Yellow Fever!! Exoticism, objectification, and fetishizing of the yellow skin. I’ve dealt with this so much myself and wanted to share my perspective on this topic. It’s prevalent everywhere and every single Asian I’ve known has faced this in dating and especially interracial relationships.
The background of the word fetish
Origins of yellow fever
Whether or not fetishism is a problem or not
My experience dating rice queens
Racial fetishism on dating apps
If it’s just a preference, is it okay?
Prioritizing our values and what we’re looking for
Advice on managing with rice queens and racial fetishism
Steven Wakabayashi: Okay, here we are again. Hi everyone. My name is Steven Wakabayashi and you’re listening to Yellow Glitter Mindfulness Through the Eyes and Soul of a Gay Asian. Every episode I share with you what’s what. What’s what? Every episode I share with you what’s on my mind or things I’m struggling with and how I’m working through it to help you live a more mindful, fabulous life.
And so quick housekeeping. After putting out a couple episodes, it looks like the average listen time is not getting through the entire episode. So I’m gonna try my best to. Make them a little bit shorter. I’m going to cram lessen it every episode and try to split ’em up into smaller chunks. So instead of these 45 minute episodes, hopefully I can get ’em under 30 minutes or 20 minutes.
And also, thank you so much for your messages recording yellow glitter. I love it so much and really appreciate you reaching out to let me know your thoughts. Okay, so this episode we talk about yellow fever, fetishizing of the yellow skin. And it’s prevalent everywhere. Every single Asian I’ve known has faced this in dating and in relationships, especially with interracial relationships.
In this episode, we talk about the background of the word fetish, the origins of yellow, yellow fever, whether or not fetishism is a problem, my experience with dating at Rice Queens, Racial fetishism on dating apps. If it’s a preference, is it okay prioritizing our values and what we’re looking for and some advice on managing rice queens and racial fetishism in our culture today.
And so what exactly is a fetish? Fetish is derived from the turn fat in French, which comes from the Portuguese word feso, derived from the Latin word factious. I think that’s how you pronounce it. Fact and fare, which means artificial and to make, sorry. I butchered it. I tried my best. And a fetish at the time was an objects thought to have supernatural powers over others.
Initially, this term referred to objects used in religious cults. And it’s similar to how we refer to the words like charm, juju, or bewitch today. In the 19th and 20th century, fetishism shifted away from religious context and towards people and material objects. The term erotic fetish and sexual fetish were first introduced in 1887.
Sexual fetishism is when an object arouses intense sexually arousing fantasies. Desires, urges or behaviors. Objects are used in a sexual manner for stimulation or for sexual pleasure. The object or stimulant of desire is often called the fetish, and the person who has a fetish for that object is called a fetishist.
In 1927, Sigmund Freud popularized it in his book describing fetish as the substitute for the penis for a particular and quite special penis that had been extremely important in early childhood, but had later been lost. The concept of fetishism and what our fetishes have become much more broad now to include other characteristics including body parts and racial traits.
But how did we get to racial fetishism in the first place? There was a huge presence of US military in Asia during World War ii. The Korean War and the Vietnam War brothels were formed in towns surrounding US military bases, and for some Americans, actually, for most Americans at the time, their first interaction with an Asian woman was when they saw Asian women working in these brothels and in the sex.
Industries, books, plays and movies were made about this and further sexualized the Asian fem fatal. And in the height of the 1970s, in the peak of the American feminist movement, many white men instead turned to male order bride to find a loyal subservient partner. They saw women of their own race as two career-oriented, strong-willed and Asian women were the antithesis to the feminist white woman.
And in 1988, writer David Henry Huang coined the term yellow fever. Play Madam Butterfly as a pun on the disease for Caucasian men with a fetish for East Asian women. Yellow referring to the color of the East Asian skin and fever, referring to someone inflicted with a disease, incurable, and perhaps a form of sickness.
There were also other racial fetishism terms gaining momentum as well. Jungle Fever picked up as a commonplace slang after a 1991 movie, jungle Fever referring to Fetishism of blacks. And in the movie I. Depicts a romantic relationship between a black man and a white woman. Sometimes jungle Fever also refers to yellow fever, referring to not the East Asians, but the Jungle Asians, and extremely derogatory reference to Asians from the jungles of Southeast Asia and to nitpick on this terminology a little bit.
The biggest jungle in the world is actually the Amazon and South America, and it doesn’t technically make sense to refer to blacks and Southeast Asians without also referring to Latinx people as well. And if you haven’t heard, all of the rainforest are also disappearing right now due to deforestation, and there is no more jungle to make this derogatory slang reference to.
Anyway. How is this a problem? Let’s. Take a look back at the definition of fetishism. It refers to a psychosexual fixation on an object, clothing, rubber leather. But when you begin to mix race into this and body parts as well, it becomes problematic. Clothing, rubber, leather, these are inanimate objects, race and body parts.
They are not inanimate objects for someone’s personal gratification. Race is attached to a living human being with their own thoughts, wants and desires. Racial fetishism is an extremely selfish point of view. It objectify people based on the fetishizes needs. In extreme cases of racial fetishism, fetishizes with yellow fever only see and date based on race.
That’s textbook definition of racism, a preference of one race over another. In the gay community, we refer to gays with yellow fever as rice queens and we call GA Asians that prefer only white partners potato queens. The terminologies are pretty self-explanatory. Many of these people will not call themselves racist.
It’s simply a preference. They’ll argue, but again, I will reiterate the textbook definition of racism is a preference of one race over another. Intrinsically to give benefit to a race must require taking away benefit from another race. To have a preference for something means to have less of a preference for another.
