DARE TO ASK: What is it about Asian women?
By PHILLLIP J. MILANO, The Times-Union
My friends and I are always curious about what kind of Asian girls foreigners
think are beautiful.
Ying-Yao, 24, Asian female, Miami
I'd say it's just the "exotic" aspect of them to the Western imagination. We
have a long history of imagining the mysterious Asian, however mistaken that may
Vail, 40, male, Philadelphia
For me, the petite body and jet-black hair are the big attracters. Asian
women [also] have very developed sexual identities. Also, I believe Asian women
are educated and articulate.
Keith, 42, white male, Jacksonville
I think the real draw is the myth that Asian girls are comfortable in a
subservient position. I've dated a couple of Asian girls, and neither were
anything resembling subservient. But I do have to admit that -- at first -- I
was attracted to the "unusualness" factor: They were something other than the
blond-haired, blue-eyed girls of my hometown.
Mike T., white male, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Stereotypes about the exotic, submissive Asian woman have floated around the
United States since at least the mid-1800s, said Guofang Li, a professor at the
University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education.
When Chinese women first came to this country, many were concubines
(secondary wives) for Chinese men, she noted. The cliched image of the meek,
available Asian beauty carried over into modern society, particularly among some
"It fits their psychological needs in terms of looking for an ideal woman,"
Li said. "There are those who don't look at Asian women as who they are
Nowadays, nearly six of 10 Asian women in the United States are in the labor
force -- the same rate as women overall -- and their median earnings are 14
percent higher than for all women, according to the U.S. Census.
Still, Asian women appear to be a popular match with American -- particularly
Caucasian -- men. The U.S. Census estimated that, in 2003, there were 578,000
married couples in the United States in which one spouse was white and the other
Asian, the highest of any interracial category.
Ming Tan, a Chinese-American writer and self-described "Asian relationship
expert," angered many Asian-Americans with her 2002 book How to Attract Asian
Women (Asian Socials Inc.). Her list of reasons for why Asian women might be
attractive reads like a Top 10 list of stereotypes, among them that they tend to
look younger and thinner than other women and are less materialistic.
The bottom line, though, is that Asian women moved beyond such broad-brush
characterizations and gender hierarchy rules long ago, Li stressed.
"Many white men simply underestimate our achievements," she said.
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information.