It's almost impossible to believe that only half-a-century ago dating and marrying outside of one's race was illegal in many states and could lead to imprisonment, social stigmatization, or even death. It has been a long and hard-earned struggle of individuals and civil rights groups that has slowly brought about legal changes and shifts in social attitudes such that the choice to marry outside one's race is no longer controlled by despotic legislation, although it must be said that social stigmas, though less apparent, still remain. For some demographics, society still maintains reservations about the desirability of miscegenation and thus although it is legal, dating and marrying someone of a different race is still a serious life-choice that is not discussed casually, or taken lightly. With one exception.
A recent article in the Huffington Post, written by Princeton student Vivienne Chen explores the nuanced bigotry involved in the increasingly common practice of Asian women who exclusively date white men. As Chen explains, the practice is a minefield of prejudice and racial stereotyping - which she casually accepts with a flighty shrug and a petulant sigh. Chen's article was written in response to these two articles which also bemoan the pitfalls involved when some Asian women exhibit biased thinking against all men of colour (including and sometimes, particularly Asian men) and choose to exclusively date white men.
This is a strange thing to say, and a little bit silly - African-American and Hispanic-American women grow up with the same conditions yet don't appear to exhibit the same bias towards white men. Furthermore, both these groups value lighter skin, but haven't developed the same type of culture which discriminates against men from their own community and shows preference for white men. Even more remarkable about Chen's piece is that it is discussing cultural stereotypes within the context of inter-racial relationships in which the creation of negative stereotypes about men of colour was, and remains, one of the fundamental ways that American culture maintains social stigmas about marrying outside your race. Negative stereotypes about minority men have and continue to serve the purpose of discouraging white women from marrying outside their race. Yet, Chen ignores this social phenomenon and addresses the least damaging of stereotypes - that of white men as "Asiaphiles". Asian cultures can be remarkably xenophobic, and white people are sometimes given a "light-skinned pass." Long before the White Man set foot in China, having light skin was a sign of wealth and status, as it meant you didn't spend long hours toiling in the sun....But by constantly projecting this idea that men who specifically like Asian women are creepers, we risk making otherwise decent, respectable guys avoid dating Asian girls for fear of being labeled a creeper -- until we have nothing but creepers left.
The results of these stereotypes have even more far-reaching effects than simply discouraging inter-racial dating. Stereotypes about Asian timidity embolden anti-Asian racism and have created a culture of casual, nonchalant, throw-away, prejudice that is expressed with little expectation of repercussion. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is the way this stereotype of Asian people may affect America's foreign policy actions in its sometimes delicate relations with Asian countries. Negative stereotypes of black men - violent and hyper-aggressive - drive police brutality and even contribute to the death of innocent black children.
Yet, despite this, Chen's choice is to focus on the "hardship" faced by a small minority of white men who are "unfairly" stereotyped as Asia-philes. And right there in a nutshell illustrates the second most important reason (the first is; I just don't care) for why I don't concern myself with the so-called "IR disparity debate" - in order to hold dialogue on the subject one has to often be able to actually comprehend the thought process of a muddled mind, which means that you have to understand the logic of stupidity. I'm glad to say that, so far, I have been unable to do this.
It takes a unique kind of privilege to be able to be so casual about a subject with as bloody a history as miscegenation, so much so that the author is able to acknowledge her own and other Asian women's biased thinking when it comes to stereotypes and prejudices about minority men (who in passed years bore the brunt of anti-miscegenation violence) yet can wave it away by citing reasons beyond their control - it's not their fault! Of course, it is also speaks volumes that Asian women are routinely given mainstream platforms to wax poetic about their prejudices and biases (most often against their own people and culture) in a way that other minority women are not. You will be hard pressed to find African-American or Hispanic-American women being given the platform in mainstream media outlets to casually express and wave away their prejudices towards men of their own race.
There are a couple reasons for this that I can think of. The first is that it is culturally unacceptable to express prejudice towards Black or Hispanic-Americans - regardless of who is expressing it, and the fact that this phenomenon exists illustrates the degree to which anti-Asian racism is tolerated. The second reason is that the dialogue and narrative of Asian-American inter-racial dating choices is conducted in one of two ways; it is either vulgar and hyper-sexualized by the women writing about it, or it is childlike and juvenile, often exhibiting the thinking and reasoning of a pubescent. Chen's piece is an example of the latter.
