By: Michaela Seah
“You kind of look like a loli,” He says. For the lucky ones who don’t know what that is, a loli is an anime term to describe a small, Asian, girl who is definitely a minor but is portrayed in deeply inappropriate ways. All I could think to myself was Why did he say that? Was I supposed to take that as a compliment?
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time I was to encounter these types of comments. Many are familiar with Yellow Fever, in the form of the “exotic” damsel in distress of the cinema, or the geisha prostitutes that drove US soldiers wild. Many believe that those days of Asian fetishization are long dead. And although the days of Ms. Saigon and Madame Butterfly (tales of the dramatic and often sexist romances between Asian prostitutes and American men) may be numbered, Yellow Fever is still very much alive. It hasn’t gone away, it has just evolved.
Many believe that those days of Asian fetishization are long dead.
Weeaboos, people who fetishize and bastardize the entirety of Japanese culture (which, in the common view, consists of anime and only anime) although the butt of many internet jokes are able to run free in their toxic environments, ogling and consuming the objectification of Japanese girls via anime.
The problem isn’t that these are a group of lecherous nobodies that stare all day at lewd drawings of anime girls, the problem is how this translates into reality. It’s more than subreddits that are dedicated to racy pictures of Asian girls, or threads that go on and on about how much the contributors want a submissive Japanese waifu (a Japanese twist on the word wife, which often refers to anime characters), posts describing in disgusting detail on their plans to woo the closest East Asian girl, and it’s not just about the katana collections and the fedoras (hallmarks of any self-respecting weeaboo). It’s real.
The problem is how this translates into reality.
It’s real for the 93 Asian women who were sexually assaulted by a USC gynecologist. And it’s real for the 10 Asian women who were raped by a single man over the course of 20 years. It was real for Saki Kondo, a Japanese woman who was decapitated by her American Tinder date. It was real for Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, a Vietnamese woman who was tortured, raped, and then burned alive in the UK.
Fetishization dehumanizes, hurts, rapes, and kills. It starts with lewd comments under a drawing of a 12-year old wearing cat ears and a maid uniform. It continues with yelling random Japanese words at any unsuspecting east Asian women (or girl) on the street. And it ends with violent deaths for women.
The worst part? It isn’t taken seriously. Weeaboos are seen as cringe-inducing losers living in their mother’s basement. The reality is that they are cringe-inducing losers who emerge from their mother’s basements to harass, stalk, rape, and kill women, and then get away with it. The incidents mentioned above barely had any media coverage, save for Asian news and culture outlets. Our experiences and the violence we go through are often silenced by the model minority myth.
A lot of other POC continue to claim that Asians are not POC despite the fact that Asians are definitely not white. Although East Asians have privilege, we still experience racism and suffer from violent hate crimes, but because of this many excuse Asian racism and fetishization.
Although East Asians have privilege, we still experience racism and suffer from violent hate crimes,
Like mentioned before, weeaboos and other Asian fetishizers are often dismissed and are often joked about online. This enables weeaboos to continue to harass Asian girls. If their actions are not being taken seriously, it sends the message that this is acceptable behavior, that Asians should be viewed as 2D sex objects to drool over. Of course, it could not be farther than the truth.
If their actions are not being taken seriously, it sends the message that this is acceptable behavior
When you search up the word “Asian” on Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, you name it the first thing you get is porn. That fact alone is telling about how Asians, especially Asian women, are viewed as sexual objects.
Whenever anyone dares to say this, hysterical men stampede the comments, defending their stereotyping and racism, claiming that it is “just a preference”. As you’d expect from someone who stares at catgirls on the internet all day, they have no idea of the difference between a preference and fetish. A preference is liking red hair, or glasses. Liking a trait. A fetish is the sole reason to date someone. A preference is harmless, a fetish kills. A preference is built on a billion little psychological pieces. A fetish is built on hurtful racial stereotypes that say that we are only here for your fantasies. But we are not your dolls. We are not your rare collectible fleshy body pillow.
They have no idea of the difference between a preference and fetish,
It’s time that we took fetishization seriously and see their fetishizers as not just online scumbags, but as the threat that they are.
Michaela is a Chinese American, a high-schooler, a feminist, and a journalist. She is co-editor of the online publication, Anthro Magazine (https://anthromagazine.org/). She spends a lot of her time playing video games and being tired.