On Attraction Between White Women/Asian Men And What’s “Normal”

“It’s totally normal for white Western women not to be sexually attracted to Asian men,” wrote a woman in a comment I happened to read.

I shouldn’t have been stunned or surprised by her words. Hadn’t I heard variations on this theme before? After all, I’d been privy to many conversations where white Western women dismissed the possibility of dating Asian men in all sorts of ways. Sometimes in unprintable language.

But I was jarred by her comment, feeling the mental equivalent of a sudden static shock pulse through me as I read it. That’s because there was a time when it might have applied to me. That I might have concluded my own pre-China track record of exclusively dating white guys was “normal” and “natural”.

A few years back, I wrote the post, Why Did I Assume I Would Stay Single in China?

Why did I think I would never date Chinese men? Was it merely that I grew up in an incredibly white middle-class suburb (I could count on one hand the Asian men I knew from kindergarten to high school graduation)? Was it the overwhelming absence of positive images of Asian men in the whitewashed world of American popular culture?

I think back to my college years, a time when I met many foreign Asian men – including Japanese and Cambodian. I called many of them close friends, yet why did I never let them get any closer to me? Why did I always immediately relegate them to the “friend zone” and nothing more? Why did my white girlfriends and I only giggle over white celebrity heartthrobs in high school, like Tom Cruise?

It’s just not right.

All I know is this — in China, I found the sexiest and most amazing men that I had ever known. I ended up marrying one and I’m still crazy in love with him. (Thank you, John!) It took crossing an entire ocean and time zones to realize that my assumptions about dating in China were a lie.

I think we need to be very careful when we talk about what’s “normal” or “natural” in terms of relationships. After all, as NPR reported a few years back, “According to new data compiled by the free online dating service OKCupid, racial biases are very much part of the romantic choices we are making online, even when we insist that they are not.”

And Eduardo Bonilla-Silva once wrote in his book “Racism Without Racists”:

The word “natural” or the phrase “that’s the way it is” is often interjected to normalize events or actions that could otherwise be interpreted as racially motivated (residential segregation) or racist (preference for whites as friends and partners). But, as social scientists know quite well, few things that happen in the social world are “natural,” particularly things pertaining to racial matters.

As much as I’d love to tell you that the string of white guys I once dated was “normal” or “natural” or even “how it’s supposed to be”, I know better.

I only wish that commenter did too.

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Jocelyn Eikenburg

Writer & blogger at Speaking of China
Jocelyn is a writer, blogger and the creator of Speaking of China, a blog about love, family and relationships in China, including AMWF love. She has been featured on the BBC and CCTV. You can find her writing in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, the anthologies "How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?" and "Unsavory Elements", and other publications.
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9 comments

  1. I used to think it was normal when I was younger to be “interested in white guys”. But honestly? I feel nowadays they don’t appeal to me.

    Just the comment “it’s normal for white women to not be sexually attracted to Asian men.” kind of irked me. Yes, there are women out there that are romantically interested but not sexually in all men, not just Asian guys.

    Hell, I gotta say that even though offensive, I have to say, there is only one Asian man I’m not sexually attracted to(right now, I mean anything can happen in 5+ years.) My best guy friend that I nicknamed him as 阮先生 in Chinese even though he’s Vietnamese.
    Romantically and plat

  2. That comment very possibly was written by me! Maybe because I was one of those girls before I came to China, I find it easier to rationalize that phenomenon. Now I tend to find Asian men more attractive than any other race (especially my Chinese partner) but I read an article once about how people see homogeneity in races that they weren’t accustomed to growing up with. There are always exceptions, but the more different a race is from yourself and your environment, the less likely you are to differentiate between individuals. To me, this is one plausible explanation for why white women aren’t usually attracted to Asians. (I prefer this explanation to the stereotype of femininity anyway..)

  3. Come on, ladies. My husband, Kong, may be the strongest, smartest, and sexiest of all, but I meet many other amazing Chinese men. I only feel pity for the Caucasian woman who won’t give them a chance. The main stereotype is one hundred percent incorrect, at least in my husband and from what I hear, many, many other Chinese men as well. I’m feel so blessed to have found this awesome man, culture, and life. I’m watching him speaking Chinese with Chinese counterparts right now admiring him. Lol. I’m a lucky 🍀 woman.

  4. Seriously, I don’t think most “quality” Asian men (the ones that rate highly as “relationship” material) are losing any sleep over the idea that White Western women think it “perfectly normal” not to find them “sexually attractive.” With that in mind, these topics–or anything related to them, are what turn me off as they showcase the more shallow and heavily secularized aspects of the so-called modern AM/WF romantic scene, where relationships are largely driven by sexual attraction rather than by shared interests/compatibility.

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