‘Yellow fever’ and the fantasy of the Asian female

Dissonance between dreams, reality can kill or kindle relationships

by Nicolas Gattig

Here is a dumb thing you should never do: watch the 007 caper “You Only Live Twice” with your feminist American girlfriend — a woman of color to boot. In a series renowned for its sexism, the Japan entry takes the biscuit.

My date night was first upset as Bond is massaged in a bathhouse by Aki, an improbably svelte and doe-eyed assistant, who whispers that she will enjoy very much “serving under” him. The feminist girlfriend, adorable if not exactly svelte, emits a derisive snort. “What is she — a slave?”

When Bond and another “sexiful” nymph, the pearl diver Kissy Suzuki, search for the villains’ hideout in the Kyushu mountains, the feminist girlfriend at last blows a fuse. “Why is that chick running around in a bikini and high heels on a volcano?”

It is a valid point that I have given a lot of thought. The honest answer can only be that Kissy Suzuki understands what men like, the recesses of the lizard brain, and that she is guilelessly happy to deliver. No wonder my date night went south.

Any cultural interaction can trigger fantasies, a pushing of buttons in the collective unconscious. Few of these fantasies, though, seem as keen as the one Western males have of Asian females (and this, in turn, pushes buttons for non-Asian females). What lies beneath this attraction besides obvious physical features? And what are the fantasies driving “yellow fever,” the fetish for Orientals that can make Western guys in Japan act like brats in a toy shop?

“What’s wrong with a preference?” is a common response to accusations of having a fetish. Indeed, not every man dating Asian women is a closet pedophile yearning for back rubs and full geisha service. (Which Western man harbors fantasies of a good cup of tea and an extended shamisen recital anyway?) Moreover, to see a real Asian fetish, you don’t have to look further than, say, Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki drooling over “a bare milk-white food of sheer perfection, with exquisitely chiseled toes and nails like the iridescent shells along the shore at Enoshima.” I mean, talk about yellow fever.

But some preferences can be creepy, as demonstrated in the recent online series “They’re All So Beautiful” by the hordes of amorous man-babies lured to Asian/non-Asian speed dating — the kind of operators who would try to impress a date by eating with chopsticks and cooing “I really like your people!” Asked to explain his particular taste in the documentary, one American wife-hunter explains that “Asians are more caring and trustworthy; they listen better.”

In her sprawling expose “The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient,” Sheridan Prasso explores the romantic notions that enchant Caucasians and Asians alike. It is a sobering read, a panorama of human folly enabled by longing, projections and misconceptions, and at times even cynical engineering.

“The issue of fetishism and preference,” Prasso writes, “is so prevalent, so pervasive in relations between East and West, that even healthy, normal relationships often are tarnished by the accusation.” Anyway, she explains, the line between preference and fixation, the kind of obsessive preoccupation that a fantasy can engender, is often vague to the point where each individual must decide for herself — or himself — if they feel they are being objectified.

“As an Asian person, I can immediately sense when someone has an Asian fetish,” writes Reina Mizuno, a Harvard MBA graduate from Nagoya, in the business school’s student newspaper. “You see a guy walking down the street, hand in hand with another Asian girl, and he still checks you out as you walk by him.”

Other giveaways among Harvard men, says Mizuno, are graduating in East Asian Studies or working as an English teacher in Asia. “Is this about American men, tired of Anglo-Saxon feminists, seeking more traditional Asian women who would be dependent on them and make them feel good about themselves?” she asks.

According to Prasso’s research, that is indeed partly what this is about. An American interviewee admits: “There’s a fear there with women I feel too much equality with. I see something of a feminist backlash. I don’t really understand it, but I feel less threatened by Asian women.”

Sadly, some Asian dreams come in dark and depressing hues. In fact, Prasso’s survey of the Pacific Rim makes you wonder if East and West bring out the absolute worst in each other. Slumming through pay-for-sex cesspools in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, she meets a parade of body consumers with a colonial sense of entitlement, the ghosts from next door who must quench their inner void with the purchase of flesh and affection. A fantasy never satiates, so it’s no wonder confessions of yellow fever are often stories of sex addiction.

Of course projections are cast both ways, and Asian women too nurse their own dreams and desires. Jaron Blaye, an African-American IT consultant in Tokyo, says he often leaves people guessing about his ethnicity, due to his light complexion and vaguely Asiatic features. As a result, different buttons are pushed in the fanciful female mind.

“The Japanese eat up stereotypes,” says Blaye. “I had a female friend who said I was different from other black men — somehow ‘not really black.’ It was only when we went dancing that she said, ‘Oh my God, you really are black! I can see it in your dancing!’

“For her, being a real black person was to live up to the Japanese stereotype. And when I finally did that, she became sexually interested. Of course, I myself took advantage of the ‘myth of the black man’ to conquer as many Japanese women as possible.”

In the wake of his trysts, Blaye has shattered the mother of all fantasies. “The funny thing is,” he explains, “the notion that black men are these well-endowed Mandingo lovers is not true. I remember the disbelief and disappointment of some women when they first saw me undressed! Others were interested in the fact that what they’d heard about black men and size was a myth. Some of the disappointed simply continued their fantasy quest, perhaps in the streets of Roppongi, looking out for their ‘real black man.’ ”

When flights of fancy clash with reality, sometimes the result can also delight. “The strong samurai warrior is a very attractive image, to me and a lot of Western women,” says Melanie Harper, a Canadian business English instructor. But “in reality, Japanese men can be really good listeners, and incredibly supportive. They are chivalrous in their own way, like carrying your purse, paying for dinner, and positioning themselves on escalators so they can catch you if you fall!”

And this is where the plot thickens. Japanese men being chivalrous? Is there a native on these islands, male or female, who concurs? Likewise, how many Japanese husbands, squeezing cigarette money from their monthly allowance, can believe Western men yearn for a Japanese wife they imagine will be docile and malleable — more appreciative and less demanding, a doll who will scrub your back?

