Final word on ‘yellow fever’ rhetoric

Was re-reading this post at Danwei about how the “yellow fever” myth–not the illness but you know, white guys with “a thing for Asian women” — was finally debunked in one Columbia University study:

We found no evidence of the stereotype of a white male preference for East Asian women. However, we also found that East Asian women did not discriminate against white men (only against black and Hispanic men). As a result, the white man-Asian woman pairing was the most common form of interracial dating—but because of the women’s neutrality, not the men’s pronounced preference. We also found that regional differences mattered. Daters of both sexes from south of the Mason-Dixon Line revealed much stronger same-race preferences than Northern daters.

This got me to thinking about how, in the South, when I was a kid growing up, the racist white men I grew up around would talk about those white women who found themselves in relationships with black men because of “jungle fever.” That these assholes could get away with talking shit about people that way always annoyed me, especially because two of my childhood friends were a mixed brother and sister with an adorable (and hot) mom. If you ask me the “yellow fever” nonsense you hear today is exactly the same, just spoken by a different group of people, most of them so self-righteous as to think they’re somehow qualified to judge other people’s relationships. In fact, I’m willing to bet the term “yellow fever” could be traced back to that reprehensible 1970s term (jungle fever), though I have no idea how to prove it.

The term supposedly describes the supposedly “fetishistic” behavior of white males who are morbidly attracted to Asian women to the exclusion of all others. I wish someone would explain to me how these hypothetical men are different from the white ladies who go to predominantly african-american bars to meet guys? Better still, how are these supposed “fetishists” (white men w/yellow fever) any different from the gay white men from Oklahoma or Alabama who emigrate to San Francisco to find happiness? Sure, white privilege all around, but the Columbia U study destroyed the stereotype of the “Asians only” fetishist, the legendary lech who doesn’t exist.

Maybe I take all this too personally, but what most annoys me most about this rhetoric is that people who use it never seem aware of the feelings of the Asian women voluntarily in such relationships. Are you saying they are just naive bimbos who don’t know their boyfriends and husbands are perverts? What about the kids who are offspring of these “yellow fever” marriages? Did you ever think of them? Before casting aspersion on other people’s relationships, making them into racist-sexist cliches, I think the world needs to take one big step the fuck back from our private lives and stfu.

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