All relationships can be complicated, but interracial relationships can be even more so. Finding a love match can be a vastly different experience for Asian people in the United States, who anecdotally report that when dating online, they're often only matched with people of the same or similar cultural backgrounds. Now, many people simply prefer to look for partners of similar cultural background or ethnicity, but how is it that Asian people have such a homogenous experience, even in the world's most multicultural cities?
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It seems that when it comes to dating, casual racism is still widespread. Some online dating profiles will even say 'no Asians' or 'I don't date Asian people.' A few years ago, the dating site OK Cupid conducted a study that revealed Asian men were rated lowest by Latina, white, and black women. Other studies have shown that Asian men have a harder time getting a second date than others when taking part in speed dating.
These studies and other experts say that these results are a result of the still-prevalent traditional belief that Asian men are desexualized, or aren't 'masculine.' This means that women are pre-programmed to believe an Asian man isn't a desirable partner and is likely to simply 'swipe left.'
The female experience
While Asian men are often seen as non-sexual beings, for Asian women, the opposite is true. They are among the most popular matches, but their experience of dating online can be just as hard to navigate. This is due to 'fetishization,' where Asian women are seen as exotic geishas, or 'dragon ladies,' while men (often white) ascribe a whole set of sexual characteristics to a potential partner for no reason other than she is Asian. These women often find themselves, especially if their partner has dated multiple Asian women before them, having some difficult conversations to get to the bottom of why their partner wants to be in that relationship. This isn't a good way to start, but this is important if they're to avoid being a 'token' or 'trophy.'
Solving the problems
How do we solve these problems? More discussions on racial stereotypes and clichés could be a great start, with Asian-American men and women who speak up on these things able to have their voices heard. This will also help non-Asian people to realize that Asia is a vast continent, full of diverse people with different cultural backgrounds. They don't fit any single mold or stereotype.
It's a fact that racialized preferences will probably never entirely go away, but it's good to be aware of any that you might hold and challenge yourself as to whether you're reinforcing a stereotype. Look at the stereotype of the sexless Asian man. Have you ever discounted someone as a partner based on that? Your 'personal preference' or 'personal opinion' may, in fact, be nothing more than social programming.