What Science Fiction, Fantasy, Magic, and the Esoteric Can Teach Asian America About Love
(15 min read)
ONLINE DATING AS A MICROCOSM OF ASIAN AMERICA
“Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe.”
“Microcosm and Macrocosm” refers to a vision of the cosmos where an individual part (microcosm) reflects the Whole (macrocosm), often expressed in the dictum: “As above, so below.” That individual part is referred to as an Epitome or Embodiment, an instance that represents a larger reality. The theory was initiated by Ancient Greek mathematician, religious philosopher, and Occultist Pythagoras, who also dreamt up the famous Pythagorean Theorem. According to French Esotericist and scholar Pierre A. Riffard, it is a feature “present in all Esoteric schools of thinking.”
Given the esoteric nature and history of Mathematics, which first emerged as religious spoken word verses and Sanskrit manuscripts in India, it is perhaps no surprise that the concept of Microcosm and Macrocosm has proliferated across all the Sciences. The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who coined the term “fractal” to refer to this phenomenon in Nature, also deploys the mathematical terminology of “scale invariance” to describe it. “Scale invariance”, or self-similarity, refers to phenomena in the Universe like the jagged coastline of Norway, where parts of the coast eerily resemble the entire coastline. This is known as “scale invariance” because at different scales of measurement, aka Resolutions, you continuously see approximate images of the whole — i.e., the Macrocosm reproduces itself in its infinitely granular Microcosms. This concept is the entire basis for modeling in Science, and also how our Personality engages the World: through a series of psychological constructs that form an approximation of Reality known as a Worldview or set of Opinions. The depth of an Opinion indicates the number of different resolutions in which we have managed to capture the unity of the Whole.
The Occult Nature of Math: Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) and Darren Aronofsky’s Pi (1998)
Today, the concept of Microcosm has been dominated by Sociology to mean “a small group of individuals whose behavior is typical of a larger social body encompassing it” — in other words, a representative sample. By continuously observing and analyzing representative samples at different resolutions, alternatively called levels of analysis, Science builds out a body of knowledge, otherwise known as Discourse. Levels of analysis can be conceptualized thusly: on one level of analysis, I am a former college student of Michigan State University. At a higher level, I am a former resident of Michigan. At an even higher level, I am a citizen of the United States, and at the highest level, I am a member of the human species. If my specific actions as a former college student correspond to certain movements of the human species, I am a representative sample, or microcosm, of the Human Race. The opposite of being a microcosm is to be Unique, meaning, my actions, thoughts, and behaviors are limited and domain specific, i.e., only replicated at one level of analysis — my personal self — and not scale invariant, i.e., replicated at higher levels, which is what makes individual phenomena generalizable.
How is this relevant to the issue of romance for Asian Americans? Because the problems Asian men face with racism in online dating are simply a microcosm of the problems we face with dating in Real Life, the ultimate macrocosm. In other words, it is not Tinder or Grindr¹⁶ that’s problematic — it’s the people who use Tinder and Grindr¹⁷, who make up the Society we live in. This also includes other Asian Americans.
In a 2007 New York Times article, “Single Female Seeking Same-Race Male”¹⁸, John Tierney from TierneyLab (“Putting Ideas in Science to the Test”) discussed the results of a study of more than 400 graduate and professional students who participated in speed dating sessions at Columbia University. The sessions were organized by Raymond Fisman, Sheena S. Iyengar, Emir Kamenica and Itamar Simonson. According to the researchers: “Even in a population of relatively progressive individuals who have self-selected into participation in a multi-cultural Speed Dating event, we observe strong racial preferences.”
The results of the study reveal a clear gender division when it comes to racial preferences: men simply do not care about race very much when it comes to romantic involvement (and romantic involvement does not at all mediate their racist tendencies or pathological desire to downplay racism¹⁹, making the whole notion of “having an Asian wife” as a get-out-of-jail-free card for anti-Asian racism a ludicrous farce). In other words, “Yellow Fever”, as a general broad, empirical pattern of romantic bias towards Asian women among the White male population, simply doesn’t exist (according to the study, anyway).
Rather, women exhibit strong racial preferences for their own race of men, an effect observed most strongly in Black women, while discriminating against all other races of men. With one important caveat — Asian women do not discriminate against White men in dating, or in other words, since women in general discriminate in favor of their own men and against other men, they have a romantic preference for White men, which the racist New York Times author John Tierney hilariously characterizes as “Asian women didn’t discriminate much by race” in the same sentence where he writes “except for showing a very slight preference for Asian men over black or Hispanic men”. You mean, they don’t discriminate against White men, and only marginally prefer Asian men to others, a phenomenon known as “White Fever.”
