It’s been over a year since I started blogging about my conflicted feelings over being an Asian girlfriend to a white boyfriend, and how I grapple with the abundant negative stereotypes out there about my kind of romantic pairing. I’ve reached out to kindred spirits and harsh critics, laughed and cried and stewed over messages of support and empathy, condemnation and contempt. Sometimes, I prefer the critical messages as long as they’re civil. After all, these are the ones that really make me think. And after all these months, something suddenly hit me, my own little “Eureka!” moment.
Interracial relationships are okay until there’s too many of a certain type. It’s an unspoken belief, an unacknowledged assumption that underlies the most fervent disapproval of certain interracial pairings.
The right to be involved with and married to someone from another race was something that was fought for in many societies. Today, interracial marriage is usually celebrated as a civil right, a symbol of our common humanity. Not many people in the circles I’ve lived in would publicly speak against intermarriage, even amongst friends. It’s just not PC.
However, even amongst tolerant citizens, there seems to be an unwritten rule, one stating that interracial relationships are wonderful until too many of one type are getting involved with too many of another type. The racial hierarchy in relationships exists, and many times, readers have thrown figures at me, such as how a whopping 40% or so of Asian Americans marry whites, and the majority of these are Asian women and white men. There are other examples of this — not only are there “too many Asian women dating white men,” people grumble, there are also many more white women dating black men than the other way around. Even in my own Malaysia, I’ve heard dissatisfaction over why interracial relationships “are usually between Indian men and Chinese women.” In these situations, these couples no longer represent the wonderful result of a human right. Instead, it’s as if something is wrong with them.
And why are they in the wrong, anyway? Who decided that for interracial relationships to be celebrated and accepted and respected, there has to be a quota on certain pairings? That there is a correct ratio? That there has to be 100 white female/Asian male couples for every 100 Asian female/white male couples? That any racial hierarchy in interracial relationships must be explained using derogatory terms, the often repeated “yellow fever” and “white worship,” etc?
Many anonymous souls who complain that “there are too many white men with Asian women” invariably point to how there are fewer white women with Asian men to justify why the ubiquitous pairing sucks; they point to the disparity to “prove” there’s something problematic about white man/Asian woman relationships. On behalf of Asian women like me, I’d like to politely say: What’s this got to do with me? I am not a white woman nor an Asian man. I’d be very happy to see more of them dating each other. I tell white women their preconceptions of emasculated Chinese men are wrong. I tell Chinese men that foreign women make wonderful partners. Short of forcing my white female and Asian male friends together, I don’t have the solution. It’s between them. All those types who are not dating each other? It’s between them. White women and Asian men? Up to them. Black women and white men? Up to them. Indian women and Chinese men? Up to them too.
Decreasing interracial pairings which are common will not increase those which are uncommon. A ban on white men dating Asian women will not help more white women and Asian men get together. That problem, if you actually think of it as a problem, is due to factors that have little to do with whether white men and Asian women date each other.
“Sorry, white man and Asian woman. You seem like nice enough people, and we accept the general idea of interracial relationships, but your union is wrong because other nice people out there aren’t getting together at the same rate you are. You’ve used up your quota. Try again in a year or two.” Put this way, can the invisible quota be anything but ridiculous?
We are people. We love who we love, and we should keep on loving who we love, as long as we don’t belittle others to justify our choice. Disrespecting certain interracial pairings over others is just another type of small-minded discrimination, and perhaps nothing but an attempt to disguise racism by using ratio imbalance as a smokescreen, in the words of my wise uncle. I think it’s less ridiculous to be against interracial relationships entirely, than to say you approve of them so long as some sort of balance is enforced.
This piece was originally published as “Why I will keep writing about white male/Asian female relationships.”