When it comes to romantic attraction, there is no objective reality. Perhaps we are different with a partner from another culture, or perhaps it is all in the mind. A fantasy may deceive, but it can also help shape what is real. Sometimes we receive what we choose to see; sometimes we don’t get what we choose to ignore.

Consciously or not, some intercultural relations may work as a “performance team” — both partners staging respective fantasies to the point where both get something they want. If familiarity indeed breeds contempt, one path to romantic bliss may be finding someone different enough not to know us completely — so completely that we may tire of ourselves.

In “The Quiet American,” Graham Greene’s novel of Oriental enchantment, the Vietnamese lover Phuong is described as “wonderfully ignorant.” She is not stupid or naive, just uneducated, so might her charm be in part that she cannot fathom the “Western mystique”?

Print and e-book giveaway: Send your thoughts on these issues to community@japantimes.co.jp for a chance to win one of 10 copies of “Black Passenger Yellow Cabs” (five in print, five e-books) or “Understanding Japanese Women” (e-book only). Winners may have their responses published. Please indicate which book you would prefer to receive and in which format. The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 19.

  • Ron NJ

    I look forward to your future article on the White Fever among Asian females, where you will hopefully write a similar load of bollocks, unfairly stereotyping swathes of people with a pen stroke just as you have done here.

    • phu

      Well put. This article seems to be an attempt to couch horribly unscientific quotes in a relatively objective setting.

      People are people, and we behave ridiculously, but that doesn’t mean everything is some sort of offense against gender or that every guy checking out a woman has “x fever” (I check out Asian girls — and many other girls — while walking with my girlfriend… she checks them out too; welcome to a new and more nuanced world, Mr. Gattig).

      • marginalist

        The quote you object to is not by Mr. Gattig. He never says whether he agrees with it, nor does he claim to present any objective truth. You should welcome yourself to a more nuanced world, a world where writers present a range of views regardless of their own.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      No such thing exists. They’re called “gold diggers” and come in every flavor.

    • KareemAbdul

      Come on, Ron – are you bitter you were fooled into reading the whole article thoroughly? Next time speed read or scroll quickly to the comments! ;)

  • Gordon Graham

    I think the article neglects one key feature prevalent among Western women that tips the scales where Western men are concerned…and that is that most Western women tend to get quite fat from 25 on. If it is a fetish to prefer slim women with beautiful smooth skin, then I’m guilty as charged.

    • Bob

      You are straight up horrible and should refrain from contact with human beings until this is rectified. Sorry. Look for an abuser education program in your city and get help.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sorry, Bob…I know the truth hurts but someone has to say it. What’s the matter guy a few too many cheeseburgers yourself?

      • $35222035

        Not sure if serious…trolling…or seriously trolling..?

      • $57424902

        You need to retrieve your sac from your master’s purse, Bob-o.

      • meliorist

        Obesity is ugly. Fact.

    • midnightbrewer

      That’s another generalization. Also, the weight issues are mostly limited to the US and UK right now. That’s cultural, not biological.

      • Gordon Graham

        A generalization based on observation…Go ahead and sit in any train or bus station in the West and start clicking with a counter if you prefer to be more scientific about it (you’re gonna go home with a pretty tired thumb). How about the next Yu Darvish game that is telecast have a cursory glance at the fans packing the stadium…and I do mean packing the stadium…That obesity is a cultural phenomenon doesn’t mean a thing…White women tend to be overweight…for whatever reason

      • midnightbrewer

        Okay, so if by “the West” you mean Texas, then definitely. However, the West includes hundreds of countries. I’ve lived in Europe for a couple of years (mostly Germany) and can say with confidence that most white women are definitely not fat.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’ve never been to Germany or any other northern European country for that matter, and in the 20 years I’ve been in Japan I’ve never met a German woman, so I’ll have to take your word for it…I did however live on the island of Crete for a year and I could honestly tell you that most of the European women who flocked to the beaches there for their holidays would have been better off leaving their bikinis at home…

      • KareemAbdul

        Driving almost everywhere, saturated fats, no-cal soft drinks and so on might be part of that reason.

      • The Musical Commentator

        But white men also tend to be overweight….. 0_o

  • disqus_4NsfhsQIBv

    We are entitled to our fantasies. All male fantasies offend women. Who cares? Men aren’t put here to please women. Our biggest offense is to want to have sex with lots of beautiful women. Look at how Western women treat men, though. Making the man walk behind her at the mall, carrying all her bags and boxes like some kind of pack mule. And the daily grind of being disrespected in front of their children. Losing those children, the house, and half his financial assets in the divorce also looms on the horizon for most married men in the West. So, is wanting to have sex really all that bad? Is wanting a back rub and a hot meal really so bad? Only if you’re a selfish female or psychologically neutered male.

    • Itsrealfunnythat

      Wow, someone has issues.

      • disqus_4NsfhsQIBv

        The stock response from brainless feminists. Try actually addressing my points instead of “Wow, somone has issues.” What, are you still in high school? Or are you a typical Dr. Phil moron?

  • Frank Schirmer

    The elephant in the room is that the “svelte” Asian woman often has some pretty evil character traits, such as hatred for the Asian neighbouring countries. I have often heard from Japanese women that getting together with a Western man is some sort of ego-thing, proving that Japan is on eye-level with the West. In short, the old problem of nationalism in the East Asian countries often creeps into relationships, and clashes with the liberal, anti-racist worldview prevalent in the West.

    • Gordon Graham

      I guess you’ve missed all the racial tension going on in England at the moment…

      • Frank Schirmer

        Not at all. I do not consider them to be on the same scale and intensity as the hatred amongst East Asian countries though, and the element of surprise that I wrote about (the “svelte” Asian woman turning out to have some very backwards ideas about race et al.) is not in any kind diminished by racial tension in England.

