What I Really Think About Asian Girls, White Guys And Dating

Asian girls with white guys. White guys dating Asian girls. These relationships attract a good deal of divided attention anytime, anywhere.

Some might not care less about Asian-female-white-male or AFWM couples, seeing them as just another kind of couple. Others might disapprove and disapprove a great deal.

Love art #1

Love art #1

In a world where many gravitate towards cookie-cutter stereotypes, usually the latter opinion is heard more. That’s odd as people get together for different reasons. Each AFWM relationship and any relationship for that matter works differently. Not everyone is a stereotype and it begs the question: why stereotypically judge AFWM relationships?

Here in Melbourne, interracial couples are common. My professional and social circles are quite diverse, and AFWM couples aren’t an issue with me.

I’ve chosen not to share my intimate relationships online. So if you’re reading to find out my relationship status or whether I’m into a certain race, stop right here.

This piece is not an attack on any relationship or the worshipping of one. It’s a commentary on how I feel about AFWM and intercultural couples, why they get judged and thoughts on what can make relationships work, based on academic literature and what I’ve heard over the years.

To hate or not to hate on ‘yellow-fever’?

Speak of AFWM relationships, speak of yellow fever. Yellow fever is a term often applied to someone obsessed with Asian culture. In the context of AFWM couples, this obsession could be a sexual desire for Asian women, a fixation for stereotypical traits of Asian women such as submissiveness, quietness and petite body parts. In short, yellow fever objectifies, exotifies and fetishizes Asian women.

One can argue this phenomenon stems from the idea of Orientalism. Most notably critiqued by Edward Said in 1978, the ‘Orient’ represents the East and is constructed from a Western perspective (East as passive, West as active) in a post-colonial era; Orientalism is ultimately a study on knowledge and power between East and West. During WWII and post-Vietnam and Korean wars, over 20,000 Japanese women were enslaved as prostitutes to service American soldiers.

Creepy and disgusting are some words used to describe those with yellow-fever. Over the years I’ve had white guys trying to get my attention. Some years ago on a hot summer’s afternoon, I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green before crossing the road. This white guy about 30-40 years old dressed in a T-shirt and board shorts ambled up to me. He glanced down and casually said, ‘Nice slippers. Very small’.

Slightly unnerved, I looked down at my open-toed sandals. Well, I do have small feet. Wonder how long you’ve been watching me. The guy went on, ‘Where are you from? Singapore? Aaaahh, I know Lee…Kuan…Yew. He was a good man.’ The light turned green and I walked across the road, away from the guy and the 24-hour brothel that we were standing right in front of.

As I walked away, I didn’t look back. It was a creepy encounter. But I didn’t feel angry. Just not my type of person. And I let it be. He didn’t follow me. I didn’t have a problem with him.

But when is yellow fever a problem? That’s a matter of perspective. Writer Sheridan Prasso suggests in The Asian Mystique that when preference becomes a fetish is a fine line; both preference and fetishisation are ‘so pervasive in relations between East and West’. Nicolas Gattig builds upon Prasso’s argument, proposing it’s up to an individual if they feel objectified. So in a sense, yellow fever might not be a problem for two if two parties like each other for the stereotypes that they are.

Love art #2

Love art #2

Yellow fever and being obsessed with a person or culture could be a problem when it’s something one can’t stop thinking about; it clouds other opinions which one can learn from. However, yellow fever arguably is always a problem as it reduces others to stereotype, belittling identities, individual strengths and the right to representation.

It’s okay to have certain tastes, preferences and attraction. Our feelings can be hard to control. Yellow fever can be hard to control. From a scientific perspective, as evolutionary psychologist Bill Von Hippel proposes on sexual attraction, our minds recognise contrasting biological factors and people are attracted to others who they reckon have different genes or the potential to be a good parent – and ‘optimal outbreeding’ arguably presents less genetic mutations. From a sociological perspective, if someone constantly spent time around people of particular backgrounds, one could get along well with them and be drawn to them. After all, people gravitate to what they are familiar with when wanting comfort.

Today women of Asian background around the world are independent, accomplished and articulate self-worth. Domineering Tiger Mums are in fact forward thinkers and long-term planners. Some of us might be attracted to these kinds of personalities and intrigued by how cultural background plays a part in that. Perhaps that’s a different kind of fever alongside yellow fever and white fever, yet another kind of attraction.

There’s no reason why we can’t start a relationship right away based on physical, mental or spiritual attraction. But it’s important to remember that it’s one thing to be attracted to someone for their body and personality today, and another thing to want to be around that body and personality tomorrow and in the years to come.

Love art #3

Love art #3

Relationship racial micro-aggressions

When you date someone of another race, you might get called racist. Or a racist and traitor towards one’s own race.

It’s racist when a white guy prefers a quiet Asian woman and see their supposed submissiveness, luscious dark locks and vaginas as the best things to like about them. It’s racist when a white guy feels a white woman can’t ever be an ‘exotic mechanism’.

Some Malaysian women have mentioned they much rather date westerners. They cite reasons being a lack of connection with Malaysian men and the traditional norms Malaysians grew up with, and find more investment out of westerners with an adventurous side. Racist? Arguably yes because not everyone of the same race fits the stereotype.

Sociologist Karen D. Pyke writes this behaviour can be referred to as internalised racism which is defined as the ‘internalization of racial oppression by the racially subordinated’. In other words, the more someone associates themselves with their cultural (minority) community, the more they feel self-hate.

Love art #4

Love art #4

Within my circles, Asian women have said they get rejected by Asian guys for being ‘too outspoken’ or ‘too opinionated’. They’ve also mentioned the challenges of ‘being Asian’ and ‘being Western’ in AFWM relationships, both mindsets equally important to them. For example, one of my Asian gal pals mentioned she takes her shoes off at home like a typical Asian person but her western partner doesn’t – and they haven’t found a compromise after being together for years.

Then there are some of my Asian friends who’ll only go out with another Asian person. Funny how if someone prefers going out with someone else of the same background, it’s not usually seen as racist but an oath to cultural loyalty and pride. Traditional Asian culture tends to be on the conservative side and upholds the importance of following cultural customs – maintaining ethnic purity and solidarity is number one which is what dancer and author Jenevieve Chang writes.

We might not agree with certain aspects of our culture. That’s okay, and that’s similar to how each of us have preferences for certain things. It’s not racist when we don’t discriminate against what we don’t associate with but simply let it be.

So can we selectively choose to date someone of another race and not be racist? Maybe, maybe not. In any relationship, at some point one’s cultural background will come up which could be talked about, and then accepted or swept under the rug. Relationships aren’t perfect but about give and take – and if we can’t accept with some things in a relationship, maybe that’s not the relationship for us.

Love art #5

Love art #5

Practicality and privilege

Some have practical approaches to intimate relationships. Some get together because they feel they can get something out of a relationship. Some want someone who can look out for them. Some want someone to pay their bills. Some want someone to feel a little less lonely.

Many of us get along best with our peers or people around our age. Looking at large age gap AFWM relationships, one can help but wonder why these couples get together. The story might go: the woman wants to ‘marry up’ and move to a developed Western country for a more comfortable lifestyle, and the white guy someone to dote on him. They might get together through a matchmaking mail order bride route, starting off as pen pals and then hooking up in person.

Maybe it’s true love for some match-made AFWM couples. Or maybe not because some of these relationships in Australia end in one party exploiting the other financially. Filipina e-brides on sponsored visas here have faced domestic abuse and are six times more likely to face abuse compared to mail-order brides from another country – and hesitant to speak up as domestic abuse is a taboo topic in their culture.

In addition, in the age of modern love in China, well-educated ‘leftover women’ are finding suitors in western men through online dating. With being single often seen as a let down in Asia, some have said Asian men are terrified of their accomplishments and see western men as more open towards gender roles. And so they hook up.

Such match-making relationships could be relationships of convenience, relationships where the Asian inferiority complex and white privilege comes into play. In the midst of infatuation and wanting to be in a relationship for the sake of being in one, cultural stereotypes are exploited for personal gratification.

When a relationship is a relationship out of a need, someone will give you the time of day.  But it doesn’t mean it’s a relationship where you’ll truly understand each other.

Love art #6

Love art #6

Judgement from the world

Going out with someone of a different race, chances are others will judge.

Others might be concerned about how you and your partner might not get along because of cultural differences. Others might look at AFWM relationships in this racist world and be reminded of white sexual imperialism during the colonialism eras of WWII – and don’t want a repeat of that.

Maybe that’s why some look down on kids born into interracial families. Look more Western than Asian if you’re someone with Asian-Western heritage, there’s the perception you’ll have a better chance in life – perception that Western genes dominate, ‘whiteness’ dominates society (when really everyone deserves opportunity). Moreover, Asian women dating white men are at times seen as brainwashed by white superiority and as white women in yellow face who can’t truly represent other Asian women – the start of breeding out one’s own race. This is ironic as we all have our differences, have constantly evolved biologically for six million years and diversity is about accepting each other for the way we are.

Love art #7

Love art #7

Hapa, halfies, hafu, half-bred, half-caste are some (offensive) names ascribed to those of mixed lineage. Half connotes not whole; not whole connotes something broken and lost forever. Going back to the notion of ethnic purity: people can be proud of their heritage, cultural traditions and lessons passed down from generation to generation – and want to maintain that for the sake of ‘face’ or pride.

