Asian Fetish & “Yellow Fever” Is Bad, a Follow-Up Essay

Author Cindy Young discusses her last piece on White guys and yellow fever and the backlash she received after publishing it.

First of all, I’m the author of this article. If you haven’t read it yet, take a moment, go back, and have a look at it. Originally I had intended that article to be a somewhat humorous, but informative exploration of a hotly debated topic within the Asian community: yellow fever, or a fetish for Asian women. I intended stereotypes to be brought up so they could be laughed at and REJECTED as ridiculous, never accepted, but I quickly realized that the mere mention of stereotypes was like whacking a hornet’s nest with a flaming torch. A lot of readers assumed that, in mentioning a negative stereotype and how it contributed to the development of yellow fever, I was accepting those stereotypes and calling yellow fever a good thing. This is not the case. Some parts of the article were satirical and some were serious, but because of the intermixing I admit it was very confusing and possibly offensive to many.

This response essay is part apology, part clearing the air, part making sure you actually understand what I’m trying to say.

First off, yellow fever is BAD.

Even though I received a lot of backlash from people who completely misunderstood my intentions, stereotypes are something that NEED to be addressed, and today’s article will be a serious one.

Because yellow fever is not a pretty issue. The very name itself is a racially biased stereotype; it’s not an Asian preference, it’s guys liking those YELLOW women. They’re not Korean. They’re not Chinese. They’re not Japanese. They’re not Thai, Cambodian, Hmong, Burmese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Filipina. They’re not any of the many diverse Asian nationalities and ethnicities. They have no history. They’re not even people. They’re objects. They’re just YELLOW.

Yellow fever is real, and it reduces Asian women to nothing more than a color; this hurts both Asian men and Asian women in equal measure.

How does it hurt Asian women?

Because they become objects. They become accessories. They’re little more than toys and playthings for the amusement and pleasure of men who couldn’t care less about them as women, so long as they fit the description of their prescribed stereotype.

Meek. Quiet. Obedient. Servile. Docile. Girlishly feminine. Submissive.

I bring up these stereotypes not to reinforce them and to apply them as a blanket statement to Asian women, despite what some of my readers might have thought; that’s how the concept of yellow fever arose in the first place. Outsiders THOUGHT they saw docile and submissive women—they completely skipped over the fact that they were looking at intelligent, independent women with ideas and personalities of their own.

I bring up these stereotypes so that we can acknowledge what exists and make an effort to prove it both ridiculous and harmful.

All it takes is just one rumor, just one person making a casual remark about these strange and exotic women he saw, to start a 200-year spiral of rumors that snowball into harmful stereotypes. After 200 years of Western media reinforcing the image of Asian women as exotic and submissive, stereotypes are hard to shake. They become a box that Asian women are forced into, a prison of assumptions and expectations.

When a man approaches an Asian woman, she doesn’t know if he expects her to be servile and meek like she’s been portrayed for 200 years, if she is his secret fetish, or if he is a genuine and good man who will accept her the way she is.

That’s because yellow fever is a hidden FETISH—it doesn’t matter who she is, she’s just YELLOW and that’s good enough for him. There are good men out there who simply enjoy Asian women and do not treat them as objects, and I do not intend to portray all men who like Asian women as sick fetishists, but to ignore the thriving business of mail order brides and Asian sex slave trafficking as a result of yellow fever fetish is to bury our heads in the sand and ignore a major problem that destroys lives every day.

Asian women are strong. They are beautiful, outside as well as in. They are doctors, lawyers, and engineers. They are writers. They are soldiers. They are wives and mothers, feminists, philosophers, actresses, athletes, and anything else they want to be.

Being as I’m also part Asian, it doesn’t make sense I would ever condone a stereotype that affects both men and women. I am adamantly AGAINST yellow fever, but I understand how my original article was confusing.

Yellow fever is a result of harmful stereotypes that we cannot ignore if we wish to move forward.

And these stereotypes do not just affect the women.

The section in my article about Asian men and their stereotypes needs to be talked about. My intention was to address the stereotypes and counter them, not support them.

Most Asian men in the US have heard accusations of his penis being tiny. Most have seen themselves portrayed as weak and effeminate in Hollywood films. Most Asian men are seen as the comedic foil, never with the girl on his arm. This is quickly changing, but unfortunately this is the reality of the media today in the United States.

These stereotypes are real. They exist. We can’t ignore them. They sting. They hurt. They suck. You and I both wish that they didn’t exist. But as is the case with Asian women, ignoring these stereotypes and refusing to mention them makes it impossible to stop Asian men from being portrayed negatively. It makes it impossible to demand a strong, confident leading male role in Hollywood films for Asian men.

But why should we acknowledge them?

If we can’t acknowledge these stereotypes, we are forever stuck with Long Duk Dong in “Sixteen Candles.”

If we can’t acknowledge it, John Cho’s Selfie will be our last leading romantic male role (and this one was recently cancelled).

If we can’t acknowledge them, then we can never demand that Asian men be portrayed in a positive light. Until Asian Americans make a real issue out of it (which was my original intention), we’ll forever be seeing Ken Jeong making a mockery of himself and Asian men in movies like the Hangover.

