Asians Are Stealing Our Boyfriends On This American Life

By Guest Contributor Elisha Lim

(Please note, the above image has been Photoshopped from its original text.)

I am a reluctant fan of This American Life. The NPR storytellers can be such refreshing and endearing alternatives to mainstream radio. But you have to tolerate a strictly white, middle class point of view, a flaw that has been pointed out and ridiculed before. A case in point is a recent January episode–the first segment was in solidarity with “illegal” immigrant Latin@s of Alabama, but it was ironically followed by a white stand up comedian mocking the Spanish language.

The Valentine’s Day show, however, pushed me to new levels of downright rage. It’s a series of stories all about the mishaps of love, and in the last, 12-minute segment, writer Jeanne Darst describes her outrage when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

She reserves a special anger for the fact that he’s cheating on her exclusively with Asian women. That makes her furious. Not, as we might hope, because she is disturbed and angry to discover that not only is her boyfriend unfaithful, he also has a grotesque racial fetish–but because it offends her own whiteness. She reads his journal in slow dramatic tones:

And then I read that he did not have an attraction to… white women. White women like me. I knew he dated some Asian women and his ex-wife was Asian, he had Asian assistants, but I didn’t think too much about it… Maybe it was my fault. I should have said, right at the start of the relationship I’m. Not. Asian. Before anyone got hurt. Me. Before I got hurt.

Before anyone got hurt? What about all the Asian women that date Darst’s boyfriend, without knowing that he’s more into their race than their selves? What about Asian women as a whole, who have to deal with yellow fever–with age-old stereotypes about their sexuality that reduce them to objects of someone else’s (white) desire? She somehow manages to depict herself as the main victim of Asian fetishization, and stews in self pity.

“I … the white girl who’s boyfriend didn’t like white girls”

“I know I’m not Asian. I know I had reservations about Jake. Which is why I read the journal.”

How does a white woman claim to be the victim of yellow fever? I know, it’s so absurd it’s funny. But she manages it, by denying the impact of racism, and replacing it with a spiteful sense of competition. She doesn’t criticize her boyfriend’s race-conquest. She doesn’t flinch at his weekend tally of Asian indulgence. Instead, she basically protests that Asians took my boyfriend.

In selecting this story This American Life poses two subtexts: that white women are the natural objects of sexual attraction, and that people of color are a threat. It nurses a wound that whiteness was overlooked, and makes a fresh contribution to the Jezebel accusation of the racial temptress–“over-sexualized” Black women, “spicy” Latinas or “bellydancing” Middle Eastern woman.

For East Asian women or gay men, yellow fever isn’t a triumph, it’s a trauma. The fact that her boyfriend is a cheater is half as noxious as the fact that his casual sex is raced. But in this story, somehow, the white protagonist has managed to describe herself as oppressed by, well, Asian oppression.

Why would any writer of color want to be on a show with such tacky racial hierarchy? I was a loyal listener, and I’m having trouble even resigning myself to that role. This American Life, in its captivating, witty way, has broadcast its regular subtext: there is only one story, and it’s white.


Elisha Lim is an artist and graphic novelist who uses the pronoun “they,” and blatantly promotes the dignity and sex appeal of queer and trans people of colour. They furiously illustrate novels, wall calendars, books and magazines, including the Bitch Magazine acclaimed “Sissy Calendar” and 100 Butches, a tome of portraits and anecdotes about masculine queers. 100 Butches earns a lot of publicity from its introduction by New York Times bestselling author Alison Bechdel, while still accomplishing Elisha’s covert plan with a 90% quota of racialized models, and an unabashed opening dedication “to queers of colour.”

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  • Jane

      I am in shock that this was actually broadcasted on national radio! By blaming a whole ethinic group due to her screwed up relationship, only shows how insecure Ms. Jeanne Darst really is!

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  • Ebonydiva82

    I agree with you Susan. I am black and my husband is also white, and although I was attracted to men of various ethnic backgrounds growing up, I did not gravitate towards dating one. I did not put ANY of them on pedestals. They were diverse and so were their features, which I considered to be beautiful as it was a reflection of who they are.

  • Ebonydiva82

    More attractive in what way? Personality? Features? Hobbies? Height? How? If it’s because of obvious phenotypical differences (not including height because there are tall, medium and short people in every race/ethnicity), then I would consider it to be internalized racism.

  • Ebonydiva82

    I would second the internalized racism explanation. There is a difference between saying “I also find white/other men attractive” than “I find white/other men MORE attractive (than men of my race)”, as if there are no men of your same race who are attractive. What are you trying to get away from? Your features?

