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Koji's Column

Marrying Japanese

My mother has given me a preference list on which races I should/could marry. First on that illustrious list is Japanese. Since my mother is Japanese, she wants to make sure she has someone to speak to when she’s old and forgets English. Next is Caucasian, because according to her if my wife isn’t Japanese (what a disappointment I would be) the best she can hope for is beautiful grandchildren. Chinese is third. She prefers wealthy girls from Taiwan and Hong Kong to those from the Mainland. After that, it’s a slippery slope she doesn’t like to discuss.

She has admitted in the past that if I were to date outside the first three choices, she would accept her as long as I was happy. But she says this with such a grudging acceptance, she’s telling me that she wouldn’t have a problem with whatever choice I made, but not overjoyed with my bad judgment. So I know unless I was really in love and willing to put in the time and effort needed to ensure my mother’s contentment, I shouldn’t bother.

She has nothing to worry about though. Asian men are not seen as desirable. I read a poll in college that surveyed the general perceptions of racial beauty in America. For women, Asians were seen as the most beautiful, followed by Caucasians, Latinas, and then African Americans. For males, that list was flipped around. African Americans were ranked number one, Caucasians were next, then Latinos, and finally Asians.

Most of the comments were based on stereotypes. Those surveyed said that Asian men were feminine, small, computer geeks or martial arts experts, untrustworthy, perverted, and sneaky.

With so many pre and misconceptions of me, it’s little wonder that I’ve only dated twice outside my race. Both were white women with histories of dating other Asian men. Known as “yellow fever.”

It’s rare to see Asian males with non-Asian females. The opposite isn’t as true. Everywhere I go I find Asian women with men from every other race. I’m not mad at them, but I just think it’s funny how fashionable it’s become to have Oriental dolls hanging from the arm. Harry Potter had a crush on an Asian classmate. Harry Potter!

Even gay Asians typically don’t date other gay Asians. How messed up is that? If I were homosexual, I’d marry an Asian man. That’s called “sticky rice.”

But instead, we’ve always been regulated to the role of the friend who is so nice and so loyal and so friendly and so respectable. A sucker. Just once, I want to hear about a blond haired and blue-eyed model who went out with an Asian guy strictly for his looks.

In the end, my mom’s ultimate wish came true. I’m marrying a woman of Japanese descent who speaks Japanese fluently and whom I happen to love more than anyone else I’ve ever met. It’s nice when it works out for everyone. You’re welcome mom.

© 2007 Koji Steven Sakai

family marriage parents race stereotype

Sobre esta série

“Koji’s Column” is a column series contributed by Japanese American National Museum staff member, Koji Steven Sakai. His column explores Nikkei identity and culture from the standpoint of a second- and fourth-generation Japanese Americana American male from Southern California.