So when you go out with someone of another race, you might be seen as ‘not good enough’ for someone of the same race. Not worthy enough of dating among your own race because you’re too ‘different’ for having different beliefs. A black sheep of sorts ending up with someone of another race at the bottom of the barrel too.

Do others have a right to tell you whom to date? No. Fact is, we’re each entitled to our choices, opinions and the way we want to live our lives. In the face of resistance from others, that’s when you really question what your relationship means to you and why you stand by that person, and what is it about them that is important to you – and you to them.

* * *

As mentioned at the beginning, each relationship is unique and works differently. Some relationships take on a more modern mindset, others a more traditional perspective. Each of us have different wants and needs out of our relationships at different points in our lives.

Notably, the representation of Asian women, Asian men and Westerners in the media underpins cultural stereotypes and assumptions about multicultural relationships. In mainstream media and Hollywood, Asian women are often portrayed for the male gaze while Asian men as meek caricatures not worthy of affection or acceptance, undateable and emasculated (with the Asian masculine space erased) – Westerners dominate with their voices. In the eyes of mainstream media, one race is worthier than the other.

Love art #8

Love art #8

In reality, many of us are capable of seeing the bigger picture and seeing each other as more than stereotypes. Hence why I’m writing this post, and probably why there are countless articles out there on intercultural relationships, representation, individual rights and more. Hence why I’m not judging the white and Asian guys who’ve both told me I’m nothing more than: a body to get down on and fill up, too Western, too Asian, too quiet, too opinionated, too prude, a white worshipper, a China doll, a banana, ling ling, a good girl, a six pack under the arm and a stubborn head.

Our choice of a partner comes down to a number of factors: what we look for in someone, whether we get along, who comes our way and more. Each relationship depends on preference as much as circumstance, and chance.

In mutually understanding relationships, there’s no need to prove to our partner we’re good enough for them. No need to justify our background to each other be it in a same-race or intercultural relationship, just like no need to justify each other’s annoying habits. We can learn from opposites, feel comfortable around similar traits.

‘Where are you from’ matters but there’s more to a relationship than one’s background. Inevitably there are cultural differences in most relationships. Once we accept these differences and acknowledge they matter, it’s not a big deal. But it’s always a big deal how you feel about each other every day, and a big deal about that thing called trust between each other.

What do you think about interracial relationships? What makes a relationship work?

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141 thoughts on “What I Really Think About Asian Girls, White Guys And Dating

  1. Thanks, Mabel. This is a very thought-provoking post. I come at this as an old Australian man who to most people appears Asian but sounds Australian. That said, yesterday, I was told by a Vietnamese female work colleague that I do not look very Chinese because my eyes are quite large and round. I’ve grown up self-conscious of my Asian appearance but thinking like I belong to a peer group of Australian men and the good and the bad associated with that. I’m guessing language is a major factor in how we think.

    As a child, I would have thought in Cantonese. As a man, I think in Strine. For multilingual people living in a culture different from their family’s, I’d like to know how they hear themselves in their heads.

    Growing up, my mother tried to persuade me to take an interest in Chinese women. I rebelled. At a young age, I felt white Australian women were more attractive and I also had a need to rebel against the desire of my mother who as you referred to, sought racial purity.

    As I grow older, hair colour, eye colour, body shape, and racially distinctive phenotypic differences mean much less to me. I’m more interested in a common interest in food and entertainment.

    I’ve been fortunate that I tend not to spend time tolerating boorish behaviour so when I am amongst men who comment on why they might find a certain person attractive based on race or body shape I turn off and walk away. I’ve heard some truly dumb things which anatomically and physiologically don’t make any sense. This is separate from the quiet, petite, and submissive qualities you’ve mentioned and go to more base and uncouth assumptions. Fortunately, none of my medical or health colleagues would be like this.

    Thanks again Mabel for such a well researched and thought-provoking piece. I truly do love your work.

    Like

    • I wouldn’t exactly call you old, Gaz. Young and wise is more like it 😉 Your Vietnamese work colleague made an interesting remark. These days rounder and bigger eyes are all the rage among the younger generation Asians. Sure, it might be a look that draws upon western notions of beauty, but the big doll-eyed look is a very common young Asian look.

      Maybe people in multicultural families think in different languages every two seconds. Growing up I mostly thought in English and Cantonese, and later Bahasa Melayu. Racial purity is such an intriguing concept. On one hand it showcases the significance of a culture but on the other hand it is exclusive of other cultures. Common interests like, as you mentioned, food and entertainment, is what brings many of us together.

      Good on you for walking away when people judge based on race and body shape. Some people will have minds of their own and have the most uncouth assumptions that might leave you reeling…but that is them.

      Thank you for your nice words, Gaz 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Mabel. As I age I grow convinced that our first and basic attitude to others should be kindness regardless of how someone might appear or sound. I wish I had this attitude as a younger man 😃

        I continue to enjoy rereading your post.

        Like

        • You are wise, Gaz. Young as you are. Treat others with kindness with a sense of presence, and make them feel appreciated. If they seem rather snide, then walk away.

          Wow, rereading the post. Thank you so much. I really liked how this post turned out. Already thinking about the next one for next year 😃

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing, Charles. I saw that post yesterday. Agree with the article that yellow fever is racial prejudice. But I also felt the article didn’t acknowledge that some women do like that kind of attention from other men. The comments section was particularly interesting, going off on different tangents about the different kinds of couples out there.

      Like

  2. Hello Mabel! First of all good to see you 😊
    This is a wonderful post and I feel like an actor in it.
    Having worked in most ethnic locations, I can relate very well to what you say. As a guy, my focus is on girls.
    I find friends in Philippines most loving, caring and nice. Surely some genuine affection.
    And those in the Africa region stand out for their attentiveness and concern for our health and well-being. Frank and friendly.
    These two backgrounds stand out when compared to western, other asian friends.
    Again I like the new definition of yellow fever.
    Wonderful article. Please give us more like this

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mabel your article definitely opened my eyes to so many issues I admit I am oblivious too. Good friends of ours have a mixed relationship. They have been part of our lives so long I don’t ever think about it. Your descriptions of yellow fever leave me feeling very creeped out. It must be awful to be approached like that.
    As always your writing leaves me reflecting and having learned a great deal.

    Like

    • Thanks for your honesty Sue. You know what, I think in some way it’s a god thing you don’t think much about your friends’ mixed relationships – that you recognise and value them for the personas that they are 🙂

      Being approached by creeps is indeed creepy. I’m sure I’ll have a few more encounters in the coming years and I’ll have more stories to tell. As always, thank you so much for your support, Sue. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such an interesting post my friend I really enjoyed this! It was fascinating reading about what you think regarding yellow fever. Very thorough and lots of research. I miss you lots and cannot wait to see you! Xxoo

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  5. I really enjoyed this post, not just because it was well-presented from multiple sides, but because you put in great links. I’d never heard Jenevieve Chang’s heartbreaking story, nor had I known that the U.S. Army turned a blind eye toward enslavement of Japanese comfort women for almost a year.

    And of course I compared my own relationship with a Chinese-American guy to all the different types of relationships you mentioned, trying to figure out where race fit in our initial attraction. Did I have yellow fever? Or did I like him for his great smile, intelligence, dancing skills, hot bod, and the fact that he laughed at my jokes?

    Good thing it was a year before he took me to meet his parents. (See? So intelligent!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I wrote to Mabel, I sometimes worry about the use (and mis-use) of labels. Yellow-fever might be appropriate for the ‘creeps’ who approached Mabel in a terrible way, but it sounds like you don’t have the same kind of thinking at all. I hope his parents were as accepting of you as you were of him. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think I was lucky — his parents immigrated from Hong Kong to Hawaii, with a multitude of cultures and races. And by the time he brought me home, he was almost 30 and his parents were desperate. Any smart girl from a super fertile family would have been approved.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Initially this post was much longer with more sides…all that I’ve cut out will probably make for another post for another day.

      ‘Comfort women’ was what described the situation of Asian women being enslaved by Imperial Japan during WWII (https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea). Then later there was organised prostitution as part of the Recreation and Amusement Association (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreation_and_Amusement_Association).

      One of the points I pondered and then cute out was where does race fit in initial attraction. For you and Andy it always seemed your personalities and interests brought the two of you together. And a guy who waits and takes his time with you, yes, agree that’s the intelligent kind and pretty much a keeper 😀

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  6. Yellow fever! I didn’t know this term! Mabel, your post boldly discusses inter-cultural relationships from all aspects. I think mixed relationships have increased in recent times since a lot of Asian students have got the opportunities of studying and working abroad, away from their culture and those with liberal outlook look for a healthy relationship. The color of skin doesn’t matter if there is mutual respect and affection in a marriage. Asian girls do have some valued traits that are a part of their upbringing and that could seem attractive to western men. However, they are as enlightened about their rights these days as any other woman and most of them choose their men carefully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yellow fever is also a term describing a viral infection caused by mosquitoes! So there can be a bit of ambivalence about the term. You are so right, Balroop. Many more of us are studying abroad and ready to explore other cultures – and most definitely individual rights. More and more Asian women are not tolerating abuse and standing up for themselves, and telling their stories – and you can count yourself as one of them. Thank you so much for your support my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post. It can be a touchy subject but you have a very fair and well-thought out perspective to be sure…

    If only more people thought about race in an intelligent manner. There certainly are a lot of people, especially white people (perhaps especially in both America and Australia apparently) who just aren’t self-aware and don’t think enough to check themselves.