      • The Musical Commentator

        I’m sure there are well-known terrorist organizations such as the IRA in E Asia, sir

    • “the liberal, anti-racist worldview prevalent in the West.” I take it you have never actually lived in “the West”, then?

      • Frank Schirmer

        Only for about 40 years. Should have said “modern Western countries” then? You can then decide if your country fits that bill or not.
        What Western country currently has multiple nationalism-based disputes over territories with its neighbours?

      • “What Western country currently has multiple nationalism-based disputes over territories with its neighbours?”

        The UK (various disputes with Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland), Germany (various disputes with Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands), Spain (with Portugal. Morocco and Andorra, besides the disputes with the UK), Russia (Ukraine, Estonia, Abkhazia), the US (various disputes with Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras) and Canada (dispute with Denmark (Greenland) besides the several disputes with the US).

      • Frank Schirmer

        Now you’ve drifted off to phantasy land. You are well aware that most of those “disputes” are not real and can in no way be compared with what goes on between China, Korea, and Japan. Sorry, but I have to file you under troll and won’t grant this childishness with more replies.

      • I was actually expecting that – the truth doesn’t fit your thesis, therefore it isn’t true!

        Interesting phraseology you use: “can in no way be compared with”, “won’t grant this childishness with more replies” – not language I would expect from a 40+ year-old native of any Western nation. More like a Chinese or Korean with just enough English knowledge to be dangerous.

        You *almost* had me fooled, “Frank Schirmer”.

      • TheSpeakerOfTruth

        By the “West” Mr. Schirmer no doubt means some isolated college town or other non-representative enclave. And there is nothing “going on” between Korea and China, they have tabled their “disputes” and set them aside quite quietly. It’s Japan, emboldened by America, causing problems as usual.

      • KareemAbdul

        You forgot the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican within Italy.

        RSM needs a sea port and insists that Italy provide one. Sorry to nitpick. Thanks for your thorough response, GM :D

      • onenil

        From my own experience, Western racism absolutely pales in comparison to East Asian nationalist racism.

      • I will guess you are caucasian, then – in which case yes, “in your experience” Western racism would be insignificant, as you never dealt with it. I can tell you for a fact that non-whites in pretty much any Western country would love to have to deal with “racism” such as having an empty seat next to them on the train etc.

    • Which would of course explain why the most common international marriage in Japan is Japanese husband and Chinese wife, followed by Japanese husband and Korean wife, followed by Japanese wife and Korean husband. Whole lotta hatred between those Asians there.

  • chrisharringtonjp

    Over on Google+, the Japan Times chosen this blurb to introduce this article:

    “Stereotypes are a minefield when it comes to creating lasting relationships. How does one navigate the line between fantasy and reality?”

    Unfortunately, it seems that the extent to which the author has actually examined the landscape was limited to the author expressing his own stereotypes. He has simply rehashed the standard, and mistaken, Tokyo expat view of mixed cultural dating, which is both misogynist and racist, and pretends that this view is substantial enough to be worth discussing as a larger cultural phenomenon. Yet take even one step out of the microcosm of the Tokyo expat nightlife, and the reality is quite different. Specifically, the reality is basically the same as it is anywhere else in the world where people of two vastly different cultural backgrounds come together.
    In the real Japan, outside the bars and night clubs, men and women of various cultures live and work together, in the process of which some of them occasionally develop feelings for each other. Sometimes, the participants in the relationship come to it with preconceived notions of the other person’s cultural characteristics, but those are quickly dispelled, just as preconceptions about one’s partner’s personality are quickly dispelled in single-culture relationships. Those relationships that last longer than this phase of discovery tend to be real, meaningful relationships, irrespective of the cultural background of the participants. However, with multicultural relationships, the combined breadth of experience and heritage that the two partners bring to the relationship can make it *that much more meaningful and rewarding*.

    It may be that many single western men do come to Japan with certain ideas about how Japanese women behave. For any one of them who has been here more than a few years and had a relationship that has lasted more than a few months, those ideas were quickly corrected.
    Many Japanese women without experience of western culture are not assertive in exactly the same way that western women are. What a surprise. Rather, those Japanese women assert, and achieve, their needs in different ways, using different strategies, strategies that reflect their cultural heritage, and are appropriate for interaction with others who share that heritage.

    The author picks quotes from one female western expert on Asia, and one western educated Japanese woman, seemingly in the hopes that their input provides an opportunity for a more rounded view. In the case of the former, I expect I would find her book fascinating, and I wonder whether the entire book follows the tone. I suspect cherry picking. In the case of the second, the quote serves only to demonstrate the particular issues that the quoted individual has in coming to grips with the reality of male and female sexuality, and does not serve to help the author’s point.

    In short, this article is not just embarrassing for the author, but it insults me and the many others, the majority in fact, who are in deeply rewarding and nurturing relationships with partners of a different culture from that which they grew up in.

    • JTCommentor

      If I had the time to have written a well thought out and nicely constructed response to this article, it would have looked a lot like this. WELL SAID and THANK YOU!!!

    • 思德

      “Rather, those Japanese women assert, and achieve, their needs in different ways, using different strategies, strategies that reflect their cultural heritage, and are appropriate for interaction with others who share that heritage.”

      Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Tell ‘im what he’s won, Jonny…

    • hatepc

      I don’t think you or anyone else gets to decide what “the real Japan” is. if this essay is not about you and your super-wholesome relationship, good for you! so then why do you feel insulted? instead, by disparaging the people portrayed in the essay as somehow “not real” – which really means “not like you” – YOU have insulted THEM. cross-cultural fantasies are real and complex, sometimes funny, sometimes problematic, as evidenced by the few women comments in this thread. should these women also be embarrassed for experiencing a reality different from yours?

    • Carlos Godoy

      ^^ this reply by chris Harrington should be the article replacing the flimflam original.

  • Space_Chief

    “Indeed, not every man dating Asian women is a closet pedophile yearning for back rubs and full geisha service.”

    WTH???? Closet pedophile? Project much?

