When I had the opportunity to see "I Love White Men", written by and starring Sim Yan Ying, I was super excited. Asian representation in theater is very scarce, and I do my best to seek it out. Plus, I knew it contained themes of colonization and the effects of white supremacy, and while I'm aware of their effects on my own culture, I was eager to learn about its effects on Singapore.
YY revealed how her parents preferred doing business with white people "Angmoh steady one, sign contract already then they will stick to it. Chinese people sometimes ah, take your money and run. Angmoh people follow the law." This was an excellent segue to British colonization of Singapore, and how, to this day, an unusually high amount of things in Singapore, including the "so-called best" high school, is named after British colonizer Sir Stamford Raffles. She also introduced the concept of a Sarong Party Girl- the stereotype of an Asian woman who only dates white men in pursuit of the biggest status symbol- "the Chanel of babies", or a baby that is half-white.
There was one jarring aspect that was dispersed throughout the show about a Swedish pen pal YY had since she was a little girl. This pen pal was a grown man, and unhesitatingly discussed his sex life with her, even sending her porn videos so she can learn what various terms meant (and how to do them) when she was only eleven years old. An experience like that is understandably traumatizing, and I could see how it affected other events mentioned in the show.
It wasn't all seriousness, though. There were fun, interactive elements too. Such as when we all practiced different variations of "i don't have it", and how different words at the end can change the meaning and tone in Singlish. We in the audience also played a rousing game of White Men Sex Bingo, in which YY recounted the encounter, which resulted from a Tinder date with a white man, which corresponded with each box. The winner got a white Ken doll.
The part that tugged on my heartstrings the most was when YY revealed what used to be her ideal relationship: one where she was in a serious relationship with a white guy working in finance, one where he would listen to her, cuddle with her, and confide in her his own problems. It's an intimate relationship which I'm sure most women in their twenties and thirties dream about having, and it was all the more sad when she shared that none of the white men she was with saw her as girlfriend material.
The end was similarly heartfelt and thought-provoking. YY questions why so many Asian stories are centered around whiteness or heavily involve it, and that inspired me to reflect on why that is. We're left with the thought, " I love white men as the stepping stones which led me to discover some very important things about myself. I love white men as a part of my past," which was a really powerful ending.