  • kim

    I’m an Asian female and yes. You’re sister is effing racist against our race. Sad too because she must find all the male relatives your family “unattractive” as well, including your father. What if she has a son with a white male that looks Asian? Will she tell him “sorry you’re Asian and therefore unattractive?”

  • harlo

    i listened to that one in the car with my husband the day it aired and it sparked quite a conversation.  dating a guy with a “fever” of any kind hurts like hell, and although i’m not a white woman, i could definitely relate to the storyteller.

    i was once dating a (white) french man who i learned harbored a fetish for brown women; so much that he was “passing” me off to his friends as a brazilian (because he was somewhat disappointed that i was “only” a multiracial american!) then he went off to india for what appears to be sex tourism.  engagement: over!  heart: broken!

    definitely, there’s the protagonist’s white privilege issue to be unpacked from the story. not denying that.  but i think the most important thing to take away from it is this weird sickness some men have where their sexual desire is bundled into the (perceived and overblown) power they exercise due to their racial status.  this is not necessarily endemic to white men, either.  black men, latinos do this as well– it manifests itself differently, but it’s there.

    • Mickey

      Didn’t that idiot know that many Brazilians are Multiracial as well? I wonder how he would respond to me, a woman of mixed African-American, French, and Chitimacha Indian heritage. And I get mistaken for different races, too.

      • Anonymous

        I could be wrong, but a lot of people are in love with the idea of the “exotic” lover.

        There was a creepy math professor at my University who was the same way.  He had a thing for black women who were of Caribbean or African descent.  Not that he could really tell the difference looking at them, not that we aren’t all just black, but he clearly attached value to that label, as well as a lot of ugly stereotypes to what it meant to be Black American, because I once went to office hours with a Haitian American friend, and b/c of her unusual first name (which was actually NOT French, but randomly Scandanavian), who was instantly smitten and began complimenting Caribbeans and Africans for being smart and hard-working, unlike lazy Black Americans.  He knew absolutely dick about us just on sight, and my name is pretty common in Western Europe too.  But it was common to see him trotting around with black women who you could be 100% sure was either a recent immigrant or the child of immigrants.  

        So we don’t know that her boyfriend didn’t know that she could have passed for Brazilian (although people kind of pretend that their “black” isn’t like our “black” too, so you could claim that for any black person really).  But I’d imagine he wanted the bragging rights for having an exotic girlfriend instead of a boring American.  

    • kim

      JFC what a pig! I’m sorry you had to deal with bs.

  • Meghan

    Hey Everyone,
    This American Life is conducting a survey:
    I took the opportunity to request more diverse and non-heteronormative content. Yay!

  • LeosBoots

    I’m a loyal listener of This American Life (and reading Racialicious) myself and while I agree it does come from a middle class privileged standpoint I fail to see how this was the case in this story.  What Darst described was an event that happened to her in factual detail.  Her boyfriend liked asian women and was dating one girl a week.  She was not asian.  These are things that happened.  These were facts that she told.  It is unfair to accuse the author of relaying facts as being racist and there seemed to be way too much personal bias in this article.

    Her anger was clearly more directed at three facts: Her boyfriend who claimed to be dedicated to her was dating a different woman a week, her boyfriend had a type (based on harmful stereotypes) , and that she was not one of those types.  Whether it would have been tall women, short women, big women, it’s incidental.  It did not seem to be about asian women so much as the man was clearly fetishizing women.

    She’s telling a story about herself, and a bad breakup that her boyfriend was a sleazebag.  I’m unclear on what you believe should have happened?  What could make this story that ACTUALLY HAPPENED less offensive?  Should she have tracked down the other women and told them?  Should she have reported him to an ethics bureau for only working with asian women?  

    Your claims that she depicts herself as “a main victim of asian fetishization”  is a little bit far fetched.  She had her feelings hurt about a man she kind of liked.  It’s a natural feeling.  There is nothing wrong with that, and I’m genuinely curious about how a woman in that situation is supposed to feel under your guidelines.  She was clearly mad enough to break up with him instantly.  Should she also have called him out on basing his relationships on unfair stereotypes?  

    Also, you fail to understand that the focus of the story was on a bad break up, and her feelings and what she went through.  There are plenty of shows on This American Life that highlight prejudice and racial stereotyping, there was even one in that same episode.  This story just simply wasn’t one of them.  

