Picking Up An Asian Girl. Being Asian Australian

As an Asian Australian girl who has lived Melbourne for nearly a decade, I’ve had quite a few local Caucasian guys hit on me.

These encounters are amusing and annoying. They give me the impression some Caucasian guys are attracted to me because of my ethnicity (maybe some have yellow fever). These moments also remind me of what it means to be Asian Australian, an Asian person living in Australia.

You never know what's ahead when you're in love. It's one big adventure | Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

You never know what’s ahead when you’re in love. It’s one big adventure | Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

On a recent winter’s weekday afternoon, I had one of those random encounters in the city. Two hands plunged in the pockets of my grey Target jacket, I settled down on one of the empty benches along the glass panelled sky bridge linking the Melbourne Central and Emporium shopping malls. Tired from window shopping, I gazed at the traffic on the roads below, and sensed someone sit down beside me on the bench.

“Do you do meditation? You’re sitting very straight.”

I turned to my left and found myself looking into a set of light brown eyes. Eyes the property of a tall, slim built Caucasian guy with ginger hair and a matching-coloured short boxed beard. Yellow jumper, brown pants and a long green anorak jacket. Bulging backpack over his shoulders. Looks like a uni student. Maybe he wants to hook up with a chick? Or maybe he just wants to talk? “No. I don’t meditate. But I sit up straight when I’m at my desk at work. Good posture.”

“What are you doing today?” he asked, eyes locked on mine.

“Just walking around. Day off from work. What are you doing?”

“I just quit my job,” he goes on. “My mum is going to be so pissed. This sounds weird, but have you ever felt you were meant to…do something?”

“Oh yes,” I said. “I write in my spare time because it’s something I want to do.”

“I quit my job so I can go into meditation.” He paused. “Honestly, I came over because I thought…you looked very pretty.”

Sounds like one of those guys who tries to impress girls by showing off street-smarts and flattering them. “Everyone’s beautiful in their own way.”

Many of us Asian Australians grew up with Western and Eastern influences around us: watching children’s educational program PlaySchool presented in the Aussie accent on TV, seeing Chinese New Year celebrations with our parents in Chinatown, eating Fairy Bread at birthday parties, helping our parents run their Asian restaurant business after school and so on. Chances are we learnt to respect both cultures when we were young and treat others regardless of race how we want to be treated. Unfortunately, no matter how nice we may be, we don’t always get the same kind of respect back when we meet some Australians of other races.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“I’m from Australia. Melbourne.”

“But…you know. You’re…Asian.”

The thudding sounds of shoppers’ footwear hitting the tiled floor filled my ears. Of course I know. I am Asian. Chinese-Malaysian, to be exact. But I am also a person with a personality. “I’ve heard that question many, many times. But that’s also a very innocent question. You’re curious about the person you’ve just met.”

“Exactly!” he exclaimed. “You know what? The other day I was watching this video that showed a white guy and a Korean girl talking about relationships. We’re having the same conversation that they had in the video!” Are we a couple already in your head?

As Asian Australians, we’re more than just our heritage. We are Australian. We have lives in Australia. We’re familiar with shopping at Woolies, familiar with riding the trains and trams. We’re students, workers, parents, mentors and so much more every day in Australia. That “somewhere” we’re from is Australia. Multicultural Australia.

As Asian Australians, at times we get judged by our ethnicity and thought of nothing more than fetishised objects to be looked at. “Exotic” is not a compliment; many Asian Australians and people of colour don’t think the word is a compliment (neither is “Oriental”). “Exotic” has quite a few meanings: foreigness, the Other, different, unusual, mysterious, striking, beautiful.

However, “exotic” arguably isn’t an insult or a racist remark. Every race is unique. Every race has its typical set of physical features (think skin, hair, eyes), beliefs, cultural attire and customs. If we’re Chinese, a Caucasian person might strike us as culturally different, and vice-versa. So in this sense every race is arguably exotic – it’s a matter of perspective.

“Where are you from?” I threw the question back at him.

“Well,” he said in a tone that gave the impression the answer was obvious. “I’m from…here. I live in Box Hill.”

“That’s far out east.” Box Hill, the suburb that has one of the largest Chinese populations in the country. “I live in the city.”

“Let’s go to your place!”

Only the sounds of footwear hitting the tiled floor filled my ears again. We only started talking five minutes ago. Do you want to relax in a cozy house or get lucky? “I live at home.”

“Oh. That sucks.”

“I don’t mind living at home. Roof over my head. Could be worse.”

Not every Asian Australian girl jumps at the chance to go home with a Caucasian guy after a few minutes of pleasant conversation. Not all of us Asian Australian girls fit the usual Asian stereotypes; not all of us are “easy” or submissive. A lot of us are lucky to get an education and learn to voice our opinions at school and work in Australia. So some of us can be insistent on sticking to our personal choices instead of going with other suggestions.

“Do you want to go bowling?”

“No. I’m going home soon to write.”

“You don’t look happy,” He stood up, his tall frame towering over me. “You didn’t look happy when I was approaching. C’mon. Let’s go bowling.”

“No.” I said the word calmly. Politely.

“You could die tomorrow. C’mon.”

“No.”

Shoppers streamed past, none of them batting an eyelid at the two of us. As he looked down at me, I realised I was alone and at 148 centimetres tall, was tiny in size compared to him. There was my small self, a quiet Asian girl not speaking much. But at the same time, there I was, a determined Asian girl looking up and standing up for herself.

“Let’s go.” He sounded uncertain now.

“No.”

Being Asian Australian means challenging and sticking to stereotypes. In the 1850s gold rush era, Chinese immigrants constructed Chinese arches in Melbourne’s Little Bourke Street, and these still stand side-by-side modern arcades that are home to countless Asian stores today. In the 1980s, a wave of Vietnamese migrants set up small businesses in Richmond and Springvale, suburbs where Asian dialects are spoken alongside broken English today. Australia is, has always been, a nation of migrants, migrants who bring with them their cultures and languages to this country. Our heritage is always right in front of us, and many of us are proud of being Asian. Hands still plunged in my jacket’s pockets, my eyes lingered on him until he walked out of sight.

Dating. Relationships. Love. Big adventures.

Dating. Relationships. Love. Big adventures.

There are times when what others say makes us Asian Australians feel like we don’t belong in this country that we call home. Maybe this is partly our fault: maybe we let ourselves feel different in the cultural sense? After all, we can choose to brush off such comments and learn to be comfortable with who we are and where we come from. Then again, there are always cultural lessons to be taught and learnt from these remarks.

It can be hard to tell if someone has yellow fever, which is often thought of as a sexual obsession towards Asians and being obsessed with qualities one assumes all Asians have (Anna Akana). It’s a fine line between loving and respecting, and being infatuated over stereotypical Asian traits. Personally, I hold no grudges against Caucasian guys who hit on me, preferring to think they mean well. As Anne Frank said, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Two weeks later, I’m eating a salad alone at the dimly lit ground floor food court in Melbourne Central. An Asian girl wearing black glasses is seated alone at the table right beside me, eating an omelette wrap and fiddling with her phone at the same time. I sensed someone towering over her. “Do you need a friend? I see we’re eating the same food.”

I glanced up. The same guy who tried to pick me up not too long ago was standing beside and looking down at her, omelette wrap in hand. I stopped chewing. What are the odds of seeing him again?

Do you like getting hit on, and romantic attention?

Related articles

174 thoughts on “Picking Up An Asian Girl. Being Asian Australian

  1. Ah, I am so glad to be spared these thing – being hit on. 🙂 I am still for the conventional way at home where man and woman get to know each other in a neutral ground. I believe in courtship and the works. 🙂

    Like

    • You are lucky that you don’t get unwanted attention from the guys, Imelda. That means you don’t have to be rude and push them away. Courtship sounds nice. It certainly gives both parties time to know one another, interests and values. And of course have a load of adventures together 🙂

      Like

    • That’s okay, Matt. Getting hit on like that in a public place was scary. It only lasted ten minutes but it felt much longer. You can never be too careful where you go and whom you meet. Hope you’re well and you don’t have any creepy such an encounters of late.

