How NOT to Ask an Asian Girl Out

Yesterday, I tweeted the following statement:

There are few things in the world more condescending and creepy than a white guy hitting on an Asian girl. #doesnotincludemybrother-in-law

I got a lot of calls from people to clarify, and so I want to explain exactly what I meant.

The tweet was inspired by the fact that I was sitting next to a Chinese girl at the computer lab yesterday. A white guy from a previous Japanese class decided to stop by and talk to her. He opened up the conversation by saying hello in Japanese, and then about how Taiwan is not in fact owned by China (and then spouted off some facts that are the complete opposite of reality). I’m not sure why he decided that would be a great conversation starter with a Chinese girl, except that he wanted to show that he apparently knew more about her culture than he did. All in all, it was incredibly awkward and terribly condescending. None of the topics he talked about were about her as a person. Just her as a label. Just her as a simplified representation.

This shocked me. I thought this whole kind of exchange was a Mormon thing.

There’s a common trend at BYU where white guys will go on missions to Asian countries, and return enraptured by their women. Because of that, they launch into this dating campaign, only dating Asian women. What they don’t realize is that it’s super creepy, condescending, and offensive. Imagine my shock to be sitting in a secular school and watching this. Thus, my tweet. Apparently, this isn’t an isolated Mormon phenomena but a systemic plague.

Some people wanted to know how exactly is it creepy, condescending, and offensive, and so I promised a blog post and here it is. Guys, four tips on what NOT to do when an Asian Girl is awesome and you want to ask her out.

1. DO NOT refer to your desire for Asian girls as “yellow fever.”

This was a common term at BYU. I assume that it’s just as common outside as well. Don’t use it. EVER. Denounce it’s usage vehemently wherever you hear it. And this is why.

First of all, dude, you’re comparing your lewd, lustful desires to a disease.

PROTIP: When writing love poetry, do not compare your love to diseases. Examples:

Roses are red, violets are blue, Malaria kills millions of people a year. Like my love.

Shall I compare thee to the pustules the size of grapefruits localized around the lymphnodes of my love? On a summer’s day?

Secondly, you’re referring to a racist term that is super old when refering to Asians. Here’s a hint, guys. Racist terms are offensive. Just sayin’.

2. DO NOT assume that you know everything about their culture, and never assume you know more.

This should be a given, but apparently guys struggle with this. If you want to show off the fact that you know something about Asian culture, be subtle. Use chopsticks at a restaurant but don’t make a huge fuss about it. Follow the social customs but don’t draw attention to it. Here’s what not to do:

- Use words from their native language, especially if you are butchering them (hint: YOU ARE BUTCHERING THEM).

- Use words from another Asian language that is not their own (hint: JUST DON’T SPEAK ASIAN EVER UNTIL AT LEAST THE FIFTH DATE).

- Tell them in great detail of your travelogues in Asian countries, as if this makes you automatic soulmates.

- Worse, do not tell them what you know about Asia that you learned in Japanese 101.

- Do not draw any attention to the fact that you know anything about their culture ever. Chances are, you have a horrifically inaccurate, simplified version and you will make a fool of yourself by setting yourself up as an expert and then dispelling that fact before you open your mouth (hint: We can tell).

3. DO NOT assume all Asian girls are stereotypes.

This should also go without saying, and it’s totally in your best interest, dude. Do you know what your stereotype is? Obese, constantly eating fast food, lazy, stupid, and lecherous towards Asian women. It’s true.

Do not assume that an Asian girl knows about/likes any of the following things. In fact, you’d be safe NOT bringing any of this up for at least two or three dates:

- Anime
– Manga
– Hello Kitty
– Kimonos
– Cuisine of any kind
– Asian languages

PROTIP: Above all else, do not talk about how Asian girls are so “polite” and “subservient” and not “uppity” like American women. This is just offensive all around and, in 37 states, is grounds for obligatory junk kicking from every female in a five mile radius upon utterance.

