Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Salon Magazine - Yellow Porn

I discovered this article through a comment on Matthew Yglesias' weblog. I find it intriguing because of the way in which it treats an issue most people would rather not talk about.

The idea for Asian-American erotica, or "yellow porn" as Hamamoto calls it, took root in 1998, when he began to ask students in his class on theoretical perspectives in Asian-American studies whom they fantasized about sexually. Invariably, the images were of white, blond-haired beauties, both male and female. What that meant to Hamamoto was that the sexuality of black, brown and yellow bodies had been subjugated. Asian-Americans of both genders didn't view each other as sexual beings. He laid out his thesis for making an Asian-American porn video in an essay titled "The Joy F**K Club" that was published in an academic journal in 1998.

[............]

"Asian-Americans are stereotyped in a negative way," Rick Lee, creator of the porn site Asian-man.com, says in "Masters of the Pillow." "A straight, Asian-American guy is impossible to find in porn. If you find one, he's gay and a bottom."

[............]

The stereotype of the asexual, geeky Asian guy has endured, affecting much more than porn. During the last 30 years, interracial dating has become common in the United States. Asian-American women are among the most likely to date or marry someone of another race, to the dismay of many Asian-American men. According to the 2000 census, Asian-American women married white spouses 3.08 times more often than Asian-American men did. And if the media is any indication, Asian men aren't viewed as sexually desirable by much of American society. This, he says, leads to the conflict between the sexes that Hamamoto said he is trying to quell. (emphasis added)

Internalized racism is a real phenomenon, and nowhere does it reveal itself more awkwardly than in the choices people make with regards to their sexual partners. While I don't think there's anything in the slightest bit wrong about people choosing to cross racial boundaries in seeking mates, one thing I know for a fact is that there's a reason why certain interracial pairings are a lot more common than others, a reason that has little to do with accidents of circumstance, and everything to do with nasty archetypes that are still at work in the world today - the virile black brute ("Mandingo", OJ Simpson), the promiscuous black virago ("welfare mothers driving cadillacs"), the submissive geisha ("Madame Butterfly", "Me love you long time"), the cunning but passive Asian male ("Charlie Chan", "Fu Manchu") ... These notions hardly need spelling out to any adult with more than a passing familiarity with the culture.