  • TokyoTengu

    I told my lovely wife I had an Asian fetish that needed attention. She said, “shut up and go to bed. Don’t forget and take out the trash in the morning.” Ah romance!


    • doctorshankar

      S. That is the reality. I know you are happy.

    • Cacaulay Mulkin

      I actually had a chuckle when i read this one! ;-)

  • Miura_Anjin

    I wonder if Ms.Mizuno applies the same criteria to herself as she does to Western men. If teaching in Asia is a sign of an Asian fetish, is a Japanese girl studying in the U.S. the sign of some sort of Western fetish?
    Certainly not up to the standards I would have expected of a Harvard student. Perhaps that school’s reputation is a bit exaggerated.

    • midnightbrewer

      Japanese also have a stereotype of “white fever”. I knew a Japanese woman who went on working holiday in Australia. A lot of the women there seemed to be man-hunting, and when one of them discovered that my friend already had a western boyfriend back in Japan she exclaimed, “What are you doing wasting your time here, then?”

    • Saengak

      A white person indulging in east asian studies differs from an Asian person or other PoC studying in the U.S. because PoC around the world do so for survival in a western centric white hierarchical dominated, neo-colonial world. A white person traveling abroad has colonial stink written all over it. You should be able to see a difference. Also, white guys love to think they can speak for Asians in political/racial/identity type discussions merely because “hey, i studied east asian history and have an Asian girlfriend” BARF.

      • Ron NJ

        Well, at least the white guilt quota for this article has been met now thanks to Saengak.

      • Yamatosenkan

        Show a little respect for a large number of folk in Asian studies (men and women!) who who often go to much effort year in year out to master Asian languages, understand and bridge cultures.

  • “As an Asian person, I can immediately sense when someone has an Asian
    fetish,” writes Reina Mizuno, a Harvard MBA graduate from Nagoya, in the
    business school’s student newspaper. “You see a guy walking down the
    street, hand in hand with another Asian girl, and he still checks you
    out as you walk by him.”

    Dear Reina: that’s not an “Asian fetish”, that’s called “male behavior”. Men walking hand-in-hand with their white girlfriend will “check out” other white women, men walking hand-in-hand with their black girlfriend will “check out” other black women, Asian men walking hand-in-hand with their Asian girlfriend will check out other Asian women. Yes, we men are pigs – but not for the reasons you imagine.

    • Simpleobserving

      I’ll drink to that. I didn’t know that being Asian and holding and MBA made you a psychologist nor an expert.

    • Saengak

      white men fetishizing women of color is REAL and inescapable. As an Asian female that has dated outside her race, I no longer do so. Things are muuuuch smoother, no need for racial battles within the relationship or subtle casual “innocent” racism PLUS my kids will continue my cultural heritage and language. Pretty simple.

      • Rev Ing

        I don’t think that was the point of his comment. He never said that white men fetishizing asian women wasn’t real. He just contributed an alternate point of view that men looking at an asian woman walk down the street while with his girlfriend might be doing it out of male instinct instead of yellow fever.

    • hatepc

      I am far from a perfect man, but I’m not a pig. speak for yourself, dude.

  • MarkD

    So, do I have to send my wife back, because I found some Asian women good looking, dated several and married a cute, funny, adventurous, good-looking one? What do I tell our kids and grandkids? I’ll just have to ignore the expert opinion (how does one get to be an expert on this?), know I made the right choice, and laugh at you. Seriously, just stop. I have no regrets.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      ” good-looking one”

      Yeah right, every single one of you says that.

      • KareemAbdul

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      • The Musical Commentator

        And media also has its share of molding it

      • KareemAbdul

        TMC – another reason to turn off the MSM. I disconnected cable and haven’t watched TV in years. It’s been great. : D

  • Michael H

    I agree with some parts of the article but not with all. Being married to an Asian woman, and not having an Asian cultural/racial “fetish” at all, at the end of the day, I find a successful relationship tends to have more to do with individual character traits, than with racial preferences or “fantasies”. with either or both partners in the relationship. Just my opinion, but I think if someone has commitment or emotional issues going into a relationship, it doesn’t matter what kind of racial fantasy or fetish is fulfilled by their partner, it will be those issues that will lead to problems & a potential failure of that relationship.

  • IanPG

    I’m glad the article included Jaron Blaye’s commentary as well. It’s interesting to note that the author related Blaye’s experience dating Japanese women from the perspective of his race and did not offer it as merely an American perspective. Japan will hopefully aclimatize more to American diversity sooner, rather than later.

    I’m a Native-American(as American as it gets) married to a woman from Japan. In Japan, I have a habit of insisting that Japanese men and women assume that I’m as American as the brown-haired, blue-eyed American guy sitting next to me unless I self-identify otherwise. I also assume Japanese are Japanese unless I am told someone is actually Korean, for example.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      If you really are Native American, (and not one of those Euro posers) you’re more American than the blue-eyed guy, not as.

    • Selchuk Driss

      “Japan will hopefully aclimatize more to American diversity sooner, rather than later”

      So you want Japan to become just another generic multicultural police state?

    • The Musical Commentator

      The part about Japan being as diverse as the US aint gonna happen. Nippon is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world and have strong roots in their indigenous culture.

  • JTCommentor

    Reading stories like this makes me lose faith in humanity. Are people really so shallow?

    People see what they want to see. If the author of this article and some of those quoted are convinced people choose their spouse based on their ethnicity or are obsessed with Asians only (like choosing a can of coke, rather than an individual person with unique characteristics), then maybe thats because they are viewing others through their own eyes, and interpreting otherwise neutral things (a white guy and an asian girl, or a guy “checking her out” as she walks by – or maybe he noticed the car behind her, or her brand of shoes, or the piece of food on her face or maybe he was just a chauvinistic jerk who would look at any woman – black, white, asian etc) in a way that fits their view of the world.

