Why yellow fever is not OK.

What is Yellow Fever?

Other than the deadly disease prevalent in the 1700s and that book, Fever, that had the creepy jaundiced-looking face, Yellow Fever is also a micro- or even normal racial offense towards someone of Asian descent. You know that creepy thing guys say to you about how they really prefer dating your race? Well, yellow fever is like that. But ridiculously worse. (I’m not forgetting about jungle fever, which hypersexualizes black women, but today I’m focusing on Asians)

But what is yellow fever, really? According to Urban Dictionary, it is:

A term usually applied to white males who have a clear sexual preference for women of asian descent, although it can also be used in reference to white females who prefer asian men.

However, I think the next definition is more accurate:

A sexual obsession towards females of Asian descent.

Need more? How about this video made by producers of an upcoming PBS documentary. Yikes. (Side note: while I appreciate what the documentary seeks to expose, I don’t think it’s as effective as it can and should be)

Why is it a bad thing?

Most people who have never been on the receiving end of such a thing ask, “Why do you hate it? More people will be into you then. There’s actually a specific group of people who would date people like you!” or “Use it to your advantage! Date with the flow!”

First of all, it doesn’t work like that. Dating guys with yellow fever is guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. And second of all, it’s not really flattering, is it? Basically, they’re saying “You fit my ONE requirement! I don’t really care about who you are because as long as you have that ONE requirement, I’ll just fill in your personality with all my preconceived thoughts about you and call it a day!” It’s just another way of stereotyping and the acceptance of this as a fetish perpetuates certain racial stereotypes. And the fact that the “Asian Prostitute” stereotype was birthed a mere 100 years ago during WWII, in which the objectification, over-sexualization, exoticism of Asian women came to be, is extremely disturbing. 100 years is not enough time to completely eradicate these deep-rooted beliefs.

In addition, very rarely are people with “Yellow Fever” able to distinguish between purely physical attraction and attraction because of the associated behavioral stereotypes. And believe me, it’s a hefty list of the grossest fanboy fantasies that ever existed. I’m not going to pull a reverse-racism thing here, but there is a general type of man that goes for Asian women—from experience.

Examples of Asian-associated behavioral stereotypes include:

  • Submission: many people think that Asian women are more submissive than women of other races. This is not true; on top of being a secretly matriarchal society—Asian moms control the finances, the household, the children, etc—the strongest women I know have been Asian.
  • Live-to-please: a subgroup of the “submission” stereotype.
  • Virgin in public and a whore in the bed. This fits perfectly with the Madonna-Whore complex of society today.

Having a behavior-associated Asian fetish is like saying “Yo, have you noticed that all white dudes are awkward? I hate awkward people, so I’m just going to avoid that entire racial category from now on.” This kind of mindset is never ok even when it’s not overtly aggressive or violent. This is called a micro-aggression. 

When someone tells me they have yellow fever/an Asian fetish or even the simple phrase “I’m really into Asian chicks,” I shut that shit down. You know why? Because you’re basically telling me that you will go for any Asian you can get. I’m no longer an individual but your access into this strange, exotic culture that you fantasize about. You know how desperate guys are kind of terrifying? This is like that, but these guys are desperate for a really specific thing. I say really specific because the kind of Asian girls they want, the stereotype that they’re buying into, is quite rare/nonexistent.

On a personal level, Yellow Fever sucks because…

Dating-wise, it’s completely different. It’s like I come with presets or something that people expect out of me. No, I am not quiet. No, I am not submissive. Sure, you’ll have fun in bed but don’t you anyways? How am I supposed to tell whether you like me for me or you like the idea of me? No one likes being an idea; no one likes being representative one an entire group of people. Tokenism. Good for jokes, not for realsies.

I can’t tell if I’m loud and rebellious because I want so much to get away from that stereotype. Whatever differentiates, whatever makes it clear that you cannot categorize me and chase me under your yellow fever. I have opinions and a strong personality. Do not dismiss me as an individual.

In social discourse

This stereotype has unfortunately been perpetuated by the media. Watch this amazing girl, Rachel Rostad, deconstruct Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series:

Sidebar: Along with that video comes a backlash of everyone against everything she says. One of the main concerns for Asian women was that she was misrepresenting Asian women. First of all, no one should ever be responsible for representing their own race, it is the American culture that forces people to think that when a minority is speaking, whatever he/she says can be generalized or taken as an overall opinion of that specific race. No.

This video here proves her amazing intelligence. You go, Rachel.

Here‘s a really good example of the type of shit we put up with.

(c) They're All So Beautiful documentary
(c) They’re All So Beautiful documentary

Yellow fever = fetishization

Also, there are so many porn sites out there and a majority them cater to Asian fetishists. Why? Why is my race so fetishized? Why do I even have to ask a question like that? Not only does it negatively impact me and my ability to judge men on their interest, but it negatively impacts our society in general. You know, the one that claims to be so “colorblind” all the time?