      Like

    • 1) Oh no, the dreaded ‘where are you from’ question!

      While sometimes it’s appropriate to ask it (the question is really where is your family from), and I do ask friends of all backgrounds from time to time because I’m curious, there is a more tactful way to do it AND it um generally doesn’t work in the first two minutes of meeting someone.

      People have a heritage and it’s a part of who they are. And that doesn’t mean anyone should *only* be defined by that, of course. In romance/attraction in particular it is offensive to define someone primarily by that.

      Like

      • I’ve never really known why people ask the ‘Where are you from question’. If you’re keen on getting to know someone, of course you’ll spend time with them. Most certainly you’ll talk about work, interests, school, hobbies…and where we have lived and the subject of our families usually pops up eventually or mentioned in passing conversation as two people feel more comfortable with each other.

        Yeah, ‘Where are your parents from’ is a way to get around it. I’ve gotten than question before and replied my parents are from Malaysia…and then that person (female) insisted, ‘That’s right! You’re Malaysian!’.

        Like

    • 3) A most awkward conversation. I thought it started out interesting, a dude into meditation and feels lost. Perhaps he’s still very lost. Or just weird. In any case, he’s doing it wrong.

      I’m sorry he made you feel like a token object, and I’m sorry you can feel like you don’t belong in your own country. Hope you don’t feel that way most of the time.

      Geez such guys need a lot of work…

      Like

      • To be very frank, I did not believe the guy for one second when he said he quit working to go into meditation. It was a gut feeling – but I could have been wrong. I also got the feeling he was much younger than me.

        No need to feel sorry for me. We live and we learn 🙂

        Like

  2. Oh dear! Sounds like he is looking for “prey” 😦
    And Mabel, I (Le) totally get what you mean with the question, “So where are you from?” I was born and raised in Australia and I identify myself as Australian and so I mistaken that question often and end up telling people which suburb I live in…. then I get the… “I meant, what is your ethnicity?”
    “There are times when what others say makes us Asian Australians feel like we don’t belong in this country that we call home.” And this line is brilliant… I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve had people speak to me slow and loudly to my face until I respond and then they say, “Oh you’re Australian!” I’ve even had, “Wow, you sound more Aussie than I do.” As if they are shocked by that! Oh well, we learn to live with it and I certainly don’t let it bother me… most of the time unless it is really offensive!
    Good luck and hopefully the guy you describe in your post doesn’t try hitting on you again without realising. But if he does, one day, we would be interested to see how you respond 😉

    Like

    • Thanks, Wise Monkeys (Le). It is quite rude for people to assume that just because we are of Asian heritage that we are not from Australia. Oh dear, you’ve had that question and response too. And speaking slowly in your face like you don’t speak English 😦

      “We learn to live with it.” Yes. Spot on. No point fighting fire with fire, and I make it a point to try to see the situation from their perspective: not everyone has met people who’ve traveled and migrated before.

      Well, if an incident like this happens again, I will have another story to tell. And I will share it with all of you here, you know it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is right, Siobhan. If I was a timid person, I might have been freaked out by him, and would probably never look at another guy again. It did feel like he was boxing me into a particular stereotype(s), and reinstated he was superior by standing up at the end. Oh, what a show he put on.

      Like

  3. Oh dear Mabel I felt like I was sitting right beside you on the bench. So well written I felt that I could stand up and tell the guy to get lost on your behalf.
    Do I get hit on? I am a magnet for the over 70 crowd. 🙂

    Like

    • Oh dear, Sue. The bench that me and the guy was sitting on was only big enough for the two of us. At least I got left alone in the end…I think you would have whacked him 😉

      Thanks for the compliment, Sue. I’ve always struggled writing in this style. But I’m pretty certain this is the kind of writing style I’ll use in my book 🙂

      Like

      • Mabel I loved the style. Really it drew me right in and you are correct I would have totally whacked him. Or worse given him my ‘look’ which my kids have always described as terrifying. 🙂

        Like

        • Ah, I really can’t imagine you being angry at all. Now I know you have a fiesty side. On the subject of getting hit on, never knew you were a hit with the older crowd. Not sure if your hubby minds 😀

          Like

          • It’s our little joke and no he is a very non jealous type. I think it is just that as a nurse I have always loved seniors. I seem to exude some welcoming aura and those old guys gravitate to me. All harmless I assure you. 🙂

            Like

            • Wow, your hubby is the real deal. Adventurous, happy, charming and confident. What a catch, Sue. You come across as very polite and gracious in the blogosphere. I am not surprised that this is also the case for you in the real world, and people gravitate to you 🙂

              Like

              • Mabel you are very good for my ego! Thank you for these kind words which truly mean a great deal to me. I am no different in the blogosphere or real life. What you read is what you get. 🙂 your lovely comment made my day! Oh and yes my husband is a superstar and has been for the last 35 years. 🙂

                Like

                • Ah, you certainly let your personality and honesty shine through your posts 🙂 Oh yes, your hubby is a superstar alright. Dragging you out for adventure after adventure. Looking forward to reading your next adventure this weekend 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry that troll made you uncomfortable. Although my experience is nothing nothing like yours because I am a white male living in the U.S., I do know how irritating it is to have complete strangers ask me about my heritage. My last name somehow invites cashiers, waiters, etc., to ask “what kind of name is that?” They are always disappointed when I say “American.” (My family was in America before there was a USA.).

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been “hit on” per se, but I can tell you that it makes my day after getting some good vibes even if I’m not interested. So many guys are so clueless as to how to read a woman’s body language. I have to admit that I’ve hit on a few women “cold,” that is, without first picking up a vibe. You’ve got to be tuned into how she responds and be prepared to either cut and run or think of something else to say!

    Like

    • That is very interesting to hear. Sorry to hear that you get grief over your last name. I’m sure you’ve have a few answers you use depending on your mood when someone asks you about your name. I guess some people just like meeting non-locals; they are just curious. Come to think of it, there seems to be a fine line between being curious and nosy. Normally, I’m inclined to think someone is nosy if they keep asking me personal questions when we’ve just met.

      In general I think many of us don’t pay too much attention on body language when we’re hitting on someone or if we’ve just met them. Perhaps we’re more focused on what we’re going to say. After all, it’s always easy to offend someone with words as opposed to body language.

      Like

  5. Oh my goodness, am I wrong for thinking that this guy is a bit creepy, or lonely perhaps? Well done for getting out of that one. I find it insulting when guys come at me just because of my ethnicity. I’ve had exes that were only attracted to black/mixed race girls but I found that hard to understand and not really flattering as I get attracted to personalities – not appearances. I also agree with your hatred for being called exotic,I had a white friend who used to call me that a lot and made me cringe inside!

    But no, I hate getting hit on. It usually makes me sigh and make excuses to escape. I don’t appreciate the attention and usually just think the guy only wants one thing. I do love that my boyfriend is secretly romantic though and it took us a lot of awkwardness to get to that stage haha! Do you feel that Australia is quite racist, Mabel?

    Like

    • Hi Mabel….Oh my god,I can’t believe that bloke…sounds like it could have turned nasty had there not been other people around..maybe next time,don’t be so polite…I’m so sorry to hear that you were harassed like that….

      Like

      • You’re right. I actually thought about standing up and walking away from the guy, but what if he followed me? And where would I go? I got the impression he was very bold since there were people all around us. But yes, it could have been worse if this happened in a quiet park.

        Harassment…that didn’t cross my mind but now that you mention it, it does look like that was the case.

        Thanks for stopping by again, Junkie. Much appreciated.

        Like

    • Nope. I too was thinking he was creepy – and lonely – for trying to pick me up in such a bustling public place. I did contemplating standing up and walking away – but what if he followed me? Oh dear, so sorry to hear that you’ve been called exotic so many times. She probably didn’t know what it meant – and sometimes people can be very stubborn and insist they are right on they subject of ethnicity.