    Sadly, the negative aspects you’ve brought up seem to be even worse with the Western expat community in Asia.

    All that said, we must at least try to all judge each other individually and try to be the good ones!

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    • Thanks, Ray. This is a touchy subject indeed…took me five years to write about it again 😛

      Self-aware comes from being educated and really exploring the world, and meeting different people with an open mind.

      It can be hard not to judge when we feel strongly about something. But we can all try, and simply agree to disagree and move along.

      Like

  8. Hello Mabel, so nice to hear from you again. I know you’ve written on this topic before. Of course, I suppose you have a perspective on it as a female that I don’t have as a male. I note that the reverse happens as well – Asian men with Caucasian women – but perhaps isn’t as prevalent or obvious as what you describe here.

    In Sydney, while I wouldn’t call mixed-race couples in my experience ‘common’, it seems common enough that it doesn’t elicit strange looks or anything like that. Not sure how prevalent it really is in Melbourne by comparison, but I can think of at least six mixed-race families in my church out of about two hundred (and I probably only ever see around a third of that) – but then I’ve always said that a shared bond in Jesus and a realisation of a common humanity overrides the artificial barriers we’re prone to erecting between ourselves. As for whether such mixed-race relationships should be fêted or scorned, I think, is beside the point. Just as everyone is different, so too is every couple unique. And people are more – so much more – than the race they happen to be born in.

    But you’re writing specifically about Asian women and Caucasian men here. (Probably already a well-known fact, but I felt silly for only working out not long ago that the Orient is so-called because it means – from the French and Latin roots – East.) I’ve said before I’m a banana and in that regard I admit I probably think like a Caucasian in a lot of ways. Do I think of ‘oriental’ women in an exotic fashion? I’d say no, but given that (at least from my understanding) so many of the women stuck in the modern slave trade otherwise known as prostitution (I’m referring to sex trafficking here, not those who knowingly and willingly choose to sell themselves this way) seem to be Asian, it would appear there is at least some particular demand for Asian women relative to others. I can’t say whether this due to the relative proximity of Asia to Australia, whether Asian women in Australia are much more easily exploited due to language or cultural barriers, or a raft of other reasons such as the stereotypical Asian features to which you allude.

    I know you don’t like to speak of personal relationships (and perhaps wisely so) but you speak of the Caucasians who have approached you inappropriately. And I will agree wholeheartedly that was a creepy encounter – though given that you happened to be right next to a brothel probably gave him a false idea of what you were doing there. But if I was to think about my own personal preferences for a moment I’d argue that personality and cultural background matters more to me than racial background. As in, I seem to relate much more easily with those of a western/’Aussie’ background and upbringing regardless of whether a given person has a European/Caucasian, African, Asian, or whatever kind of ancestry. (Again, the mixed jumble of my church family illustrates this well.) I sometimes struggle when speaking to Chinese who have only recently migrated to Australia – even disregarding language differences. Gravitating towards the familiar indeed.

    Sometimes I don’t understand the racist label – some people like to label everyone all kinds of things, justified or not, and in the case of dating someone of a different race to yourself I’d argue that’s the opposite of being racist. ~sigh~ Unless, for reasons such as you describe, of one desiring perceived characteristics and traits of a specific race and *only* seeking said race out for that reason and nothing else. Then that’s… something that I can’t really relate to or wrap my head around.

    If there’s anything I’ve learned since growing up as a Sino-Mauritian in London and Sydney is not to attach stereotypes to races. The taking-off-shoes thing – I wouldn’t have thought as being an ‘Asian’ thing necessarily but rather a cleanliness pragmatism. I’ll grant most of the houses I’ve been to for church gatherings leaving shoes on is fine, but my Caucasian Aussie best friends prefer to have shoes off in their house and likewise that was the habit I grew up with at home. It’s also what seems to be required when inspecting houses.

    I haven’t heard of the ‘loyalty to one’s race’ in terms of dating as being a thing… Being selective about race made me think about Australia’s immigration policies too. I find it inappropriate to block people *solely* on the basis of race or country of origin. But while I would call the policies of certain politicians like Ms Hanson racist, I also agree it’s a problem if people outside the traditional Caucasian Australian culture refuse to ‘assimilate’ – by that I don’t mean we all have to be stereotypical thong-wearing BBQ-chomping beach-surfing ocker-speaking bogans (and that doesn’t even consider Indigenous Aussie culture), but while immigrants bring a something from our home country/culture we also take on at least some of the culture and customs of the land we’ve adopted. When that refusal to do the latter happens, I think that’s what generates a lot of friction and can lead to racial conflict. I imagine something similar can happen on a smaller scale if individuals of widely differing cultures were to come together and not try to co-operate.

    Under Practicality and Privilege – I wonder if you meant to write ‘some have said Asian *women* are terrified of their accomplishments’. I wonder why, given the shortage of women relative to men (at least in China, due to the one-child policy and traditional son-first thinking), there would be ‘left-over women’. I find intellect an attractive trait but maybe that’s just me. Regardless, I suppose western cultures like to think of themselves as ‘progressive’ and flexible when it comes to relationships, at least compared with traditional Asian culture.

    On the idea of judgement of mixed-race couples, I remember my mum having a name for one of my friends who had a Caucasian mum and an Asian dad. I couldn’t even guess how to write it down and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean it in a nasty way, but I got the impression it means something like ‘half-breed’. But within my own circles it’s not a problem – aside from church family and friends I have at numbers of mixed-race nieces and nephews and others in my extended family. On the idea of white-dominance, while I have no references to back this up, I remember hearing or reading something somewhere that over time, with the increase of mixed-race families, we’re trending towards all looking Asian. And that’s been my experience too – I notice that (at least with exact half-half ancestry) Asian features seem to dominate over Caucasian or other features. I don’t see the white-dominance aspect all but again maybe that’s just me, and being brain-washed as a banana.

    Going back to the use of ‘half’ as a slur – I’ll grant most might use this in a negative or insulting way I don’t see as necessarily bad. For me at least, it’s not a case of half being not whole as you suggest, but having differing ancestry – half from one culture and half from another. Two halves make a whole – and *every* child has one biological mother and one biological father (despite what certain groups might try to force into law) so we’re always going to be made of two halves, mum and dad, even if not everyone has the benefit of proper parenting from both. It’s just that, at least until recently, most of the time the two parents have had the same racial and cultural background.

    The more I think about this discussion, the more I wonder if we’re (as a western society) dwelling too much on identity politics. Media – especially TV shows and movies – will exacerbate or reinforce stereotypes, especially racial stereotypes. It’s the nature of fiction writing to do this, to make characters interesting, funny, or otherwise stand-out from ‘real world’ people. I heard of (but didn’t watch) Crazy Rich Asians (and the link didn’t inspire me with confidence – why does a man commenting on another man’s handsomeness have to equate to homosexuality?) but from what I gather of the story it does throw up a lot about Asian/Caucasian and male/female stereotypes and barriers between the two. I remember in the past you mentioned the prevalence of Caucasian models in Asian advertising while there weren’t that many Asian models in Australian advertising and shop fronts. I’m reminded of you every time I see an Asian model now and that frequency is increasing sharply (and both men and women at that too). 😉 Whether this is from political-correctness reasons or otherwise I wouldn’t like to guess.

    I sincerely do hope that the majority of us can see the bigger picture beyond racial stereotypes. And I’m really creeped out by all those things you’ve been called – it seems the kind of people you and I encounter really are quite different so much as to be foreigners! I’m not sure what makes a relationship work and I’ll admit I’m completely unqualified to make much of a comment on the question, but I think the core of it comes down to seeking the other’s needs instead of one’s own – in other words modelling the love-as-an-action that God lavishes upon us undeserving wretches, however poorly and insufficiently our pale and feeble attempts of mimicry might be. I know I’ve said this kind of thing before and I’m sure you’re tiring of me repeating myself, but it’s what I see in among Christians and while we’re far from perfect (if we were we wouldn’t be Christian) and just as fallible as anyone else, I’ve seen relationships work more often than not. When we live according to what we were made for, life just works. 😉

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    • I last wrote about this topics about five years ago. Thought it was about time for a bit of a revisit. So, give years in the making so to speak. Actually I was trying to write this piece from a general perspective – not from a female or male perspective, but more generally from the perspective of relationships and what we look for in a partner.

      Your church sounds like a diverse bunch, and all of you get along together with the grace of God and I’m sure common interests as well. ‘As for whether such mixed-race relationships should be fêted or scorned, I think, is beside the point.’ It’s a strong statement from you, and one that I agree with. People are indeed so much more since all of us have so many roles in life – roles that each of us may relate to.

      The terms Orient and Oriental were coined in another generation, and I won’t be surprised if some people aren’t aware of what they mean. Personally, I do not like these terms at all – they are merely assuming constructions. It is an interesting observation of more Asian women being stuck in the slave trade, and you’re probably right on that. It is unfortunate modern slave and sex trade still exists today given how progressive the world has become these days.