However, there is a difference between preferring Asians and fetishizing Asians. First of all, preferring can be similar to… liking tall guys more, liking blue eyes more, liking blondes, etc. That’s ok because people understand that your preference isn’t dictating your actions; they understand that while you may have certain preferences, you’re not ruling out everything that falls outside of your preferences. If you were doing that, that’s a fetishization.

So here’s an idea. Why don’t we all start getting to know people on a case-by-case basis? Individualism… wasn’t that big back in the day? Stop generalizing. Stop assuming. Start learning.

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  • Annie

    I watched the documentary on PBS two nights before. It is sad the guy went into his marriage with this stereotype idea of Asian women – that he will be taken care of and love by this Chinese woman he found (or any Asian woman that willing to marry to him) no matter what! What a shock he most felt afterwards! I hope he finally get back to earth realize that marriage or any relationship is somthing one needs to work on, not to make any assumption of anyone or any role in the relationship. It is true in any relationship of any race , nationality or even gender. Finding a relationship with a stereotype mindset is just going to hurt everyone in it.

    • Michelle

      Yeah I watched it a while ago. I wish the documentary would’ve done one on the interactions between younger couples because I think that’s more relevant haha!

  • Mia

    Hi, Michelle. Just a heads up, I referenced your article on my blog post “Does your man have Yellow Fever?” Its a more comical look at the issue, but I directed readers to your thought provoking read for a more serious look at things. :) Please let me know if this is a problem. Thanks so much! http://miatrek.blogspot.com/2014/04/does-your-man-have-yellow-fever.html

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Hey Mia, totally ok! I read your blog post and laughed—thanks for telling me :)

  • SY Phonik

    lol, OR: some people prefer the way Asians look, just like some women prefer how greek guys look, or British men talk -_- j

  • SY Phonik

    I love Asian Women. NOT ALL Asian women. lol but a majority. NOT because of some delusional stereotype of how they “act” I happen to prefer how they look over various other races…. which doesn’t mean I don’t like or date other races.

  • SY Phonik

    Oh my bad…… i just read your last part “you’re not ruling out everything that falls outside of your preferences. If you were doing that, that’s a fetishization”

    that makes more sense. i thought you were ragging on guys who might prefer Asians because they might find most of them attractive.

  • Pingback: Picking Up An Asian Girl. Being Asian Australian | Mabel Kwong()

  • SPLATAAA

    Why are asian women so offended when we like them?
    -FACE PALM-
    hmm lol… Maybe it’s better to ignore them instead, is it ?
    The hell with all this bullshit about “OOH YELLOWFEVER IS BAD” Meh…
    Let the ones who love themselves make love to eachother, aslong as they like eachother..
    NOTHING MORE !

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I will first acknowledge that I understand the futility of trying to educate someone in online discussion, but I will at least attempt it.

      That being said… first of all, it’s not that we are offended that others are attracted to us, it’s the FETISHIZATION of the attraction. “Yellow fever” speaks of this fetishization, meaning: you are attracted to certain BEHAVIORAL stereotypes that we carry. It’s not that we’re attacking people who prefer the physical makeup of being Asian. The attached connotations of being an Asian woman, on the other hand, is not something to be flattered by at all. When someone is so blinded by the racial connotations of a certain individual, that person stops being exactly that—an individual—and starts to become a vessel of every stereotype, perceived and untrue. It’s demeaning, is what we’re trying to get at. We are all spectrums of people and just because we are the same race, doesn’t mean we share any common traits at all other than physical.

      Second of all, if you are to fetishize us, then yes, by all means please do ignore us. You will not be welcome.

      And lastly, if you cannot offer at least an academic discussion on this topic, true opinions or otherwise, don’t bother replying.

      • SPLATAAA

        That makes you an Asian Fascist, Isnt it?

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          HAHAHAHA I guess name-calling is what you defer to when you have absolutely no ground to stand on.

          • Raj

            Reading the first few words of your reply, I could’ve sworn you were about to quote Goku and say “I guess name-calling is your only attack, because you’re too weak to challenge me any other way.” Lmao

      • bobby bobby

        To an extent I agree but I can show you scientific proof that Asian people in general are less aggressive than other races in general. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, probably many of them but this is the general rule and it’s because of genes and hormone levels, it’s all biology. Not some stereotype made up out of nowhere.

        Also just because someone is first drawn to someone based on their idea what their race is. That doesn’t mean they can’t eventually appreciate them as an individual after they get to know them. This is a women this given man has never meet before. He doesn’t know anything about her. Why is it so wrong to generalize before you know how she’s actually like??

        You aren’t attacking people who like the physical makeup of Asian women?? That meme at the end of your article tells me otherwise. Same with the short documentary. Those men in that video weren’t talking about personality they where talking about looks.

        For the record it is about looks for me because honestly submissive kind of sounds boring to me. Not that I want some domineering bitch either but something in the middle seems to suit me best from my experience. lastly unlike the men in that video there are plenty of Asian women I don’t find attractive like Lucy Lu and that Asian women from grey’s anatomy. I may say I like Asian women but that doesn’t mean all, not even close. It makes me wonder if they feel the same way or if they really find all asian women attractive. What people say and what people actually mean can be two very different things.

