Marie Claire recently ran an article by Shanghai born writer Ying Chu that ruminates on the social phenomenon of older White men dating and marrying young Asian women:
“Were these tycoons consciously courting Asian babes? Do any of them qualify for the unnerving ‘yellow fever’ or ‘rice king’ moniker? It’s unsavory to think so. But after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized. Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes — Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual — are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie’s "China Girl" topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them?”
Slate.com writer and fellow Asian woman Nina Shen Rastogi takes exception, calling the article "offensive," and proceeds to pick Ying Chu’s point (or lack thereof) apart:
"Now, I’m not about to pretend that race doesn’t play a role in sexual attraction. And I won’t pretend that the white man / Asian woman pairing—not unlike the black man / white woman pairing—doesn’t carry some heavy cultural baggage. But this particular attempt at sociological analysis does nothing to move the discussion forward … the article doesn’t put much faith in the Asian women’s agency. Chu herself notes that most of the women she’s talking about are accomplished, educated professionals. Why, then, would she want to even suggest that they’re comparable to “concubines” and “mail-order brides”? Chu brings up globalization as a reason why Asian women are such “hot commodities” now, but it doesn’t seem to occur to her that globalization has also created more opportunities for foreign-born women to gain power, money, education—and entrée into upper social echelons on their own steam, with or without a “silver-haired Western suit."
I’m inclined to agree with the latter – Ying seems to waver between a desire to dispel the so-called "Asian fetish" phenomenon while undermining her own words with a litany of stereotypes of both Asians and the non-Asians they marry — a trait similar to certain comedians who bemoan ethnic stereotypes while exploiting themselves for laughs.
I wouldn’t go so far as to deem the article "offensive" – it reads more like a stream-of-consciousness rant – but ultimately, it’s hard to discern what, exactly, is the point.