      I really don’t like to speak about my relationships or those special to me, because well, they are special and I like to keep a low profile. You seem to have a level-headed approach to how you gauge and welcome people in your life – similar interest and values and opposed to heritage. With similar interests often comes similar understanding and the feeling of being in a tribe. If you get approached by those who have recently migrated to Australia, maybe they might feel a connection with you just from the way you look at the outset or just find your demeanour nice and approachable. Between gravitating towards difference and gravitating towards similarity, I am more of the latter. And based on research I mentioned in this post I’m inclined to think most of us are that way…and maybe learning not to judge right off bat is harder than it is.

      Labels aren’t all that bad. They can remind us of stereotypes and lessons of the past and the significance these lessons might still have today. But seeking out a particular race just because of a cultural trait…well it might float some people’s boat but from the outset it really is a very narrow-minded way of thinking. Not everyone fits one size.

      I think ‘loyalty to one’s race’ is something unspoken. It is something…felt through how people speak to you and how they look at you. Again I agree with you about cultures colliding – you leave a mark of your culture, and you take some of another away with you. Sort of like how many relationships work: your habits might rub off on each other and grow on you.

      On Practicality and privilege: I think I wasn’t too clear! I meant to say that Asian men are terrified and intimidated by women who have achieved quite a bit; an Asian woman feels an Asian man are terrified of how successful a woman they are. And by successful here I mean a well-educated with a high paying job. I’ve heard how some Asian women who have a post-graduate degree have other Asian men feel inadequate if they don’t have a similar qualification. Education accomplishments and achievements in general doesn’t necessarily dictate how a good conversationalist or the attitude of someone. But in Asian cultures and at least where I grew up, this mentality was very much so and I suspect some people still think this way.

      ‘I remember hearing or reading something somewhere that over time, with the increase of mixed-race families, we’re trending towards all looking Asian’. Now I haven’t heard this idea at all! It sounds like an idea that opens up a can of worms XD Something worth reading and researching about – you’d have to think about how we evolve genetically, physically, mentally and so on. I also wonder how features dominate in a kid in any relationship really…

      Two halves make a whole. That is indeed a saying. Ultimately we are all different. A lot of the time people associate the idea of ‘whole’ as something seamless, something always agreeing and not contrasting – and maybe that’s why they might not see two contrasting halves a whole. With people of mixed heritage, I guess in general people wonder how someone of this background will turn out – turn out in the sense of personality and looks…and there is an air of uncertainty around that. Going back to earlier discussion, people like similarity but as you alluded to, some can’t see the bigger picture.

      Haven’t watched Crazy Rich Asians either…and don’t plan on either. Rom coms don’t appeal to me. I’m sure I’d be able to relate to the stereotypes if I watched it but it really isn’t a film that piques my interest.

      The things I’ve been called are the things I’ve been called. They aren’t things I agree with but it’s someone else’s opinion – and they can have that opinion. As you mentioned, not all of us are perfect. All of us are different 🙂

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  9. Mabel, the WMAF phenomenon is understandably the source of much angst for insecure Asian men, particularly those living in Western countries. I find it sad that there are some women of Asian descent who boast that “they will never date Asian men” because that often speaks to a certain level of self-hatred.

    As you’ve so rightly pointed out, the racism goes both ways. Here in Indonesia, there’s a prevalent stereotype that white men prefer darker-skinned women who aren’t considered attractive (“they look like maids,” people say). And since these men are considered rich, their local partners are perceived as gold-diggers. I know of a blogger based abroad who faces discrimination every time she returns to Indonesia because she married a European (purely out of love). She’s talked of getting snide comments when out in public with her husband so that has really affected the way she feels about her home country.

    I totally abhor the ideas of ethnic and cultural purity put forward by a lot of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. Especially now in the 21st century with the world getting ever smaller and more interconnected. I myself grew up being treated as an “impure” Chinese on account of a supposedly ambiguous appearance (I have deep-set eyes), my international outlook/upbringing, and a white-looking, two-syllable surname. Some teachers who had only met my mother surmised that my dad was white. In fact, I had a lot of Eurasian friends growing up and could empathize with their identity issues. I recall a close friend who came from a more traditional Chinese family declaring that I “ate like a white person” upon seeing me tear a slice of bread into smaller pieces to mop up some soup.

    And it is so true that there is fine line between a fetish and a preference. I generally gravitate toward what Ali Wong hilariously calls “Jungle Asians” – Southeast Asians who I find are far more welcoming of outsiders than “Fancy Asians”. Anyone who knows me well in person knows that I am deeply obsessed with Indonesia and identify very much with the national psyche. Even some of my bad habits (like poor timekeeping) correlate with those of the general population. And I felt so proud when a coworker half-jokingly told someone else that I was not actually a foreigner but Indonesian. Does that mean I have Indonesian fever? Probably.

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    • What a thoughtful and honest comment, James. Thank you so much for sharing. You hit the nail on the head when you say ‘racism goes both ways’. Your observations remind me of when I lived in South East Asia and those who were dark-skinned tended to be looked down upon – and as you mentioned, called ‘maids’. That is unfortunate to hear your blogger friend faces discrimination in her home country. Some people are quick to judge. I think there’s some truth to the fact some white men prefer darker Asian women, and Thailand would be a good example. Each to their own.

      Sounds like you had a very well-rounded upbringing, and learnt a lot from your Eurasian friends. It must have left you a bit amused when that close friend commented you ‘ate like a white person’ as you tore your bread and ate it with soup. Very interesting comment. On one hand, bread and soup is a Western dish. But on the other hand, how (and what) we eat and really how we present ourselves doesn’t necessarily define our background.

      Jungle Asians XD It’s a term not too widely used. Lovely to hear you have heard of it. It takes an open mind to be receptive to difference – and warm towards it. From your blog can definitely see how much you like to visit new places. But you also always speak to passionately about Indonesia, knowing the history well and how it applies to the present. I think your co-worker meant to actually say you are an honourary Indonesian with Indonesian fever XD

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  10. Sorry to hear that even you have been a victim of racial comments. Even when a couple is dating it is very difficult to overcome the temptation to make racial comments on each other when you are angry. Typecasting a society or race is very easy and common. Such relationships are not easy but not impossible.

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  11. Your posts are fun and interesting because of the subject matter (which I generally don’t spend much time thinking about in my daily life) and because of the wonderful comments from others. I have always thought of myself as very open and accepting of all kinds of relationships, giving nary a second thought to mixed race couples. Your post, though, makes me wonder about the deeper reasons for their being together. Did the relationship happen for “healthy” reasons or was there some creepier or sadder reason for the couple to get together? What was each looking for in the other? I remain hopeful and largely secure in the thought that most couples are together for positive reasons (says the eternal optimist! haha). I guess if they are not, and they are both still psychologically healthy, then I won’t worry about it!

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    • Thanks, Lex. Wonderful you check out the comments and I bet the other commenters would appreciate that very much. We all have our biases, but being open is something we have to continuously learn. What we look for in each other can change over time…and in the end, I guess we all hope the best for each other. Sounds like your couple friends are very nice and are just like any other couples, just a bit different like any other couples too.

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  12. Ah yeah this topic. Well you know rather well by now that my wife is Chinese. Back when we dated I had never heard about WMAF/ AFWM or similar things such as yellow fever. These things only started to come up when I started blogging.
    There used to be right from the beginning no month or even week without comments about betraying the white race, how my wife has some inferiority complex and later how my kids will be disabled mongrels and what not all. My blog appearently was featured in some troll forums and other websites. Thankfully that all got much less but this is only due to me blogging much much less these days.
    In the end all those bad comments were always from either white women or from Asian men/ Hapa men from the USA or Canada! Never I had such bad comments or whatnot from people living all over the world but for some reason in the USA the hate must be big (or should I say Bigly?)
    I never thought that mixed relationships are so strange for some people as living in Helsinki and going to University there it was just a normal picture and no one cared about it.
    Ah well I guess this is a topic which will be still present in the next centuries due to some very intelligent people out there

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    • It must be amusing to heat those betraying race comments and how the kids will not turn out right. Some people just assume things without any research and don’t want to accept another opinion. I remember I wrote about this topic five years ago (cannot believe it has been so long…) and also got featured on troll websites and reddit and then there were all these nasty comments on my blog for a while. Good the trolling got less for you and hope it doesn’t happen again. But you just never know…

      Very observant there. The trolls I also got were Asian and HAPA men, based in the US and they would bring up politics and all these moments in history explaining why these relationships are toxic. USA is an interesting place. A place with strong opinion, anger and people feel they have the right to be more outspoken and say anything… Some people might think they are in intelligent. Any form of intelligence is usually just another opinion.

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  13. Mabel my friend, you speak with such knowledge upon this subject.. To be honest I guess I am in the dark about Yellow fever.. To me colour race, even gender doesn’t matter, I have gay friends,who were work colleagues what counts is how we treat each other, how we love,
    I was distraught to hear you have been subject to racial abuse and harassment.. Not nice and not called for.
    Sending love and hugs your way… ❤ .