      I think hitting on someone is a legitimate way to meet people and maybe make a friend or two. But like you, I am not a fan of it. Is Australia racist? Over the last year there have been quite a few racist insults hurled on public transport that made the news for weeks…sadly.

      Like

      • I was just wondering because I know people like the aborigines are still treated badly (I’ve heard) and I have Caucasian family over there but they get racist remarks just for having brown hair and brown eyes. Insane really!

        I suppose being hit on isn’t that bad if it isn’t too cringey. It usually makes me uncomfortable and gets my guard up .. but I suppose British guys are different!

        Like

        • So sorry to hear about your family being on the receiving end of racist words :/// Australians of Aboriginal descent do face quite a bit of discrimination here. There are still quite a number of First Peoples living in the middle of Australia, in the middle of the desert in poverty and rarely have they received aid (due to political and social reasons).

          To be honest, I’ve never met a British guy in my life. Haha, sounds like they pick up women differently than Australian guys!

          Liked by 1 person

    • I thought so too that he had yellow fever. But one can never be too sure. He might just have been confused…

      Thanks for reading and for the support as always, Jess…my favourite Malaysian blogger friend 🙂 Funny you mention my book as I was thinking about my book the whole as I was writing this post. This is sort of the writing style I want to go with for the book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. and how i hated that guy!
    at first, i was like giving him the benefit of the doubt. i mean, i live and work outside my home country as well, met a lot of different people with diversed culture and personality, got hit on worse than what uve experienced ( im here in saudi arabia, if u know what i mean?! :(… but never will i get used to those kind of treatment.
    they find us different, but they dont have to be like that. we should not be based on how we look, or from where we came from, or what color of the skin we are having. u are so right, we have our own personalities. they should not generalize people.
    in the end, we cant blame ourselves for giving people chances. after all, as u have mentioned, as Anne Frank said, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

    Like

    • Haha, you have the guts to say that you hate that guy! At least he left me alone in the end. It could have a very different ending, much worse. Sorry to hear that you got hit on much worse in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the locals in that region and in Asia can be just so besotted with non-locals who visit or work there, maybe can’t even keep their hands to themselves :/// I hope you stay safe.

      “we cant blame ourselves for giving people chances”. Ooooh. I love that line. Often we give others chances because we’re selfless that way and expect nothing in return.

      Hope to see more of your blog soon, and thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Like

  7. That guy was obviously an idiot: no means no. I also agree with Jody that says he seems a bit creepy.

    I used to like getting hit on and getting romantic attention by strangers/friends. Now I’m married, so it doesn’t matter.

    Like

    • Yes. When a woman says no to a guy, she always means it. I think we’re all entitled to think of someone as creepy if they want to be our best friend after two minutes of saying hi.

      Sounds like you’re enjoying married life. Good on you, very happy for you. I’m sure you still get get hit on every now and then.

      Like

      • Things were different when me and my friends played concerts and went to pubs and parties. These days I stay at home during the weekends with my wife & kid, so I don’t get hit on: it’s too much work for the ladies to seek me up at home!

        Like

        • Sounds like you knew how the live life in your younger days, Cardinal. It’s pretty much the norm to chat with strangers at clubs or concerts – you’ve got something in common (e.g. drinking, music). Such are social occasions.

          I am sure the single ladies out there are disappointed they can’t bang down your front door, let alone find it!

          Like

  8. oh my! so sorry, Mabel! i would have told the guy to get lost! do i like getting hit on? no! i still believe in courtship. i believe in expressing admiration or feelings in a very respectful way.

    Like

    • I was tempted to tell the guy off, but I always make it a point to be nice wherever I can. Who knows, they might become your future colleague or something like that. It takes time to get to know someone and learn if they are people that you like and get along with.

      Like

  9. I’ve never been one to get hit on a lot. I don’t know why. I guess I’m not seen that way? It’s okay. I’m always the friend who is watching her friend get hit on. Does that sound sad? Oh, boy, I better change the subject. 😛

    That being said, I have a few “Where are you from?” myself. But now that I’m in Thailand, the question has a different meaning and twist. Generally speaking, I think folks are simply trying to be friendly, but they don’t think about what they are saying before they say it. That’s what makes it so amusing.

    It’s kind of like when people would say to me, after they learned I was from Hawaii, “What brings you to the States?” Yeah, Hawaii is the 50th State, but they blurt it out and then feel stupid afterwards.

    Or when folks gush, “I love Thai food” after they learn I’m half Thai. Okay. Great, but again, it’s that trying to be friendly/conversational because they haven’t had much exposure to Asian people.

    Great story, by the by, I know it’s at your expense, but c’mon. That girl at the end, getting hit on by the same guy??? Priceless.

    Like

    • Maybe, Lani, you got hit on before and you just didn’t realise it. Think back to the guys who talked to you or said hi to you recently or back in high school 🙂

      So agree with you there that many people try to be friendly. I think when people tell you “I love Thai food”, they are trying to show that they are ‘in tune’ with your culture. More specifically, they are trying to find something in common with us. I actually want to write a blog post about this…or rather, am going to.. 😉

      The Asian girl at the food court couldn’t really be bothered acknowledging the guy. Even though he sat down in front of her, she kept playing with her phone. I left right then. Maybe I should have stayed longer to see how it panned out.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh such people are just terrible in my opinion. You see such creeps everywhere, no matter the city, country or what “race” they prey on.
    Personally I don’t understand why there are people doing such things but then again I do no understand many things in this world 🙂
    I believe I never had something like yellow fever or the like. It took over a year in the same class with my wife till we started chatting more online and then started dating after several months. I prefer to slowly build something up before dating or similar, nothing the like what you experienced.

    You are 148? Certainly you are not the tallest person I know but also by far not the shortest. I got to know over the years few Finnish and many of my wife’s friends who have similar heights or are even under 140. Few of these people I actually even guest at a much taller height by the way they behaved, it gave me the impression that they were so much taller always. So height is never a hindrance in your life as long as you are comfortable with yourself and know how to “expand your personality” ( except when there is an actual height restriction such in professional military forces but I doubt that you want to join there!). I hope you understand what I mean, it is a bit hard to explain how people manage to appear taller than they are just by the way they behave/act

    Like

    • It was very bizarre and creepy to be hit on like that in a very public place. Judging from his first sentence to me, it appeared that he was observing me from afar or could have been following me for a bit – and I had no idea. But you are right. Every place has it’s own share of odd people and if you’re unlucky you’ll bump into them.

      Good things take time to happen. It’s great to see that you and your wife took time to get to know each other and each other’s families too, getting to know what makes each other tick. That usually equates to a good relationship foundation.

      Yes, I am 148cm and very proud of it. I can squeeze may way to the front of big crowds easily 🙂 Rarely have I met anyone shorter than me, and I would really love to meet your wife’s friends some day. I’ve always wanted to blog about being short, and I believe that the time will be right very soon 🙂

      Like

  11. Ohh wow… to be honest? He was actually polite in comparison to the men in Brazil 😦
    But anyways, what a weird person he is, at the beginning I thought you have found the love of your life!

    As for stereotypes, I always try to avoid guessing where people are from, after living in many countries I learned in the hard way not to just guess this… many people ask me if Im Asian, and Im from Brazil. I really dont mind, but some people could. So instead of guessing where the person is from, I just wait to see if she/he tells me 😀
    Love your text, so well written, I could actually see the scene in front of my eyes!

    Like

    • I also first thought the guy who hit on me was being very friendly. What he said about going for your dreams was very interesting…but what came out of his mouth after that made me 😦 At least he kept his hands to himself.

