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Marie Claire's Asian "Trophy Wives": We're Not Only Fetish Objects, We're Brain-Dead, Too

09/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What can I say about Ying Chu's recent Marie Claire piece "The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women" that hasn't already been said?

Our pals Joz at 8 Asians and Latoya Peterson, editor of Racialicious who's guest-blogging at Jezebel for the next two weeks, have both written terrific posts on Chu's story already, pointing out how, in an effort to dispel certain stereotypes, it only further reinforces them. (Click here for Joz's post and here for Latoya's.)


Not to mention the fact that "The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women" is just a hot mess of half-baked, garbled ideas: Asian women of different ages with incredibly diverse backgrounds and experiences are all lumped together as alike fetish objects; Chu quotes Richard Bernstein, author of the recent book The East, the West, and Sex, as an authority on the subject--"author Richard Bernstein found that the Orientalist illusion continues to influence"--even though Bernstein's book has been taken to task in multiple publications (here at Salon and here in the NY Times and here at Slate) for perpetuating that very "Orientalist illusion"; "globalization" is cited as an influencing factor in the fetishization of Asian women, but only some random collection of mumbo-jumbo about the popularity of Mandarin classes, Malcolm Gladwell's theory on why Asian kids are good at math, and China's dominance in world trade is provided to support that argument; oh, and how about the fact that this whole phenomenon is presented as something that's "new"?!

But, for me, the idea put forth in the Marie Claire piece that really chaps my ass is its closing line:

"Asian women dating white men may never really know if it's a fetish thing."

Um, excuse me? Really? So Asian women are not only submissive Suzie Wongs and geishas, we're also fucking brain-dead, too?

The complications of sexual politics notwithstanding, fetishists are easy to spot. They come at you with their prayer-bead bracelets and their suspiciously in-depth knowledge of your "culture." They come with transparent dating histories, and many of them are more than happy to offer up that their last eight girlfriends have been Asian and unabashedly expound--based on their dating experience alone--on the fundamental difference between, say, Korean women and Chinese women. Fetishists tend to talk about you like you're only a member of a larger group; e.g. instead of saying, "I really like your shiny hair," they'll say, "I really like Asian girls' hair." And, frankly, they're creepy, like noticeably-remarkably-right-off-the-bat-creepy, like konichiwa-ni hao ma-what are you?-as-an-opening-line creepy, and stalk-you-on-Facebook-where-they-have-381-friends-who-all-happen-to-be-Asian-women-creepy, and follow-you-to-your-car-in-a-parking-garage-after-you've-shared-two-minutes-riding-an-elevator-together-creepy. It's not rocket science, people.

And if we're going to traffic in stereotypes here, did Marie Claire forget that Asians are supposed to be smart, too?