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  14. This is an important piece, Mabel and well done for re-visiting it again in such a sensitive,measured and intelligent way. I like how you offers a perspective, uniquely yours, yet your writing is always so well balanced! I try to be open to all personalities and people (as they are all people first). Cultural background or race doesn’t even come into my decision or feelings as to whether our friendship develops. However, it may be more difficult for others if they are from a differing background to me to be similarly as open, given the prejudices that exist and did exist in the past. they may have reasons for mistrusting someone from outside their community due to past experiences. I cannot assume that it is okay for them to be open and trusting of me, simply because I am open and trusting of them. Everyone’s journey is unique and they bring their own issues with them. Having said that, I am very interested in other cultures, first and foremost because I can potentially make a new friend, in that person, but also I learn about other traditions and language, should they be happy to share those things with me. I am also very wary that there are limits to this. I don’t want to be perceived as just a “curious western woman” – which I certainly am not! I do have a Malaysian friend who describes herself as a “banana” – something I had not even heard of prior to meeting her. Heritage and traditions are important to preserve, perhaps we are a little tradition- deprived in Australia, and I wonder if that attracts some men to Asian women. If their motives are sexual, that is yes.. totally creepy, such as the man you spoke of who approached you at the crossing. He sounds disgusting! I think men with these sorts of fetishes/urges are actually very weak and seek being around Asian woman so that they can pump up their own self -esteem. Such individuals should be loathed and perhaps pitied, as they refuse to treat and individual as a person, first. It revolts me to think of blokes traveling to Asia for no purpose other than to have sex with Asian women or men. What awful people they must be, so needy and selfish. Do you think this shows a lack of self control?

    Racism is a difficult matter to discuss, but I feel communities here are moving towards a more widespread multi- racial acceptance, (apart from the aberrant political activists). I see this even more with my children’s generation. Their class and friendship groups are much more multi-cultural and reflective of society, than in years gone by. I am proud that they see no difference!

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  15. Well this is beyond interesting, Mabel. You’ve once again, given us much to ponder. Here, it’s very common to see Asian men with white women and vice versa. How could it possibly be helped when we are living amongst one another and therefore, the opportunity to fall in love with someone outside of our race is evident? That said, I get what you’re saying about yellow fever and such obsessive stereotypes that white males may harbor for Asian women. Do Asian women also have sexual attraction to white men and view them as exotic (I highly doubt it, LOL). You’ve put together a powerful essay on the subject and I agree that the stereotypes are ridiculous and need to be re-thought. LOVE is love not matter our skin color. History, sadly cannot be changed so we move forward.

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    • Falling in love is falling in love…for most part it’s a feeling that can’t be explained and we can’t help but feel attracted to who we feel attracted to. That is a good thought there – do Asian women see white men as exotic. Maybe as a card to a more comfortable life, maybe if they have white fever. Maybe not if they just see white men as just as someone else. So true. History can’t be changed, but we can write our stories and write history (and the future of history) as we move forward.

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  16. I wasn’t trying to say that you shouldn’t revisit past topics but good to know that you were writing generally rather than specifically about Asian-female-White-male (one of those articles you linked seemed to make quite a distinction about it). I admit there are things I dislike about other cultures – and while some might jump to the conclusion that therefore I am being ‘racist’, I will point out that there are a lot of things I dislike about my own (western/white) culture too. Conversely there are some things I admire in other cultures that I wish could be seen more in my own. When it comes to what I might look for in a girlfriend/wife (and yes, I know you’re not keen to engage in personal discussion) I might have a preference for the familiar, but a shared faith in Jesus is of supreme importance to me, not necessarily a common racial/cultural background.

    And about church – that’s the funny thing, we are unlikely to have many common interests, and looking at the broader Christian family we are so very different from each other. Different nations, cultures, some are materially rich, some are poor, some are well-educated, others not so much, some love sports, others more intellectual pursuits. There is really nothing to bind us together save for a common love for God. Reminds me what the Apostle John wrote of his vision: ‘there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne [of God]’. No clash of cultures here. 😉

    I don’t know if I was making that strong a statement, just that mixed-race relationships doesn’t seem to be as big a deal to me as it is for some other people. Maybe that comes from my own mixed background – in terms of culture at least, if not ethnicity. I was just thinking that it was natural in the past for families to form from parents of common backgrounds because people generally didn’t travel that far. In our current age, international travel is relatively easy and of course the Internet brings widespread cross-border and cross-culture communication (unless you’re behind the Great Firewall of China and other geographic blockers, but that’s beside the point). So it seems only natural that mixed-race families form as an extension of that.

    I was only noting that orient literally means east in Latin and French – and as I discovered today so-called because it originally meant ‘rising’ as in, the sun rises in the east. As for the label Orient being applied to East Asia, well, I suppose you could argue that’s just Euro-centric Caucasians seeing themselves as the ‘middle’ or ‘centre’ of the world, with Oriental just being the adjective form.

    We like to think of ourselves as ‘progressive’, especially in western cultures, but for so many things plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – or ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. The slave trade being one of those things, just that it’s now usually done in secrecy or hidden behind creative book-keeping rather than being done in public. As long as we remain inherently self-centred, there’ll always be people exploiting others. And I get the feeling lots of non-English speaking Asian women in Australia are easily exploited.

    I wasn’t trying to invite you to share (I smiled at your ‘stop right here’ paragraph because that’s not why I was reading) but rather affirm that you make a wise decision in shielding your private life from your public face here. I take it on faith that your ‘real world’ self isn’t too different from how you converse with people here but as you suggested in past discussions you really could be quite different!

    On the idea of similar interests, understanding, and tribalism, I think we (speaking generally) all gravitate towards tribalism. On recent (even within last several years) migrants to Australia, there are two lovely, very Asian couples in my church small group this year and I’ve known them since before they joined, but I admit I struggle to relate to them. Not struggle out of dislike or discomfort or of judgementalism, but simply because our backgrounds are so different – the way I speak to them is very different from how I would speak to those (even Asians) of an Aussie cultural background. But it’s a wonderful challenge to have and looking back on the vision I quoted above, speaks of the universal nature of love, forgiveness, and a desire for relationship/community – things we can’t achieve on our own.

    Labels can be useful but I also feel they can be mis-used or misunderstood. Just as what I said above about being called racist when I don’t believe I am – at least not in the way most people would use the term. On the flip side, if I was to be called that, then I think anyone who gravitates towards the familiar could be labelled racist – and that would be a lot of people, I think! Too many that it loses its meaning.

    Again, maybe because of my varied backgrounds the idea of racial loyalty hasn’t really been in my mind. Then again, as I said before, I would tend towards relating to Caucasian culture than Asian culture because of the familiarity aspect. In terms of personal relationships, though, I wouldn’t connect with someone simply because she is a fellow Chinese – I think I mentioned in the past those I’ve been close to have been Vietnamese, Caucasian, and even mixed Chinese/Caucasian ancestry. On the topic of cultural fusion, an old song just came to mind, you might know it yourself, Youssou N’Dour’s multi-lingual ‘7 Seconds’ from the 90s. Some of my favourite lyrics from it: ‘when a child is born into this world, it has no concept of the tone the skin it’s living in…’ – and I’ve seen this among our children at church too, they will all mix together happily irrespective of their racial background.

    On Practicality and Privilege: I think I understand what you mean now. You wrote Asian men are afraid of their accomplishments but I read ‘their’ as the men, not the women (hooray, ambiguity of English XD). I suppose even among Caucasians there can be some men who fear a woman who is more ‘successful’ (at least financially) than he is. I was reading my paternal grandfather’s biography and I learned of how his mother – my great-grandmother – pleaded with her father not to send her to school. While tradition dictated that only sons were to be educated, her father wanted all his children to be educated but none of her friends were going to school so she felt left out (this was all back in Imperial China, before the revolution). Eventually her father relented and while she taught herself a number of life skills she remained illiterate. On the times he returned from Mauritius to see her (and eventually bring her to Mauritius) my grandfather had to read things for her. A far cry indeed from corporate Chinese women of today, particularly in western societies.

    For me, I don’t think it’s such a problem. I mentioned before that I find intellect attractive, but I’ve been close to ladies who might be called intelligent, and also with those who have a simpler view of life, or even those who might not be called ‘smart’ but I find are very savvy about people and the way the we work – ‘socially intelligent’ perhaps (and that very much complements my own social awkwardness). I suppose some of the fear factor may come from the traditional Asian mind-set of being ‘successful’ at all costs, even if only in worldly terms.

    I could be completely wrong about the dominance of Asian physical features in future mixed-race generations. But in my UK visit this year I got to know my three-year old nephew a bit, born of an African father and Chinese mother and I’d say he at least *looks* more Chinese. And another cousin, the mother’s brother, is engaged to a Polish girl, so that’s going to be another mixed-race couple in the extended family. Whatever the case, racial differences seem to be only a problem we make for ourselves.

    I should clarify that I don’t like the phrase ‘my other half’. Not just because I am single, because I’m not going to use the phrase even should I have the privilege of getting married, but because I think it perpetuates a false idea that people are somehow ‘incomplete’ on their own, that we are not created as complete individual beings. Certainly married couples and families do great things together and the idea of ‘greater than the sum of the parts’ is true in many cases, but specifically on the relation between children and parents, a child takes half of their genetic make-up from mum and the other from dad. Until things like human cloning becomes legal (and I imagine it probably will some day) that’s always going to be the case, and even in the case of clones the ‘original’ will have had two parents too.

    It’s very generous of you to accept the inappropriate things you’ve been called in that way! While I haven’t been subject to the sexual harassment that you have, I’m trying to think of some of the things I’ve been called (which probably pale in comparison) and I don’t think I’ve been as gracious as you are! Thanks again for a very thought-provoking essay and conversation.