      I don’t know why but many people seem to assume that just because you have dark skin and hair, you are Asian. Other races have dark skin and hair too. Like you, I think it’s a good idea to wait and not ask ‘Where are you from’. If you get along and have good conversation, your new acquaintance will feel comfortable at some point should make a mention about where they have lived 😀

      Thanks for the nice words! Brazillian men not polite? I always thought the opposite!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have been hit on quite alot through the years. It´s wise to listen to your gut feeling. If they seem creepy get away, but be polite and never seem frighten or scared. I also never ever would take a person I didnt know home with me or go to their home. You never know what is behind the mask. Be careful. Thats my advise. If you find somone through internet dating for example. Never meet them at night at a bar. Meet them for coffe in the daytime where there is alot of other people, and continue doing that the first few dates until you know who this person is. Be adventures and enjoy life, but be smart about it. And first and foremost, be careful with strangers and take good care of yourself 🙂

    Like

  13. Funny and interesting post. From a guys perspective ~ I think generally we pretty much hit on just about any nice looking girl (culture or color does not matter), unless there is something to get in our way (boyfriend, family, etc…). Maybe because I’ve travelled so much, but even with my friends back in the States it really is that way. Although I can say it seems the situation you wrote about the guy was weirdly aggressive…so as I’d tell my sister, be careful 🙂

    Like

    • I can understand why people hit on other people just because of looks. Love is a physical thing too. I do notice that a lot of couples (like my friends and their partners, celebrity couples) have similar facial features (e.g. similar angular jaw, similar forehead). Maybe we are attracted to people who look like us.

      I guess what happened to me was quite creepy. He did have the guts to try to get me to spend time with him, but unfortunately for him I don’t warm to people so quick. Safety first 🙂

      Like

      • I suppose for everyone, there are definitely ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ways to hit-on people ~ and I think this guy did was aggressive (and I agree with you, creepy). Yes, safety always first, especially these days.

        I’ve heard that when two people do get together in a relationship, they actually begin to look like the other because they start sharing mannerisms and expressions. I think that is kind of neat ~ and it happens with mix-racial couples as well. I actually think we are attracted to differences, and that people find differences exotic and thus are attracted. Biologically, I think it is an ideal trait. But then again, people tend to be more comfortable around their own 🙂

        Like

        • If I was a girl desperate to hook up with a guy, then I would think the guy was passionate as opposed to aggressive. You’re right, there are tasteful and not-so-tasteful ways to hit on people. The more non-intrusive conversation you can generate (think hobbies, current affairs), the more the other person will warm to you.

          Very good point there. We are attracted to differences because often we can learn from them but at the same time we are comfortable around our own as usually we know what to expect from them. And chances are they have got our back 🙂

          Like

  14. I love following your thoughts and hearing about the interesting situations.
    As for Mr. box beard what a jerk, his apparent idea of relationship makes me think of an assembly line. By the way I will support any effort to get his picture in the dictionary next to the word objectification. If it’s any consolation I’m learning to care for you through your writing and I’m old guy with no intention of trying to pick you up and the clear awareness that the race you are a member of is the human race.
    Hang in there there is always a diamond somewhere in the rough.

    Alexander

    Like

    • I’ve always wondered why some guys just have to be so pushy when picking up girls. Maybe they are really that desperate for company, or maybe deep down that’s their personality.

      What was most insulting about all of this was that I was approached because of my ethnicity, not as a person. I do feel lucky how the way it all ended – it could have been worse had I chosen to walk away. You never know.

      As an older person, Alex, you sound very wise and respectful. And I’m sure you are and have learnt that thoughout your years. Thanks so much for supporting as always. Keep writing poems and haikus. Love how you can say so much in so little words.

      Like

  15. My husband is Caucasian and Australian. His family came over from Europe over five generations ago but for some reason people keep asking him where he’s from, sometimes people come up to him and talk in a language other than English assuming he understands it (he doesn’t). One time when someone asked him where he was from he said “born in Box Hill raised in Blackburn” and they said “no, I mean what is your genetic make up?” and we both cracked up. He wasn’t being hit on of course but it was still funny that people can care so much about ethnicity before they even get to know you.

    Like

    • Getting asked ‘where are you from’ constantly must get a bit frustrating for your husband. Very sorry to hear about that. I love how he gave that Box-Hill-Blackburn response to the question – very precise and truthful. I am sure he had a straight face while saying it.

      “…people can care so much about ethnicity before they even get to know you.” Spot on, Di. It sometimes feels as if people don’t trust your appearance and are searching for common ground in order to feel comfortable with you.

      Like

  16. I love how you write the story, Mabel. This is not an easy topic to write, but you did a great job.
    Well, I have answer that question, “where are you from?” millions of times. They then press “what are you working?” When my answer is not what they expected, I get pounded by a dozen more questions… 😀 It happens when I travel, attend conferences, get hair cut, shop, buy a cup of coffee….

    Like

    • Thank you, Amy, for the nice words and for supporting as always. This is the first time in almost a year since I wrote about race and being Asian Australian, so I was very nervous about it. But I am happy with the way it turned out.

      Oh yes. If people already know or don’t want to know where you’re from, then they want to know what you do, work or study. If not, it’s what do you do on the weekends. But that’s all part of getting-to-know-you, I suppose 🙂

      Like

  17. The whole “where are you from” thing is a delicate issue, but (and I’m not excusing it because it is insensitve) it seems natural for people to be interested in the ethnicities of those who look different from themselves. I think that people don’t typically ask white people (in western countries) these questions because white is mundane to us and many of us don’t know what our ethnic background is anyway. Perhaps there is a polite way to ask? Maybe it’s only a question that should be asked by close friends? I’m not really sure, so feel free to correct me. Regarding the guy in your story, I am frequently treated in a similar way by Asian men when I’m in Asia because of the extent to which the media sexualizes white women, so I definitely feel your pain. No woman likes to be approached in such an aggressive manner. I’m glad you stood your ground!

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that you had unfavourable encounters with Asian men. They must be very brazen to approach you…just like how some Caucasian guys like approaching girls of certain races. In these situations all we can do is stay calm and try not to give them too much attention. And hope they will be bored and wander away.

      Those are very interesting questions on the subject of “Where are you from”. I actually want to tackle them in a blog post very soon, so perhaps look out for that. I think people feel that they can learn a lot from people who are of a different ethnicity or background than them, hence the personal questions about background and what we do when we meet new people.

      Like

  18. You weren’t kidding when you said this post would be a lot different than your “normal” posts! I admire you for your standing up for yourself. Obviously, it would’ve been nicer if you hadn’t had to go through this experience – but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

    And it makes for great blog fodder, too. 😉

    “Where are you from?” — Haha, I’ve gotten this question before. I think it’s just a very indirect way of asking, “What’s your ethnicity?” or “What’s your ethnic background?” Maybe people are just uncomfortable asking that, or maybe they don’t know how to ask it properly. I know that I was uncomfortable asking this sort of question when I was growing up.

    Since I moved to Asia four years ago, most English-speakers I meet are from all over the country. So it’s actually easier to simply ask, “Where are you from?” For my situation, it’s basically the equivalent of asking, “What country are you from?”

    Have you ever been approached by Asian guys?

    Like

    • For most of us, I think we feel uncomfortable in some way when we’re meeting new people. There are things about ourselves we won’t automatically share with strangers, and sometimes it’s hard to control where a conversation is headed. Your situation is unique given your nature of work, and you know you’re not offending your work acquaintances when you ask them that question. But I am sure you get locals asking where YOU are from 🙂

      Like you, I personally don’t like asking someone ‘Where are you from’ as I like to work it out myself. It’s quite fun, actually, trying to work that out based on what they’re sharing with you – like their hobbies and line of work. I am planning on writing on this topic very, very soon 😉

      It was very fun writing in this style. ‘Twas challenging since I’ve always struggled with this style – but it’s my favourite style. Yes, I have been approached by Asian guys.

      Like

  19. I understand that he made you felt uncomfortable and I am so sorry for you. Sometimes a guy’s approach could be intimidating to a woman, regardless her ethnicity and age. I had some experiences, the weirdest one was in Cuba, when a Cuban guy said flirtatious thing to me while my Dutch partner was standing behind us 😀 He was apologizing after he realized that I was not alone.
    The question of “where are you from” is actually very common in the Netherlands to be asked at the first meet-ups. Somehow I get used to the question and just answer my country where I came from. If I asked back to the Dutch, usually they will answer the city/place where they grew up..the lousy thing about the guy who hit on you was actually his next response after your answer “But…you know. You’re…Asian.” – somehow I found it as insensitive…or perhaps ignorant response?
    Anyway, a nice topic you bring here, enjoy the discussion and read the article. Have a great weekend!

