How to tell the difference...
Cultural Appreciation VS Yellow Fever
So, I’m a pure-blooded Chinese. I’ve dealt with ‘Yellow Fever’ since I set foot in the western society. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sharing my cultures to those who show interest, but a shitton of people like to guise their blatant asian fetishization under “I just love your culture!!”.
So here is a quick guide from an asian person to tell you the difference between loving and respecting our culture, and being an asian fetishist.
Note: Everything illustrated below are real-life encounters.
1) We’re not your language guinea pig (unless we agree to it).
This is almost a daily occurrence to me, people shouting random phrases in some sort of east asian dialect and expecting me to be impressed.
First off: The fact that you’re directly assuming I’m from a certain country or that I can speak that certain language just because I’m asian is problematic. You’re basing all your assumptions on the fact that I’m asian, and more times than not, this is just gonna backfire in your face.
Although this isn’t inherently harmful, it’s just an awful first impression overall.
If you were to get to know me as a person a little better first (following the normal steps of how to introduce yourself - name… age… hobbies… etc) then ask me about my cultural origin because you’re curious, that’s fine.
Don’t go into a conversation/friendship with the intent of using that person to better your own understanding of the culture/language. We KNOW when you’re doing that. It’s just disrespectful. But if you get to know us as a person first, then ASK us if we could help you every now and then with understanding our culture, most of the time we’re gonna be okay with it.
2) “I’m more asian than you”
This is a problematic phrase in itself.
You’re not “more asian” than me just because you’re remotely better at several aspects of life that are considered stereotypically “asian”.
If you’re doing these things just to be “more asian” - then you’re just a stereotyping, ignorant person. If you are not asian - you are not asian. End of. You can still learn about asian culture and appreciate it as who you are.
You can’t say “Gosh I wish I was asian” when all you know about asian people are its ‘exotic stereotypes’, and turn a blind eye to the less interesting aspects of asian like racism, corrupt politics, and history.
3) Fetishization VS Preference
It’s not as complicated as people make it out to be.
See examples below:
Left: You’re a racist who likes stereotyping all asian women as dainty and submissive and as faultless as your anime waifus and you are not afraid of achieving that by putting women of ethnicities down with negative stereotypes.
Right: You recognize that people of all ethnicities are different and beautiful in their own, individual way and although the person may not be to your taste, you do not blame that on their ethnic appearance.
Left: You’re trying to impress me by saying you’re an elitist who only date asian people but in honesty you’re just fetishizing us and sees us as ‘golden trophies’ rather than people. By explicitly stating you’re ONLY interested in asian people, you’re honestly just saying you’re a shallow racist asshole.
Right: You recognize that you have a preference, but know that it’s just a perk rather than a rule that dictates your ultimate decision to get to know me better as a person. The perk doesn’t affect your opinion of me either way.
In conclusion: I am all for internationalism and cultural appreciation. But fetishizing is not a form of appreciation. It’s a form of disrespect, stereotype, and ignorance.
If you really want to learn about our culture, start off by listening to us. Get to know about us as a person, and how our culture has affected us as a person. Do your own research, ask questions with an open mind and think of us as a friend of yours who’s asian.
Not your “Asian Friend”.