Asian fetish

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Asian fetish is a slang term for an interest, obsession, or preference for Asian people, culture, or things of Asian origin by those of non-Asian descent.[1][2][3][4] The term Asiaphile is sometimes used to describe the same phenomenon as is yellow fever (not to be confused with the disease yellow fever).[5][6]

Terminology and usage[edit]

In the afterword to the 1988 play M. Butterfly, the writer David Henry Hwang, using the term "yellow fever", a pun on the disease of the same name, discusses white men with a "fetish" for Asian women. Hwang argues that this phenomenon is caused by stereotyping of Asians in Western society.[7]

The gay slang term used for a man, usually white, who exclusively dates Asian men is "rice queen".[8][9]

In a collection of writings from Asian American females, YELL-Oh Girls!, Meggy Wang calls a man "Mr. Asiaphile".[5]

Columbia study on racial preferences in dating[edit]

In 2007, economist Ray Fisman, in a two-year study he co-authored on dating preferences among Columbia University students, did not find evidence of a general preference among white men for Asian women. Furthermore, the study found that there is a significantly higher pairing of white men with East Asian women because East Asian women discriminate against black and Hispanic/Latino men. As quoted on,[10] and also reported in The Washington Post and the Review of Economic Studies (a publication of the London School of Economics):

The study was carried out over two years and was conducted by economists Ray Fisman (lead researcher from Columbia University) and Emir Kamenica (University of Chicago), as well as psychologists Sheena Iyengar (Columbia University) and Itamar Simonson (Stanford University). They took data from "thousands of decisions made by more than 400 daters from Columbia University's various graduate and professional schools".[10]


NPR correspondent Elise Hu offers that this can be a source of insecurity in Asian women's dating lives, "Am I just loved because I'm part of an ethnic group that's assumed to be subservient, or do I have actual value as an individual, or is it both?".[11][12] In other direction, it has been argued that the notion of an Asian fetish creates the unnecessary perception of multiracial relationships as being characterized by "patriarchal, racist power structures" in relationships that are actually mutual and equal"[13]

Writer Agness Kaku believes the mainstream white culture undermines efforts to combat sexual harassment based on Asian fetish. Noting how frequently women of Asian descent are subjected to verbal and online harassment, Kaku argues that Asian fetish "thrives on double standards that make light of racial bias against Asians" and states this downplaying leaves women vulnerable to stalking and violence.[14]

See also[edit]

Attraction to specific cultures[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Moon, Ailee. Korean American women. p. 134. 
  2. ^ Short, Stephen (26 September 2001). "Directors Want Freshness". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  3. ^ Sherer, Theresa Pinto (29 November 2001). "Identity crisis". Salon. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Chang, Cindy (2 April 2006). "Cool Tat, Too Bad It's Gibberish". New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Nam, Vicky (2001). YELL-oh Girls!. Harper Paperbacks. pp. 131–2. ISBN 0-06-095944-4. 
  6. ^ Eng, Phoebe (2000). "She Takes Back Desire". Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman's Journey into Power. New York: Atria. pp. 115–42. ISBN 0-671-00957-5. 
  7. ^ Hwang, David Henry (1988). "Afterward". M. Butterfly. New York: Plume Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-452-26466-9. 
  8. ^ Bohling, James. "Embracing Diversity? - Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders Discuss Racism in the LGBT Community". GLAAD. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2016. 
  9. ^ Ayres T (1999). China doll - the experience of being a gay Chinese Australian. Journal of Homosexuality, 36(3-4): 87-97.
  10. ^ a b Fisman, Ray (7 November 2007). "An Economist Goes to a Bar - And Solves the Mystery of Dating". 
  11. ^ Chow, Kat; Hu, Elise (30 November 2013). "Odds Favor White Men, Asian Women On Dating App". NPR. 
  12. ^ Hu, Nian (4 February 2016). "Yellow Fever: The Problem With Fetishizing Asian Women". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Chen, Vivienne (9 September 2012). "So, He Likes You Because You're Asian". Huffpost Women. 
  14. ^ Kaku, Agness (4 January 2017). "Death by Fever". LinkedIn. 

External links[edit]