    The fact that people even spend time thinking about such mindless topics, let alone writing articles and publishing online series on point, is really quite depressing.

    • Jo Somebody

      I partially agree. It’s ridiculous to assume why people you don’t know get together (or to believe it’s any of your business), but I’ve seen/heard loads, LOADS of people listing [one of] the reason[s] for learning Japanese is to find a Japanese wife and loads of blog/vlog posts about how to get a Japanese girl. Many people ADMIT their ‘fetishes’ or say they only want a spouse (or even more disturbingly, ‘to breed with’ someone) from [insert race that isn’t their own and that they didn’t grow up around] race and don’t seem to care what that person is like.

      There are undoubtedly many men with Asian or Japanese fetishes, as there are people from all cultures with other racial fetishes or race-based superiority/inferiority complexes. I think it’s weird, but it doesn’t really bother me as long as a) I am not constantly told that x-race women are inherently better than me and b) they stay the hell away from me when it comes to dating or sexual relations (I am not interested in fulfilling anyone’s fetish or fantasy or being the check on their ‘to-do’ list).

      • JTCommentor

        Very interesting – thanks for the insights. I am not the most social of people, so this is really the first time I have come across such a topic being openly discussed. It is somewhat depressing to hear what you have said, and what some of the posters in this comments have said, and that this article and the referenced tv series even exist.

    • hatepc

      you should watch the show that is linked in the essay. it features men who say that they choose their partners based on ethnicity. myself I’ve known several guys who admitted to the same thing. if you think it’s mindless, ignore it and just be depressed. other people find it worthwhile to think about.

    • The Musical Commentator

      Don’t forget that some ppl DO have these strange fetishes. Naturally, most men want dominance (some more than others) to prove their masculinity. This is why some men don’t like Feminism, which reduces the authority of men over women, thus reducing their “masculinity.” A great majority of this thirst for dominance happens sub-consciously. We can also conclude that some men want to have much dominance over his wife to feel better about his sorry self.
      The long-standing stereotypes of Asian women being submissive and willing to fulfill all of her partner’s desires has caused this fetish to rampantly spread. In other words, men with asian fetishes want dominance over his lover, perhaps in a sad attempt to boost his ego.

  • J Kinoshita

    This article possibly seeks to explain away the disconnect between the stereotypes and reality of dating in Japan, or impress the ‘woman of color’. Unfortunately the stereotypes presented undermine two important issues. First, racially diverse relationships are disempowered as males are demonized whilst females are victimized; adding to the challenges these couples and their children face both in Japan and abroad. Second, discussing pedophilia and ‘pay-for-sex cesspools’ within the same context as multicultural relationships simultaneously trivializes the serious global issue of sex slavery, whilst painting men who date or marry Asian women as sexual deviants.

  • 思德

    “Other giveaways among Harvard men, says Mizuno, are graduating in East Asian Studies or working as an English teacher in Asia. “Is this about American men, tired of Anglo-Saxon feminists, seeking more traditional Asian women who would be dependent on them and make them feel good about themselves?” she asks.”

    East Asian Studies graduate working as an English Teacher in Japan (formerly Taiwan) chiming in here. Crap like the above post is infuriating. Being an EAS major, and more specifically living in East Asia itself, CURED me of any kind of “yellow fever” because I learned all the not so fantastic things about Asian culture along the way and from observing other east-west relationships. Since we’re throwing around anecdotes, allow me mine: The worst man-whores in Taiwan I knew weren’t guys who studied Asia.

    Would I like to marry someone who actually wants to have kids and who looks gorgeous? Sure. I would also be quite happy to be with an equally attractive, self confident, empowered, critical thinking, emotionally intelligent, independent, not-bending-over-backwards-to-family-and-social-pressure white woman from the good ol’ US of A. On the one hand, the exoticism of a foreign bride is certainly there, but when you see how these people act and how their social system is, you really have to wonder if you want to be tied to that or not (and the calculus goes both ways, I am sure).

    I have my own morality about sex, but I love how in these kinds of articles, there is always this sense that the westerner who fantasizes about and sleeps around with Asians is bad, but never mind all the Asian women willing to spread their legs for coin or a witticism uttered at work or at a bar. This article tries harder than most to be fair and points out eastern fetishes about western men (the one about black male’s endowment was particularly funny/sad), but with quotes like the above stereotyping and disrespecting people who made an investment to actually study and understand the culture, it is nevertheless very irritating.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      “Crap like the above post is infuriating.”

      Probably because there is a lot of truth to it.

      “but never mind all the Asian women willing to spread their legs for coin or a witticism uttered at work or at a bar.”

      These are WOMEN in general. East Asian men don’t take “White Studies” and then go live in Europe teaching Chinese or Japanese, nor do they spent inordinate amounts of time and money slandering white men in an utterly sad attempt to improve their odds.

      Second they don’t go to Europe or wherever else just to spend all their time insulting the locals on the internet as you just did.

      • 思德

        It’s infuriating because it’s a quote from some woman who made a blanket assessment of all white men who study East Asia, and frankly it drips with arrogance. I am not all white men who study East Asia, but whatever stereotype that person is trying to promote, it does not fit with reality, first of all for myself, and second of all for any EAS person I’ve known. Maybe there all the fetishists go to Harvard, though. People study Asia for a lot of reasons besides hoping to get some tiger pussy or whatever. I studied it because I found the aesthetics, language, and history to be fascinating.

        And I’ll reiterate, since I’m not sure you read my post carefully- every western man-whore I’ve ever met had no EAS background, no familiarity with the culture or language (and therefore respect for its people) beforehand. If you wanted to sleep with Asian girls, you really have no need to waste time with a degree, just get a job over there somewhere and find the right girl to flirt with.

        What I said was, in a nutshell: How can you point a finger at white men for being obsessed with having sex with Asian women while conveniently forgetting that in order for a white man to have sex with an Asian woman, that requires… an Asian woman who wants to have sex with a white man and feels the is benefitting (or she wouldn’t do it)?

