In a recent Marie Claire article, beauty director Ying Chu poses the provocative question, “why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?”
Chu cites many Hollywood couples as examples, such as Nicolas Cage and Alice Kim, Zhang Ziyi and venture capitalist Vivi Nevo; and most famously, Woody Allen and his once-adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. And while these couplings aren’t exactly breaking news (nor is the concept of “yellow fever” for that matter), the article investigates the concept of an Asian trophy wife — are these older men dating younger Asian women as an exotic status symbol?
“After two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized,” says Chu.
Furthermore, Chu goes onto to speculate why the women go along with it regardless:
“Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliché that is predominantly true). Or… are these women just glorified opportunists?”
Chu points out that many of these Asian trophy wives are highly educated and successful, which goes against the idea of a traditional trophy wife who is much less educated than her husband.
As you probably can tell, this article has incited some pretty strong comments both in the blogosphere and in the articles comments section. There are some out there who don’t take too kindly to Ying Chu’s generalizations. Read TheFrisky.com’s rebuttal to Chu’s piece here. The popular relationships site argues that this article needlessly marginalizes the interracial relationships that ARE genuine:
“Not all interracial relationships between whites and Asians deserve to have doubt cast upon them,” says Frisky writer Jessica Wakeman. “Lots of men simply think Asian women are beautiful — just like lots of men simply think blondes are beautiful —which doesn’t necessarily qualify as a fetish.”
I tend to agree with Wakeman. Sure, there are a handful of men who fetishize Asian women according to the most stereotypical terms, but isn’t there a difference between dating an Asian because she’s submissive/hypersexual/whatever and merely finding them more attractive?
Here are some of the many negative reader comments from this article on Marie Claire’s website so far:
“This article does nothing but drum up the same awkwardness that Spike Lee and other closed minded people in the media have used to make Asians, Blacks Whites and Latinos feel ashamed for “dating outside of their race.” — katty852
“This is embarrassing, both for the writer and the editors. As a piece of written work, this would be laughed out of a freshman gender studies class. As an Asian-American female, I read the comments regarding “emotionally unavailable fathers” and “always respecting our elders” with disgust. Really? All of us fit into this box? I used to be a huge fan of Marie Claire, but the level of this article makes it clear why the magazine has lost its draw.” — saracee1
“As an Asian American woman in my late thirties, I was disturbed at how immature and insecure Chu’s writing was an extension of her own self image. Is she speaking about herself, asking if she could not understand why a white man would want to date her? ” — missmodern
“Who are you to judge whether or not people are in love or not just because two people are of different ethnicity?” — mp314
“Although I too have rolled my eyes at some of the aforementioned pairings of late, this piece really does a disservice by recycling hackneyed stereotypes without offering any real analysis, insight or even basic facts. It reads like the rant of someone taking a freshman course on race, gender and identity politics.” — d7253
What do you think readers? Is Chu hitting on an uncomfortable trend or she hitting a career-low with this article?
Photo via Marie Claire
Last modified: August 14, 2009