Yellow Fever: An American Epidemic Concerning the Role of Asian Women in Today’s World
An Annotated Bibliography
This paper will explore sexual fetishism and exoticism of Asian women by (mostly) white men.
The paper will focus on the effect it has not only on Asian women targeted by the fetish, but also on cultural perspectives. Some topics discussed will be the historical origins of the sexualization of Asian women, how men who have Asian fetishes view Asian women, the response many
Asian women have towards being fetishized, and the cultural implications of this fetish.
Fetishism goes far beyond a simple sexual preference. It is often marked by being a significant part, or majority of one’s sexual identity. The term “yellow fever” is used to describe men’s fetish with Asian women. Men are usually defined as having “yellow fever” if they are exclusively and obsessively interested in Asian women. These obsessions are nothing new; After the Opium Wars in the mid1800’s, there was a huge rise in the desire for all things oriental, including the sexualized “Geisha,” whose original role was to be a performer and entertainer, but many of whom also performed sex acts. The perception of Asian women as being “exotic and foreign” back in the 1800’s, is quite different than how men seem to view Asian women in today’s culture, but both are stereotypical. Modern men often cite reasons for their love of Asian women as being an aesthetic preference, or enjoying their demeanor, or believing they treat a man right, or are kinky in bed. Aside from the few Asian women that do embrace these stereotypes, most are offended by the fetish for them. The implication, and fallacy that the Asian fetish carries with it, is that Asian women are a certain way.
This leaves little room for individuality, and often makes the fetishizer seem as though is it not a specific woman that he
loves, but everything she is supposed to represent, and every box she is supposed to fit in. Asian fetishes are based on racial and feminine stereotypes, and the normalization of “yellow fever” leads to an acceptance of the status quo. Unless it is questioned and openly discussed, it will continue to perpetuate what are often invalid, offensive, and ultimately racist thoughts and beliefs about Asian women.
Chen, Vivienne. "So, He Likes You Because You're Asian."
The Huffington Post
Huffington Post, 10 July 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
This article, written by Princeton student and writer Vivienne Chen, is the author’s own experience, as an Asian American female, of dealing with “Yellow Fever.” Chen talks about her own runins with men that are exclusively interested in Asian women, and explains how that has prompted her to develop a finelytuned fetish “radar.” But unlike most, Chen believes the stereotyping goes both ways. She says that white men who are interested in Asian women often get aggregated into a category of “fetishizers” when that may not be the case. Chen believes this ultimately makes some men avoid dating Asian women, for fear of being considered “creepy” by their interest. Lastly, Chen speaks about how Asian women show strong preferences against nonwhites, like men of Asian, Hispanic, or African descent.
Vivienne Chen, being a writer on sexuality and gender, could easily fit in with the troupe of feminist Asian women that deplore the white man's preference or fetish for Asians, but she instead questions the label “fetishizer.” Chen believes that by being skeptical of every white man who is attracted to an Asian woman, that we oversimplify race’s role in sexual preferences. She says that by designating men as Asian fetishizers, we reinforce that men’s reasoning for being attracted to a women is based on racist or patriarchal motives (Chen). This belief feels like a
parallel to the concept that “If you look hard enough for something you’ll find it.” That is to say, if we