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“I like to joke that San Francisco is the epicentre of the yellow fever phenomenon”, says Debbie, who describes a general awareness of being looked at by men because she’s Chinese.But Debbie also believes that Asian American women are paying a price for “positive” stereotyping.Professor Miri Song, who specialises in ethnic identity at the University of Kent, suggests that the parodying of Chinese people is seen as more “socially acceptable” in part because East Asians are not seen as truly disadvantaged, or merit the same protection status as other ethnic minorities.She points to how British Chinese do well academically and professionally.One acquaintance told me in wonderment that Chinese women are great in the bedroom – as if I wasn't one – to being casually asked if I’d be interested in a guy “who has been with Chinese girls and likes it”.I’ve been left puzzled by the insensitivity, and the lack of awareness that such comments may cause offence.
In parts of the US, such a notion has become so pervasive that last year, Debbie Lum, an American filmmaker of Chinese descent, sought to capture the madness in her documentary “Seeking Asian Female”.But even at Stanford Business School, Ting feels that presumptions still linger, on a name: “I really regret not using my English name 'Jacqueline' here”, she reveals.“I would have had so much more social equity to start with”.Aowen Jin, a 36-year-old British Chinese artist, thinks that cultural differences, such as the inability “to say no”, are often misconstrued by westerners as agreeableness, or even misinterpreted by western men as a sign of romantic interest.
In the professional world, Ting Jacqueline Chen, a 28-year-old Oxford graduate, is also battling stereotypes.
In Britain, while significant rates of intermarriage between the Chinese and white Caucasian population have demonstrated social integration, the trend is nevertheless heavily skewed towards Chinese women and white men, rather than the other way around.