Looking beyond race

Ayoung Jung said when she's around someone who fetishizes race, she feels like she's in a box. (Submitted)

Ayoung Jung became skeptical of dating after a Tinder date gone wrong. The former St. Thomas University student said she’s never sure if a guy likes her for her, or because she’s Asian.

“I wanted to go on a date with this guy because he seemed like a genuine person,” Jung said over Facebook Messenger, “But I could see that he also has a fantasy about Asians.”

She said he took her to an Asian restaurant where he insisted on using chopsticks, even though he could hardly use them.

Jung said he talked about Asian history, some of which she didn’t know, and the background of his phone was written in Korean letters. While her date didn’t know what it meant, Jung said the words translated to “dumb” in Korean.

“That’s when I realized he’s interested in [the] ‘Asian’ side of me and not really ‘me,'” she said.

Jung said being around people who fetishize her because of her race makes her feel like she’s in a box where she’s expected to act like the stereotypical “submissive, quiet and shy” Asian woman.

“I feel uncomfortable because I feel like I should act in a certain way.”

A Facebook dating app, Are You Interested, analyzed around 2.4 million heterosexual people in 2013. Their research concluded all men seemed to be interested in women outside of their race, with Asian women being the most “desirable” among Black, white and Latino men. The study also showed Asian, Latina and white women were more attracted to white men than any other racial group. Black men and women were deemed to be least “desirable” in the study.

Jung isn’t the only one to experience this fetishization of her race.

People from the United States and Canada have written pieces about personal experiences from Me, Myself and my Mixed Identity, to Why I Dated A Guy Who Fetishized Me For Being A Black Woman, to Dear White Guys: Your Asian Fetish Is Showing.

Jung said more diversity on TV and film is one way to help break down racial fetishes because it would show more than the stereotypical Asian.

“I feel like there should be more diversity in describing Asian people in the media so people can see that [humans] are all the same, regardless of the race or culture,” Jung said.

Tenaja Padmore, a fourth-year criminology and psychology STU student, said part of the reasoning behind interracial fetishization, specifically between Black and white communities, comes from history. Since these relationships were illegal or frowned upon before, it became fetishized.

Padmore said she hasn’t had a date where the other person made her feel uncomfortable or fetishized because of her race, but she has heard “stupid comments.”

She said being biracial, some guys would say, “Oh, you’re pretty for a light-skinned or pretty for a Black girl.”

Stereotypes about Black women having bigger boobs and bigger butts make it seem like some people only want to be with Black women because of these aspects, Padmore said.

“[The comments] make you basically not want to pursue in dating because of these stereotypes.”