This is a touchy post. It took me a while before I decided to write about it, partly because, as a Caucasian woman dating an Asian man, it’s something I have to deal with almost everyday of my life and it makes me a bit sad/angry when I talk about it. I prefer writing about cool stuffs and happy moments, but this is also very important to me.
Here are the most common stereotypes, insults or comments I was told to or could hear related to AMWF (Asian Male White Female) relationships. The comments I got from when I was in Canada and those I got from when I’m in Japan are a little different, so I decided to part this post in two.
Part One : The comments coming from people living in Canada
1. What I was told: Are you trying all the races?
I got that a lot of times, probably because I dated three men in my life : the first was Caucasian, the second was African, and now my current boyfriend is Asian. But it’s ok, I understand. I can’t lie: I thought about that joke too when I started dating Hitomi.
But what I don’t like is that some people think I’m “trying” other nationalities because I like to “experiment” (oh Gosh…). I’ll just say this: we don’t decide who we fall in love with.
What I think about it: Jokes are fine with me, but I must admit I would prefer if they could keep that one for themselves. I think I simply have a greater chance to fall in love with someone who isn’t from the same culture as mine because I like traveling and I’m studying international relations. That doesn’t mean I’m doing a habit of “trying” people.
2. What I was told: You’re just trying to find yourself.
Please, just please, don’t. I’m trying to find myself? So, I was perfectly fine all those passed years of my life, but right now because I’m dating a Japanese man, this is supposed to mean that I’m confused about what I want in life? I know exactly where I’m going and who I want to be with, thank-you-very-much.
What I think about it: They probably think I’m confused because they are confused about my choices. Psychological projection anyone?
3. What I heard: Do you have the Yellow Fever?
“Yellow Fever” is a (kinda racist) term applied to people who have a preference towards Asians. Nobody ever told me that one, but I heard about it recently. I just couldn’t believe it. What is that supposed to mean? Ah, so because a “White” person is dating an Asian, of course they must have a fetish or something. Or else, how someone could explain such a strange phenomenon?
How about because they love each other?
What I think about it: I know there’s probably people who say that and don’t think bad of it. They just say it as a joke — or even seriously, but without any malice.
But I also personally don’t understand when somebody says “I want an Asian boyfriend” — although I’m not judging. I just think it’s the same as saying “I want to date only in my own race”. I get the fact that you can be more attracted to certain physical traits or culture, but saying “I want to date a Japanese” for example is really weird in my opinion. It’s like reducing all the complex facets of a personality and feelings that make everybody unique to only a nationality (or looks, which is even worse). There’s idiots everywhere and in every culture, being Asian is not an exception. What about just falling in love with the right person, regardless of their nationality/looks? Maybe that’s why I don’t understand the whole “Yellow Fever” thing, because for me it just doesn’t exist.
I started dating Hitomi because it felt right. I don’t care about his nationality. He is who he is. (This also applies for the “Are you trying all the races?” thing).
4. What I was told: Ching-chang-chong!
Unfortunately a classic.
Asia is a very big continent (the biggest in the world), where you can find many many different spoken languages and cultures. When someone says “Ching-chang-chong”, which is usually wrongly associated with Mandarin (Chinese), it’s like saying there’s only China in Asia. There’s ~1,2 billion of people that speaks Chinese; that person is then denying all the other ~3,1 billion people living in Asia who don’t speak Chinese. It’s not even close to Chinese. Saying Japanese and Chinese are the same is like saying German and English are the same. Same roots, yes — but different languages and countries. The sound of the language is different. Japanese and Chinese are mostly not sharing the same alphabets. They don’t even have the same culture and political beliefs.
What I think about it: That’s a (bad) joke which let us have a peek of the (probably non-existent) general knowledge of the person saying it. So let’s just say that’s ignorance.
5. What I was told: But Asian men look like girls! They are so feminine!
Well, that’s to each people standards I guess.