They are just different ways of looking at the same thing. I once went on a date with this Brazilian man who spent the entire day talking about how much he wanted to have an Asian baby. I. We’re gay and we’re both men, cisgendered men, and we’re not going to have a biological baby. But I entertained his conversation.
He would show me pictures of his ex-boyfriends who were all Asian and spent the entire day talking about every Asian thing he could think of, and occasionally throwing in the bit of Japanese that he could muster. At the time, I had a lot of internalized racism trying to be successful in the West, thinking that stripping away my Asian identity was going to get me there, and I let all of this be okay, but in reality, it wasn’t okay.
The date was not okay by any means. It is extremely narrow-minded to assume that I am my ethnicity or language. Just because I am Japanese and Taiwanese does not necessarily mean. That I am aware of all aspects of Japanese and Taiwanese culture, or fluent in both languages. In fact, I am more aware of American politics, and I can speak Japanese and Taiwanese at varying degrees.
We live in a diverse world where people are born into different countries than their ethnic origins. People are also adopted into families. Unlike their ethnic origins, people are. Also learning different languages than their ethnic origins as their native tongue. As I dated people, based on my racial preferences, the more I focus on specific races to date, I attracted those that were even more of a rice queen.
And having dated a lot of rice queens in the past, I’ve realized that they hold racist stereotypes of Asians and. Also some internalized racism of their own race as well. In gay dating apps, it is common to see people write out their exclusionary racial preferences. A common bio description on Grindr would say, no fat, no femme, no Asians, and this is flagrant racism in a bio.
Sure, it’s your personal preference, but why must you put that in a public space? A dating app. Hookup app or whatnot, it is just extremely poor taste. Avoid anyone who puts this in their profile for or against any race, even if it’s that important to them. They are going to overlook all other aspects you have to offer.
You are more than just your race. You have interests, hobbies, or career, so many other things you offer date, someone who seeks all of them out. Most of the gating, gating, most of the GA dating apps reinforce this type of behavior. Based on app design interface, you can filter out people based on a myriad of characteristics, including age, weight, height, body type, sexual position, and race.
In September, 2018, Grindr announced a zero tolerance policy towards racism, transphobia, and other discrimination on the platform, saying that it may remove options for users to filter people by age and race. It’s almost the end of 2019. The race and age filters are still there, and even though Grindr has pushed for more diversity, I have yet to see news where they are actually putting into practice what they preach.
Marketing videos, press releases. Those don’t make you a diverse company. And also for those of you with racial personal preferences, I get it. We can’t help who we’re attracted to and a lot of us have a type, but in no way should we project our values of what we’re looking for in a romantic partner onto someone else, let alone an entire ethnic group.
If you’re looking for a calm, meek personality today, That’s great, but in no way will you find or guarantee to find that personality in every Asian you seek and to expect it. It isn’t right to find a romantic partner is ultimately figuring out what values are most important to you. I love wavy hair and big eyes, but is it more important than finding a genuine, kind-hearted person that makes me laugh when you date based on race or date?
People who are focused on race. You end up deprioritizing other values. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to truly see what’s important for me, and as I become more aware and prioritize these aspects, I’ve seen myself become more attracted to people I would’ve never been attracted to before. I. Back in the day, I wanted eight pack abs and a white passing partner.
But now not so much. I’ve had my share of relationships to show me that those things don’t bring me happiness. Now I’m much more attracted to personality and to be honest, I. Superficial attributes are more of a turnoff for me than ever before. I would’ve never imagined being here saying this in a million years, and yet here I am sharing with you that my tastes have dramatically changed as I have put so much more work into myself.
When race is so important in a romantic partner, there are trade-offs happening to accommodate it, whether you like to admit it or not. To have focus is to have less in focus. To have something in the spotlight means to have things not in a spotlight. I. To focus on race is to have less focus elsewhere.
So how do we address this fetish culture First, just don’t share your personal preference in your dating profile. It’s so tacky. It’s. Extremely racist, and if you see it, avoid it. By all means, you’re better off dating someone who sees you for you rather than your skin color. When people tell you who they are, listen, instead of being angered by rice queens, be thankful that they have self-selected themselves and allow you to make a decision.
Second, if you have preferences for a specific race, ask yourself if that is ultimately what is going to bring you happiness. In no way can you guarantee values of a person tied to their racial background. We are in such a multicultural world right now that thinking any attributes can be associated with race is just naive thinking.
Ask yourself, what are you giving up so that you can prioritize race? And lastly, You don’t have to go the opposite end and date someone who doesn’t care for Asian culture at all. On one end of the spectrum, we have someone who is obsessed, and the other end we have someone who’s completely ignorant. It’s about finding a healthy balance.
Neither end obsessive or ignorant is healthy. Date. Someone who appreciates all aspects of your personality, your likes, your dislikes, your hobbies, your career. Your cultural background and also your race, your ethnic origin. This is who you are. This combination is what makes you uniquely you, and ultimately, you’ll find a balance of what works for you and someone who also prioritizes the same value as you do if you value humor.
Look for someone that puts humor at the top of their list. If you value someone who is family oriented, find someone who puts that on the top of their list as well. At the end of the day, there are 7.7 billion people on this earth. Don’t settle and there is someone else out there looking for you too.
Hope that was helpful and I absolutely love hearing from you. You can reach out to me on my Instagram at Steven Waka Bahi slide into my dms, and I also publish a mindful newsletter. I. Mindful moments. Do sub stack.com to hear what’s on my mind every week and links to things that I discover online that inspire me.
And if you enjoyed this, please share this episode on your social media. Tag me at Steven Welcome Bai on Instagram, at Facebook, and at waku, W A K UU on Twitter. My full name was way too long for Twitter, and so there you go. And with that, so much love for you. I love you very much, and hope your day can be a little bit more mindful.