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    • It’s great to revisit past topics! I’m thinking on doing that for some of my posts next year. For this piece I did want to focus on AFWM relationships so as to flesh our examples to illustrate my arguments, but at the same time I also wanted this piece to generally touch upon relationships. Some might argue I might be biased towards AFWM relationships and why not talk about other relationships. Truth be told, each kind of relationship is unique and no one has all the time in the world to discuss every kind. I do think people with similar faiths generally get along better with each other…let me rephrase that by saying generally understand each other better. Faith usually touches us at the core and so share the same faith, share the same kind understanding. And so looking at the bigger picture, a common love for God can bring you together. Or maybe I am just interpreting this all 180′ wrong lol.

      Yeah, like you I don’t think mix-raced relationships are a big deal. It is an interesting proposition you bring up about these kinds of relationships and traveling for family. There could be basis to your suggestion on forming families based on not having to travel so far. I guess maybe that’s why in small towns you tend to hear people getting to together with someone from across the street or the other town. But definitely, these days travel is so much easier.

      ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.’ I’ve never heard of that phrase, but with the slave trade example, this statement holds true. Can you apply that statement to relationships?

      In general, I like to listen and be open to what others say. Partly because I can learn from them, but mostly because I like to be there for others who give me the time of day. That goes for be it over email, or a Facebook chat or talking in real life. It’s what I think is lacking in many people these days.

      Sorry to hear you find it challenging to get along with the two couples at your church. Sometimes you can be so different from someone and it really is just easier to just let each other be and not engage. Sometimes we prefer to stick to our own tribe for that makes us comfortable, and that helps us to get ahead. ‘the universal nature of love, forgiveness, and a desire for relationship/community – things we can’t achieve on our own.’ So much truth in that and I think even the loners among us would want someone at least for a moment.

      Arguably racism is a matter of perspective in some ways. If you’re good friends with someone, sometimes you’ll make jokes based on stereotypes for a laugh – at least that’s what I’ve encountered with some of my Asian friends (and this article https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2018/11/14/we-need-talk-about-subtle-asian-traits might reinforce this and I am a fan of this group). Maybe we are all racist in some way.

      I actually haven’t heard ‘7 Seconds’. Need to check that out sometime. It sounds like it has a meaningful message. The world is a strange place. Having encountered people who won’t date beyond their cultural background, again I reckon some people just want familiarity as there is a better chance of understanding each other there.

      English language can indeed be ambiguous…and I might rewrite that part about Asian women being seen as a threat by men. Before this I rewrote this sentence and really struggled with expressing the intention behind it! Patriarchy is still a thing today and women are not exactly favoured to be successful. Thanks for sharing your paternal-grandfather’s biography. It sounded that some women didn’t have a say in their lives back then, and no doubt today times have changed. That said, I’m sure this is the case with some relationships today. Two people with intellect can serve up very interesting and intriguing conversations, and I am sure you attract quite a lot of those people in your lives – or at least in your circle of friends 🙂

      To be honest, I don’t like the phrase ‘other half’ either and agree with you that people are incomplete on their own. To be very honest, I also don’t like the term boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, Mr, Miss…you get the idea. This goes back to the idea of labelling and I feel each of us are more than something someone owns. I think people like such terms like ‘other half’ is because their partner is there for them; there to pick them up, there to make them feel better and really to make them a better version of themselves. And truth be told, I think most of us wants someone to fall back on and unconditional love.

      Well. If you do remember certain names or things you have been call, enlighten me. Thank you so much for your time, Simon.

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      • I suppose you could be seen as biased to discussing AFWM (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing) if only because of your perspective as an Asian woman. It’s what you would be ‘qualified’ to write on, I suppose.

        No, I think you have the right idea there. Western society is largely secular nowadays, so the idea that faith lies at the core of what we value is seems quite foreign to its thinking (see movies or stories about couples from different – largely nominal – faith backgrounds). I’m not saying that cross-faith marriages can’t work but one has to consider that they are – for lack of a better word – handicapped from the beginning, especially when thinking about life after death (’till death do us part’… not that many marriages last a lifetime any more…).

        Well, if we (generally) tend to gravitate towards the familiar, it makes sense that people in the same village (or nowadays, same city or at the very least same country) would have a lot of shared background and so tend to get together more commonly. But it does seem that it’s easier to for couples to meet across cultures and countries now so people are more willing to go outside their own national and cultural boundaries.

        I’m quite surprised, I thought it was quite a common saying (things changing, but not really). In the context of relationships, I suppose people have different expectations over time (eg working women these days in contrast with ‘stay at home’ wife in past generations) so it might not apply.

        Again, it’s most generous of you to have that kind of mind-set. I understand replying to everyone (especially me) is very time-consuming for you – a lot of people in western society say that time is one of the most precious things you can give (as opposed to just throwing money – or ‘likes’ – at people).

        Oh, but it’s not a bad challenge to have! But it comes back to what I was saying about there being little to tie us together… other than a shared love for Jesus. We are made for relationships – God himself being a relational being and we are a reflection of that, so yes, introverts like myself still desire relationships, perhaps just not so much in large-scale events like big parties.

        Reminds me of the ‘you know you’re Asian/Chinese/Korean/Japanese/etc when…’ kind of jokes shared back in my high school days. It comes down to what we mean by being racist. In its (usually) negative form, I think people mean it as negative discrimination against certain groups simply because of their racial or cultural background. But coming back to the tribalism we naturally tend towards, arguably that behaviour could be labelled as being ‘racist’ as well.

        Ha ha, I was also ‘brushing my teeth’ wrongly, but it was my Aussie cousins who first told me this not long after moving here and after thinking about it, it makes sense to only brush the teeth after breakfast instead of before. On the phrase ‘open the light’ (something I haven’t heard before), it reminds me of my brother asking Mum to ‘open the orange/mandarin’ instead of ‘peel it’ for him when he was much younger. XD It’s sad to read about even within Asian communities there can be a degree of skin ‘colourism’ and internal negative discrimination.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqCpjFMvz-k – don’t be alarmed when you probably don’t understand the opening words, he first sings in (presumably his native) African language, then French, and then the rest of it is in English. It really was quite a popular song when it was released.

        If I understood what you intended to convey, perhaps it’s as simple as adding a single word to resolve the ambiguity: ‘With being single often seen as a let-down in Asia, some *women* have said Asian men are terrified of their accomplishments…’ Perhaps I can’t identify with traditional Asian male thinking but I feel quite envious to be in that position, to have smart, hard-working single women around to connect with! As for patriarchal society, it was that way in my great-grandmother’s time in Imperial China, but it was my great-great-grandfather who wanted her to be educated (in contrast with the prevailing social trend). But in the end it really was her choice to not go to school.

        Did you mean that you agree people can be *complete* on their own? Just confused at the apparent contradiction there. I find boy/girlfriend/husband/wife can be appropriate, though. (Unless referring to people as objects or ‘trophies’, but I don’t think that way.) Certainly having a husband/wife or a very close friend is invaluable, and it reminds me of Ecclesiastes from the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Old Testament: ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ In that sense, I can appreciate the concept of ‘other half’ (especially since marriage is about a man and woman becoming one) but I avoid using it because of the connotation of incompleteness that we already discussed. Absolutely agree with you, we’re wired to seek unconditional love.

        As I mentioned to you before, I haven’t had quite as bad an experience with racial discrimination let alone sexual harassment that you have, so it’s all the more remarkable that you’re so gracious and patient with people. Reminds me of what I’m currently reading in the lead up to Christmas from 1 Corinthians 13, on (godly) love being patient and kind… 😀

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        • Western society is indeed secular on many fronts. But as you alluded too, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll all get along and all relationships will work out in the long run. There would be a lot of respect and acceptance between two parties for cross-faith relationships to work – unless one party decides to convert to the other’s faith.

          If one comes from a small town and gets together from that town, I guess there would be a big sense of security through and through. With travel being more accessible, long-distance relationships are more common these days. It’s one thing for two parties in a couple to travel to see each other, and another for their families to travel to see each other’s families – and that might not be all that affordable.

          Have to agree that most of us are made for relationships. The mind and heart often wants company, and there are just some things it’s better to do with someone else – and with that comes knowing someone’s got your back and will be there for you, and you get to be your true self around that someone (at least you hope). That could be the basis for tribalism too…but gravitating towards the familiar can certainly be seen as racist. It’s all a matter of perspective.

          Phrases like ‘open the light’ are phrases I am all too familiar with. To be honest, I also use such phrases today. Some parts of you just never die or go away. Many of us seem to think these cultural stereotypes are amusing, but in reality they are very real.

          That YouTube of the song was very pleasant to watch. Thank you for sharing.

          ‘ ‘With being single often seen as a let-down in Asia, some *women* have said Asian men are terrified of their accomplishments…’ You might just have resolved the grammatical nuance there. I might sleep on it and see how I feel about it XD Two people intellectually loaded with many accomplishments doesn’t often necessarily mean a good relationship – that takes work too. But I guess from that respect, the two of you will be on the same wavelength on many occasions.