This macroscopic social trend is captured in the microscopic world of online dating. A couple years ago, the online dating service CoffeeMeetsBagel – which was created by a trio of enterprising Asian American sisters²⁰ — analyzed their dating statistics, and ran an article called “Dating Myths Exposed: Do Jewish Men Really Have a Thing for Asian Women?” The upshot is no, they don’t. However, Dawoon, one of the founders, discovered: “Asian women are fiends for White men, including Jewish men”²¹.
In another analysis of more than 20,000 online daters, researchers, after controlling for all other attributes (height, weight, attractiveness, etc.), calculated how much extra income a man would need to overcome racial barriers. For equal success with an average White woman as the average White man, they found an Asian man would need to earn an additional $247,000, regardless of every other attribute (unfortunately, they did not seem to study the amount necessary to overcome the racial biases of other women). In contrast, Asian women actually gave a $24,000 discount to White men, based purely on their skin color. Talk about a symbolic exchange!
This White fever in virtual dating and university speed dating is also fractally mirrored in the country at large, often with toxic manifestations. For example, in May 2010, Hyphen, an Asian American Magazine, published an article called “Study Finds Disturbing STD Rates Among Asian Americans” with the following excerpt²²:
“Here’s a disturbing research study out of Boston University, on STD rates among Asian Americans. Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm led the study, after noticing high STD rates among Asian Americans while working for ten years as a psychiatric social worker.
What she found was troubling:
“Over the course the study, Hahm unmasked some myths common about Asian Americans. She said, “There’s a perception that Asian Americans in particular aren’t practicing sexually risky behaviors. But we found that Asian American young women are at risk of high STDs.
For instance, Asian American women had a higher prevalence of STDs than White women in both 1995 (10.4% vs. 7.7) and 2001 (13.5% vs. 8.3%). The incidence of STDs (not diagnosed with STDs in 1995 but developed STIs in 2001) among Asian American women was also higher than that of White women.”
Moreover, the power dynamic between genders became immediately clear. Asian American women were four times more likely to have a STD than their male counterparts. “This was shocking,” said Hahm, “It was so much higher than the males.” Accounting for the gender disparity, Hahm suggested that… “Asian and Pacific Islander women also have broader interracial dating patterns than Asian American men. This might explain why these women are exposed to higher rates of STDs.”
I think these findings definitely go against some prior conceptions about Asian Americans and sexually transmitted diseases. The 4:1 ratio of STDs among Asian American women to men is astounding. To see what this means, I looked up some global data of STD rates around the world, broken down by gender. In East Asia, and on every other continent, women have slightly higher STD rates than men, however nothing comes remotely close to the 4:1 ratio among Asian Americans.”
These broad, societal interracial relationship patterns, particularly to White partners, have also been documented in an almost obsessive fashion by CN Le, Director of Asian American Studies at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with astonishing results, particularly for U.S.-born Asian women. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2014-2015, almost half (46%) of U.S.-born Asian newlyweds have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity (almost universally White, given what we know of Asian women’s racial preferences from the body of literature). Among Asian newlyweds as a whole, “a significant gender gap in intermarriage is apparent: Just over one-third (36%) of Asian newlywed women have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, while 21% of Asian newlywed men do”²³.
While this disparity in interracial marriage rates might not seem so large, keep in mind that the Scientific Discourse has established that Asian American men have far lower rates of relationship involvement, including marriage, than Asian American women. Therefore, the actual gap in absolute numbers is much larger than the percentages suggest.
We have now clearly established a general empirical Trend — White Fever — a broad, underlying Correspondence that manifests in the same way structurally, across different resolutions of Reality. The important question here, though, is: Why?
Lysistrata: “What was above, will be placed below.”
The wives of Athens: “So we get to lie on top?”
Thanks to Hume’s Problem, everything is an Opinion. But there’s an infinite set of right Opinions and an infinite set of wrong Opinions.