What I think about it: Beauty standards are different in each country around the world. What makes you think certain behaviors are more manly than others is only a reflection of the society you grew up in. It’s the society that dictates the gender roles and the “ideal” man/woman look. It tells you what is a masculine male, what is a straight masculine male, and what is feminine. You are not even conscious of that until you go travel and open up to new cultures. Each country has a different idea of what is masculine and what is feminine. That doesn’t mean that Asians guys look like girls, and that West guys are big hairy and smelly monsters.
[For more, check out Stereotypes : Ignorance Or Superiority Complex?]
6. What I was told: Oh, your boyfriend looks like *insert the name of a famous Asian actor*!
This one isn’t too bad because sometimes it can be disguised as a compliment. I myself thought “This guy could play in a drama” when I saw Hitomi for the first time.
What I think about it: I’m just a bit tired of people saying “Asians all look the same”. I don’t think they look the same at all. It also applies to what I said in this post; the more you are in contact with other cultures, the more you get used to it. Even the famous Asian eyes have as many different shapes as Caucasian eyes if you pay attention.
I guess Asians could say we kind of all look the same in the West as well…
7. What I was told: But he probably has a small… well, you know…?
Ugh. Why are we having this conversation again?
I’m so used to it that most people asking those sexual questions don’t even have the time to finish their sentence before I cut them short. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who asked me how Hitomi and I met and what’s his name without any sexual allusion. It’s quite sad. Most of the people just ask me straight if the infamous “statistics” are true — and that’s the kindest way they found to ask me such things — and then procedes to the usual and normal questions.
What I think about it: As a Westerner, I knew those stereotypes existed because I grew up with them, but I never would have thought that people would honestly ask me those sexual questions without seeing it as something hurtful or downright pervert. I never would have thought I would live what I now understand as being one of the biggest racist comment widely accepted worldwide as being a “racial characteristic” (just these words are disgusting to me).
Part Two: The comments coming from people living in Japan
1. What I was told: Why are you dating a Japanese?
Why not? Is it against the law?
What I think about it: As I said earlier; I don’t care about his nationality. I care about his character, if he takes care of me, if he’s kind, if I can talk to him easily, if we see things and the future the same way, if we get along well. That’s what is important. Him being a Japanese is just where he was born and grew up.
2. What I was told: What are you doing with him?
What do you mean, what I’m doing with him? Am I supposed to have a specific and universally accepted reason or goal to date him?
What I think about it: This is a real underlying problem in Japan, much more important than just this question and something that I can’t fully explain here.
In my opinion, foreigners (and especially “White” people) are way overrated in Japan. So overrated that most of my boyfriend’s entourage (and sometimes even his family) don’t understand why we’re dating. In their eyes, he must have tricked me into dating him or something. Or I’m the one being crazy. Or I want something from him.
They really don’t see it as something natural, which really makes me sad, because Hitomi is an awesome and kind and wonderful human being, but only because he’s Asian and I’m Caucasian, some people in Japan don’t understand why we’re together. It’s the same reaction as the stereotypical nerd guy who’s dating the blonde girl with big breasts in the West; nobody understands how it happened.
Unless, I’m really normal. I’m not a sex-bomb at all.
And Hitomi is handsome. He really is.
And even if he wasn’t, what does it have to do with our relationship? Why is everyone judging our relationship based on our nationalities and looks?
3. What I was told: You’re way out of his league.
Oh, come on! Is that supposed to be a compliment? Because honestly, I don’t take it as such. At all. It’s kind of insulting, for me AND for my boyfriend.
What I think about it: Same thing as I just explained above; foreigners being overrated.
Conclusion: the comments I got in Canada and those I got in Japan are a bit different, but basically it’s the same thing: ignorance of other cultures and following the stereotypes.
How about you guys? Did you hear those stereotypes/comments in your life? If you are in an AMWF relationship, did you come across those comments?