Interracial dating trends, and racism by diverse means

Under the category of “too much information”: A young Asian-American woman named Tria Chang has chosen to go public with her anxieties over being…yet another Asian woman who is romantically paired with a white male.

Not content to merely make an easily forgettable Facebook post on the topic, Chang penned a guest column for Huffington Post: “I’m An Asian Woman Engaged To A White Man And, Honestly, I’m Struggling With That.”

What else to expect from a member of a generation raised from birth to over-share one’s personal details on the Internet? Nevertheless, Chang has correctly observed that by being an Asian female holding hands with a white guy, she is not exactly earning points for originality:

 

…every time I see another couple of our racial makeup, a little part of me sinks. We live in San Francisco, so this dip is as common as the hills. Shame is neither the wisest nor most mature part of oneself, but it still has a voice. “Stop it you guys!” my shame wants to say to these other couples. “Can’t you see the more of us there are, the worse it looks?” “It” meaning the prevalent trend of Asian women seeming to end up with white men.

 

I am neither an Asian female nor married to one, but I do have some relevant background experience here. I’ve had an interest in Asian languages and cultures since around 1988. I’ve traveled to Japan many times. One of my first professional jobs was that of Japanese translator/interpreter. When Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the podium for the media, I can understand most of what he says.

Tria Chang doesn’t strike me as an angry young woman, but she does invoke a bit of pro forma resentment about the so-called “Asian fetish” shared by some white men. But many Asian women also fetishize white men, to the extent of preferring them over men of their own racial/ethnic background.

I know a woman from Vietnam who is married to a white man. She once told me that when she was single, she wouldn’t even consider Vietnamese men. When I asked her why, she had a thousand petty (and painfully contrived) reasons.

The Japanese female fetish for white males is so pervasive that it has been reported in the press. In the early 1990s—before the Internet was a thing—there were international dating agencies that made a booming business from connecting Japanese women to American husbands. And keep in mind: Japan was a very prosperous country in the early 1990s. These Japanese women weren’t fleeing war or economic privation. They were scratching an itch.

Asian women also tend to prefer a certain “type” of white male—one who is tall and conventionally good-looking, but not particularly masculine. (Based on the photo she posted on her op-ed, Tria Chang’s fiancé fits this pattern to a T.)

As noted, there are various canned excuses designed to make this fetish seem like a non-fetish. The most common one goes like this: Asian men are sexist, blah, blah, blah. Here’s an excerpt from a 2004 article in CS Monitor: “What Japanese women want: a Western husband”.

 

“They treat you like equals, and they don’t hesitate to express mutual feelings of respect – I think Western men are more adept [at such things] than Japanese men,” says the 36-year-old Ms. Mizuguchi, who works at a top trading firm.

 

Oh, give me a break. I know bullshit when I see it. I’ve also known many Japanese couples over the years. Japanese women who are married to Japanese men are among the most pampered creatures on the planet.

Women are often uncomfortable acknowledging their romantic preferences to be the product of status-seeking or raw, animal lust. Hence the need to speak of soul mates and sensitive white guys who “express mutual feelings of respect”. (Rolls eyes.) As one more forthright Asian-American (female) blogger recently put it: “Certain Asian women just don’t want to admit that they have a white guy fetish so they put the blame on the dudes.”

 

 

This superficial attraction often goes both ways, of course. In 1945, most white Americans held attitudes about race that would now be described as “racist”.

This did not, however, prevent many white American men who served in the U.S. Occupation forces in Japan from falling in love with—and marrying—Japanese women. (Two of my grade school classmates were the products of such marriages.)

This was more than simply a matter of numbers and proximity. During the Occupation of Japan, there developed a mythos about the hyper-femininity of the Japanese woman, which extended to Asian women in general. (If you want to read more about this topic, read James Michener’s 1953 novel, Sayonara. Also worth reading is Karen Ma’s now out-of-print The Modern Madame Butterfly: Fantasy and Reality in Japanese Cross-Cultural Relationships (Tuttle, 1996).)

I won’t declare myself completely guiltless here. When I started studying Japanese in the late 1980s, I went through a brief phase in which I was somewhat fascinated by Asian women—or at least the idea of them presented in sources like Sayonara.  I never, however, liked them to the exclusion of women of my own race.

It didn’t take me long to get this out of my system. I am still fascinated by Asian languages and cultures. Asian women, not so much. (I do, however, confess an abiding lifelong weakness for redheads of the Molly Ringwald/Julia Roberts mold.)

 

 

But what about the opposite case? Couples consisting of Asian men and white women  are not exactly unheard of. (Anecdotally, I happen to know two Chinese-American men who are married to gorgeous blondes.)

But no objective observer is going to claim that there is anything close to parity here. The vast majority of white-Asian couplings consist of a white man and an Asian woman.

 

A similarly lopsided pattern can be seen in romantic interactions between whites and African Americans. It is far more common to see a black man with a white woman, than to see a white man with a black woman.

Once again, there is more than a little bit of racial fetishization at play. There is a whole genre of YouTube video in which black men expound on their reasons for preferring white women to black women. As in the case of the Asian female fetishization of white men, a great deal of tortuously complex rationalization is involved. But at the end of the day, this is a racially based fetish.

 

The media celebrates interracial marriage as a triumph of “diversity”—our current national religion. But when we talk about “diversity” in this regard, we aren’t talking about real diversity. We’re talking about narrowly manifested diversity that follows very predictable and very skewed trends: white dudes and Asian girls, black dudes and white chicks.

This inevitably means that certain people are left out: namely black women and Asian males. A study of data taken from the dating app Tinder reveals, “that black women and Asian men are the demographics on which the highest number of people swipe “left,” thereby rejecting them.”

More than a few African American women are upset about this, as a cursory search on the Internet will reveal. Asian men are somewhat more reticent; but they, too, are sick of being told that they are inherently less desirable to their counterparts of their own race.

A black female author named Issa Rae has suggested that the solution is for black women and Asian men to “join forces in love, marriage, and procreation”. The idea here seems to be that all the black women and Asian men who are left-swiped on Tinder should pair up.

While I admire Issa Rae’s flexibility and ingenuity, this seems like something of a Rube Goldberg solution. Most Asian men would (quite understandably) prefer  Asian female partners. Most African American women would (quite understandably) prefer black men. But in the great drive for racial diversity, someone has to be the last kid picked for dodgeball.

 

Which brings us to a sensitive and easily misunderstood topic. Miscegenation laws—of the type that were once used to explicitly discriminate against African Americans—were unquestionably immoral (not to mention unconstitutional). Each of us should be free to choose the consenting adult partner we want—no questions asked.

That said, the current zeitgeist ideologizes “diversity” as the sine qua non of an enlightened society.

This might be fine when talking about equal opportunities in employment and education. I would assert, though, that there’s nothing wrong with a basic cultural norm in which most people date and marry within their own ethnic/racial groups.

Romantic and sexual preferences are inherently superficial, and prone to motivations of status-seeking, and the quest for racially defined “trophies”. (Or, “racial fetishes”, if you prefer.)

This isn’t “diversity”. It is racially-based cherry-picking that leaves certain demographics disproportionately dateless and unpaired (black women and Asian men.)

And this is nothing particularly worth celebrating, its veneer of “diversity” aside. We might even call this “racism by alternative (diverse) means”.