        I’m not surprised that by pointing out the strengths of dating an American woman, that got twisted around into “insulting locals”. There are strengths and weaknesses to every culture. I happened to list a number of things I like about American women, to make a point that I don’t care about meeting an American woman or an Asian woman, I care about meeting the right woman, and that there are plusses and minuses to dating within different cultures (and the women have to think about that regarding dating me as well).

        Re: Asian men:

        They don’t go around the world teaching Chinese or Japanese because there isn’t a market for it- English is the language of business and international commerce, among other things. There is no need for Asian men to be globetrotting around teaching their language, so they don’t do it. If Chinese or Japanese were the preferred international language, then they would be. Assuming cultural hindrances like family loyalty or (particularly in the case of Japanese) insular mindsets didn’t get in the way.

        I’m not sure what you mean by Asian men not slandering white men and trying to improve odds- are you saying I (or someone else) am slandering Asian men? I have nothing against them. I don’t mock Asian men, I think they have some great things going for them and some weaknesses, just like American men have. I have nothing against them being into white women or whoever because it’s a free world and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you’re a white male. Then you’ve got a fetish, and shame on you.

  • Corey N

    Why is the word “pedophile” in this article? How is it related to anything apart from making western men in a relationship with an Asian woman seem sleezy?

    Sounds to me like the author has his own ugly stereotypes that should be dealt with before he gets anywhere near an article like this.

    • jacoboo

      It is the most poignant of all the words in the article. “Closet pedophile” is there because men tend to like smaller women (just like women tend to like bigger men) and some men seem to be borderline on this respect. Or you don’t know this? It is true for European and Asian men alike. Mind you, look at all those idols and tell me they were not partly designed to be enjoyed by closet pedophiles. I understand that Western men living in Asia (yellow fever being a common occurrence) are upset by someone suggesting that they might be a little Nabokov-like too. The word is such a taboo, though, the connotations are so gross.

      • Corey N

        Pedophile (n): An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children.

        I fail to see how this is related to a preference for a certain female body type. The author strains his credibility by using the term in this article, painting most, although “not every”, man who is together with an asian woman with this brush.

        Did anyone else notice the author’s first point? I DATE AN AMERICAN FEMINIST – the implied meaning being that he is not one of those “yellow fever” types. How pathetic.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      What makes “Western men” in relationships with “Asian women” seem sleazy is the fact that most of them indeed are sleazy.

      • 思德

        Generalize much? Define “sleazy”, first of all. If it means that deception is involved in the relationship, I have met a number of bi-racial couples in the past year and a half. Only one of them was “sleazy”, and yes, it had to do with a western guy just seducing women and being a heartbreaker because he could- which in a sense is far more sleazy than a simple one night stand where both people knew what they were getting into. Some of the relationships were shorter term (not likely to last another year or two after the westerner left), others were longer term (married with kids), everybody seemed to be getting what they wanted, no “sleaze” involved.

      • TheSpeakerOfTruth

        Guess you could say the same about Westerners paying 12 year olds in Thailand for attention, everyone’s getting what they wanted.

  • answerfrog

    I see these kind of views as holdovers and continuation of old racist antipathy for “race mixing”. New rationale, same old bigotry that people should “stick to their own kind” and if they don’t, assume all sorts of ulterior motives and issues.

    It’s 2013 and people are STILL going to try to smear & stigmatize mixed race couples?? Really??

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      I see these kinds of views as holdovers and continuation of old white racism dressed up as a globalist impulse and benevolence. New rhetoric, same old BS. Instead of uncivilized heathens you now have poor abused Japanese geishas that need the WHITE MAN to save them.

      It’s 2013 and white men are still desperately clinging to lies to benefit themselves at the expense of others?? Really??

      • YoDude12

        Please share your ethnicity, age, gender, nationality, educational level (highest degree), types of employment, preferred cuisines, height, weight, eye color, and the places in the world you have lived and for how long, along with each of your personal fetishes. In doing so those of us reading this thread will be able to have a better idea about your racism, bigotry, and preferred fetishes. Our analyses will help us to understand your opinions.

    • 思德

      Right- God forbid a bi-racial relationship (involving a white male) consists of two people enjoying mutual benefits of whatever kind of companionship they have. Exoticism, after all, only flows one way (from west to east).

      • TheSpeakerOfTruth

        Certainly, if by “flow” you mean being pushed by the mass media of a certain region of the world.

  • SnakeEyez

    This explains my friend’s woes with his family and acquaintances since he is engaged to a Japanese woman. The author has a common reaction to these relationships granted most of the things he said come out of the mouths of western, mostly American, women. Painting a guy a pedophile and a deviant just sounds like jealousy for the most part however the author almost seems like he is channeling those thoughts while at the same pushing along those stereotypes. I’m starting to lose faith in the human race.

  • marginalist

    The people commenting here are self-righteous in a way that is laughable. What’s worse, they have no critical reading skills whatever. Any high school student is taught not to confuse the quotes in an article with a writer’s opinion. In addition, the writer uses ample hedging language such as “sometimes” and “may” to avoid over-generalization. I guess some people are so eager to be offended that they can’t even read properly. This whole comment thread reads like a fratboy echo chamber. If you can’t read and think, you should go easy on the snark.

  • AndrewL

    If two people wish to get it on for all the “wrong” reasons, they should, for there are no wrong reasons.

    • Jo Somebody

      Sorry, but yes there are. Especially if you plan to have children. there are lots of things that you can subconsciously tell them throughout their lives that can be quite damaging.

  • The author’s equation of attraction to Asian women with attraction to children speaks volumes.

