In my life, I've often encountered a certain type of Western guy who was attracted to Asian women. I wanted to know why, so I set out to make a documentary.What emerged five years later, after hundreds of hours of research, including interviews with men and women who posted ads for Asian women on sites like Craigslist and Asiafriendfinder, was "Seeking Asian Female", an eccentric, tender and at-times uncomfortable love story between a 60-year-old American man and his 30-year-old Chinese fiancée.I'm also creating a companion project, "They're All So Beautiful," an online video series and forum to discuss the nuances of race, romance and "yellow fever."Though the concept dates back centuries, dating Asian women, or, more accurately, the idea of dating Asian women, has officially gone mainstream.
I heard from Asian, Asian-American and many other women about their encounters with this so-called "yellow fever." I even interviewed a Chinese woman who's a yenta for men seeking Asian wives in Silicon Valley. Around 500 BCE, Confucius outlined relationships in which wives looked up to their husbands in perfect harmony.
Throughout all this, a common thread emerged: myths and misconceptions about Asian women are as strongly held as ever. Times have changed, but the myth that Asian women make doting and dutiful wives still persists.
Understanding the difference between fantasy and reality made all the difference for these people and the true stories they shared. Julia Ma, owner and matchmaker of Your Asian Connection, says men who join her club are seeking "the old picture of Asian women -- traditional, take care of husband, cook dinner, clean house." She says, "Lots of guys hope for that," but the "new generation is different." Based in Cupertino, California, home of Apple, where over 60% of the population is of Asian descent, she introduces Asian women to Western men for a legitimate end goal of marriage.
Her female clients are educated, often tech-savvy and, like her, many have been divorced.
She believes that Western men are more accepting of this, yet conversely are thought to have poorer family values.
Still, Julia describes the high pressure in Asian societies for women to start families at younger ages than in the West. The myth that Asian women are more submissive rings true for those who have never actually dated an Asian woman.She proudly states that her female clients are "flexible" and "want to work together as a family unit" -- but she's quick to note that they're "picky" and have high expectations. A wife gives face to her husband in public, but in honoring his end in private, he must put family first (not himself), cater to her in-laws and, as is traditional in countries like China and Japan, hand over control of the bank accounts to her. Take for example Steven, the main character of "Seeking Asian Female", who saw images of Vietnamese women in films like The Scent of Green Papaya and wondered, would his future wife be an "idyllic servant girl who would cook these beautiful meals?" Traveling from California to China for several first dates, Steven experienced Chinese women with bossy, pragmatic attitudes and realized this "No B.S." approach perfectly complemented his dreamer, ex-hippie ways. from Taiwan in her 30s, "For those Caucasian guys who like Asian women, their personality tend to be softer.At the end of his 10-year search, he found Sandy, from Anhui, China, who was half his age. They're not very masculine." Another interview subject, who moved to the U. for, and later divorced, an American white man, found them "simple" and "less sophisticated" than Asian men. 3: An American man is an Asian woman's "ticket to a better life." Some Asian women do believe this myth to be true, but similar to Myth No. Julia Ma cautions, "Girls living in another country, they have no idea -- they think here is heaven, people with money, but it's nothing like that." Many Asian women living in rapidly growing world economies recognize that marrying a Westerner no longer guarantees a better financial situation.After moving to America on the K-1 fiancée visa, her youthful, innocent exterior gave way. But sometimes Asian women "think they are marrying a 'more liberal' Western man," only to find out he's actually looking for a traditional Asian woman, explains journalist, Sheridan Prasso who studied this in her book, The Asian Mystique, Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls and Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient.