Sriracha and Mayo
Remember a month or two ago when all those articles came out about how an Asian woman refused to date Asian men, another Asian woman gave pretty problematic about why her Asian boyfriend was amazing, and then a follow up piece by the original author about dealing with internal racism? (Fellow columnist Calvin Sun provided his own take on the chaos in this post.)
I’m not going to talk about the stereotypes of Asian men and why or why not to date one. I honestly haven’t dated someone Asian before, not by choice but because it simply hasn’t happened. Coming out of a long and rocky relationship, I think it’s important to touch on some very important issues we as Asian women face in relationships.
I always have to ask if I am the first Asian woman they have been with. Too many times I’ve been another link in a chain of targets for a person stricken with Yellow Fever. I’ve been called “____’s Asian,” “my Asian girlfriend,” “my sweet chinadoll,” etc. People have tried to turn it around on me because if I talk about race, then I become the racist one. But let’s face the facts: there are too many reasons for me not to trust the people I get into relationships with at first. Years of unintentionally fulfilling someone’s “exotic craving” have probably made me a lot more bitter and cynical than I should be.
When I think about my future family, I think about if my children are going to be able to speak Chinese and communicate with their grandparents and cousins. I think about how sometimes I just want to speak Chinese and have someone who understands why my family is my priority. Familial piety is a big part of my life and no matter how independent and successful (or not) I become, it always will be. The values that I grew up with are obviously not limited to Asian families, but I’d be lying if I said that I’ve noticed the loyalty and dedication to family more so in my Asian friends. I’d also be lying if I said those qualities aren’t extremely attractive to me and aren’t something I seek out in a potential partner. Does it get tiring teaching my dates how to use chopsticks, or that California rolls aren’t really sushi in my opinion, or that not all Asians are ‘model minorities’? Yes!
I was lucky to be with someone who although wasn’t Asian, supported my work with the Asian American community, read up on issues, and tried to understand why I was sometimes crippled by anxiety about making my family proud. But that loyalty and dedication just wasn’t there. But the last revelation I’ve had is that through my development of my identity, I have to make a choice. I choose to only date men of color from now on. Jokingly, I’ve heard the motto “Why choose mayonnaise when you can have Sriracha?” Honestly though, I can’t see myself with someone who doesn’t understand institutional racism, oppression, and the complicated ideas of identity on a first-hand basis. I shouldn’t have to ask if they have an Asian fetish before going on a date with them. I shouldn’t have to explain why sometimes I get addicted to watching Taiwanese dramas while simultaneously reading theory (this may just be my personal cognitive dissonance quirk).
Or why I have bottles of Sriracha sauce in my kitchen with no mayo or ketchup in sight.