  • Matty Carlos

    I beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, though I can admit I have a higher tendency to find an Asian girl more attractive, other races are equally attractive.
    The fact is Western men want an exotic wife, by large. An ironically Asian woman have a stigma in Western minds as a servant, so to speak, they embody what movies depict as the 50s in the States. A woman to cook you dinner, be dressed up,rub your back.
    Woman are becoming so empowered in the USA (which is a great thing) but a man doesn’t want his wife to be his equal, his pride tells him to be the Bread-winner, and be taken care of.
    Bottom line: Men want to feel like a child, taken care of. What better than an exotic woman, who speaks your language ADORABLY, and is different than your day to day ventures in America.

    • TheSpeakerOfTruth

      Oh yes, it’s so adorable when they speak Asian.

  • paul

    This seems to be pretty disparaging of non-Japanese men.
    How about the clubs full of foreign dancers and their Japanese male patrons. Why are they so popular and what kind of mindset do these males have in comparison with on-Japanese men?

  • mavky

    Dear beautiful Japan: I am so very sorry that we have sent persons to your shores who still call your people “Orientals” and are so arrogant in their idea of sexual conquest and secret colonialism that they can never leave behind their misconceptions to meet you as you are, in all of your richness and complexity. Let me apologize for us.

  • Ken

    Actually, you just gave me a good idea Nicholas. From now on I’m going to show “You Only Live Twice” to ALL of my prospective Mrs. Ken’s.

    If they get up and stomp off angrily, I will give myself a High-Five in the mirror and try again the next day.

    There’s more fish in the sea, and the last thing I need is to saddle myself with some feminist harpy who wont wear high heels for me when we are out carousing on a volcano.

    Thanks dude!


  • Irving

    Was there even a premise to this rambling?

    Oh, I get it! If you find an Asian lady attractive, you have yellow fever.

    If you don’t, you’re probably “racist”.

    That’s one of the 5 W’s of journalism nowadays, right?

    • hatepc

      this piece is an essay, not journalism. you should learn the difference before you complain.

      • Irving

        It’s race baiting crap, a hack piece by someone who isn’t even Japanese. Trust me, anyone from San Francisco with credits in the SF Bay Guardian (a notoriously liberal rag) is nothing but a troublemaker.

        Thank me, and especially thank me since your moniker, which I assume to mean “hate political correctness”, is so Orwellian as to be laughable.

      • hatepc

        Dear Irving,
        my moniker stands for “hate prevaricating cretins”, so I have nothing to thank you for, and Orwell my ass.
        FYI, I read the SF Bay Guardian for ten years. It’s very liberal, as you say, but has zero connection with the essay you criticized. In addition, it doesn’t matter at all if the writer is Japanese or Hungarian.
        Your initial complaint was that this essay is not journalism, which is like complaining that an apple is not a banana. When I called you on that, you shifted the topic and spitballed my moniker. Might you just be a prevaricating cretin?

      • hatepc

        sayonara dear Irving. it’s been fun – but now I gotta go take a bath! with bubbles and soap!! enjoy your journalism and critical thinking in the future! and don’t grow an ulcer – they’re bad for you.

  • Lonely western woman

    I am a European woman that has lived in Singapore for the past three years and I have developed a depression during my time here. I weigh under 50 kilos, I am of an average height, I look after my appearance and dress in a feminine manner. However, a lot of western men make pretty mean comments and refer to me being on the losing side of the “dating competition.” I’m also subject to continuous comments from western men about all the failings of western women: they’re fat, feminist, selfish, self-obsessed, materialist, aggressive etc… I’m not disputing that some of this may be true. I’m invisible to most Asian men and those Asian men that I am attracted to tend to be western educated. Asian women are also quite mean and I have received comments to the effect that a western man would never choose a western woman over an Asian woman. That’s also what I see happening around me. I see many western men, both single and married, choose to leave their western girlfriends/wives for Asian women (Singaporean, Philippino, Indonesian, Thai, Japanese …). I feel like I’m living through a period of Darwinian evolutionary selection in history and that I’m on the losing side and nothing I do will change that.

    • hatepc

      thank you for posting this. this is the firstt interesting and worthwhile post in the whole thread. thank you!

    • The Musical Commentator

      Media, ma’am, media.
      From what i heard from my FOB friends, asia asians don’t tend to go for western girls b/c they’re worried that they’ll disappoint them as a lover. They may live on the other side of the world, but Hollywood’s already infected their minds. It makes them think that Western women aren’t interested in them (which is sometimes tru b/c of media portrayals) and that they’re lacking as men. Also, you’re from a foreign culture so you’re very alien to them; u need to remind them that you’re a woman before a westerner. And if ur attracted to an asian guy, just open up to him and let him know that ur an awesome person. Don’t try to show him a woman who’s a know-it-all of asian culture or an asian culture fangirl or something; just be urself , cuz u sound like a keeper ;) .
      Western guys who whine that their women are fat, fem-nazis, lazy, and all that other good stuff you’ve listed are just plain losers. They need a subservient woman to feel good about themselves; that’s pretty pathetic. I honestly don’t know why men here in the States r complaining so much. Most women in the US r perfectly fine, and the ones here in SoCal r reaaaal fine.
      White women aren’t losing yet, just need to broaden their horizons with the hopeful changes in media portrayals, which will in turn encourage the asian guys to step up as well.
      Hope this helps! GL

    • KareemAbdul

      Nice post.

      Remember that many asians (esp. Japanese) tend to be very shy and it can be hard to break the ice.

      Some of my friends had to find their matches through online dating services.

      Good luck, I’m sure you’re beautiful and attractive. Wear out that smile! : D

  • I would take offence to this story, but decided it is not worth it.

    I moved to Japan because at the age of 9 I started training in karate, and I studied Japanese culture to improve my knowledge of the art, I fell in love with Japan, the culture and the people by the age of 12.

    I did not come to Japan in the hopes of getting a Japanese girlfriend, I moved here because I felt more Japanese then I did as an Australian/British, I understood Japanese culture more then I did my own, then again Australia really does not have a culture as it is still a young country.