4. DO NOT ask her out just because she’s Asian.

There is something that white people in America will never understand (at least this generation), and that is prolonged racism. It’s not your fault guys, it’s because you’ve just never had the opportunity to be exposed to it for long periods of time. Asian heritage is a huge part of our identity that is in our face all the time, and most of us are conflicted by it. It’s best if you don’t draw attention to it, that you not say that ambivalent, conflicting portion of them is what drew you to the girl (even if it was).

It works in all areas of life. Hugh Nibley was a famous BYU professor and guys would date his daughter just to meet her dad. They would not even get past the front door sometimes, spending three hours talking to her dad instead of taking her out on a date. Do you know how she knew she met her husband? When on the first date she asked him if he’d like to meet her dad now and he said, “Who’s Hugh Nibley?”

This is not to say you should feign ignorance. Don’t be an idiot. But if you know something about Asian culture, then here’s the best advice I can give you:

Keep your distance, but don’t look like you’re keeping your distance.

PROTIP: Star Wars references are always good on a first date.

If you can start to see a pattern here, then you’re intelligent. All of these acts that men do when many of them ask out Asian girls is demeaning. It’s degrading, and it dehumanizes. You are not in love with or infatuated with a person – you’re infatuated with a concept, and you’re using that person as a stand-in. And they can tell. My sister can tell when you don’t really care about who she is, as long as she’s Asian. And it’s offensive.

These four tips are just the start. I’m sure all of my Asian friends who are female could tell you plenty of other tips if hitching up with an Asian girl is truly your life’s goal (and you girls totally should in the comments). Heck, all of these tips, with a little bit of adaption, are appropriate for any type of meeting up with any girl. It’s just common sense – treat them with dignity and respect and humanity. Unfortunately, this is apparently A Very Hard Thing To Do for many males.

I wish this was an isolated kind of event and that I’m just ranting for the sake of ranting. But I’m not. Ask any Asian girl about this. It’s a regular occurrence. And ask my sister about her husband. He’s white. He went on a mission to Korea. But here’s one thing you can bet – he never did any of these things to her.

At least, not on the first date.


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22 Comments

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22 responses to “How NOT to Ask an Asian Girl Out

  1. dteeps

    A great post! Hilarious and informative. I wonder if the reason why so many dumb white American guys are trying to pick up Asian girls is because of the prevalence of Anime in our culture. Anime has become really cool in the last few years. Especially here at BYU I have met too many dumb white American guys are so obsessed with Anime that they then take Japanese classes.

  2. kacie

    anime will never be cool (maybe because it makes white dudes fetishize asian girls)… ted thanks so much for writing this… this issue DEFINITELY NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT

  3. Jean

    oh my i love this. so amazing. so true. thank you thank you. yeah it’s pretty crappy to sit there being talked at by a boy who is very clearly interested only in your heritage. and grosser to think that they’re only attracted to you because of your race. honestly, if you are only looking for asian women, get a life. embrace everybody! it’s just as bad as if you said you only like white women or would never date an asian. i don’t know how people don’t understand that.

    i could tell horror stories up the ying yang… but then this comment would be too long. :) i’m excited to show austin this article. yes, the only way he won my heart was by making it super clear it was not because he served in korean and i’m korean. in fact, we didn’t date for awhile because we were afraid of the judging from others. but true love conquers all.

  4. “This is just offensive all around and, in 37 states, is grounds for obligatory junk kicking from every female in a five mile radius upon utterance.”

    I’m going to have to correct you here. This is actually true not only in any of the 50 United States, but also, Canada, Britain, and the rest of western Europe.

    On a side note– Ted, did Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World’s portrayal of Scott’s Chinese girlfriend in a Catholic school piss you off, make you laugh, cry, sneer, plan destructive things, etc…?

