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The 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti and Puccini's 1904 opera Madama Butterfly served to popularise the image of the submissive and doll-like East Asian woman, while Hollywood promoted the sexualised Asian femme fatale in the form portrayed by Anna May Wong as Fu Manchu’s daughter. The term "yellow fever" describes someone who is inflicted with a disease, meaning that someone with an Asian fetish has a sickness.The image of the sexualized Asian woman in the United States was further solidified by the presence of the U. military in Asia during the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war. Hwang argues that this phenomenon is caused by stereotyping of Asians in Western society.Things that the men found appealing in Asian women included subtlety and quietness, eye-catching long black hair, a mysterious look in dark eyes, and a propensity to give more consideration to how their man feels than to themselves.Lum described the stereotype associated with an Asian fetish as an obsession with seeking "somebody submissive, traditional, docile... They can properly take care of their children during the day and fulfill their mans' sexual desires at night.
This idea is based on the stereotype of "the Oriental woman" who is considered to be beautiful and sexually exciting as well as caring, compliant and submissive.A Western fetish for Asian things developed out of a European tradition of fascination with the East, and a history of othering the inhabitants of those regions.Middle Eastern women were fetishised during the 17th and 18th centuries, and after the First Opium War in the 1840s and the opening of the Chinese treaty ports to foreign merchants, East Asia became the focus of Western interest.Because of Asian fetish, an Asian woman’s racial difference is either seen as a failure to conform to mainstream white standards of beauty, or as something that can be appreciated only on an alternative scale.NPR correspondent Elise Hu offers that this can be a source of insecurity in Asian women's dating lives, "Am I just loved because I'm part of an ethnic group that's assumed to be subservient, or do I have actual value as an individual, or is it both? In the other direction, it has been argued that the notion of an Asian fetish creates the unnecessary perception of multiracial relationships as being characterized by "patriarchal, racist power structures" in relationships.
The study took data from "thousands of decisions made by more than 400 daters from Columbia University's various graduate and professional schools".