Until Asian Americans decide to TAKE ACTION against the stereotypes, we will we never see change. The good thing is (which I mentioned in my article) that we’re already seeing much more positive Asian male representation in media, and I can only hope for this to continue.

In my article I mentioned that yellow fever was here to stay.

And I don’t want to retract my statement because I firmly believe some White guys will always have Asian fetish and that yellow fever will probably persist for a long time. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to improve the situation, but the deeply rooted stereotypes and thought processes within Americans will be there for a very long time.

We live in an era where Asian men and women are no longer forced into the shadows by law. We’ve moved past forcing the Japanese into internment camps and being able to legally deny someone a job for his or her Asian heritage. But in order to enact social change, in order to demand that the objectification of Asian women and the emasculation of Asian men via yellow fever be eliminated, we MUST acknowledge these stereotypes and we MUST refute them.

I know that a lot of people misinterpreted my words in my previous article. I’m sure that there are people who will misinterpret me here. And I know that a lot of people are under the mistaken assumption that I think it is good or permissible to portray Asian women as docile and submissive, Asian men as effeminate. For that I apologize. Mostly I apologize that I wasn’t being clear with my words and that there was that room for misinterpretation that I see now.

(Photo credit model Lily2Silly)

Written by Cindy Young

  • Will Lieu

    As a Chinese male from Taiwan, I’ve always gotten picked on by other races because they though we Asian men were weak with small penises. I’ve been told by tons of Asian women that I tried to chase, that they only date “NON-ASIANS”. Even too with non-Asians, they told me that they would only date their own race but not Asian men. And to me it hurt me a lot I thought that it was because we weren’t as big & ripped as other races. And so I learned to use the pain that other Asian women caused me as motivation to bodybuild/powerlift when I was only 15-16 years old so I wasn’t viewed as weak or small.

    After seeing the people such as Bruce Lee & Bolo Yeung, the only 2 famous Chinese movie stars at the time, gave me the greater drive to train to be as strong as Bruce Lee & and huge as Bolo Yeung. On top of that, I learned to work to also become as wise and intelligent as possible, so that I don’t have to feel like I lack against other Asians.

    After years of hardcore bodybuilding and powerlifting, the greatest thing I learned is that to not let other people’s preferences, successes, criticisms, and opinions hurt me anymore because I’m in control of my emotions, and I can become a better version myself.

    The other greatest thing that I learned is that if a woman didn’t like me because I’m Chinese and she’s Asian then its her preferential right and she wasn’t worth my time to begin with.

    Its not that I wouldn’t date women of any other race, but I’m more of a traditional Asian, where I would like to marry an Asian woman that my parents could relate to.

    Life is what you make of it, and I’m not letting other people ruin how far and hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today.

    I hope that it will help other Asian guys out there who were picked on as I was. People talk about how we should stop bullying, but they never looked at all the Asian men out there who were bullied as little kids.

  • Dat Asian Guy

    First off, I wanted to say that Seventeen Reasons hit the point well. Though both encourage stereotypes, us Asian men are perceived to be worthless as the opposite of Yellow Fever. The Charlie Chans and Mr.Yunioshi are what white people believed and saw in us and Yellow Face has spread to around the world, and because of that there were a lot of us that grew up feeling worthless, like Seventeen Reasons.

    Our parents didn’t have to deal with the constant barrage of insults on how funny we looked, how small we might be, how our food is different, etc, and this starts making a lot of us, mostly you American raised Asian women, to start hating our culture, our parents, our language, and even our skin. “Oh, I only date white guys,” is a common thing for Asian girls to say, often resenting their fathers because of the stereotypes in media and from other kids.

    I’m sure you’ve met some, those Asians that are proud to call themselves twinkies; yellow on the outside, white in the inside. Don’t you think that’s a little fucked up? To make you want to change yourself internally to what would be perceived as white? And that’s a good thing?

    And for the rest of us, those that didn’t succumb to the propaganda, have to grow up battling some odd issues of what it is to be a foreigner, even if you were born and raised here. America doesn’t accept us for who we are, and the women of our race can’t understand us, shun us, and also berate us. We don’t learn that we’re not the ones who are malignant, but the visions and ideas passed around about us until we’re mature and older.

    The thing is, Ms. Young, for being part of a magazine that says to be for the Modern Asian Man, you seem to be disconnected from your target demographic…in your last essay at least. For some of us, that lighthearted jab you speak of in your last piece, had a lot of weight behind it. A lot of doors have opened for the younger asian generations, but I’m part of the generations that had to fight to give opportunities after me. So, if I seemed harsh commenting on your last piece, I apologize, but I am not sure if I am the type the Modern Asian Man you’d write for, but this is how I’ve felt and experienced what life is like in America as an Asian.

