little brown fucking machines powered by rice.” And when the military presence jump-started the sex industry in the Philippines, U.S. soldiers were offered a girl for the price of a burger,” a good portion of which were underage girls. Similar attitudes were displayed in Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand and Japan. Western countries such as the U.S. began flooding their military forces into Asian countries in an effort to colonize what they believed to be “less-civilized” Asian nations. Inevitably, this overwhelming presence of male soldiers led to prostitution centers worked by local women who often had no other option but to cater to white servicemen due to financial situations or physical intimidation.

These white servicemen returned to their homes with hyper-sexualized, submissive images of Asian women, seeing them as nothing more than sexual objects. They began spreading this message into the media, creating a generalization of Asian women in which real Asian women had no say.

This dialogue began feeding into a mixture of toxic masculinity and a savior narrative. While these ideas may seem archaic to some, it doesn’t take a lot of digging around the internet to run into forums and groups run by misogynists who hold these views. In fact, a 2002 study on “A Content Analysis of Internet Rape Sites” revealed that of the 31 porn websites that depicted women being tortured or raped, more than 50% of this content showed Asian women as the victim, with white men being shown as the perpetrator a third of the time.

Labelling Asian women as “exotic” and “oriental” objects creates a hypersexual image that, at least in their heads, creates a false idea of “consent” that downplays actual sexual assault and rape. These generalizations portray us as objects that exist solely for the pleasure of white men, no matter how degrading, dehumanizing or violating. This trope justifies sexual violence as a way of “taming” or “civilizing” the “exotic” foreigner. And simultaneously, the model minority trope tells Asian Americans to keep our heads down and stay obedient and passive because that is the “secret” to our success. This erases the violence and oppression our community has suffered through and endured while silencing an entire racial group — including Asian victims of sexual assault.

Men with Asian fetishes or “yellow fever” have no respect or care for the women they sexualize and objectify because when you fetishize an entire racial group, you’re not valuing a person, but rather obsessing over an idea of something. So when non-Asian men talk about how much they love Asian women or how they exclusively date Asian women, talking about stereotypical and inaccurate images they’ve learned from porn and Hollywood, don’t expect us to be flattered. There is nothing to be flattered by fetishization and there is absolutely nothing to be flattered by a stereotype that comes from a violent past of rape and colonization.

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian American News and Asian News including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

For advertising and inquiries: [email protected]