          You got me thinking there again on whether people can be complete on their own. I stand by what I meant: yes, people can be complete on their own. Complete meaning be satisfied with one’s professional life and personal values, and be capable of being self-sufficient and independent. Sure, two people can be a more powerful force or a power couple so to speak, or live a more comfortable life together looking out for each other. But I reckon you need to know who you are, what you stand for and be able to make your own mark before getting together with someone for life.

          Your comment and input is always mich appreciated, Simon. Always something to make me ponder before responding. Thank you.

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  17. Quite an intense post, Mabel. I tend to take people as I find them: if I like or dislike someone, it’s because of something in their personality not because of their race or nationality.

    I do wonder about men who go after asian girls for the fairly typical western idea of asian women being doll- or child-like in appearance, and then waking up several decades later next to a wise-woman with a wrinkled old face..! Do they trade them in for a ‘newer model’? There’s some weird sort of perception of youthfulness there that, hopefully, one day, comes back to them with a dose of reality. (And there is beauty in wrinkles. One could hope that by then the men are old enough themselves to be able to appreciate it.)

    I find the term ‘yellow fever’ pretty horrible… both descriptively and in the reality of what it represents. To have that label put on people, all of whom are from such diverse and different cultures, is just awful.

    What about non-straight relationships? Is it the same or are there different ‘rules’ at work, do you think? I get the feeling that there’s likely to be less of it in the gay and lesbian communities.

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    • Intense is probably the best word to describe this post, Val. Thank you for that 🙂 It was an intense post to write, and initially it was much longer than this.

      It is a wonder why some western men chose to go after Asian women much younger than them, especially as you said those who look doll or child-like. It conjures up the impression of a man going out with a child – and if it was indeed a man going out with a child there would be legal implications. I do wonder how often people think this way of Asian-female-white-guy relationships, and could be another reason why these relationships are frowned upon.

      You are so right in that there is beauty too. All of us eventually get them as we get older, men too. Funny how in this world men are generally seen as aging like a fine wine and women are expected to look as young as possible.

      Non-straight relationships are interesting, but also relationships nonetheless. I think these relationships would have different challenges, given that a good section of the world is still accepting of just straight relationships. That said, every relationships is different and could be easier or harder to work at depending on who you surround yourself with.

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  18. Oh. My. God. I could tell you stories. A good write as usual, Mabel. Yet this topic is snarly one. Living in Hawaii, one sees all sorts of multicultural things going on. Relationships too 😉 It’s very accepted, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world. That’s the good part.
    The bad part is old creepy white men who lust after tiny childlike (to our eyes) Asian brides. I have used the term pedophile more often than I would like to admit. And there are plenty of these tiny malnourished-looking women, believe me.

    There was actually a little company right here in our very small town that specialized in finding Asian brides for these creepy white men. Called Cherry Blossoms, yuck. Many of these brides are, as you might have guessed, Filipina. These sweet country girls from dire poverty- riddled places are only too happy to get their chance to come to the US. I think many of them see these white men as rich, and just getting away from poverty seems to be the main goal. And as you stated, abuse is all too common. One of these women is a good friend of mine. We have known each other over 10 years. And the stories she tells me of young women arriving here can be truly heartbreaking. I’m not saying all these men are alike of course, nor are all the women, but a good number of the men are looking for yes, submission from a good wife who will feed and fuck them and ask no questions. Especially the Filipinas want a family. So you often see these dottering fools with a retinue of kids and a young wife looking increasingly unhappy. One is left to wonder what is really going on.

    I have no conclusion to my comments here, but just wanted to share what I have observed close to home. I do believe interracial couples can be happy, but as you say something has got to carry the relationship beyond just the physical. If there are not common interests and perspectives/values, any relationship is on shaky ground. And I guess I’ll leave it at that.
    Aloha, Mabel. Hope life is good for you these days! ❣️

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    • If we meet one day Bela, you can tell me all the stories you know 😉 This is indeed a snarly topic as much as it is a very sensitive one. I’ve always thought of Hawaii being a very open place, in terms of geography and its people.

      Cherry Blossoms sounds like it has customers. It is a wonder as to why these set ups older white man and younger Asian brides are still a thing. ‘getting away from poverty…looking for yes, submission from a good wife who will feed and fuck them and ask no questions’ I think for many of these couples you summed it up well. The longer these relationships go on, probably the less questions asked between the two parties, the less understanding there might be between them. Your Filipina friend sounds like she has seen and heard a lot of these stories, and I hope you and her have many more lovely catch ups.

      Relationships can be very much physical, but there’s also an emotional side as well – and it is this emotional side that helps each other get along and actually want to be there for each other. Life isn’t too bad here. I hope you are doing well, Bela ❤

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  19. This is truly one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic. You write so well Mabel, and I’ve had thoughts on this topic this year. I do think relationships regardless of race, come together for different reasons. The people that I have spoken to that are in interracial relationships, are more often together not because of anything to do with race but because they felt an attraction, a connection.

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    • Thanks, Katie. This is one topic where there are so many thoughts. A connection is so important if a relationship is to work out, and if two people want to actually understand each other, interracial relationship or not.

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  20. Hi Mabel, Interracial relationship, power to those individuals who are in such relationship and to face those additional challenges. Can’t really say to much on the matter except that I have a niece who is a hispanic, white and filipino mix. Her mom is white/filipino and her dad(my brother) hispanic. Can’t say if I would/ wouldn’t want to be in a interracial relationship, but if the man upstair(GOD) decide to connect me with a girl who not hispanic, then will take it from there. As for what make a relationship works, from my observation and not having any experience in being in a relationship, communication.

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    • Your family sounds very open and accepting. I also think communication is key to any relationship – with interracial couples communication about cultural differences is so important. Good communications helps us understand each other so much more. Hope are you doing well, Michael.

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  21. As a person who comes from a multicultural family, I struggle a little with the love relationship angle. Not for myself though. I worry about how the couple with handle the reactions of the people they converse with other than that special someone. How will that other person influence them? What strife will that other person cause intentionally or not? In many cases, the relationship is wonderful until others become involved in their world. The two involved have to have a lot of inner strength.

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    • ‘the relationship is wonderful until others become involved in their world’ I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and thank you for bringing that up. Our lives revolves not around one person but many important people. So naturally you’d want the people in your lives to get along and be accepting of each other.

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  22. I am certain with my partner, some people have certain impressions what I am like vs. he. One of the things why he tells me he chose me, because I am feminist in orientation and for my independence. But of course, no one would know unless I spoke on various subjects and knew I had my own career.

    It is important that each partner have a strong sense of their self-identity, why they might have certain thoughts/impressions that have not been self-examined previously…. with an empathetic eye towards others.

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  23. Heavy topic again Mabel, but as usual, you handle it with dignity and open-mindedness. I have been married twice and I am an Englishman/Australian. Once maried to a lady from New Zealand who unfortunately died from MND. My current wife of 22 years is a red-headed, green-eyed woman who is one eighth Chinese. Race means absolutely nothing to her and me. We have friends from different cultural backgrounds and inter-race couples. I have seen the phenomenon you speak of though and it upsets me greatly. I see love in my friend’s relationships with each other and certainly within my own relationship. I hope your relationships are only ever filled with love and friendship Mabel. Stay warm 🙂

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    • It sounds like you’ve had ups and downs with love, Andy. Glad to hear your current partner is your current partner going strong. Cultural background while important, shouldn’t be front and centre of a relationship. The phenomenon surrounding multicultural relationships is indeed upsetting. Relationships are most of the time two people in love or at least two people finding love, or trying to find love and make a partnership work. Hopefully it isn’t too warm over there, Andy. It’s just about heating up next week and glad for the sunshine and longer days. Take care 🙂

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  24. Interracial relationships. I believe that the reason why Asian females and white men are together is from their cultural differences. Asian females tend to be more submissive than their white counterparts (or choose not to take offense at everything, I’m not sure). It’s something like opposites attract, but then again, it’s just my two cents’ worth.

    ‘Some Malaysian women have mentioned they much rather date westerners. They cite reasons being a lack of connection with Malaysian men and the traditional norms Malaysians grew up with.’ – This is unfortunately true in some circumstances. I have Malaysian and non-Malaysian friends and can see the stark difference in the way they think and carry themselves, which is why I don’t blame the Malaysian females if they prefer to date Caucasian men. Or vice versa.

    For me, if I see myself being with a white male, it’s because of open-mindedness and understanding of each other’s differences. A relationship would only be successful if both parties are able to throw in their 100% and conquering all forms of obstacles and difficulties that they would face – regardless of the couple being a different race or from the same ethnicity. Relationships do not discriminate; if you don’t put in your hard work to maintain it, it won’t be enough to weather the storm, so to speak. Oh, Mabel, I wish I could have a private conversation with you on this. I have more to contribute, but I don’t want to end up discussing about a relationship on a public arena, lol. =)

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    • I also think opposites are forces of attraction between two people. That’s a way to learn from each other, and each other brings something different to relationship, be it cultural differences or personality differences. Then again, it is also something quite spectacular to meet someone who is similar to you, especially if you don’t ever find anyone else with that same kind of similarity.

      Many Malaysian women I’ve come across seem to look up to white men or at the very least see western culture as more atas, upperclass and classy. While some might disparage AFWM relationships, I reckon most see it as a kind of ‘better than nothing’ relationship – ultimately it’s sort of ‘moving up’ the social hierarchy.

