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In parts of the US, such a notion has become so pervasive that last year, Debbie Lum, an American filmmaker of Chinese descent, sought to capture the madness in her documentary “Seeking Asian Female”.
A quick browse on the Internet for “yellow fever fetishes” brings up a host of websites, articles and videos, mostly from the US, that express humour, distaste and offence at the sexualised objectification of East Asian women, with some equating yellow fever to racism rooted in colonial ideas of power and submission.
But Debbie also believes that Asian American women are paying a price for “positive” stereotyping.
“We are largely invisible when it comes to politics and popular culture, yet there's a very palpable urban myth that Asian women make better lovers than other women”, she says.
I'm talking about when Caucasian men develop an acute sexual preference for East Asian women – even becoming a fetish, for some.
In fact, the most recent figures from 2.4 million users of Facebook dating apps showed a clear skew in preference for women of East Asian descent by men of all racial groups, except, ironically, Asian men.
Having said that, I'm surprised at what British men, both young and old, generally get away with when talking about East Asian women (Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc.) as well as South East Asian women (Vietnam, Thailand etc.) I've heard my Caucasian friends recommend to their male, single mates that they should date “nice Chinese girls”, with the added bonus that Chinese women are far more sexually open-minded than Caucasian girls.
One acquaintance told me in wonderment that Chinese women are great in the bedroom – as if I wasn't one – to being casually asked if I’d be interested in a guy “who has been with Chinese girls and likes it”.Interestingly, however, many East Asian women aren’t bothered; some even play up to the stereotypes or entertain such fetishes, according to Dr. Indeed, websites like My New Chinese Wife – set up by Chinese women in Hong Kong, the UK and US, promote what it sees as traditional qualities of “Sweet Chinese Brides”, and assist westerners in finding their own.Professor Miri Song, who specialises in ethnic identity at the University of Kent, suggests that the parodying of Chinese people is seen as more “socially acceptable” in part because East Asians are not seen as truly disadvantaged, or merit the same protection status as other ethnic minorities.In the UK, Sherry Fang, a 26-year-old British Chinese student, tells me she's had strangers say to her “you look just like his ex, she was also Chinese”, and argues it would be wholly inappropriate if she were black or Indian.In Britain, while significant rates of intermarriage between the Chinese and white Caucasian population have demonstrated social integration, the trend is nevertheless heavily skewed towards Chinese women and white men, rather than the other way around.“And let’s not forget Hollywood’s global influence”, says Dr Sandy To, who specialises in gender studies at Hong Kong University.