    As a side note, from my experiences on Jezebel and Tumblr, in today’s social justice climate, if a white woman brings up any issues that women of color have, even if it’s being completely supportive, she gets called out for being privileged and accused of speaking for a group that didn’t ask to be spoken for.

  • Anonymous

    When Asian women say that (or when anyone who is one race says that about another race), I always wonder, so do you think YOU are ugly too?

    B/c how can your sister think she is attractive if she thinks that the men most likely to have her features, skin color, and hair are ugly?

    I don’t see how you can pretend you are good-looking if you say the men of your race and family are less than every white man walking the planet. 

  • Anonymous

    When Asian women say that (or when anyone who is one race says that about another race), I always wonder, so do you think YOU are ugly too?

    B/c how can your sister think she is attractive if she thinks that the men most likely to have her features, skin color, and hair are ugly?

    I don’t see how you can pretend you are good-looking if you say the men of your race and family are less than every white man walking the planet. 

  • Anonymous

    When Asian women say that (or when anyone who is one race says that about another race), I always wonder, so do you think YOU are ugly too?

    B/c how can your sister think she is attractive if she thinks that the men most likely to have her features, skin color, and hair are ugly?

    I don’t see how you can pretend you are good-looking if you say the men of your race and family are less than every white man walking the planet. 

  • Anonymous

    When Asian women say that (or when anyone who is one race says that about another race), I always wonder, so do you think YOU are ugly too?

    B/c how can your sister think she is attractive if she thinks that the men most likely to have her features, skin color, and hair are ugly?

    I don’t see how you can pretend you are good-looking if you say the men of your race and family are less than every white man walking the planet. 

  • Violetta

    Yes. Even without the racial factor this article is all kinds of crap. It takes the responsibility off the male as a cheating sack of puss and turns the blame onto other women. Reinforces the stereotype of men being hapless penises on legs who can be so easily led astray by anything possessing a vagina. Can’t we just move on from this shit already??! 

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  • kim

    You’re contradicting yourself. I am an As-Am (Korean) female as well and saying you feel less “judged” by white men than Asian men is a gross generalization. The “conformity of Asian cultures” sounds like something a white person would say. Do you actually date Asian/Black/Latino middle class (or as you called it “colloquially white” men though? or just the white ones? Because if it’s just the white ones you have self internalized the racism as well. You then say you like  men with “no hardcore exclusive identity to any particular narrow ethnic background or culture…” Except white.

  • Anonymous

    It’s altered in photoshop, as per the caption.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s be a bit more specific and not over generalize here – while it is undeniable that structural factors impact who we date and who we find attractive, we should also be wary of removing Asian women’s agency by implying that dating can be reduced down to a single mentality. In reality, dating is a complicated set of factors, and not all Asian women dating white men are acting by the mandates of society.

    • Ebonydiva82

      That is also true. However, when someone makes a comment that they exclusively date men/women of a certain race/ethnicity just because they are of that ethnicity, then they make themselves sound ignorant and appear to have internalized hatred for themselves. However the truth of the matter is that even if physical attractiveness is what brought them together, there are more internal and non-superficial factors that will make the glue stick.

    • Iherana

      Thank you for reminding certain people not to generalize. I agree with sugabelly in some sense, but was offended in her stereotyping of all Asian women who date White men. I am one Asian woman who does happen to have a White/Lusitanic bf. And I am not one to put any one  race on a pedestal. I don’t even dye my hair in fear that it may be from a subconscious self-hatred of my ethnicity. I do find that many women of Asian descent do go after men based on ethnicity and race, but I know many more who are with their man for the only valid reason: love. And if a couple is based on superficial factors such as race, the love allowing for the continuity of the relationship doesn’t really exist.

  • cl

    The show made a big mistake by putting this kind of content into a “light” and “supposed-to-be-kind-of-funny” mold. It brings up too many serious issues of race and stereotype, so it really doesn’t belong as a semi-humorous personal narrative with that fluffy music in the background. I think that’s the most offensive part to me, the way it was produced, in that context. I don’t know why this woman’s unremarkable story made it to national broadcast. It seems like a really stupid choice. 
    The author WAS, however, a victim of this guy’s actions–and it would be difficult and unfair for anyone to say whether she’s more or less a victim than the other women he was sleeping with in this situation. As a white person, is she a victim of yellow fever? No. But a victim of the guy, yes. I don’t think the piece is really about yellow fever at all, though, and if you’re arguing that it should cover that issue, that’s fair. But she only mentions the other women once or twice in a relatively short piece. The way she says the names of the women in the journal does seem to have spite behind them, which makes me think she might not also consider them victims the way I think she should, but it’s hard to tell, because she doesn’t say very much about them. But how could she say much about them? She’s never met them, so it’s hard to judge her for not making her story about them. Her story is about her experiences (as unsympathetic as they may sound to many of us). I’m just not sure this 12 minute radio piece  has enough content in it to justify the magnitude of implications identified in this critique. 
    Another comment I have is that the photo accompanying this piece is a little confusing–was the story ever called “Asians Stole My Boyfriend?” If not, I think it should be noted that the image is photoshopped. Not having that explained, it makes it seem like the producers of the show called the episode or segment that at one time, which adds a level of intention which may or may not be there.

