Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fetishization of Asian Women (link round-up)

Over at Sara Speaking, there's a very interesting post called things that are hard for me to hear, talking about some of the reasons why baby221 finds conversations about "Asian fetish" so frustrating.

There's also the posts that inspired baby221. Over at Feministing, there's Samhita's post Asian fetishes and the myths that perpetuate them. Over at Racialicious, Carmen Van Kerchhove did a brief write-up: Jezebel: Asian women are hot, smart, thin and tell you your skin is bad.

And, of course, both of those posts were responding to an article, too. Moe, from Jezebel, wrote a piece, Are Asian fetishes a myth? We're gonna have to go with "no".

Amanda Marcotte, from Pandagon, tackles the subject, too, with Nor can you generalize all hamburgers from MacDonald's. There's 150 comments (and growing) at this thread, and the conversation, as always, takes some interesting turns.

There's also this really great article by Vickie Chang from the Village Voice, called Yellow Fever: They got it bad, and that ain't good. The page title is "Your Asian Fetish, My Life" (which, honestly, I think is a better title, but whatever). That article is from last year, but it's a good read, and related to the conversation.

Over at Color Q World, D.M. has an article that addresses some of the difficulties of talking about the fetishization of Asian women in a post called Deconstructing 'Asian fetis' - the appeal of physical appearance and/or cultural traits. In it, the author touches on something that makes this conversation so difficult for some of us, but which often seems to go unsaid: the difference between being attracted to physical traits that are common within some racial or ethnic types and being attracted to the cultural stereotypes associated with people of a certain race or ethnicity. In other words: there are some people who might find some of the physical traits common in women of Asian ancestry attractive, while someone else might find the stereotype of Asian women as submissive and docile attractive, even though both might say that they're attracted to Asian women.

This paper, Made in the USA: Rewriting Images of the Asian Fetish, by Maggie Chang of the University of Pennsylvania, is also pretty interesting. This project was undertaken as part of her undergrad work.

If anyone has links to some other posts/articles/papers about the fetishization of Asian women, feel free to link in the comments.

8 comments:

donna darko said...

If it's a physical attraction to dark hair and eyes, it's fine.

But a physical attraction to docility and submissiveness is a fetish.

donna darko said...

Asian fetish roundup. LOL.

Roy said...

Asian fetish roundup. LOL.

That's actually not far off of the original title.

Then I thought... "Ooooh, ooooh, wait. That's not going to be a good idea. That's going to get me some really unpleasent google hits. No thank you."

baby221 said...

In other words: there are some people who might find some of the physical traits common in women of Asian ancestry attractive, while someone else might find the stereotype of Asian women as submissive and docile attractive, even though both might say that they're attracted to Asian women.

Yeah, with donna here -- I don't think it's fetishizing to find people who share physical features with, say, Gackt attractive, nor do I think it means you're racist for noticing that certain groups tend to have similar physical features. Being attracted to the stereotypical cultural expectations, though, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

I think too, that it bothers me just a little that the term "fetish" here is used so negatively. I grok that it's bad to have racist fetishes, but sometimes I feel like that's being conflated with having fetishes period, and I really don't wanna go there.

donna darko said...

Right. There are regular sexual fetishes and unhealthy sexual fetishes.

EG said...

Well, a big part of it is consent and recognition, right? Like, if you have a leather fetish, you know it's a fetish--you don't confuse it with actually being an accurate representation of an entire gender and race, and you engage in it with other people who want it. You meet someone, and at a strategic point in the relationship, you say, "Hey, how about black leather?" and the other person says "Very hot," or "Ew," or "What about it?" and you know how to proceed from there. What I mean is, it's consensual.

But people who fetishize a race or ethnicity don't seem to be aware that they have a fetish. They think it's an accurate representation of the world--Asian women are just sweet-smelling and docile, that's the way it is, no fetish, just real life. And they inflict that fetish on every Asian woman they meet and/or hit on, regardless of whether or not those women wish to participate in their fetish.

Yuri K. said...

EG:

I don't think that's true. I've had people talk about girls they like prefaced with "I totally have an Asian fetish," and then there are gobs and gobs of websites. It's tossed out there like a fetish, but I think in some mostly-enlightened places, talking about things as a 'fetish' is relatively normal and fun, and distinguishes you from saying you have racialized sexuality. Whether or not it's true.

donna darko said...

I've been snarky too long and people can't distinguish when I'm not! There are consensual fetishes like feathers and redheads and unhealthy fetishes like submissive Asians and spicy Latinas.