    Like

    • That must have been very amusing when the Cuban guy guy flirted with you and your partner was behind you! At least he meant well and was very polite about it all. He must have been a good guy at heart 😀

      Interesting to hear “Where are you from” is a very normal question in the Netherlands. Good to know you have prepared an answer, that always helps and keeps the conversation going.

      It’s a fact that I’m Asian. But then again, under the umbrella-term “Asian” comes the races Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and so on.

      Thanks for stopping by, Indah. That is a beautiful name you have. And it means beautiful too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Mabel! Ah, you know the meaning of “indah” 😀 Agree about the Asian term, that most of the time some people forget about the diversity under the Asians themselves.
        I used to met “ignorant” guys who greeted me “ni hao” – (that’s how they started to hit on me, btw). Bit annoying for me since I feel that I don’t look alike a Chinese, so I think they assumed all Asians can speak Mandarin..gosh..
        Hope you enjoy your weekend Mabel!!

        Like

        • Oh no, you used to get greeted with “Ni Hao” too 😀 I got this a lot in my uni days. These days, not so. I’m Chinese but my native language is Cantonese. I’m sure there are some Chinese girls out there who think “Ni Hao is a great pick-up line… But for me, absolutely not.

          Hope you had a good weekend, and have a good week ahead!

          Like

  20. Have you ever had some random person on the street, same ethnicity as you are, ask you ‘where are you from?’? Just a thought on that and wonder what you would feel about that 🙂

    Like

    • Close. I’ve had a person of non-Caucasian background ask me ‘Where are you from?”. I probably never felt more shocked in my life, and I will explain more in next week’s post. Thanks for stopping by, E 🙂

      Like

      • Love to pop by every now and then 🙂 I just had that experience last week – one of those charity fundraisers near my local supermarket. Same ethnicity, and the way she tried to get me to stop to talk was by asking me ‘where are you from?’. I found that rather strange, though I’m generally alright with that question since I’m non-Aussie but I wonder what prompted that question especially since I wasn’t speaking (no accent giveaway) or dress outrageously different (not that Melbournians in general dress any way distinctively to demonstrate that they are local anyway). Anyway I was so taken aback by the the way she approached that I hastily told her I was too busy to stop. Normally I would just say hello anyway but it was hard to do that when the introductory liner was ‘where are you from’!

        That said, I look forward to next week’s post 🙂

        Like

        • That was a very interesting question from the charity fundraiser person. Maybe you were dressed in very bright colours – usually the average Melbournian loves dull colours like beige and black. Look at any Asian international student or tourist and most of the time they like wearing bright outfits. Or perhaps it was because of how your skin looked (aka colour of your skin, no offense here!)? (East) Asians tend to look darker than Caucasians and Asian Australians in Australia.

          That question is a very personal question. Maybe some people are just very friendly and if you share where you’re from, they will too. Next week’s post will be up tomorrow (or today if you’re reading it on Thursday) 🙂

          Like

  21. The “where are you from?” question is asked a lot in the U.S.A. Perhaps because of the media, some people have a particular image in their mind about what the “average American” looks like and they assume it must be a caucasian or “white” person. Perhaps that same issue exists in Australia.

    If someone just looked at me outwardly, they would never ask me where I am from because I appear caucasian. But, if they hear my name or listen to my parents’ accent, then they start asking “what are you Italian?” or they start making guesses about what I am.

    Like

    • That is a very interesting point about the media and the “where are you from” question. Mainstream media in Australia is saturated with Caucasian faces most of the time, so maybe the same issue does exist here. Many suburbs here are dominated by certain races too, and maybe this adds to the issue.

      “…what I am”. I guess that’s how we feel when we get asked “Where are you from”. Sometimes the more ambiguous answer we give, the more questions we will get in return. Thanks for reading and stopping by again, Domenico.

      Like

  22. My dad said once that i shoild bring my future Mrs.Dentist Chef to a fish head curry or laksa restaurant, if sha made a funny slurring noises and cleaned out the meat from the bone till the fish won’t be able to reincarnate, she probaby the one…
    that’s how you deal with asian chicks, lol

    Like

  23. Whoa… That guy was pretty aggressive, saying “let’s go to your place” and after your refusal , still saying “let’s go.” He sounds scary and I’m glad nothing bad came of this ; I think I would’ve been scared and walked away.

    Like

    • This was definitely a scary incident as the guy tried to pick me up in a very public place. Very brazen of him. I did think of letting my feet do the talking and walking away – but what if he followed me? You just can’t read some people. I hope no one else gets into this kind of situation with him. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Soapie 🙂

      Like

  24. Wonderful post Mabel, although it always makes me sad to hear these stories. we still have a long way to go. You are very generous in your outlook and handled the situation beautifully – what an inspiration you are.

    Like

    • Thanks, Maamej. I love it when you stop by. I don’t know if I’m an inspiration, I still have a lot to learn about being more careful first. We definitely do have a long way to go in terms of learning about other cultures. It would be great if we could all have the patience, genuine tolerance and the initiative to educate ourselves about the different races and their cultures around us.

      Like

      • I think you are an inspiration because you are thoughtful about the person as a person, even when they are being stupid or offensive. It’s modelling a way to stay strong and be true to yourself without compromising, and without demonising another human. I hope you gave him something to think about and maybe reflect on his own behaviour. Although it does sound like he’s a bit stuck in it. I do hope you don’t run into him again!

        Like

        • Thanks, Maamej. I don’t believe in fighting fire with fire, which was why I didn’t want to be rude or tell off the guy who was hitting on me. One, it will probably only cause a heated discussion that will lead no where and two, we will both walk away with hatred within us. It would be interesting to run into him again – another story for this blog. But I would really rather not.

          Liked by 1 person

  25. I think this gets cultural just because he is Caucasian and you are Asian Australian. I’ve seen this scene so many times and lived it also. It has a word – it is street harassment. It happens everywhere no matter the color, race, background etc. There are many people working to make this end, I wrote about them for a website, they are called Hollaback, you can look them up. This guy could use any strategy, any move, anything. As long as someone is aggressive and in your personal space giving you unwanted attention, it is harassment. Guys do this all the time. Of course, not all guys, not even close. Yelling after girl, forcing her to give her number, getting angry when she doesn’t want to… All of that happens everywhere. So I am sorry you had that encounter and that it had a deeper meaning to you because he asked you about your heritage, something that makes you uncomfortable, but you also dealt with the situation great. Just no and go away. Trust me, how many times I had to do this, sometimes really scared… And when they didn’t have to ask where I am from they would ask other stupid and invasive questions. It is not “love at first sight” when the other person doesn’t like it.

    Like

    • Oh no. Sorry to hear that you have lived the experiences of having unwanted attention from guys. “Street harassment”. I never heard of that phrase but I will remember it now, thank you. And thank you for the Hollaback website – very interesting to see how there is a worldwide movement trying to stop this.

      “As long as someone is aggressive and in your personal space giving you unwanted attention, it is harassment.” A very good way of putting harassment. I do think sometimes these harassers are full of themselves and think of nothing but themselves, and so overlook the consequences of their “friendly” actions towards other strangers. Good on you for getting away from these situations and people too. We just have to be firm and stand out ground and hope they get the message. If worse comes to worse, we can just walk to the nearest police station or information help desk around.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I appreciate your honesty. So many people are afraid to speak about our differences. I think its our differences that make this world a great thing.
    However, I do understand being “different” and being treated “different” Even though I am a white female living in the United States – I am also a lesbian and I’m not a feminine female. So people often look at me curiously and frequently judge me without knowing me.
    I really like the Anne Frank quote “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” I also try to remain optimistic about the people of this world.
    Maybe a day will come that none of us are judged by the labels others choose to use and none of us will have to question other people’s intentions simply because they/we are different!
    As always I enjoyed your post!

