A few weeks ago, I happened to be craving some overpriced food made by some (probably) exploited workers, so I stumbled into Green Café. After circling the buffet a few times and deciding it wasn’t worth it, I resolved to get the Teriyaki chicken. As I waited for my food to be made, two white guys walked toward me and waited on either side of me. For simplicity’s sake, we will call these two guys Guy #1 and Guy #2.
As the cook piled a mountain of chicken into my bowl, Guy #1 leaned over and nudged me. With a smirk, he said, “That’s a lot of food for a tiny, little girl like you.”
I blinked and slowly said, “Uh, well, I’m hungry …”
“How much do you weigh?” he asked.
“… I … don’t know …”
At this point, Guy #2 interrupted and apologized for his stupid friend. But Guy #1 persisted, claiming that he wouldn’t have asked if he thought I was fat. Well, I guess that makes sense. Sort of.
“Are you from Singapore?” Guy #1 asked. I shook my head, and he observed me for a long time. Finally, he pointed at me and triumphantly proclaimed, “Korean!”
I shook my head again and started laughing. Guy #2 intervened again and said, “Dude, what are you saying? She’s obviously not Korean. She’s clearly Chinese. Am I right? Look, I’m sorry for my stupid friend here, just ignore him.”
Well, that was nice of him, I thought. I was used to random people trying to guess my ethnicity, and it didn’t really matter to me anymore. As I turned to leave, Guy #2 immediately lost my good graces.
“Ni shi wo de bao bei,” he said in butchered Mandarin and a sly wink. It roughly meant, “You’re my baby,” but I think he was trying to say, “Sup, baby girl?”
As I walked away, I slowly began to realize that Guy #1 and Guy #2 had pulled a classic, by-the-books wingman strategy on me. Wait, really? Did that just happen? But that didn’t really bother me. What actually bothered me was that Guy #2 had tried to hit on me by speaking broken Mandarin. That, my friends, is what we call classic, by-the-books yellow fever.
Yellow fever has boggled the minds of many, especially young Asian men who bitterly lament that all their women are being swooped away by white men. Apparently, Asian men can only date Asian women because … actually, I don’t really understand it either. I think it has something to do with Asians only being able to hang out with other Asians. (Just kidding.)
I will be honest: non-Asian guys who only go for Asian girls are a little weird to me. Given a history of dating only Asian girls, it’s a little hard not to come to the conclusion that he’s been inflicted with the particular fever that plagues most college campuses. Hey, you were probably thinking it, and I just said it. And seriously, whenever someone tries to impress me by speaking broken and half-assed Mandarin, a part of me shrivels up and dies. I mean, really, it’s insulting. But I think some girls find it cute, in the same way they would find a puppy eating his own poop cute.
I feel like some guys seem to misunderstand how Asian girls should be treated. With how Asians are portrayed in the media today, I don’t blame them. Whenever you watch a movie, the Asian girl is always submissive and quiet, and the big strapping white guy comes to save the day. Or better yet, she’s portrayed as a cutesy school girl, who smiles and giggles so much that you can’t see her eyes anymore.
With all these stereotypes flying back and forth, I can understand how guys think it’s OK to say, “Aw, look at you with those chopsticks! You’re so tiny and Asian! It’s so cute! Ni hao ma? [pets condescendingly on the head].”
Really, I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what would happen if I said, “Aw, look at you with your jar of Mayonnaise! You’re so fat and white! It’s so cute! [pet, pet].”
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against interracial relationships at all. In fact, I don’t see why interracial relationships should be a problem to begin with. When it comes to relationships, there is no telling who you’ll end up falling for. There is no logic behind it, so I’m certainly not saying that every non-Asian who dates an Asian girl has yellow fever. But when a guy is dating a girl based solely on the fact that she’s Asian and “kawaii! ^_^”, it’s a little weird. I mean, God forbid, she has something going for her outside of that exotic dragon culture of hers. C’mon, I know we’re sexy.
Sandie Cheng is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. That One, Please appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.