“That Asian Fetish” or TO BE or NOT TO BE…HONEST

Hello blog land. I am about to write about Asian fetishism. Disclaimer: I am not going to write the history of Asian Fetishism, nor will I write about the theoretical definition of Asian fetishism. For that, you have many valuable books out there and, might I add, the internet. Which will supply sufficient amount of “definitions” for you. Here is a definition provided by some internet source that has no relation to me: Asian fetishism.

Instead, I will write about a conversation I had regarding Asian Fetishism. It was at a Korean BBQ restaurant with my Taiwanese friend here in Berkeley. I am going to share part of this conversation with you because it was absolutely interesting.   It is regarding what he believes the Asian Fetish is all about — again, please be aware that this is no way anything I personally feel, it’s just something I heard and processed carefully. He, like many of us, derived this information from sources and personal experience.  What I realized for the first time after the conversation gave me the chills, but I shall start telling you now:

If I, in any way, offend anyone with what I am about to write — just know, that this was a conversation and an opinion. Truth is always relative. Here is my interesting person post of the day:

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Taiwanese Guy Pretending to be Korean

Yesterday I had lunch at a Korean restaurant with a friend who happens to be Taiwanese. I enjoy talking to this friend because he is brutally honest about everything (including himself…well, he’s a little narcissistic, but who under 25 isn’t now-a-days with social networks and all). Although his honesty can sometimes take the role of stereotyping, he usually finds a way to define life’s madness with simplistic detachable sentiment. What I’m trying to say is, the man is good about not showing emotions that render him weak.

We enter the restaurant. He says, “Hello!” to the owners and bows his body in half.

Now, I’ve seen him do this in specific restaurants, and I’m used to it.    It’s the same thing as me going into a Latino restaurant and saying “BUENAS!” Which is similar to saying: “Good tidings to you all!” / “I wish you all well!”     When you know the language/culture you get certain perks. That’s just the way it is. This time, however, when he bowed I was taken aback. He was blatantly pretending to be Korean. Don’t ask how I could tell the difference, but I could.

They said “Hi!” back in their language.
I stepped in front of him and said, “Table for two, please,” and please don’t throw us out. I gave him a look, but he kept his focus and smile as if nothing happened.

We ordered. A woman came out and spoke to my friend in Korean. She smiled and talked talked and talked, while she put down ten small plates of side dishes for us to enjoy. She walked away and my friend said, “I have no idea what she was saying, she was talking Korean.”       Obviously.     He shrugged his shoulders and we began to feast.

The owner at one point comes to me and talks in Korean…I guess he thought I knew the language because I was with my friend…BUT I DO NOT look Korean. Filipino, maybe, but not Korean. I smiled and stared at him blankly. He realized I did not catch on and deduced his conversation to: “Free soup?!”    My friend giggled.

I said, “Okay,” and off the gentleman went.

“It’s because you’re with me…I only know two words in Korean.  Okay, don’t look at me like that.”

I did not want to be caught. I did not want our pictures to be taken and posted on their wall marked FRAUDS or LIARS or JERKS. I may talk a big talk, but I am a softy when it comes to elders. I try to change the subject, so I ask him about this guy he used to date. We’ll call his ex HUNTER. I always liked Hunter, but H**** was never too into him. Hunter was fun, cute, smart—I mean, he had the works. If Harry Potter and Matt Damon were to have a baby, it would be Hunter. H**** thought Hunter was too grabby and impossible to get rid of.

“One night, I’m at this club in Castro—and I see him!”
“Hunter? (he nods yes) Was it awkward?”
“No! It was weird. He was making out with this petite Asian guy.”
“He was holding his chin like this,” and my friend reaches over the table and puts his fingers gingerly on my chubby chin, “It was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen!”
“Because that’s when I realized why I was never into him,” he says as he slurps up ramen noodles. “He has an Asian fetish.”

Reader, you should have seen my friend’s face. It was as if he had cut an onion in half and eaten the core straight.

“By that gesture, you realized he has an Asian fetish?”
“Yes.   You don’t understand. People stereotype you for being Latina, and they call you ‘maid’ and stuff…but a fetish. A fetish is like, how do I say this?”
“He has a thing for Asians, right?”
“It’s not just that. It’s a milder form of racism.”
“How so?”
“He has a type. Petite Asian men, like me. Think about it. The gesture—the holding of the chin—it was like right out of a f*cking geisha fantasy book!”
“You’re objectified, is that what you mean?”
“I am no longer me. I fall under the umbrella of a type. He will always be hungry for petite Asian men. We stand for something—”

Then all the lessons in my Travel Writing class came rushing back to me. Of course! I realized what he was getting at. He was trying to express how he has become a thing. He is no longer human in the eyes of this other human being.

“It’s so gross,” he continued.
“Wow, how did you figure it out?”
“Give Hunter twenty more years, and the same personality. He’s no longer a cute guy who likes petite Asian men. He’s a creepy old man who has a thing for skinny looking boys.”

Harsh, I know. You have to understand that my friend is probably also very hurt by the fact that he saw his ex-man making out with someone else. Still, it’s kind of trippy to have made love to someone who doesn’t consider you a human being. To be a thing to admire. Wow, I suppose women go through this everyday at times. I couldn’t even differentiate between having “a thing” and being “the thing.” It wouldn’t be — I have a thing for brunettes, it would be Brunettes are my thing. Weird. Anyways…

We walked out of the restaurant and my friend bowed once again before leaving the door. “I want to keep getting free stuff!” he says as we walk to the parking lot. Our talk, his behavior, and the acid reflux were all giving me an inflation of negative thoughts in my cabeza.

Race, Sexuality, Ethnicity, Religion…all these labels that should be ephemeral, aren’t. They are invisible REAL things. They carry weight. Even my friend comparing my race to being a “maid” (in the middle of our conversation) stung a little.

Hmm, fetish. Racism. Honesty? All funny words.

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