Don't Call Yourself a Weeaboo
A Guide on the Word “Weeaboo”
Hello, you may be wondering why I have the text “If you’re not East Asian and call youself a weeaboo, don’t follow me” in my side bar. Here are a few quick disclaimers:
- I am well aware that many people do it, especially in anime-related and related fandoms.
- If you have ever called yourself a weeaboo at some point in time that does not mean that you can never follow me or that I will never follow you. I follow people now who do it or have done it in the past, which is part of why this page exists.
- I am Chinese, not Japanese. I cannot specifically speak about the pain that this causes me from a Japanese standpoint, but because many East Asian experiences with racism overlap, I am still affected by this.
Origins of the Word
The word weeaboo comes from a webcomic. It is literally a nonsense word. The word became popularized when people on 4chan were getting upset about being called “wapanese” (wannabe Japanese). The mods put in an auto-censor so the “weeaboo” would appear rather than “wapanese.”
Why Do People Call Themselves Weeaboos?
I have several explanations/theories.
- People use this to refer to their past selves when they come to realize that what they were doing was racist and harmful. This usage is okay as long as you realize that you may mess up in the future and are willing to correct that too!
- East Asian people use this word to joke about their experiences and joke about weeaboos. This is an okay usage as long as they are doing this for catharsis! If there are other issues about East Asian people doing this, it’s an inter-community discussion.
- People do not understand the origins of this word and mistakenly believe it means that they are into anime/manga rather than being connected to a fetishist viewpoint of Japan.
- People do not understand that anti-racists use this word to call out fetishists.
What is a Weeaboo?
A weeaboo is somebody who fetishizes Japanese culture, but it may not be limited to that. A weeaboo also may conflate multiple groups of Asian people, randomly start speaking Japanese at anyone that might look Japanese, put down non-Japanese Asian people for being the “wrong type of Asian,” and even promote imperialism because of their inaccurate viewpoint of Japan!
Why Non-East Asian People Should Not Call Themselves Weeaboos
- Weeaboo is a term that Japanese people and other East Asians use to describe those who do them harm due to fetishized viewpoints.
- It is a term that people use in solidarity with Japanese/East Asian people to recognize this specific harmful behavior. When you are against fetishization/racism/oppression, and you claim to be this word, you are stripping it of the meaning that we assign to classify people who are harmful to us.
- To be clear, you are not specifically appropriating Japanese by doing this, but you are undermining East Asian people who try to steer clear of harm. I have experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance about what I will encounter since creating this blog.
What Is Really Wrong with Being a Weeaboo?
- The amount of harm done varies, so I will speak from my own lived experience.
- I live in a 99% white area, but in a place with a lot of weeaboos. People will get unfriendly fast where I live and have grown up; if you are not their complacent Asian fantasy when you are around them.
- When my school had a Chinese teacher teach Mandarin, the children bullied her so ruthlessly that she quit halfway through the year. Some of the white kids were angry that the district did not bring in Japanese and showed it (though I doubt a Japanese teacher would have been treated any better). This environment was very alienating and made it hard for nonwhite (especially East Asian students) to speak up to all the white kids.
- Weeaboos’ fetishized viewpoints of Japan can be very misogynistic specifically and build up a fantasy idea of what Asian women are like, “submissive, docile, etc.” and cause them to sexualize people on basis of being Asian. This has caused a great deal of harm to my education personally for speaking out against injustice because I am expected to be docile, and I have developed retroactive ways of coping with attention I do not want pulled to my ethnicity.
- Weeaboos can influence people into thinking they are the “wrong kind of Asian” with a strange policing of someone’s Asianness that centers on whether or not they are Japanese.
- Weeaboos will thoughtlessly call people inappropriate and alienating things for wearing their traditional clothing because it is vaguely Asian and start fawning over it because they think it’s Just So Cool That You’re Asian. This may or may not wear off if you are a different type of Asian than Japanese. Either way it can be humiliating or uncomfortable.
- Weeaboos don’t understand how painful it is to be ostracized for not blending enough and trying to connect to your cultural roots and will act like it is the same thing when Japanese people speak up about appropriation.
- Weeaboos have also defended Japanese imperialism and neofascism, nationalism etc. without any idea of the context and get upset when people who have heritage connected to the countries hurt by this call them out.
If you read this list and thought that you would never do any of that, maybe it is time to stop calling yourself a weeaboo and evaluate your behavior. I am not insinuating that you are doing these things by listing them. I am saying that these are some of the things weeaboos do. Even if they are being less violently harmful than harrassing, they still buy into and perpetuate a larger culture of fetishization. These are the type of people that I, and other East Asians who speak about racism talk about when we refer to weeaboos.
If you are in anime/manga or related fandoms and this is the first you have heard weeaboo used in a negative manner regarding fetishism, I strongly suggest that you do some reading. If you want referrals, I am happy to provide them. Just ask me privately because I am not comfortable setting racist anons on blogs that already deal with enough vitriol.