In my experience - limited as it might be - black and Hispanic women of college age and beyond, simply don't present or show themselves in their writing to have juvenile mentalities because they have to try so hard (especially black women) to overcome prejudice - childish flightiness won't work for other women of color. Juvenile mentalities in non-Asian women are just not tolerated and those who posses them are certainly not given many opportunities by mainstream America to display it, nor are they taken as seriously as Asian women seem to be. The irony here is that this childishness is an implicit aspect of the so-called "Asiaphile" phenomenon to which such Asiaphiles are attracted and one can only wonder if this also plays a role in the accessibility of some Asian women to the white male dominated media. That's is definitely food for thought.
And here is another reason for Asian men to avoid debating the IR debate - it gives voice and attention to people whose thinking is so simplistic that it allows the propagation of an Asian-American voice that lacks nuance and intelligence - that is the last thing we need. For instance.....
Those of us who come from more traditional Asian families know our parents would faint if we brought home an African American boyfriend; I've seen my friend's mother scream at her for having a Berkeley-educated Brazilian beau.People change - yes, even traditional Asian people - where's the stories of the traditional family who overcomes their prejudice and finally accepts their black son-in-law? What about those who are traditional but accept their children's decision to date or marry an African-American? These types of people actually exist and the main issue with Chen's point here is that her use of the word "traditional" itself has no basis for reference. What exactly does it mean to be a "traditional Asian family" - Chen suggests that it means an entity that is implicitly racist but this is simply ignorant. The term "traditional" has many possible meanings most of which don't assert racist attitudes. And there's more that shows the flawed thinking. Here she quotes Stephen Eliot of The Rumpus.....
To be desired is to be fetishized... this idea that I want someone to desire me but not objectify me with their desires is absurd. It's like saying I only want to date someone who is not attracted to people that look like me.. You are your lover's kink, exist within their circle of desire, starting with gender, and getting more specific from there." .........."In fact," he says, "there's no bad reason to love a person. A person is not less enlightened if they're only attracted to their own gender, or Asian women, or skinny people, or latex, or feet. You can objectify someone without treating them like an object."Overall, a thought-inducing quote yet is it true that there are "no bad reasons to love a person"? I'm not sure who Stephen Eliot is, but I'm sure that there are psychologists out there who would disagree with his conclusion. Pedophiles love and fetishize children (and, perhaps, are able to convince themselves that their abuse of children is an act of love), women who have extremely low self-esteem love men who continue to beat the crap out of them because they think that is the best that they can do and some even feel that the beating they receive somehow "proves" their partner's love. There are plenty of examples where one's reasons for loving someone are extremely bad and destructive, yet Chen seems to accept this piece of pop-psych unquestioningly and wants you to do the same. Mothers and Fathers, please don't teach this principle to your daughters - it will make them ripe for abuse. Here's more.....
Long before the White Man set foot in China, having light skin was a sign of wealth and status, as it meant you didn't spend long hours toiling in the sun. Remember, Asian cultures are the ones that mass market skin-lightening creams, where people often get eyelid surgery to make their eyes bigger, i.e. less Asian.So what? This doesn't justify one's decision wave away biased attitudes, acceptance of racial stereotypes, and prejudice. All it shows is that Chen (and women like her) haven't, don't, or perhaps aren't capable of, thinking logically and deeply about the choices they make, the attitudes they express, or the prejudices they casually accept and dismiss as being beyond their control.
And this, perhaps is the most problematic aspect of Chen's piece. If we accept Chen's logic, Asian women and the choices they make are dependent on circumstances outside of their power to control; they are attracted to white men because of some television show they used to watch as a child that had a white hero, or they can't be blamed for their biases because they come from cultures that are biased (hey, so did I but I'm equal opportunity in my private life). In short, Chen has comically and unwittingly shown Asian women to be so dis-empowered that they have no control and choice over what they are able to think or do - their "choices" are actually pre-programmed responses to stimuli instilled from childhood. This is a remarkable claim and one that has some far-reaching philosophical and neuro-scientific implications - funnily enough, none of which Chen seemed to be consciously aware of.
So, in conclusion, by debating this undebatable subject, Asian men are helping to set the stage that gives voice and attention to a subject that is fundamentally irrelevant, and gives voice to people who have nothing significant to say at the expense of a nuanced and intelligent discussion of the Asian-American experience.
Don't let the dumb rule.