    • Ted

      I didn’t really think much of it because Knives Chau being Catholic (who dates a girl named “Knives”?) didn’t really mean anything as an Asian. There are plenty of Asian Americans (and Canadians, I would venture) who are Catholic, and also attend Catholic school. They did not portray Knives as a Catholic schoolgirl in any kind of sexualized way, so I imagine it’s just one more tidbit to help us flesh out her character (and is an accurate interpretation of the graphic novels, which I highly recommend).

      • Right…
        Hmm… I guess my question was misleading. The stereotyped private school Asian girl dating a white loser who’s several years older thing was more what I was referring to.
        I guess it didn’t bother you a whole lot then?

        Also, the novels ARE great fun, you are certainly correct.

    • Jing Hu

      If only the world was more like you. More open mindedness.
      Not all people from 50 states want a date with an asian girl. Trust me, there are prejudice and racsim against us asians more than you know.

  5. E-rock

    Haha! My sister said the same thing about creepy asians asking her on dates! Thankfully she kept them at arms length until a nice slav came around :)

    But what I find most interesting about this piece is that you seem to be implying whites are racist or never experience racism:

    There is something that white people in America will never understand (at least this generation), and that is prolonged racism. It’s not your fault guys, it’s because you’ve just never had the opportunity to be exposed to it for long periods of time.

    Uh… yes, whites never experience racism… right. Perhaps you should ask one if he has before you comment on it?
    Also, being a racist is one of the worst things to be in our society, and tossing it around is something you should do more carefully and when it is actually the case. Just sayin’ :)

    • Ted

      I am not saying that whites are racist, nor that white people have never experienced racism, but I’m talking about a _prolonged_ period of time experiencing racism. The opportunities of experiencing prolonged periods of racism as a white person in the States is rare – you kind of have to seek it out. I wouldn’t say it can’t happen, but I will venture a fairly confident guess that most white people have not experienced systemic discrimination against them because of their race for prolonged periods of time if they grew up in the United States.

      There is a severe psychological toll living as a minority anywhere, even if there is no overt forms of discrimination against you. My sister asked my mom once as a small girl at what point does her hair turn blonde like all of the other girls at school. I remember being teased by kids in school as they would yell out nonsense syllables, pretending it’s Chinese, and then asking me what they just said. There are subtle cues in society that constantly remind you that you are different from the majority, malicious or not, and that shapes your personality. You become incredibly ambivalent and conflicted towards your heritage. It’s a rough go, and when people try to manipulate your heritage as a way to get a date, it’s a most offensive act of complete disregard for you as a person.

      I’m not saying white people don’t experience discrimination. Sure, you may get turned down from a job because of Affirmative Action – maybe (I would venture this happens way less than people getting turned down because of race or gender), or maybe they might walk through a “bad part of town” or grow up in Newport High (ha!), but I have yet to meet a white person who experiences the same internal turmoil about their race as minorities do (and I will venture to guess that I’ve met a ton of white people during my life time, especially in Oklahoma as a missionary), and I would say it’s because they simply haven’t been exposed to the same kind of discrimination that minorities do in America.

      I would also venture to say that while white Mormons who go on foreign missions do experience that type of prolonged racism and it _can_ help them see what it’s like to be a minority, they must choose to be open to the experience. However, there are some caveats that make the experience different than living as a minority in America. (1) There is a form of “LDS Man’s Burden” in our church, where we see ourselves as religiously superior going to the unenlightened masses to bring the light of the Gospel. This allows missionaries to hold on to a sense of superiority, even when other aspects of the culture may beat them down (not to say they don’t get discouraged, but that this self-schema as a missionary bringing superior truth helps with self-esteem, identity, and worth). (2) There is a time limit to how long you are exposed to the racism – you know that in two years, you’re done. Immigrants in America do not have the luxury of knowing how long this will last. And (3) Missionaries are older, and thus their self-identity as a white person is firmly in place. When second generation immigrants grow up in America, they are exposed to racism at a very early age when their identities have not quite been intact. For missionaries, these 19 – 27 year old men and women may have their racial identity challenged for the first time, and it’s not as traumatic as say, when you’re 6, and wondering when you will start looking like other white people when you’re not.