    Like

    • “our differences that make this world a great thing.” Spot on, Tree. I have so much respect for you for being very proud of who you are, and for sharing that. Being judged is never pleasant – that person judging you can spread rumours about you. I reckon if we approach new people with a positive attitude and ask open-ended questions about general topics like news and work, chances are we’ll get along more easily.

      If we all speak about our similarities, I think all conversations in this world would be very boring. Imagine that. All of us repeating what each other is saying, and we’ll all probably fall asleep 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • “If we all speak about our similarities, I think all conversations in this world would be very boring.”
        I couldn’t agree more!! And imagine if we all looked alike, acted alike and even danced alike!! What a terribly boring world this would be!
        You are an amazing young woman….I am impressed with your world views and strength…the world is lucky to have a future as bright as you!!

        Like

        • If we all looked alike and acted alike, maybe that will be the day when we are all robots! We’re definitely all different and we should all respect that. Though there might be some rude and arrogant people around, we just have to put up with that and let them be. Observing our differences always make for great stories 😉

          Thanks for the very nice words, Tree. You’re always so positive, and a little positivity goes a long way. Borrowing this phrase from one of my blogger friends, I think you’re a force to be reckoned with!

          Like

  27. I remember when I said the neat thing about turning 40 was that men didn’t hit on me anymore, but then on the other hand – – men didn’t hit on me anymore (with the inference that that can be discouraging too). But I remember how I hated not being taken seriously as a person, how every little thing I said, even in the office, and maybe especially in the office, would be turned into a harrassing comment. So take heart: there will come a day when you’ll be free.

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that, Sandy, that you don’t get too much attention from the guys anymore. But I totally understand when you say that sometimes people don’t take you seriously as a person. It’s one thing to pick out every little thing we say/do, make a passing comment and move on. It’s another thing to pick out every little thing we say/do and keep talking about that over and over again. It really is unwanted attention. And sometimes all we have to do is ignore it and walk away for our own safety or sanity. Thanks for being so encouraging as always.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah but I do get attention from the one guy who counts! And I’m so glad I don’t have to put up with the office-harassment-stuff anymore. It just steams me to remember it. (I hope things are better everywhere now and no one else has to put up with it either) I’m just sorry you had to put up with that guy. — like a microcosm of walking past a construction site.

        Like

        • Office harassment is always a big bother. If you speak up about it in the office, chances are someone will listen and can account for what you say. If it’s harassment in a public place and you’re alone – sort of in my case – then it’s harder to speak up since no one might be watching.

          Ah…construction sites and the builders. Those that I’ve encountered so far are very polite.

          Like

          • The good thing about most offices today is that there’s someone you can speak to about harassment. That wasn’t always the case. Most companies were ‘old boys clubs’ and if you wanted to keep a job, you just had to put up with it. (separate pay scales too) Hopefully, it’s better today for women everywhere.

            Like

  28. What a great post, Mabel! I know what you mean about standing out and being different. Being a Canadian in Taiwan turns a lot of heads, sometimes for the wrong reasons. Assumptions are made based purely on stereotypes which sometimes make me feel rather uncomfortable.

    But, I would love to know how the other Asian girl responded when he approached her (I am referring to the end of your post)!

    Like

    • I hope you don’t get too much grief in Taiwan! When someone makes a stereotypical judgement about me, I try to see it from their perspective and let their opinion stand as it is. Our opinions and ideas will always be different – so many races everywhere – and the least we can all do is respect everyone’s.

      When the guy asked her “Do you need a friend…”, the Asian girl continued looking down and playing with her phone. The guy then repeated the questions and sat on the empty seat opposite her. At that point I stood up, picked up my half-eaten container of salad and walked away out of the shopping centre. Felt disgusted, scared, cannot-believe-what-I’m-seeing feeling. The Asian girl looked like an international student, and she looked like she couldn’t be bothered entertaining anyone. Good on her.

      Like

      • Mabel,
        I’m sorry – I should have been more specific with my reply. I don’t have a problem of men constantly hitting on me, but of several people approaching me on a daily basis and asking questions about where I am from, am I married, and so on. Sometimes I wish I could enjoy a coffee alone and read without being interrupted by the person at the next table or do banking without being asked a million questions by the person standing behind me. That being said, I love Taiwan and living here has provided me with many great opportunities and I try to approach each situation with a positive attitude because I know they are just curious. And I should note that if my husband (who is Taiwanese) is with me, no one ever tries to strike up a random conversation with me.

        P.S. I can’t believe he had the nerve to sit down! But good on her for not trying to ‘be polite’!

        Like

        • No, no, it’s okay! I’m sorry that the random people approach you have the nerve to ask so many personal questions. Sometimes people are really just chatty, maybe can’t stand silence or loathe being alone and want company. But I reckon it’s the worst when they ask such questions just to hit on you. Maybe you should bring out your husband more with you… 😉

          I guess when picking up someone, you have to really assert yourself and put yourself out there to get the attention of the person you like…even if it means rudely sitting down in front of them without asking.

          Like

  29. Great story! Imagine this guy stumbles on your blog and reads it, lol! I know that it’s a sensitive issue about asking an Australian from a different ethnic background where they are “really” from, because I know they feel Australian and not whatever. On the other hand I know I’ve sinned on asking, but it’s not because I think, “ok you say you’re Australian but really you’re not”, but its more because I’m curious to know the story of where their parent/grandparents where originally from and how they ended up living in Australia. Though I usually refrain from asking because people often feel a bit offended. In case because I’ve lived in so many places I don’t feel 100% from anywhere, or I feel like from a bit everywhere, so I don’t mind when people say: hang on, but where are you from. Anyway, with the topic of this guy, it reminded me of this time an Argentinian guy approached me in the street and wanted to take me out. He had a really bad tagline: oh you look like an intelligent girl so can you tell me where there’s a library here? And then he went on to ask me out. I declined. ok, so far so good. The awful thing is that the next week I was walking through the same plaza, and he came and asked me same question!!! My god, me probably asks 10 girls that each day! hahaha I said oh this is a deja vu! And walked away hehe…

    Like

    • Haha, I really hope I don’t run into the creepy guy who tried to pick me up. Like you and having lived in many cities, I don’t feel I can call a certain place home. I don’t feel like I belong to a place 100% like you. You are very polite, refraining from asking others where are they from. But I am sure it’s fun to guess and try to work it out.

      I’ve heard that library pickup line before. Maybe you really do look smart, Sophia. You’re a cook, blogger, and now photographer 😉 That is scary, the Argentinian guy asking you out for the second time. Didn’t sound like he recognised you…maybe he just wants one thing from girls. If that’s the case, how awful.

      Like

  30. Hearing stories like this always make me feel uncomfortable. Your description of the encounter filled me with dread, something I wouldn’t want anyone to feel. I’m just glad that he relented. Some people push way too hard. Stand up and show your powerful spirit! Thanks for sharing. This topic needs to be addressed in so many ways. You have contributed an important piece.

    Like

    • This topic definitely needs to be shared around. Creepy people harassing others who don’t want attention is a serious matter because someone can get hurt, if not physically, then emotionally.

      I too am glad the guy left me alone in the end. If I had walked away or said something different, it might have ended very differently. I would love to see this situation told from a guy’s perspective actually…but I don’t think my piece was particularly “girly”. Thanks, Matt. Your words always give me something to think about.

      Like

  31. That guy sounded controlling to me, Mabel. Toxic. Any guy like that is worth avoiding.

    I suspect you look cute and small, which maybe why some Caucasian guys think you’re an easy target. Sorry, but just being blunt here.

    After awhile the whole yellow fever topic and reality…gets kinda tiring. What I mean is that is to pull yourself out of it and carry on with life, while being alert when you need to be.

    Like

    • Thanks, Jean. Any guy who behaves aggressively towards women should be taught some manners. Personally, pick-up lines always rub me the wrong way. You are right, I am very small in size and I do think some Caucasian guys think I am the kind who will never win an argument. And they are wrong – dealing with angry callers at work, I certainly can hold my own and talk myself out of trouble.

