Downplaying the Asian

The first time I noticed this phenomena, I was surprised and a little disappointed in humanity. It’s happened enough times now that instead of dwelling on how low and obvious people (men) can be when it comes to race, I’ve settled into using it to my mixed-looking-advantage. The phenomena is this– that there is a subset of men who only think I’m attractive if they think I’m Asian. (I fancy myself relatively attractive, but I’m not a beauty contestant or movie star by any means.) Some of you will say, “Duh, yellow fever and fetishization is nothing new, silly girl.” But this is more than that. This is not hiding the fever to the point that it’s rude.


The first time I noticed this I was on a bus. Some guy gets on and takes a seat near me to tell me that my eyes are pretty. I say thank you like a polite person and he pressed on. “So, what are you?” I was feeling particularly white that day, so I said I was white. His face fell, literally. He literally could not maintain his creepy lecherous half smile.  He mumbled something like “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you might have been mixed or something”, changed his seat, and didn’t even look at me for the rest of the bus ride.


Since then, I’ve tried it at the library (Japanese? No. I’m Finnish, like from Finland.), at work (Do I speak another language? Just English. Of course, I hope you find a language partner, too.), and it always works. I am transformed from an ethnically ambiguous and ambiguously available Asian woman, into a regular boring white lady. And I have so much more time to be productive.


Maybe this isn’t about men being overly friendly with Asian (American) women, and more about them not being friendly at all with white women. Or maybe this is a statistically irrelevant population and most men are comfortable being creepy to all kinds of women. Or maybe I’m a jerk being mean to people who don’t deserve it at all.


3 thoughts on “Downplaying the Asian

  1. I have to admit that when I firstly talked to you, I was hoping that you speak another language. But your appearance does make you more attractive and approachable, at least to me. I feel more connected with you especially when I’m in a quite white environment. Well, maybe it’s just because you are the first one I knew when I entered this environment. But I’m totally with you that those people don’t deserve your attractiveness and approachableness.

  2. I wish I did speak another language enough to communicate! But even if I did, I wouldn’t want some guy to assume that I’m available to be his “language partner” just because I looks Asian. And I think it’s even more lame that that was the only thing he wanted from me. Even since you found out that I’m totally American, you’ve had lunch with me.

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