    I do not have ‘Yellow Fever’ and I do not want some Japanese lady giving me back rubs or waiting on me hand and foot or dressing up like a geisha. I look at my girlfriend as my girlfriend, not Japanese, not asian, not yellow or anything else. I do behave Japanese I have to say and that is because of my studies as a child growing up and I have been living in Japan now for a total of 12 years so have become Japanese. There is never any racial tension between my girlfriend or myself and tell the truth in 8 years we have only ever had maybe 3 or 4 argument and they were over stupid things. And yes like all men I look at other women, does not matter what country you live in men will alway look at other women, it is natural and has nothing to do with someone race.

    • hatepc

      you are so healthy, so wholesome and natural. I very much admire you.

  • kayakyakr

    I’m very confused about this backlash against “yellow fever.” I suppose that if one was ONLY interested in Asian women, especially for reasons based on cultural stereotypes that would place that person firmly in the realm of unacceptable fixation. But if someone is attracted to Asian women along with others, does that still give them “yellow fever?”

    Take the case of the white guy with the asian girlfriend who is turning to ogle another asian woman. It could just be that this guy is attracted to women and happens to have an asian girlfriend?

    These articles greatly confuse me as a white male because I would date an asian woman along with a white, latino, black, indian, or native american woman, or any combination thereof. When I read something like this, I get a latent guilt as if I’m not supposed to want to date an asian woman at all.

  • Selchuk Driss

    The large number of buttehurte responses shows there must be some truth to the assertions in the article.

  • This article is short-sighted, not in any way accurate and completely misogynist as well as misandrist. Please comment about topics that you actually know about.

  • jd

    A very interesting article which seems to have touched a nerve with a lot of readers!

    You made a few points that I thought were interesting, especially when you bring up the situation that Japanese men who beg for cigarette money from their wives find it hard to believe that anyone could think Japanese women are docile!

    As an Asian in a healthy relationship with a Caucasian person, I find this subject hits home quite hard. I’m always concious that we’re being judged against the ‘desperate/deluded white person seeks Asian girlfriend’ stereotype when it’s not like that at all. We are both very happy and mutually choose to in this relationship, race has nothing to do with it!

    One more thing. Caucasian men being specifically interested in Asian girls is a real thing. I don’t want to generalise, and there isn’t anything wrong with having a preference, but I find it slightly creepy myself when these sort of guys (yes, sometimes doing Asian studies) go for Asian girls…ONLY. Is it just me (being Asian) or is it slightly too much to simply pick a race of women to be attracted to like that? Or is it not something out of choice?

    I think for the people who have gotten especially peeved off in the comments, it must be painful to be called something along the lines of sleazy… Like I just said above, this is not always the case. However – and I may or may not be the only Asian woman who feels this way – a lot of guys think they can step over Asian women especially (compared to ‘stronger’ American ladies) and that peeves me off even more.

  • DragonAsh

    “As an Asian person, I can immediately sense when someone has an Asian fetish,” writes Reina Mizuno, a Harvard MBA graduate from Nagoya, in the business school’s student newspaper. “You see a guy walking down the street, hand in hand with another Asian girl, and he still checks you out as you walk by him.”
    Yes, because a guy walking hand-in-hand with a blue-eyed blonde would never check out another blue-eyed blond walking by. /rolls eyes.
    What meaningless drivel.

  • Inago

    Yet, another one of these articles… I wonder why the existence of “blonde fever” and “large breast fever”, or as another commenter mentioned, “white guy fever”, or “white girl fever” (which has likely been behind some noteworthy murders in Japan) doesn’t demand the same attention. Probably, because the subject of shallow, narrow-minded people dating other people (unless it becomes criminal) isn’t really all that interesting.

    The curious thing about this “yellow fever”, that is somehow so newsworthy lately, is that I haven’t really seen it anywhere. I have lived in many parts of Japan and have met many international families and am wondering where all of the “yellow fever” is. I’m sure there are some shallow men dating asian women, as there are shallow men dating women with large breasts, somewhere, but where is this epidemic of “yellow fever”. In fact, in a majority of scenarios I have seen seem quite the opposite: dependent foreign husbands with poor Japanese literacy and language skills who have to rely on their Japanese wives to make all of the decisions.

    Yes, there are problems with stereotypes everywhere. And yes, in Japan, with it’s isolated history, there might be more problems with stereotypes. One of them is this lingering stereotype, at least 70 years old, that white males come to Japan “only for money” and/or “to steal Japanese women”. Personally, I came to Japan because my Asian wife “stole me”. When I met her at my university, which was in a small rural town in the US, I was relieved to meet somebody more worldly, independently-minded, and who had similar interests. After more than 10 years, I would give up my career and move to Japan to support my wive’s career, where at the moment, I am a stay-at-home dad. My neighbor is just like me. In fact, in my 18 years of traveling and living in Japan, I have met many people like me, yet haven’t met anybody who I would even say is remotely guilty of “yellow fever”. They don’t even make much money.

    An Irish friend moved to Japan simply to study Aikido. Others studied Japanese, or were Japanese Literature majors who didn’t want to waste their skills. Another saw a position at his company in Japan, and always wanted to live abroad. There are myriad of reasons why foreigners end up in Japan, and well…they often do end up dating asian women because they just happen to be over 99% of the female population, and well…they aren’t racist. My high school in the US was about 60 percent Asian (we called them “Asian” not the offensive “yellow” epithet). Dating Asian girls wasn’t a fetish, it was just called “not being a racist”. For me, and millions of others, dating an Asian women is just “normal”.

    The sad thing about stereotypes is that they don’t have to be even 50% correct: they don’t have to be correct at all. Research show that these claims of “yellow fever” often originate with resentful Asian males and Caucasian women, both of which are more likely to be on the losing ends of the spectrum. The ultimate crime amongst the Klu Klux Klan and other racist groups is “interracial marriage”. And really these kind of articles only serve to perpetuate ignorant stereotypes about international relationships and families. How about an article about people who shamelessly promote stereotypes about international relationships?…