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Yellow Fever

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Monday, May 24th, 2010 in Q&As

What do you think of “yellow fever” (the stereotypical attraction of guys to Asian girls)? Is it okay?

I wouldn’t say it’s “okay” or not per se, but I will try to explain what I personally think it is, and the difference between normative attraction to Asian women and obsessive fetishistic creepiness.

The best way to understand “yellow fever” is to understand it as an amalgamation of the following in the Western context: the natural inclination of guys to certain types of women, and Western stereotypes of the East (that is, Orientalism, and a few other things).

First off, Asian women are stereotypically viewed as attractive, mainly because of their exoticism and subservience. In the physical realm, Asian women tend to be smaller and, as some would argue, more fragile — something many men find attractive to assert their own masculinity. In a somewhat similar vein, the typical Asian household tends to place women in a position of subservience, which many men find attractive for dominance reasons. Some argue that Asian woman also have a higher rate of being educated and having better skin and all manner of other things — baseless assertions in my mind, but still running stereotypes in Western culture. While these don’t really manifest themselves much in reality, one can see these really present in photoshoots of Asian women, of all places — it’s very clear that the message of Asian women to Western men is one of exotic subservience, sexual availability, and weakness. In the total Said-esque sense, the West views the East in a variety of stereotypical ways that can make it both subservient and attractive — which not only boosts the West’s view of its own power, but also provides it illusory justification for taking control over Eastern culture (via military force or, in this case, dating). In dating terms, this often manifests itself along the lines of the aforementioned presumptions about Asian woman — the assumption that they are subservient and beautiful, tied with the implication of exoticism, makes them highly desirable by men. The sheer fact that Asian women happen to be (relatively) unique in Western culture even plays a part in it — it makes Asian woman a kind of rare breed, a unique exotic object that many men seek to attain. These stereotypes are usually entirely false, but they contribute to a kind of mindset that guys pick up that fuels the kind of “yellow fever” you speak of.

On top of that, I’d personally argue there’s a positive psychological component to it — that is to say, men actually can excuse some of their attraction on psychological grounds. Consider it an extreme application of the Westermarck effect — men may have a psychological imperative to go after Asian (or otherwise “exotic”) women to avoid inbreeding.

But let me stop ranting here and address a perhaps bigger point: the difference between normal attraction and obsessive fetishism. The former, normal attraction, is something normal that you can feel free to foster nicely — for example, some guys prefer girls with blond hair, others brunettes. However, the latter category differs from the former in that it is obsessive, demanding, and unyielding — it is not “I prefer blond but I’ll be open for anything”, but rather “I must have ____”. Put simply, it’s perfectly fine to be attracted to certain kinds of women, pending you don’t take it to an extreme.

So there you have it. So long as you can have “yellow fever” and still behave healthily, do so without guilt. Just don’t let it dominate you.

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One Response to Yellow Fever

  1. DEI says:

    I agree with much of this article, but there’s a point I have to make. I feel that I am highly unlikely to find the kind of woman I want in the West, I have dated many women and had relations with even more, from several countries across Europe, and whilst at first I thought it was a problem with me, it’s become abundantly clear that it’s a problem with our culture. Having travelled to Southeast Asia once and met some of the local women there I’m almost certain that I will find my wife over there in future. I would not regard this as yellow fever, though I will admit that I was generally a lot more attracted to the women I met whilst I was there, I feel that their nature accounted for as much if not more of this attraction as their looks.

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