In Science and Philosophy, a right Opinion has three essential components: 1) it corresponds to Reality²⁴ (also known as Goodness-Of-Fit)²⁵; 2) given any set of similar situations, it will remain the same (also known as Reliability); and 3) it does not contradict any other Opinion you hold (also known as Coherence, which is what makes an Opinion meaningful, and not shallow)²⁶. An Opinion that does not correspond to Reality is formally known in Philosophy and Psychology as “Bullshit”²⁷, or “Lies” if done with the intent to deceive. An Opinion that does not remain the same in similar situations, usually for self-serving reasons, is known as “Inconsistent” or “Hypocritical”. And an Opinion that cannot be adequately integrated into your other Opinions, is known as “Nonsense”. Bullshit, Lies, Hypocrisy, and Nonsense, are all wrong.
Within these constraints, you can have an infinite number of Interpretations — ways of modeling the World — that are all, essentially, legitimate arguments. The Strength of an argument lies in its ability to explain our observations of the Real World, and to directionally, if not precisely, predict future outcomes, all other relevant factors remaining the same. This is known as Utility, or a Useful Opinion. Therefore, when it comes to a legitimate and useful Opinion regarding why the phenomenon of White Fever among Asian women occurs, we must be able to account for the broad trends we observe in Reality, which Pragmatist²⁸ philosopher Charles Peirce defined as “that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.” In other words, Facts — empirical observations — don’t care about your feelings.
We begin, as we always should, with History, which sets both Precedent and acts as a Starting Point for Inquiry. This seems fairly common sense. In order to understand why things are the way they are, we must understand how they came to be that way. Anybody, therefore, who takes no interest in the relevant History of a Subject, immediately disqualifies themselves as having any useful or legitimate Opinion on the matter. This is known as Ignorance.
Dr. Heather M. Dalmage, professor of Sociology and Director of Mansfield Institute for Social Justice, gives us an important historical Starting Point for White Fever²⁹:
“After internment, Japanese Americans were scattered geographically and discouraged from coming back to the west coast of the United States. This geographic dispersal, along with job training programs and hyperassimilation, made many Japanese Americans ashamed of being Japanese American, and they tried to be 110 percent American.
Their orientation toward upward mobility through education, work, and marriage dovetailed nicely with the growing focus on assimilation and proving what “good Americans” Japanese Americans were. During and after the war, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) played a prime role in encouraging assimilation by trying to ostracize draft resisters within the internment camps and by colluding with the U.S. government to encourage compliance and assimilation into mainstream society.
It is no surprise, then, that the JACL supported early attempts to overturn anti-miscegenation laws and encouraged interracial marriage, primarily with whites. The acceptance of mainstream racial views, such as the notion that whiteness meant success or access to power, was deeply ingrained in both the individual Nisei and their organizations, such as the JACL.”
Recall the definitions of both Racist Love and Symbolic Violence, which not only requires a dominator, but also requires the dominated to accept, consciously or unconsciously, the unjust categories of thought, social hierarchies, and material conditions that have been imposed on them and be grateful for their own domination, which they rationalize as “just” or “natural”. In other words, symbolic violence such as Racism and Sexism require the Consent of the oppressed in order to function. Internalizing white supremacy, therefore, is consenting to White supremacy/racism, which for all practical purposes, means committing symbolic violence towards all those that White supremacy/racism harms, including yourself.
You can see the result of this symbolic violence, this internalized Racist Love that Asian American women have towards White men, most clearly if you dare to suggest withdrawing Consent.
A Sex Strike is, of course, the oldest form of war protest. Immortalized by Lysistrata³⁰, a play first performed in classical Athens in the 5th century BC and written by Aristophanes, the eponymous heroine sought to end the Peloponnesian War by persuading her fellow women to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace. In the play, the decades-long conflict swiftly concluded with a peace settlement that was collectively facilitated by long-suffering daughters, mothers, and wives. This reveals to us a fundamental truth — stripped of all social constructs of gender, there is a biological symmetry in the source of Power cisgender, heterosexual Men and Women have over the other: on average, Men have superior strength, but they also need sex more than Women³¹, and Women have the power to withhold it. The fundamental question behind all Human Culture is one of how we address these starting premises to build a Society. In primitive proto-patriarchal societies, Men use their superior strength to overpower Women and strip of them their Power — the right to choose who to have sex with, free of physical coercion. This is known as Rape, which is why all Patriarchies in which Men ultimately hold Societal Power over Women perpetuate what is called “Rape Culture” in feminist theory³². When women reclaim their Power by withholding Sex, heterosexual Patriarchy soon finds itself having to concede to Women’s demands or fall apart.
