Pocahontas meets John Smith, and two different colored hands meet at the palm – a touch that sizes each other up and signifies comparison. There are differences to be found in shape, size, and color, which is a telling of the parallel universes that a multiracial couple has to consider.
In metropolitan dating, what makes for a good match? The combinations are endless in a hot pot of a city, whether the characteristics are racially related or not. However, there’s a wide-spreading pandemic and we’ve all seen it – what exactly makes the Asian women and white men combo so prevalent in city dating?
Here goes the popular opinion and the first myth debunked: the fetishization of Asian women known as “yellow fever”. This very much so exists within some men, but in reality, the majority of these duos are completely accidental on the surface, as if it were second nature to coexist in this racial dynamic in the first place.
Yet still, something boils within me whenever I see these couples firsthand, holding hands on the subway or in the park, breeding in me a strange feeling of both hostility and curiosity. Suddenly, I’m ashamed – as an Asian woman with a past, present, and future of dating white men, I can’t help it. I am both the observer and the subject being observed.
Growing up in the suburbs of Staten Island, being Asian in a pool of predominantly white Catholic schoolers seemed almost as extreme as having a shaved head or a neck tattoo (both of which are part of your everyday norm, now). Those are conscious decisions though, and I had no choice but to grow up being categorized by my physical characteristics: the slight slant in the eyes, genetic shortness, and yellow undertones. In early stages of development, fitting in was more appealing than standing out, which may explain the way my dating mentality operates nowadays.
And so, the ancient Pocahontas mythos still holds true: the quintessential story of an ethnic woman betraying her own people by trading herself to the dominant white culture via romance. This interracial paradigm reads as cultural salvation, as Asian women free themselves from the excess of their own culture, finding redemption through adapting Westernized lifestyles. The white man is a one-way ticket to freedom far, far away from the rigid, traditional structures of our parents’ Asian beliefs.
If Asian women seek this type of Westernization from white men, then it’s right to assume that white men seek exoticism from Asian women. Some white men, typically Americans, feel that their culture is plain and one-sided in comparison to the millions of Americans that are bilingual and were brought up with distinct cultural influences.
Why not African-American or Hispanic, though? Asian women are notoriously stereotyped as being meek, submissive, dutiful, and obedient: all desirable traits that are becoming a rarity in the realm of domesticated housewives. Asian women are also notable for doing well in school and keeping their heads in the books – a seeming match for the old-fashioned, educated “white” man.
Times have changed though. This stereotype barely holds true anymore and as a collective, we are no longer the delicate China dolls we were once deemed to be. White men are no longer just an Asian girl’s ticket to a better life, or a VIP pass to societal acceptance.
White men were once considered the most educated and cultured in our society. Nowadays, we are just as intelligent, just as cultured, and have the power to hold the same dominance as white men do, which explains how we are capable of connecting on a romantic level. Many ethnic minorities have risen in the same ways, and this explains the further increase of an ethnic duo that became popular decades ago, starting with John and Yoko. Asian women with white men are not to be romanticized though: all things aside, sometimes, love is all you need.