  • Twistingstar

    Normally I can’t get enough of Racialicious, but having actually listened to that This American Life episode, I’m honestly a bit baffled as to how it got spun, and what you decided to focus on. Firstly, the second story in that podcast is about how the police specifically targeting a majority minority school for a drug investigation with undercover cops. Supposedly the policewoman in the story played with an infatuated teenage boy who had an otherwise spotless record and asked him to get her drugs, refused to take the drugs as a gift, and then slapped him with a felony conviction for dealing drugs that means that he can’t get federal aid. Perfect example of how the disproportionate number of minorities in jail is due to targeted enforcement, and a chilling story of near entrapment and I’ve been upset that I haven’t seen anything about that story anywhere.

    Instead, you focus on one story and the few lines where a woman specifically reads from her BFs journal that he claims he’s not attracted to her because she’s not asian, before she launches into a rant about how it helped her to realize that he was an extra special d-bag, because apparently he was never even attracted to her at all and yet all you care is, to paraphrase: Her boyfriend is a d-bag but why isn’t she worrying about how dehumanizing her ex-d-bagness is to asian woman, instead of foolishly focusing on herself and her own feelings in her own breakup scene. 

    Doesn’t that seem a bit self-centered to you?

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t expecting sites to feel the same way as you a bit self-centered?
      Personally, I think it’s strange that both of these stories were covered in the same episode and no one else mentioned this one.

  • jjbrains

    Sometimes NPR’s claim of being alternative is downright dominant discourse.  Yeah, he shouldn’t have cheated on her, but she just turned this whole situation into a racist diatribe.  So much for the “model minority” idea. 

  • Winn

    “Blumberg said that the turning point came in 1997, when producers discovered a group of inner-city schoolchildren inadvertently teaching an important lesson to their attractive, suburban-raised teacher about what makes us human.”

    I’m sorry, but that Onion article was hilarious, and spot-on about what is wrong with This American Life, and NPR in general.  I think PBS does a much better job of offering inclusive and diverse perspectives and stories.  But NPR is really stuck in a dismayingly white bubble, and these kind of clueless episodes have come to unfortunately define a show I have a conflicted relationship with.  Sometimes I love it, and other times the homogeneity on the one hand, and the occasional pandering on the other, make it nearly insufferable.  I’m not surprised by Darst’s perspective; white whine is old hat.  I am also not suprised that the producers of TAL don’t see the many problematic elements of Darst’s story, and are happy to present it.  I AM surprised that I still have some glimmer of hope that some day things will change. 

  • Elton

    I knew there was a reason I disliked “This American Life,” but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  I don’t have a problem with anything else on NPR, though, including “Prairie Home Companion” (which, in my recollection, has had racially diverse guests and doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at its own whiteness), and “Snap Judgment,” which is very socially aware.

  • Val

    ” there is only one story, and it’s white.”

    That’s not just This American Life, that’s all of NPR and PBS.

    • Elton

      I’ve found NPR to have diverse reporters and programming, and PBS may be the only channel where you can see non-white faces and perspectives on a regular basis.  Have you seen “Independent Lens”?

      • Val

         “I’ve found NPR to have diverse reporters and programming…”

        Maybe you live in a market where NPR has more diversity than it does here. We have about 3 NPR stations in this market and I don’t hear much diversity.

        As for PBS and non-White faces; sorry but I don’t see much diversity on PBS either. I watch Independent Lens a lot and most of it are stories either about White people or through the lens of Whiteness.

        I don’t get how anyone can defend NPR/ PBS on diversity. Their own mandate was to give a voice to those who didn’t have one in the mainstream. They have failed to do that on every level.

