Dear Dan: I’m a straight white woman in my early 30s. In theory, I’ve always been into men of all races — but in practice, most of my exes are Latino and white. In September, I met this really handsome Chinese-American guy, and I feel like he rewired me. I’ve been exclusively attracted to Asian guys since. I’m not writing to ask if this is racist, because I’m not asking these guys to, like, speak Korean to me in bed or do any role-playing stuff. We just date and have sex, same as my past relationships. But if any of these dudes saw my Tinder matches, they’d be like, “This woman has a thing for Asian guys.” Which I do, but it’s pretty new. Is this normal? Do people just change preferences like that? Also, can you do a PSA about Asian dicks? In my recent but considerable experience, they run the gamut from average to gigantic. If small Asian dicks were a thing, I would have encountered at least one by now. That shit is a myth.
—Asian Male/White Female
Dear AMWF: Here’s my general take on race-specific sexual preferences: So long as you can see and treat your sex partners as individuals and not just as objects — we are all also objects — and so long as you can express your preferences without coming across and/or being a racist shitbag, and so long as you’ve interrogated your preferences to make sure they’re actually yours and not a mindless desire for what you’ve been told you’re supposed to want (i.e., the currently prevailing beauty standard or its equally mindless rejection, the “transgressive” fetishization of the “other”), then it’s OK to seek out sex and/or romantic partners of a particular race.
I ran my general take on race-specific sexual preferences past Joel Kim Booster — a writer and comedian whose work often touches on race and desire — and he approved. (Whew.) I also shared your letter with him, AMWF, and Booster had some thoughts for you.
“It doesn’t sound like her newfound preference for Asian men has anything to do with the uncomfortable fetishization of culture,” said Booster. “It’s good that she’s not asking them to speak Korean or do any sort of Asian role-playing — something that’s been asked of me before (and it’s a bummer, trust). Her interest in Asian men seems to be mostly an aesthetic thing, which you certainly can’t fault her for: There are a lot of hot Asian dudes out there.”
Booster also had some questions for you.
“It’s not uncommon for people later in life to discover that they’re attracted to something they’d never considered sexy before — full-grown adults are out here discovering they’re bi every damn day,” said Booster. “But she went 30 years before she saw one Asian man she was attracted to? And now this guy has ‘rewired’ her to be attracted only to Asian men?”
He said that he would like to see a picture of this magical guy, AMWF, and I would, too.
“If she was chill about it and just started adding Asian men into the mix, this wouldn’t seem like an issue,” added Booster. “But from what I can gather, she has shifted to exclusively fucking Asian guys and feels the need to write a letter about it. That feels like a red flag, and yet I can’t pinpoint why.”
Maybe you’re just making up for lost time — maybe you’re getting with all the Asian dick you can now to make up for all the Asian dick you missed out on before you ran into that one impossibly hot Asian guy — and your desires/preferences/Tinder profile will achieve a racially harmonious equilibrium at a certain point. But whether you remain exclusively attracted to Asian guys for the rest of your life or not, AMWF, make sure you don’t treat Asian guys like you’re doing them a favor by sitting on their gamut-running dicks.
“I’m weary of people with a specific racial preference for Asian men. And it’s less out of a fear of being fetishized — though that’s certainly part of it — and more because of the implicit power imbalance that exists in those relationships,” said Booster. “It’s all artificially constructed by The Culture, of course, but I’m acutely aware that society views Asian men as less masculine and therefore less desirable. And I’ve learned that guys who have a preference for Asian men sometimes bring a certain kind of ‘entitlement’ to our interactions, i.e., ‘You should feel lucky I’m paying you this kind of attention.’ And that’s gross! It doesn’t sound like she’s doing that, but something about this letter makes me feel like she wants to be congratulated for being woke enough to consider Asian guys. She’d do well to keep this stuff behind the curtain — no one wants to feel like someone was into them only because of some witch’s curse a hot Chinese-American guy put on them at a bar.”
Follow Joel on Twitter @ihatejoelkim, and visit his website ihatejoelkim.com.
On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Eric Leue from the Free Speech Coalition: savagelovecast.com