      Yellow fever can be a tiring topic and there’s more to Asian-Caucasian cultures than just this between the two cultures. Having yellow-fever isn’t exactly a crime either. But yes, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of it.

      Like

  32. Ever asked an Asian male what it’s like to approach a caucasian woman? It’s an excruciating lesson in humility. I realise there are many successful exceptions, but let’s not fall for the trap of exceptionalising the behaviour 🙂

    Like

    • No, never asked an Asian male about that. I do have some Asian male acquaintances who are in happy relationships with Caucasian women. It usually is a nerve-wrecking experience approaching someone anyway, same race as us or not, unless we’re the super confident kind who has a lot of ego.

      Like

  33. I was reluctant to respond to this post because I knew I would have to be negative but I am irritated so I need to scratch that irritation.

    I would request that you discontinue using the term yellow fever. Along with jungle fever (when the woman is black), yellow fever is widely recognised as a racist term. My wife is of Chinese origin and the term implies that our marriage is based upon a sexual fetish. It is not.

    I will concede that there are Caucasian men who have a preference for Asian women, just as there are men who have a preference for brunettes over blondes, big breasts over small breasts, career women over housewives, innies over outies, small heads over big heads (and vice versa for each). Being Asian is just another characteristic that could form the basis of an initial attraction.

    Personally, I think you should have looked on the positive side that a man seemed to find Asian women attractive. Until my late 20s, I didn’t find Asian women to be attractive. At school, Asian women were the uncool bookish type and other boys never talked about them being the ones they ‘liked’. Meanwhile, the media portrayal of Asian women was of the buy-a-wives or catalogue girls that married loser men in order to get into Australia. Basically, I was a product of my environment and I was prejudiced.

    It wasn’t until I lived in Japan that I started to find Asian women to be attractive. In Japan, I saw Asian women who were “cool”, who were desired, I saw women who were accomplished and women who were out of my league. In time, I stopped seeing Japanese women and just saw women that were very desirable to me, not because of the shape of their eyes, but because they possessed a range of characteristics I liked.

    I have a type of woman that I like. Some Caucasian women fit that type and some Asian women fit that type and perhaps if I had spent more time in Africa, I’d know African women that fit that type. Physically appearance is part of that type, but it is ignorant to think it is the totality of it.

    Like

    • Definitely, there are some of us who do prefer and feel attracted towards a certain ethnicity, not because of their looks but because of some of the typical values usually associated with that culture. As you mentioned, it’s probably a preference thing. Or as I like to think of it, it’s human nature or just part of our “taste” in things. We all have our types of friends and partners. No crime there. Also, all cultures and people are attractive in their own way, and we are all capable of achieving and being accomplished in our own right. It’s a matter of perspective.

      It would be great if this world was rid of racism and consequently the term yellow-fever will not apply. But unfortunately that’s not the case. However, in such a globalised, educated world I don’t think “yellow-fever” is the first thing to pop into a lot of Asian women’s minds when a Caucasian guy starts up a friendly, non-aggressive conversation with them.

      It looks like fellow reader Hsin-Yi wanted to respond to your comment. Her comment is just below yours, so you might want to check it out.

      Like

  34. Redearthbluesky, I believe the term “yellow fever” only applies to white guys who go after Asian women simply because of their ethnicity. And these men have an ingrained colonial perception that Asian women are exotic, submissive and willing to do anything to please the man.

    As you described that the relationship between you and your wife is based on character and personality, then the term doesn’t apply to you so you shouldn’t be irritated.

    Like

    • I think that’s a good way of elaborating on the term “yellow-fever” – that it only applies to a select number of people. A lot of us have an education and have met people from all walks of life and have a decent head on our shoulders to recognise this.

      Like

    • It is a derogatory term that is applied to men who have Asian partners. Since it has been applied to me I can speak from experience here. Like jungle fever, oyaji, gold digger, it is a term that only develops because the relationship bothers others. No equivalent term exists for men who solely go after women because they are brunettes or have big breasts.

      Can you show me some evidence of a colonial perception of Asian women being submissive and willing to do anything to please a man that is ingrained? I would say a different stereotype is ingrained. Asian women are largely invisible in Australian movies but in America, the likes of Lucy Lui have more of the assertive tiger that shows men who are the boss. Yes, I’ve heard of the passive Asian stereotype being proliferated in a unquestioned fashion in academia but again, it is one of prejudice used to demean Asian women and the men who are partnered with them. Like women from all cultures, there are a range of female personalities in Asia, with some women being more passive than others. As for Chinese women, I think you will find that few Chinese men would describe their wives as passive and willing to do anything to please a man. Admittedly, lots of Chinese men believe that Japanese women are passive and willing to do anything to please a man (and many seem to like that image) but that passive image really isn’t celebrated in Australia.

      Like

      • RedEarthbluesky – can you get it through your head that I am not saying that you have Yellow Fever? Stop acting precious and get over it. Have you heard of Miss Saigon and Madam Butterfly?

        Like

  35. I’d love to, Mabel, but I didn’t have that kind of experience…yet. I’ll sure tell you when that happens. Wait. I think that should’ve have been “if that happens”. So, I’ll just have to share my thoughts on the story.

    The images of what transpired the day you met the “guy” look crystal clear to me. I could just imagine how you managed to keep your cool amid his pomposity. I couldn’t find a better word. Sorry. If someone in your shoes that time were a Fil(ipina)-Australian, the guy must have received a scratch in the face or worse.

    See, I’m not being so polite. I couldn’t find the right words to put across my reaction to your “story of an Aussie trying to pick up one smart, Asian woman”. I mean the ethical way—like how you did.

    Anyway, I want to say that courtesy knows no race or time; it’s the golden rule. Asking a woman out is one classic application for the rule.

    I hope you get to be treated the chivalric way the next time around. And, I wish the guy will get to read this post of yours. 🙂

    Like

    • Here in Australia people tend to be very civil. If guy meets girl or girl meets guy and if they don’t like each other, they tend to just walk away and leave. No fights, no cuts, no bruises. If any of us tried to physically abuse the other, or even drag the other in one direction, the police might come.

      I suppose there’s no wrong way to pick up a girl (or a guy if it’s the other way round), Asian or any other race. We all have our preferences when it comes to looking for a partner. But I suppose for a lot of us we don’t want to be judged based on our race and ethnicity. Sure, those are important parts of us but not all of us l fit the stereotype.

      Thanks for the nice wishes, Sony. I don’t know if a guy will pick me up in a chivalric way…I think I look scary anyway 🙂

      Like

      • Hi, Mabel. Thanks for getting back to me on this.

        Apologies. I haven’t been visible the past months because of work. I was recently transferred to another division. My current job entails a lot of challenges and that explains my hiatus. At this point, I’m not sure if I can be able to blog anytime soon. Nevertheless, I will do my best to post one every month.

        This hurts me but I really have to catch up on my current job. As soon as I am settled, I will get back to blogging.

        Like

        • No worries, Sony. Don’t worry about me or your blog – take your time and focus on your job, that is more important. It takes time to learn new skills and I’m sure you’re up to it. No need to apologise. I work full time too and I know how hard it is.

          Looking forward to seeing you return to blogging 🙂

          Like

  36. Mabel, its your fault, not his!!1 because you are so cute:P
    And perhaps it could be ok if you two met in a bar club, but its unpleasant to ask a girl for sex at the first minute of a street chat.

    Like

    • It depends on the place, yes. A guy randomly asking a girl out on the street is quite off-putting since you don’t know each other – could be a stalker who followed you for quite a while. I’m sure the two of us will never meet in a bar or club or party of that kind, since I don’t do any of those things!

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Nice post, I’m really enjoying myself, you have a great way of telling stories, I can see that 🙂 Sometimes, it also happens with asian guys 😉 My boyfriend was born in China, but he has been living in the uk for more than 10 years. When we were in the us, someone asked him on the bus where he was from because his English was really good. Then he said he was British, so that he was glad his English was really good. But the guy, he didn’t believe him and he was keeping saying “no seriously dude, where are you from ?”. It must be difficult sometimes to have a multicultural background.