  • http://www.therandomwritings.com/ Rachel G

    In college there were a few guys who quite obviously had yellow fever…two in particular I knew of who showed up at international freshman orientation (in spite of not being freshmen) and cycled through at least 3 or 4 Asian girlfriends during the time I was around. They were pretty appalling–made their preferences quite clear and pretty much only made friends with Asian girls (you pretty much never saw them hanging out with males of any race at all), and usually were with women significantly younger than they were. I can’t stand the “yellow fever” or any other “fever” way of looking at people. People have asked me if I “like” Mexicans because I’m married to one…but I honestly can’t imagine limiting the people you’re interested in marrying to one skin color or culture?? (p.s. I really, really like one Mexican in particular and I’m sure lots of others are nice…and that applies to the rest of the world, too)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Wow, they sound like straight up predators. I agree… no type of “fever” is good. “Jungle fever,” “Yellow fever,” all of that is frankly offensive. LOL to the question that people always ask you. It shows that they still can’t grasp that you like someone as an individual, regardless of their race! It goes both ways! Thanks for commenting, Rachel :)

  • Jeff

    This is all pretty weird. Why are people getting upset over nothing? Its hilarious to generalize a “group” or people because you think they are generalizing. OK its more scary than funny because the whole point of this article is guilty of the very point they claim to be making. This is going to be as successful as religion is for the war to whose delusion is the correct one.

  • Rasin Slice

    Harry Potters’ portrayals of my Irish kin, the sexy French women in the movie, etc aren’t exactly seriously in the movies, Northern Irish and Welsh people are really annoyingly completely unrepresented, the people with red hair are always strong-willed: though atleast not laughed at, people use a derogatory term about red hair to Ron, and the only black guy in school is a jerk (I think I remember correctly)!! I think book is really a book slightly favouring the typical English heroes/heroines, not necessarily the white ones- I hope, though I am aware I may be wrong (please treat this comment as an attempt at dialogue only)! And yellow fever creeps me out as it is so racist and objectifying, and the term ‘yellow’ in referring to Asian skin sounds racist too!

    • bobby bobby

      the only black guy in the movie was actually really nice not a jerk. He was also in Gryffindor. Maybe you should do your research a little more before you post your comments.

      You really think people like asians because of their skin color?? Who exactly likes the color yellow best?? Actually I just found a poll on this, only 5% of people in the poll preferred yellow. Yeah I don’t think it’s a skin color thing.

  • Jayden Fong

    Thanks for helping to spread the message that it is unhealthy to have an asian fetish.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks for reading, Jayden!

      • Jayden Fong

        As a white boy (my name is a pseudonym) who had a very strong asian fetish, I can attest to your concerns.

  • gag9 9gag

    Beautifully written and honest. Don’t listen to the burthurtt, racist, perverted white men! Nobody even likes white men anymore, white woman are far more satisfied with black cock, then pasty white, STD dick.

  • HoHsin Wang

    I’m 100% Taiwanese(PROUD of my culture) and even though I have never personally encountered anyone who has yellow fever yet, I know how annoying this problem can be. Thanks so much for writing this…people need to UNDERSTAND that this kinda of behavior is not okay. Why would anyone even be…uninteligent…enough to act like this anyway? Yes, I’m Asian, now get over it. Anyone who has talked to me knows I am not at all the stereotype that these people with yellow fever associate Asians with. This was awesome to read and again, thanks. :)

  • Horus
  • bobby bobby

    What if I where to say that being Asian isn’t the reason I’m attracted to Asian women? What if I where to say that I like a certain look to women that so happen to be traits of Asian women. I like smaller noses, small eyes and dark hair. Also I like women who have high IQ’s and are K selected. I’ll let you research that yourself if you don’t know what that is. Asian women usually fit that mold right?? That’s not to say I find all Asian women attractive, far from it and a women’s personality matters as well. If you think I’m going to want to date you simply because of your race you have another thing common. I also like dating white women that look like Lucy Hale and Christina Ricci but they are rare. I know what you may be thinking they don’t have small eyes but hey they still have nice eyes and 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. : )

    For the record when someone says they like Asian chicks that doesn’t necessarily mean they like all Asian chicks. It’s just a generalization, not an absolute. The writer here does not seem to understand the difference. Sometimes I wonder if yellow fever actually exists at least in high volume it is assumed to exist in or is it just a miscommunication?

  • Raj

    It’s not that I’m attracted to Asian women because of the preconceived notions/stereotypes about them, nor do I find ALL Asian women attractive. I just find them to generally be more physically attractive over other races – especially Asian American women or those born in a western country. So with that said, I’m not sure if my attraction to Asian women is considered yellow fever, or if the term yellow fever has been distorted and made to sound much worse/creepy than it actually is.