Why Yellow Fever Is Different than “Having a Type”

Why Yellow Fever Is Different than “Having a Type”


When I first heard about “yellow fever”, I had thought it was advantageous for me. I seemed to only have the attention of Asian guys, but I was excited to meet white guys who were looking specifically for Asian girls. I’m an Asian girl! I didn’t mind white guys at all! I had to put no work into attracting them? I just had to leave my Asian on my face? DONE DEAL.

But it got real weird real fast. I was acutely aware, even as a 13-year-old, that the way a guy looked at me because he had a thing for Asians and the way a guy looked at me because he genuinely thought I was cute were very different looks indeed.

The first one made me incredibly uncomfortable. I wasn’t flattered by it. I made no effort to be Asian. I had no control over it. It wasn’t something that I ever wanted to be complimented on. Whereas being cute or pretty, yes, I put more effort into those things and I liked hearing people compliment me on those.

It was like being put in a kind of uncomfortable position of power, at the time. I felt like I could do anything and these boys wouldn’t care. I was Asian and I fit many of their stereotypes: I watched anime, I spoke Chinese, I cooked Chinese food, I was at an academic summer camp taking science classes.

I soon found that this sense of power was quite false. Being able to fit into a box does not necessarily give you power over the people who put you in hat box. You quickly learn that when you ask not to be placed in the box or you don’t squeeze into the box as easily as someone wants.

People who date a specific race confuse me a little. I can understand wanting to date someone within your own ethnicity or nationality. But I knew a lot of guys (white or not) who “only date Asian girls” and a lot of Asian girls who “do NOT date Asian guys” or “only date white guys”. Why is this a thing? What that tells me is that you are looking for specific characteristics that you think are specific to this race. But often, the things they list are not really generalizable to an entire race.

Someone asking me if I like karaoke because I tend to sing a lot, and maybe with the presumption that I’ve grown up with a lot of karaoke, (yes I have) is okay.
Someone asking me if I like karaoke because I’m Asian is a lot less okay.

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