  • Peter

    I’m not Asian, but think that Asian women generally more attractive than non-Asian women. And I know of many white women that are more attractive than any Asian woman that I’ve ever seen. That’s not love, however. I’ve known many beautiful Asian women that I’d never consider marriage material. But being attracted to Asian women is no different than someone being attracted to blonde women in general, or black women, or whatever your preference is. I don’t think it’s wrong to be physically attracted to a women by her looks. But it doesn’t equate to love. And it just so happens that Asian women have unique looks relative to other heritages.

    Stereotypes do exist; and often times they’re true. But they’re just generalities. I’m sure there are a lot of Asian men who’s penis sizes are much larger than mine. Most women don’t judge guys based on their penises, however. I don’t think anyone would respect a women who judged them as such. Same is true for men though. You can admire a woman solely for her looks, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to love or respect. At the end of the day, men don’t marry women solely for their looks. And if so, that marriage is certain to end at some point.

    I’ve seen more and more Asian men with white women, which is proof to me that anyone can be attracted to anyone regardless of race or color. Ultimately, regardless of physical qualities, what’s inside determines how successful any relationship will be. So, I wouldn’t criticize peoples’ physical preferences necessarily. They’re just superficial and relatively meaningless.

  • lel

    I just prefered the colour of the skin…
    I still value inside more than outside…

  • Jonathan C

    White fever is also very prominent, Asian women playing into the yellow fever. I’ve met so many Asian women who only dates white men. It is disturbing. They call it, “preference”, I call it discrimination. I am an Asian man who is open to all colors and shapes, as long as they are attractive in their unique way and are nice to people around them.

    • Harry_Hogfart

      It is not skin color they prefer it is penis size

  • sglau

    What i find funny about that whole yellow fever fetish, is how those people seem to think Asian women are all sweet and submissive. Seriously? do you probably don’t know many Asian women… or the ones you do know are deceiving you .p

  • Harry_Hogfart

    As much as the author claims to say that yellow fever is bad all the images and adds support the overt sexual marketing of Asian women while at the same time all the articles are telling asian men it is ok to rape them with a Vienna Sasauge

    • JohnnyMangoes


  • No way

    I find this article a joke and also ironic. Here you are talking about asian woman as sex symbols yet almost every picture on this site is a barely clothed asian woman.

    I find the whole article a joke, what is wrong with men/woman liking asian woman? Since when did that become a sin? Some people take it too far but that’s life, it happens with EVERYTHING. Some men like asian woman, get over it. Shocker, some woman like black men, OMG, call the cops. Some woman like big cocks, better write a nasty article about it. Having choice is what makes us human, again, deal with it. Stop worrying yourself about such a petty thing and concentrate on other things, I bet you’ll have a better life.

  • Jayden Fong

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify your views. Definitely we have to fight our prejudices where ever they are.

  • Cristi

    I know this is an old article but I kind of missed it then, I just got to say that have you ever considered that the main reason for the I only date white guys thing is because some Asian women feel they are more respected by them than their own kind. Take for example the Korean entertainment industry with the bullshit double standards that also apply to the general population. Or the women must serve the drinks to be respectful crap, and I’m not talking about the general etiquette but the cases where they are basically forced to do so. And the same applies for Asian men who want white women. I personally have been interested in Asian culture since I was a kid watching old Hong Kong movies because I found them interesting and this includes everything from architecture to food to women. Then got to know Japan, then Korea and Vietnam and Thailand. And to go both ways I feel that as a man I would be more loved and respected by an Asian woman that someone from my own country. And this is not generalizing, every place has it’s flowers and it’s weeds, the main issue is what you get and when you realize what you got. But this doesn’t mean that I’m obsessed with it and my goal is to marry an Asian, it just means that I’m open to the idea. It’s true about the stereotypes and it goes both ways (example a white man being told that he dates or marries an Asian woman just because it’s a trend or because he wants a trophy wife etc.).

    • Cristi

      Also forgot to mention China culture and Taiwan.

    • John

      You’re just using your own bias to confirm your attraction to White guys.

      There’s plenty of misogyny in White culture — if you’re going to use the kpop example, then why not bring up Harvey Weinstein & Hollywood or Jeffrey Epstein or Donald Trump?

      • Cristi

        First of all I can’t like white guys, I’m a man, as in straight man.
        Second I didn’t bring up the US stuff because it’s mostly not my cup of tea anymore, meaning I don’t follow on news from there, just what I hear here and there. I’m romanian and my US was the one from the 80’s till the late 2000’s because this is the image that I grew up here with on tv and later on the internet.
        On the women issue, yes I like Asian women just as I like latin women or Scandinavian or whatever. I don’t have any preference. And being from Romania, the chance of dating/marrying an Asian is very slim considering the 90% of them, mostly Chinese are in Bucharest. In my city there are maybe 20 from all the east-Asian countries together, mostly over 40 years old.
        So I’m not going to wait for the perfect Asian woman to appear, and at the same time I’m not desperate to screw anything that comes in my way.
        And if you want to talk about misogyny then don’t generalize white men, because the dudes you mentioned are pervs, with one of them a douche (yeah, South Park reference) since his Playboy cover days with Brandi Brandt. And not all Hollywood is bad just as not all kpop industry is bad.
        I like what I like and that’s it.