    Like

    • Thank you, you are very kind. As a writer, I always wonder if people understand my stories.

      So sorry to hear that not many people take your boyfriend seriously when he says he’s British. Must be frustrating. Even if you’ve been questioned many, many times before about “where are you from” or your background, it never gets easier. The least we can do is tell the truth that lies in our hearts and hope others will believe us, or learn to believe us 🙂

      Like

  38. Mabel this post is very interesting on many levels. I think I developed “Yellow Fever” over time. however I have always been attracted to Asian females even from a very young age. The truth is I also like intelligent, strong minded women who can be a partner equal in strength. My attraction is primarily physical (is that not the basis of any attraction initially? We are attracted by appearance or familiarity i.e. She is into skate boarding too! This attraction occurs before we even know someone because of our preconceived notions about the other person).

    But, when you start to interact, for the attraction to possibly develop, the person must be (for me personally) self willed and intelligent (here I mean worldly not simply educated).

    This is (I believe in my mind) opposed to the stereotypical Aussie male who appears to like dominance and control in their relationship. I see this all the time and feel sorry for some Asian women I notice out and about with Anglo males, women who I perceive to be selling out (now that is a stereotypical thought process on my part).

    Now my dilemma, as an English male, who might find myself seeking a new relationship, how to approach an Asian female I am attracted to and feel I would like to find out more about? I know I could come across like the guy in your post. The conversation would be on a knife edge. Sometimes the perceived cultural differences can be restrictive. She would be wary and unsure of my intentions, very easy to give to the wrong impression. This guy could be a lonely guy who feels attracted physically to Asian girls. He may have a preconceived idea of how a relationship might pan out, innocently hoping to spark a friendship or possibly straight to bed (maybe his strategy worked once?)?

    However he is inexperienced in his plight. Would I have approached you differently, off course; I would ask of your thoughts at that moment maybe? and lead to finding out about “you”. I might possibly ask where you were from as a conversation topic,or because I like to pre-guess ethnicity from appearance. Although, I am not concerned with where you came from or what your culture might be or have been. I would be interested in where you are now in soul. Then I would link that to your past experiences as we interact deeper about ourselves. Your recount is a fleeting moment two people interact, preconceived thoughts steered the encounter from both sides. it ended abruptly, that is all. Very thought provoking post.

    Like

    • You bring up an important point, that each of us are attracted to each other because of our personal tastes. Some might find similarities – physical or personality wise – in another person attractive and some of us, differences attractive. It really depends on the individual and their personality, and how each of us perceives other people at first sight and whether or not we’re comfortable talking to strangers. In general, I think people gravitate to each other if they have something in common hobby or interest-wise and that usually is something that keeps conversations rolling.

      “the perceived cultural differences can be restrictive”. Something I agree with you there. I reckon at some point the notion of cultural differences needs to be confronted at some point between two friends/acquaintances/partners each of a different heritage. Personally, for stereotypical reasons, I don’t believe it’s a good topic to bring up when you first meet someone unless you really are genuinely interested in their culture…it’s a fine line, though. If someone mentioned they traveled parts of Asia and have an understanding of the histories and traditions in this part of the world, then perhaps their interest in Asian culture is genuine.

      True, my encounter with the guy was short. Preconceived thoughts usually arise out of from what we know and what we’ve been thought, and maybe even how we feel. It could have ended in very differently if I didn’t say, “No”. But this is one situation where I don’t regret saying no. Safety first.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. That guy certainly sounded like a creep. I’m not sure why he thinks quitting his job so he can focus on meditation would be an attractive example of his ability to make life choices, but he sounds like the type of guy that would intentionally order the same food as that other girl to use as an excuse to talk to her.

    I feel that the yellow fever stereotype makes it really difficult to talk to women of Asian heritage. Already being shy around new people, even more so if I’m attracted to them, add in the perception that I could just be attracted because she looks Asian and it just seems like I don’t have a chance of getting to know her.

    I don’t try to pick up women. I like getting to know them, their personality, interests etc. but picking up is just not me.

    The hard part for me is telling someone I’m attracted to them.

    Like

    • It was an interesting twenty minute or so encounter. What I did found creepy was (probably) he was observing me from afar for a bit…then again, we all are entitled to observe people. Pointing out body language could be his way of picking up someone he fancies or starting a conversation with them, detracting from one’s racial background.

      Yellow fever is a phenomenon and a stereotype. It takes an open mind to look at the whole concept of it and apply it to situations, and not judge.

      “The hard part for me is telling someone I’m attracted to them.” Telling is one thing, showing is another. Either way, if the timing is bad, one can come off as creepy.

      Often, there are a number of factors that contribute to shyness:

      https://mabelkwong.com/2014/06/12/why-some-of-us-are-shy/

      Like

  40. Hi Mabel, thank so much for such an interesting article. It just so happens that I decided to read an article in this area if interest after observing (trying new to be biased, but open-minded) an older Caucasian male with an Asian female. I read your article with eyes-glued and found so many parallels in my own community as an Indian male, born and brought up in England. I’m currently a visitor to Melbourne before I head back to Fiji, where I live and serve in my field of work. May I say by way of encouragement, that I’m proud of you for exercising wisdom and a good measure of balance in your conversation with the chap who was trying his best to (forgive the expression) ‘bag another Asian girl). I’m sure there are many girls out there who simply want to receive affection, feel special and be loved, but there so many guys out there who do not know how to honour a girl as a princess. Anyway, I talk too much : ) Have a great day Mabel and thanks again for a great article of insight.

    Jonathan

    Like

    • Thank you for this encouraging comment, Jonathan. It is really much appreciated, and so uplifting. There are many dynamics within each relationship, and many dynamics within each conversation between two people of a different race. Each of us will have a different perspective, which is often influenced by how we were brought up and where we’ve been – so we all have our reasons for approaching and having an interesting in particular people. Part of me feels the Caucasian lad who tried to pick me up wanted to share some love and genuinely wanted companionship. Then again, the romantic part of me feels that he was making his move way too fast.

      Glad you could relate. It sounds like you have interesting experiences living in England, and now in Fiji. Stay safe, be good 🙂

      Like

  41. Wow you have got a ton of comments/views on this post!

    It’s interesting I never really thought about Australia this way but it’s also semi enlightening to have this kind of perspective since my perspective is that of a Caucasian male in a North American Country.

    Lol I have to say though the part of me that got this post was your use of “yellow fever” at the beginning.

    I nearly burst out laughing around the room-mates lol. Hope you continue to fulfill your passion of writing 🙂

    Like

    • Australia is an interesting country with an great mix of people. Some people I’ve met have yellow fever, and some don’t. It is always an interesting point of discussion when it comes to the subject of love and romance, and sometimes it can be hilarious too.

      Hopefully one day I will get a book published. Thanks 🙂

      Like

  42. Yes, I find that I cannot even smile in this country at times. It also amazes me how an asian female being single is assumed ‘looking’ immediately. Since I am not, they often think that there must be something wrong with me. I get this reception from both male and female; female not necessarily being lesbians, but they also try to hook me up with a male, and they assume that I should be looking for a relationship /marriage. What is it about asian female in this country, I wonder… that submissive image? Or that some Australian male actually go to some asian nation looking for a girl to marry, promising a ‘better’ life? Is it only caucasian that annoy you? I get other nationalities too; grown up children of migrants etc, several different range had tried and all failed, of course. Some were smarter than other, and I must say that I am just happy to stay clear of any ‘interest’ now.

    Like

    • “Is it only caucasian that annoy you?” I am sorry to hear that you get unwanted attention. A lot of the time, it annoys me, and that goes for Westerners hitting on me and migrants asking if I am seeing someone. It is none of their business But more importantly, in these instances I worry about my safety – who are they, what do they want and what are their intentions.

      As for the submissive image, it is anyone’s guess. Maybe it is because some Asians look like a quiet, obedient dolls Maybe it’s shyness, and some of us do fall into the stereotype and aren’t ashamed of it.

      Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts. Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.