Through The Static

June 20, 2008

Asian Americans & Interracial Relationships

Filed under: Culture,Race,Sex — disciplepete @ 12:54 pm

Article from SFGate, takes a look at interracial romance and Asian Americans. What I found most interesting is that there are websites for lovers of Asian men (fetish sites?) which seem to be a response to the cultural stereotypes which emphasize the undesirability of Asian men. Anyways here’s some of the article:

Statistics support the notion that interracial relationships are on the rise in the Asian American community: Mixed couples represented over a quarter of all marriages among Asian Americans in 1980, and over a third of Asian American marriages in 2006. And interracial couples with Asian partners are increasingly depicted in movies, TV and other popular entertainment, to the point where their racial differences are often not even germane to their characters’ storylines.

What many commentators have pointed out, of course, is that both the numbers and popular culture reflect a reality in which only half the Asian American community – the female half – are players. Call it the doubletake test: Seeing an Asian American woman with a non-Asian man is no longer noteworthy, but an Asian American man with a non-Asian woman still turns heads. That gender gap is reflected in interracial marriage statistics as well: According to the U.S. Census’ 2006 update, 19.5 percent of Asian American women outmarry, compared with 7.2 percent of Asian American men. And that, to some, speaks volumes about the sexual desirability and social status of Asian men in America…

That’s what makes it so intriguing that a small but thriving subculture has emerged (where else?) online, of non-Asian women whose expressed romantic preferences are for Asian men. They’re represented by communities like, a social networking site dedicated to celebrating “AM/XF” relationships – romances between Asian men and women of any background…

… For Asian American men, AznLover feels like a kind of parallel dimension, where their status is inverted: Rather than being exiled to the margins, Asian males are at the center of this particular universe; not just “accepted,” but revered. “I love the fact that people on the site acknowledge the beauty in Asian men,” says Harry Li, a Malaysian American member living in Texas. “Society still makes women feel self-conscious about saying they like Asian features, or particularly, Asian guys, so even if they do, they won’t let their attraction out in public. At AznLover, we all know why we’re there – we share a common bond, in that one group has the qualities, physical and otherwise, that the other appreciates.”…

Appreciation can be a double-edged sword, of course. Being rejected is problematic, but so is being objectified. “There’s a type of privilege in being sexually desirable, but that can come at a cost,” says Carmen Van Kerkhove, proprietor of and host of the podcast “Addicted to Race.” “Asian women have been dehumanized by being put on a pedestal, and I’m wary of the same thing happening to Asian men. Some guys may roll their eyes and say, it’ll take a long time to get to that point, but there’s a fine line you have to tread in not trading one set of racist assumptions for another.” (That’s something that’s long been an issue in the LGBT community, where activists have long protested the exotic imagery that pervades the depiction of Asian men – imagery all too similar to how Asian women have historically been stereotyped in mainstream media.)

And objectification, meanwhile, is a two-way street: There’s also the question of whether some Asian men who seek to level the romantic playing field are less motivated by racial justice than male entitlement: the desire to jump to the top of the social totem pole by bagging sexual big game. “I do find it disturbing that some of the more extreme views I’ve seen are focused less on social equality than on Asian men attaining the same set of privileges as white males, whom they see as having the pick of women,” says Van Kerkhove…

Ultimately, however, it’s hard to see these disparities as being anything but temporary – and local. Any sexual imbalances that exist due to the unique alchemy of sex, race and class in the United States fade in the face of a globalized world; one in which the playing field is different…

…There are, after all, billions of Asian men in Asia, and in the pop culture coming out of Japan, Korea, China and India – the pop culture that increasingly rules the universe – their sexual desirability is hardly in question. As the balance of economic and social power shifts outward beyond America’s borders, the political aspects of race and romance inevitably become secondary to the personal. Which points the way to a new Grand Unified Field Theory of Dating, if you will, which I’ll have ready for my sons when I send them off to college: Date whoever the hell you want, and stop worrying so much about what it means.

 Whew, that was a lot of quotage.



  1. I stumbled on to your site and was intrigued by your thoughts. I may be missing something, but why is it surprising that women are drawn to Asian men? On one hand, I understand that if we are talking about Asian boys from first generation families awkwardly mixing in with American women. I can even get it if the issue has to do with the Asian stereotype of the geek in high-school or college. But it seems to me, with more women pursuing higher education and Asian men tending to pursue higher education that the chances of coming together are pretty good. And for women who are seriously thinking of having families, I have heard the same comments about Asian men that I have generally heard about Jewish men-they are good fathers. So again, what is not to like about a bright, well educated, family oriented man?

    Comment by 4wrdthnkndad — June 20, 2008 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with you, there’s nothing surprising about women being drawn to Asian men at all. The thing in the article which caught my attention was the whole issue of these websites where non-Asian women seem to “fetishize” (is that a word?) Asian men; it’s an interesting response, especially when considering how Asian women have been fetishized in the U.S. for so long.

    Comment by disciplepete — June 20, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for the clarification. I can better understand why the concept of non-Asian women having a fetish for Asian men might caught your attention.

    Comment by 4wrdthnkndad — June 20, 2008 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

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