    • Ted

      Also, yes, it can most definitely go both ways. Like I said, you could probably just use this about girls in general and they would be helpful tips.

      And as a disclosure, I think the Asian male culture (especially second generation Asian American male culture) could really use a lot of work. They make me embarrassed sometimes to be a second generation Asian American male. The second generation Asian Americans should really know better – we grew up here. First generation Asian males I’m willing to give at least a little bit of slack because it could just be really bad cultural barriers (though, really, kindness and respect should be universal, regardless of culture).

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  7. E-rock

    I would say that ‘internal turmoil’ caused by being a minority is mostly a personal thing. I have known many ‘minorities’ who don’t classify themselves by their ethnicity, and who see themselves as an American just like anyone else. My uncle, born a Mexican, is this way. These people do not view the world through a prism of race and when something bad happens they do not look at it as a result of racism. I have met other ‘minorities’ as well, who see everything in racial overtones. Consequently, an offhand comment becomes a racist comment, failure to progress in life becomes racism inherent in society rather the result of bad personal decisions and so on.
    Its like when I was on the mission: I was a minority in the greatest degree, the only white guy for dozens of miles in all directions. At first it got me down, and I thought of Nicas as others. I had someone come up to me and make all sorts of ‘Chinese’ sounds at me (to Nicas I look Asian, in fact they called me ‘Chino Cochino’). I could have dwelled on the uneducated and ignorant comments and the obvious lack of appreciation of my Norse heritage, but I didn’t. Consequently, by six months in I considered myself more Nica than American, and the comments about being pasty became a source of pride. I would not say I had even a hint of ‘internal turmoil,’ no, not one bit. You just don’t dwell on it.
    Speaking of which, could name one case of institutionalized racism that has hindered your progression? You seem to think affirmative action is okay, so I would like to hear what is ‘unacceptable’ racism.

    • Ted

      If you and your uncle are able to truly “get over it,” then I applaud you – really. For many, many others, however, the scars may be a little bit deeper. I think it would be naive to say that your racial identity has no effect on you whatsoever. Race has powerful, subtle effects on how we act and think and perceive the world. You can certainly negate any of the effects (positive or negative) over time, but it would be foolish to say it never effected you.

      Take your example in Nicaragua. You mentioned that at first it got you down, but after a while you were able to convert your racial identity into “a source of pride.” Both your initial discouragement and your ability to turn it into a positive emotion shows how racial attitudes can shape your perception of the world around you. In the end, you say you didn’t have any “internal turmoil,” but in order to achieve that state of mind, you had to navigate through life looking through a racial prism (discouragement, considering Nicas as ‘them’, transforming your identity into that of a Nica from an American, and then balancing your Nica, American, and Norse heritages in a healthy manner).

      Lucky for you, you’re a well adjusted kid, and that’s great. I think most Asian Americans I know live in America just fine (only a small minority of the minority become incredibly bitter about race, as far as my personal experience has been). But in special cases, such as when a guy attempts to manhandle your heritage into some kind of leverage for a date, it touches a sore button. I know, for example, my cousins and sister, and they do not walk around as seething racial time bombs. This is just a pet peeve that many Asian women have when it comes to a certain type of male asking them out, and I was dissecting why this kind of dating tactic is so infuriating for them.

      As far as institutionalized racism goes, I’m actually personally not a big fan of Affirmative Action. However, I agree with Dr. King that programs like Affirmative Action are necessary when it comes to healing deep-seated racial tension and can be used effectively when temporary, like a necessary evil. I’m not a personal fan of income taxes, either, but I can see why they’re necessary for advanced, democratic societies to continue their survival (this subject is food for thought for at least five blog posts so I’m not really going to go into it, but in his book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King lays out his basic arguments for things like Affirmative Action).