        • Roundelay78


          Sorry, I got to disagree with you there BIG time about PBS when it comes to diversity in programing—it must depend on where you live in the U.S.,though. I watch PBS on the regular, and they show programs about people of color just about ALL the time here in the Detroit area—especially on the “Independent Lens”  series, which shows films/docs not only about but made by POCs dang near almost every week. This being Black History Month, they of course stepped up their game and went all out showing some really great films, such as THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE: 1967-1975 (which is a must-see,BTW) MORE THAN A MONTH, a doc about the history and current meaning of Black History Month itself, and THE INTERRUPTORS, about a group of former Chicago street gang members seeking positive ways to deal with the violence & drug wars in their ‘hoods 

          I also used to listen Michel Martin’s show, which airs here on NPR 5 days a week at 12 noon here in the D, and I enjoyed that too (I hated it when NPR took off Rev. Michael Eric Dyson’s show off without any explanation–never understood that at all). Now both NPR AND AM 1310 (the liberal channel here in Detroit) especially, could a lot more of the presence of people of color–I’ve always found the lack of POC talk shows on 1310 to be more than a little bewildering. They had a few when the channel first came on the air, but, now it’s like, all white people speaking all the damn time–I have MAJOR issues with that.

          Anyway, PBS is actually diverse in some areas—they also show the Tavis Smiley show 5 nights a week with back-to-back episodes (although I’ve often wondered why he can’t have an hourlong show like Charlie Rose does) plus a longtime local show called DETROIT BLACK JOURNAL comes on Sundays, as well as shows like NOW YOU KNOW which have a diverse roster of reporters also.  I’ve listened to THIS AMERICAN LIFE for years now, and I’ve always liked it too–they don’t always do just white people’s stories,either.

          • Val

             I guess you have to live in a majority minority or close to majority minority city to get diversity from PBS/ NPR? But what’s interesting is that the San Francisco Bay Area is majority non-White and yet the programming for our PBS/ NPR stations seems to ignore that and is pretty much lily-white except during Black History Month/ Pride Month, etc. And even during Black History Month most of the programming is relegated to the 11pm time slot.

            You are really fortunate to have all of that Black programming. I can only wish we had anything like it here.

    • mimi

      “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin is often fantastic, and features a lot of WOC/issues POC face.

      • Val

         I’m sure it is a great show but it’s not broadcast in my market, which is the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Susan Donovan

    Great article. Though to be fair, a naive obsession with “Asian Girls”  (often paired with a shallow knowledge of Anime,) was always a great tip-off that I was dealing witha young man who was not very emotionally mature and who might have ideas about gender and race that would not be compatible with my own. 

    On the other hand I know plenty of mixed race couples (married in to one myself) and such relationships can be VERY happy and healthy.

    I tend to think my husband and I have it a bit easier then black man/white woman couples or white man/Asian woman couples since we don’t fit as easily in to a “pattern”  (though some people do make judgements anyway) I try to keep an open mind when I see couples, it sucks to get a condescending lecture from someone who thinks they understand your romantic impulses better than yourself.

    I wonder what it would be like if black women got the same generalized amount of cultural attention as white women do (in media, news reporting etc.)  — for example I’m a bit of a CSI/Law and Order junkie. But as i watch I can’t help but notice how vanishingly rare black female victims are in the stories. The damsel in distress in these little morality plays is almost always white.  I’m also shocked to see how often an Asian female character is portrayed as a untrustworthy dragon lady. I think of such stereotypes as very dated, but they are alive and well in main-strem staples of US culture. 

    It’s not intentional, and from time to time there is something that breaks the pattern, but if we keep telling these stories why are we surprised that people believe them?

    Why wouldn’t she be shocked to be 2nd syring to a woman of another race when everything has told her from a young age that her race makes her very desirable and worthy of protection?

    • Mickey

      Her white female privilege has been compromised. Hence, her anger.


    You’re right this woman’s anger is misplaced because the person she should be upset at first and foremost is her boyfriend. She should find out why, if he was attracted to Asian women, he bothered to form a relationship with her at all. That makes no sense.   

    • Rictus Smirk

      I wasn’t under the impression Darst was angry at Asian women at all.  Elisha Lim’s point seems to be that Darst’s anger marginalizes the Asian women who are on the other side of her rather large triangle, drowning their potential pain in Otherness as she over-emphasizes her own.

      I would, however, ask a few questions.  Did the women her boyfriend was cheating with know about her?  If not, are any as invested in the twerp as she?  If the answer’s yes, then there’s enough pain to go around.