For this reason, History shows us that sex strikes are an unsurprisingly effective strategy for political change. In 1600, Iroquois women refused to engage in sex in order to stop unregulated warfare — they were then granted veto power concerning all future wars, which also “paved the way for future feminist rebellions” according to Maureen Shaw in a 2017 Quartz article³³. In 2003, Leymah Gbowee organized a highly publicized sex strike to end Liberia’s brutal civil war. Not only did the warlords agree to end the violence, but Gbowee was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her heroism.
In 2006, female partners of gang members in the Colombian city of Pereira withheld sex to demand civilian disarmament and a reduction in violence. The results were, again, swift and stunning: “Pereira’s murder rate fell by 26.5% by 2010.” Kenyan women similarly followed suit in 2009, enforcing a sex ban until the political infighting that crippled the national unity government came to a screeching halt. “Pussy power”, indeed. In 2017, African American singer Janelle Monáe similarly called for a sex ban in Marie Claire “until every man is fighting for our rights.” Trump supporters in DC have felt the effects of a soft sex strike since the President’s election, leading to them creating their own dating apps, which hilariously have been relentlessly hacked by leftists.
Asian women are no strangers to this ancient form of Direct Action themselves. The town of Dado on the conflict-torn island of Mindanao in the Philippines has long been a site of continuous violence due to fighting between separatist and government forces. However, in 2011, the Filipina women of Dado proclaimed they would no longer tolerate the damage to the economy and social instability that was wracking the residents due to the ongoing conflict and implemented a sex strike against the combatants — Filipino husbands and lovers. Within one week, there was a stable government³⁴.
The heroic Asian women of Dado
Yet, when in America, Asian women suddenly become extremely shy and uncomfortable about engaging in this nonviolent form of protest against the reigning patriarchal and violent structures of White Men. Clearly, there is nothing innately about Asian women that prevents them from engaging in a Sex Strike — they are more than happy to do so against governments in our homelands and a sizable portion of them boycott Asian American men, no problem. However, when the topic is broached with them, what we usually get is a response that Malcolm X characterized as coming from a “house Negro”, who has wholly become absorbed by the symbolic machine of Racist Love:
“And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house Negro. In those days, he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, because we’ve still got some house niggers running around here.”
— Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots
We also have some real palace eunuchs³⁵ and concubines, the Yellow version of the house Negro, running around here. Usually, these types will then justify their servile attitude and docility towards the White Man by suggesting that their symbolic violence and persecution of Asian American men and fundamental apathy towards collective struggle against the entire racist structure of Whiteness is a result of Oriental misogyny or patriarchal customs and practices, which feminist author and sociology professor Karen Pyke has demonstrated to be Nonsense:
“Feminist research on non-Western/non-white women’s sexual relationships and romantic desires for white Western men suggests they strategically engage a discourse glorifying white masculinity to resist “ethnic patriarchy”. An analysis of interviews with second-generation Korean and Vietnamese American women finds those who express a desire for white men invoke racialized gender stereotypes of masculinity that idealize White western men as romantic “egalitarian knights” and denigrate Asian American men as inferior, domineering partners. Those respondents who prefer white men see it as a strategy for resisting Asian American men’s gender oppression; however, they overlook white men’s gender oppression.”
Not only is it Nonsense, it’s also Bullshit. The radical Asian American feminist professor Diane Fujino, along with sociology professor Peter Chua, has this to say:
“Given a history of emasculation and desexualization of U.S.-born Asian men, these men for the most part have been able to make a masculinity that does NOT completely resemble white hegemonic masculinity or a model minority masculinity that uses male privilege, power, and domination in relationship with a variety of racialized and class-stratified women and men.”
If all else fails, they will fall back on the old trope of “you can’t tell me who to date!” — an Ignorant talking point they co-opted from White sex-positive feminists during the Second Wave in the context of rebellion against White male supremacy forcing them to conform to rigid roles and barring contact with non-White men through the use of formal and informal institutions, laws, customs, traditions, and vigilante — in the form of domestic — violence. This justification simply does not correspond to the reality of how Asian American men are situated in the hierarchy of power in the dating World (recall — we’re at the bottom³⁶, quite often literally³⁷). What political, economic, ideological, or military power do we have, and what control of mass mediums do we wield, to blanket Society with idealized images of us and commit symbolic violence towards all other potential suitors? The answer is clear: None.
So why all the Bullshit, Lies, Hypocrisy, and Nonsense from our so-called “better half”? What compels Asian American women as a whole to behave in this manner?
Written by Albert Joon-Ho Hur
[Edited by J]
- Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking by Heather M. Dalmage (2004)