      I’ve been really lucky that I haven’t really faced any kind of “institutionalized racism” (other than some isolated experiences in Oklahoma as a missionary) – most of the racism I’ve faced has been of the personal kind (there was one time I was talking to a professor about the possibility of taking one of her classes and she warned me that I would have to know how to read English at a basic level – even though I had been talking to her in fluent English for at least fifteen minutes). However, I know that many minorities in the country are not so lucky. The fact that, for example, a large majority of black men are in prison shows that there is some kind of systemic sociological factor leading to this sad statistic – unless you’re willing to argue that black men are genetically, biologically predicated towards crime or low moral fiber, which are shaky arguments to stand on. Some kind of human, social force is pushing them towards this life of crime or getting them convicted more often, and tackling the root of this sociological factor is much more effective than telling black men to be better about crime (or ignoring the problem all together). There are much fewer groups with official names running around causing all kinds of racial mayhem (such as the KKK). The “institutionalized racism” we face today is much harder to identify and treat precisely because it doesn’t have a face or name of it’s own. But it’s out there – at least in Oklahoma (like Blackwell, where only recently they took down the welcome sign that warned that Black people aren’t welcome).

  8. Ted

    @Mykle – I really need to change the comments so that you can get more than two replies off of a single comment.

    I guess I didn’t see it that way? I had no idea Asian school girls were totally into dating older losers. :p

  9. “I’m sure all of my Asian friends who are female could tell you plenty of other tips if hitching up with an Asian girl is truly your life’s goal.”

    …but isn’t that goal the problem? If so, why are you better helping them achieve that goal? Looking forward to your future post: “How NOT to stalk a girl.”

    ;p <— winky tongue-in-cheek face means I'm joking. BTW, which daughter of Hugh Nibley are you talking about?

  10. I think you advice is good in general (the headlines), but it is delivered kind of angry. You are you trying to help? Are you the self appointed savior of Asian women? Asian women are pretty tough I think they can handle themselves. As for the yellow fever fetishists I think let them be – then it will make the that much easier for women to spot.

    We recently launched a blog, Racy JC that focuses on dating within different races and cultures (Asian, Black, Indian, Jewish, Latino, among others) and approaches these issues in a new, honest, real, and non-PC way. Please check it out!

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  11. Jing Hu

    Interesting topic. I would like to take this in a diffrernet perspective if I may,

    In my experience it depends on where you live. Where I live at least (living inthe Midwst U.S.) NO white male and i mean none, nada, zero have ever fancied Asian girls. I met several white males that don’t even talk to an Asian let along hang out! Shocking as this maybe, many people refused to admit that there ARE hate and prejudice against Asians in this country as well (at least where i live). White male that i have come across have been more falling away from the Asian girls then what you were blogging about….

    Due to this issue, personally have dated Asian males. I hope my comment did not offend any white males in the house. lol. But truely there lies both sides of an issues and its not always “white males hitting on asians girls”…

    Have a blessed weekend!

  12. anna

    Just browsing.. doing some research abt the Asian girl white guy thing… Yeah your post sealed it. Gonna totally dump ever white guy I’m seeing and going after Asian guys. Or at lest respond better when I’m hit on by one. I just can’t do the whole…. omg culture difference thing. I’m not even that Asian!!! So where to cool Asian guys hang out and how do I meet them?

  13. anna

    Just browsing.. doing some research abt the Asian girl white guy thing… Yeah your post sealed it. Gonna totally dump ever white guy I’m seeing and going after Asian guys. Or at lest respond better when I’m hit on by one. I just can’t do the whole…. omg culture difference thing. I’m not even that Asian!!! So where to cool Asian guys hang out and how do I meet them?

    *sorry can you delete the post above put in wrong email addy.

  14. anna

    sorry to completely butcher grammar and spelling. typing too fast… hope it’s all some-what comprehensible.

  15. Ah! I take a short coffee break from the
    blogging universe and come back to find that you have a ton
    of followers?! Wow, times have changed! Keep
    up the primo work!

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