Eng sums up the fantasies many men hold about Asian (particularly Japanese) women:

Eng sums up the fantasies many men hold about Asian (particularly Japanese) women:

In “The Yellow Fever Pages” (full citation below), Karen Eng discusses a recurring problem she, as a Chinese-American woman, faces when dating: that many men, particularly White men, who express interest in her are not interested in her as an individual, but rather in a generalized Asian woman and the fantasies that are associated with them.

The fantasy Asian is intelligent yet pliable, mysterious yet ornamental…perpetually pre-pubescent–ageless and petite…high-pitched, girly–while simultaneously being exotic and wise…She comes from a culture where women traditionally serve men… (p. 68).

Thus, when men ask her out, Eng has to figure out whether they are asking her out because they think she specifically is interesting, or whether they’re asking her out because what they see is an Asian woman to whom they attach all kinds of expectations about exoticism, subservience, and so on. As she puts it, regardless of how she presents herself, the interests she expresses, the type of music and clothing she’s interested in, “…they still see a little Oriental flower.”

I could not help but think of Eng’s article when one of my students, Casandra L., let me know about the dating website ClassyAsianLadies:

The website specifically erican women to men in the U.S., drawing on all of the stereotypes Eng describes. Here are some images from the site; I highlighted some of the most blatant examples of the “Asian women as hot but also passive” stereotypes in red:

S., since we’re the majority of women and all), Asian women haven’t become too competitive (just intelligent and independent!

So they aren’t trying to use you to get to the U.S. (though, after stating these are women living in the U.S., they are always described as Asian, not Asian American). And how do you show your appreciation for a culture? By marrying someone who personifies the elements of that culture you have romanticized.

Notice the guys using the site appear to expect quite a lot in a woman: she has to remain “a lady,” escort girl Nashville be “sweet, gentle, beautiful, loving, fun,” but also be “intelligent and independent.”

I don’t know to what degree the website specifically targets White men. There were three photos of Asian women with men on the site; two showed Asian women with White men, one showed an Asian woman with an Asian man.

Unlike “the average woman” (which presumably means White women in the U. But that’s different!) and certainly aren’t “masculine.” Again we see the romanticizing of a certain stereotype of “Asian culture,” with Asian women having a “well-known cultural attitude of gentle and caring support” and “Eastern values,” which apparently involves being sweet and supportive. Though they’ve also “learned Western values,” which here is associated with being “outgoing…independent and fun…”. Thus, the West = independent, fun women, while the East = supportive, submissive ones.

And the men who want to date them just love and respect “the Asian culture” (and, you know, there’s just one culture in all of Asia)

Notice the last line in that image: “…that perfect Asian girlfriend or wife.” This is what Eng was getting at: this isn’t about finding the perfect girlfriend or wife; this is about a fantasy of the perfect Asian girlfriend/wife. “Yellow fever” refers to the fetishization of Asian women by men who have a specific idea of what Asian women are like and view them as particularly desirable mates based not on their unique personalities but because of the “Eastern values” they supposedly adhere to. The women thus become somewhat interchangeable. Eng’s frustration grew largely out of the difficulty of getting men to notice her, as opposed to her status as an Asian American woman.

About the author

Leave a Comment

Comment (required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Name (required)
Email (required)