      To Alice:

      If Mr. Darst-Baiter is *only* attracted to Asian women and Darst wasn’t enough for him purely for that reason, then I think his attraction is not only a fetish (nothing wrong with certain of those) but an exclusive dehumanizing fetish.  It can be good to be obsessed with the way your partner looks — that can be an aspect of loving everything about them.  But for their sake, and for the sake of the intensity of your passion, the qualities that obsess you should be the idiosyncrasies of *her* voice, her body, her facial expressions, her ideas, her mindset, her tone, her way of dressing, her way of intertwining with you, her habits of posture and repose, and not some micro-obsessive checklist that makes all of those traits “delicious deviations” from presumed racial characteristics.   A human being is not some special kind of shoe made in a faraway factory.

      My cousin is originally from Thailand and has a history of dating black men that her mother, my aunt, presumed was completely motivated by lust and would lead to prostitution.  Instead, it has led to my cousin’s being married for fifteen years (and counting) to a man who adores her so much that, even now, he has a giant photo of her covering the facing wall of his workout room.   He can’t stop looking at *her*, and that’s no fetish. 

      Meanwhile, my aunt has been single and divorced for many years.

  • Alice

    To pick up on my last point, all of my Asian girlfriends date white men exclusively.  I’ve asked about this and they just say that they find white men more attractive.  Sometimes I get the feeling that there’s more going on to the story.  

  • Alice

    What if the boyfriend isn’t a fetishist but just finds Asian women more attractive? Robert Deniro is white but dates and marries black women.  Isn’t there a difference between someone who finds certain woman more attractive than others versus someone who fetishizes qualities of a woman?  

    Also, why do we rarely hear discussions about Asian women who exclusively date white men because of a fetish? 

    • Xeginy

      The difference between “attraction” and “fetish” is basically this.

      Attraction: I am attracted to Asian women (or one Asian woman, whatever.) I am also attracted to other kinds of people.

      Fetish: I have a fetish for Asian women. I am unable to be aroused unless I am with or thinking about an Asian woman. (Or what I think Asian women are like.)

      Plus, fetishes for people often tend to come with a host of preconceptions, and fetishizing Asian women in particular usually follows the “submissive Oriental flower” stereotype pretty closely.

      • Eva

        I think you hit the nail on the head with this one Xeginy.  Also having a fetish isn’t about reality.  Fetish by its nature is about fantasy.  So if a man has a fetish for Asian/White/Black women, he’s not really into THEM as people, it’s all about HIS fantasy, it’s all about the guy.

    • Susan Donovan

      The phrase I find men/women of ___ race more attractive is racist.  There are many people who wish it were not true because it is so common.

      That’s not to say it’s always exotification, But rather my desire to challenge the notion that a race can be attractive.

      The level of human diversity with races is so great that even saying such things is a bit absurd.

      it may be the case that you tend to end up with a certain type, but that is different from making comparisons about the attractiveness of a race.

      • Anonymous

        Agree with all of this. I support interracial dating, but I think it’s toxic to put people of other races on pedestals.

    • Anonymous

       In spite of the Seinfeld joke about “how is it racist when I *like* them?”, Frank Chin talks about how “racist love” (his term) is just as problematic as racist hate — especially since we often let it pass when it’s attraction instead of repulsion. What does it mean to “find Asian women more attractive”? In what ways is their Asian-ness a factor in their attractiveness? What makes Asian women attractive in ways that other women don’t have?

    • distance88

      (I think I posted similar sentiments in the dating panels that Racialicious had several months ago, so sorry about repeating myself…)

      First of all, I am all for interracial dating and finding love wherever you can find it on this messed up, crazy planet, BUT…

      While we like to think that who we are attracted to is innate or personal choice or whatever, I think “attraction” is largely influenced by the society around us — for example, in the U.S., Asian women are constantly exoticized and Asian men are typically emasculated — and if we aren’t actively dissecting (or even aware of) these tropes, we run the risk of internalizing and normalizing them.

      Secondly, the problem I see when (usually white) people say, “I’m only attracted to Black men/Asian women/X racial group” is that you are basically saying that you are attracted to the widely held stereotypes of that group of people, and that you think that this group of people are essentially all the same and all share the same characteristics (i.e. racial monoliths).  The flip side is that the “I’m only attracted to [blank]” statement implies that the groups you find less or not attractive are absolutely devoid of the characteristics you claim to be attracted to, which is also problematic and simply not true.

      Also, I think Xeginy hit the nail on the head on the difference between attraction and fetish.