      You are so right. For a relationship to work both parties have throw in 100% and also be present 100%, and most importantly want to be there 100%. No excuses…but I think that’s a rare thing though. Maybe we can chat at some point 🙂

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      • ‘Then again, it is also something quite spectacular to meet someone who is similar to you, especially if you don’t ever find anyone else with that same kind of similarity.’ – I agree with this; race/ethnicity does not play a role in this. If you find someone whom you can have a connection with, it may or may not give rise to love between both parties.

        ‘For a relationship to work both parties have throw in 100% and also be present 100%, and most importantly want to be there 100%.’ – I’m just guessing about this. =/

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        • I do think it is very rare to find someone of very similar personality to you, and you both share the share the same values and on top of that get along. That is probably an ideal relationship – if both are committed and want to make it work.

          Liked by 1 person

  25. Hello, Mabel. You have shared a very interesting subject. I am a very typical Asian Indian girl and I had always fancied dating a white guy. But when I really had some close encounters, I found a lot of stark differences in the value systems we hold. Not to say that it wouldn’t be a good match. It’s just a matter of finding someone with whom your heart connects beyond border 🙂

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    • Thanks, Himali. Good on you for dreaming what you dream and are not ashamed to admit it. Whoever we fancy is whoever we fancy. A lovely way to put it – finding someone ‘whom your heart connects beyond border’. That is something special 🙂

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  26. This yellow fever business was news to me and somehow very disturbing. It must be so difficult to constantly be alert to nuances and wonder, is it me or my ethnicity that is intriguing? That said, as usual a very thought provoking write Mabel! Double round of burger and fries for you this weekend. You can start working out from now 😉
    In India most prefer to match within the community (preferably approved by parents) it’s safer and more comfortable that way I guess. Everybody (parents, society) is happy and as for oneself, one can be as happy as one makes up their mind to be right? 😀 But then again there are exceptions and we recently had a high profile celebrity wedding of a movie star (Indian and ex-Miss World) marrying an American star singer – they look lovely and so happy! My best wishes are with them! 🙂

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  27. I was pretty stunned by this one Mabel. I suppose I’d never considered the races as that different/ disconnected. I don’t think twice about mixed couples and whether they’re motivated by any of the reasons you mention. Hopefully there are more like me than not. Loved your image choices for this one too

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  28. Ah, these are issues I have been oblivious, too. It never crossed my mind that one’s (romantic) interest in a particular race would be considered racist, or even downright creepy. I guess, that kind of creepiness exists anywhere, even in same race situations, doesn’t it? I guess, if a person, no matter what race or circumstance, is objectified, that is wrong.

    But it is quite common that a person is at first attracted by ‘superficial’ criteria like race and the stereotypes that go with it. Be that as it may, in the end, it is the personal connection that matters. When love comes in, one only sees the person for who he is and whether that person is a suitable match to one’s character and personality. That he/she is white, yellow, brown, black would be immaterial.

    Anyway, I myself is from a mixed marriage. I admit, find my husband’s golden hair and hazel eyes quite attractive then and until now. But I guess, that is how married folks should be – find their spouses attractive. But I forget that we are different. All I see is the good man that he is. I/we see each other more as a unit.

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    • I think some of us are oblivious to these relationship racist issues because we want the best for each other. It also sounds like you see the best in each of us, Imelda, and that is such a great thing. Crepiness can be indeed everywhre and even if you date someone of the same race, no reason why racism can come up every now and then as well.

      ‘In the end, it is the personal connection that matter’ So true. A connection is often what leads to trust, and the want to be with the other person. Skin colour is not secondary but as you rightfully said, immaterial when it comes to choosing that someone as our life partner – though it’s worth remember colour of skin may be a marker of our background and lessons.

      It sounds like you and your husband are in a great relationship after all these years. Many more happy years between the two of you together 🙂

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  29. Another well thought-out post. I love your photo choices (Betty Boop! Ariel the Little Mermaid is especially appropriate) The art museum here has an exhibition devoted to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, now nearly 90 years old and finally recognized for her work. When reading, I thought of her amazing life story. Not for the relationships but for the topic of women (maybe especially Asian women) expected to be submissive, how she worked alongside, and inspired, male artists who were recognized when she was not… until now. This exhibit has been touring other cities and in every location has sold out.

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    • There street art images are something, and am hoping to find more quirky characters in graffiti form at some point again. That sounds like such an interesting exhibition by Yayoi Kusama. Some time ago I went to her exhibition Flower Obsession here in Melbourne – red flower stickers everywhere stuck by visitors. Red, the colour of the heart, symbolic of love, from a touch within.

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  30. I hadn’t come across the expression ‘yellow fever’, Mabel. That obviously reflects the circles I move in. I believe in live and let live and if you can find a loving relationship, whatever colour you are, then you’re lucky. At home in England I always used to kick my shoes off as I came in the door but I’m not so inclined to do so here, purely because tiled floors can be quite cold. 🙂 🙂

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    • It sounds like your circle of people are open and welcoming. I think many of us see the best in others. Each relationship is unique. Each to their own. Hope you keep your feet warm at home. Warm feet makes for a warm body (in that the cold from the tiles doesn’t travel from your feet up to your body) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. OMG, I would have been seriously creeped out by the dude who made the ‘Nice slippers. Very small’ comment to you in front of the brothel. Yuck!

    Stereotypes never serve us. Seeing the inner beauty of each person individually is far better.

    I’ve always laughed at the fact that if you lined up the men that I’ve dated, you would see very few physical similarities as I do not have a ‘type’ in that regard. My type is funny, smart, innovative yet stable, determined and unstoppable. And being a capable sailor a must.

    I think that what makes a relationship successful is shared goals and dreams.

    I love your take on things, You are tops in my book of favorite sociologists …and photographers. Nice street art finds. How awesome would it be to be proposed to with a piece of ‘Will You Marry Me’ street art ;-).

    Hugs to my favorite sock monkey and his cuddly stuffed crew.

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    • The encounter with the guy at the brother was something out of the ordinary. It was good that he left me alone when I didn’t engage. Happy for him to go on his merry way and get together with someone who prefers that kind of personality.

      Your type sounds very unique, and I am glad that it all worked out for you in that department in the end. Maybe one day I’ll meet Fabio 🙂

      Oh wow, a sociologist and photographer. What a compliment. I am humbled 🙏 Mama Wobbles is a sock monkey and Mr Wobbles is…just a knit 😂 Waving right back at you 🙉🐒💙

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Hi Mabel- love the way the art photos were inserted – fit so well with your thoughts –
    And back in 2001 one of my clients, Ms Georgia, said, “I’m not racist- I just don’t think blacks people should marry whites people.”
    She had more bias then she realized.
    And most of us our mixed couples – but sometimes the race is less different – like a German dude and polish lady have very different genes but they do not stand out like certain mixed couples do – as you have explored in this article –
    Hm -much to chomp on and really like certain sentences – like this:
    “hapa, halfies, hafu, half-bred, half-caste are some (offensive) names ascribed…”

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    • Thanks, Y. It’s always fun trying to get photos to mesh with the words.

      Your client sounds like she has a different perspective, and her statement sounds contradictory. Maybe she grew up in a vastly different place. That is a great example – someone German and someone Polish might not stand out but underneath it all they are vastly different.

      Names are sensitive issue much more these days. To be honest, I also am ambivalent towards titles such as Mr, Miss, Mrs, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife and so on…

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you for addressing this complex topic, and I’m glad to have found your blog. Yes, this is a super loaded subject and it’s important to consider how racism and sociocultural factors affect interracial relationships. I don’t have much to add but I’d say it’s important to consider the historical context of things like yellow fever – even if one individual may be okay with someone liking them because they are Asian, overall it is harmful because it is born out of stereotypes, a history of subjugation, etc. And it’s hard, if not impossible, to separate a preference for someone based on race and actual racism. Especially because these “preferences” often lead to exotification, fetishization, etc. which have been linked with negative mental health outcomes. I suppose that even if one individual may find something flattering or be okay with it, that does not mean it is okay as a whole, especially if that act is born out of oppressive ideology.

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    • Relationships in general are a loaded subject. Historical context is always important, and I touched upon that briefly in this post. There is so much more to say on that, and maybe one day I’ll look into this side of things further. Historically as a result of wars, people took advantage of each other and that might have influenced how some of us see some kinds of relationships these days. ‘it’s hard, if not impossible, to separate a preference for someone based on race and actual racism’ This is true, and it’s also a very fine line. What is racist to someone might not be racist to another – and that’s a result of different perspectives and experiences.

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  34. Another very thought provoking article Mabel.
    While I can’t imagine actively seeking out a partner of a specific ethnicity or race, I do know from experience that white guys are often pursued by Asian girls.
    But why is it nearly always AFWM, not AMWF?
    Keep up the great work Mabel!

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  35. Pingback: Crispy cheesy ramen noodles with scrambled eggs | Yummy Lummy

  36. Interesting post, Mabel, with much to think about. I don’t experience the situation as you do, so you bring an interesting perspective. The first husband of one of my best friends was Malaysian and her second is Chinese. So far as I know she met her first husband in Australia (she is white Australian) but her second in Beijing when she was working over there. She has three gorgeous adult daughters, two from her first marriage and one from her second. They are all very successful and confident young women.

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