B.S. Advice for Your Valentine’s Season

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Illustration by Kristine Mar

Dear BS Advice, I’m an Asian queer male, and as someone who is aware of my race I’m totally fucking confused as to whether or not I should label queer white men who concentrate in East Asian studies and find me attractive as fetishists. Do I accept their advances or is that giving into my stereotyped submissive role in their possibly unconscious imperialistic fantasies? 

Dear Hottie With Pause,
First things first, I am 100% sure you are attractive whether or not white men, festishists or not, concur. Moving forward, it is entirely up to you if you want to give him the B of the D. But since you asked me, I’m gunna have to recommend an informed approach to decision-making, even for matters of heart and flesh!
The reality is that white men control the market (if you somehow weren’t already aware of this, read the OKCupid Stats on the dating realm). As far as I’m concerned, you are in a position to engage in a bit of phishing on a case by case basis. Do your research: Do they only date East Asians? Or the alternative, are they looking to “just try something new.”  Either way, these may be some reasons to put up caution lights. The key is to keep an eye out for red flags early in the game.
More considerations: Does he expect you to perform lots of favors (sexual or otherwise)? Does he expect you to have specific experiences or “culture” (even if you’ve diaspora’d)? Still not sure, throw out some bait, and see if he bites. Worst case scenario, he fails to answer your trick question correctly, hook line and sinker, and then you peace the fuck out.
Or, you could just talk him about it. Let me put it his way, if you are someone who is super aware of the sexualized dimensions of race, isn’t it important to you that your partner(s) are as well?
Besides worrying about outright fetishists, there’s also the sticky territory of dating a white person who holds onto a colorblind fantasy and doesn’t want to acknowledge or talk about difference. Ignoring difference (re: colorblind) is just as bad as sensationalizing difference (re: fetishist) in many ways.
If this person is not, in fact, a fetishist and legitimately interested in you (and thus legitimately interested in listening to you and your concerns as a poc) they won’t shy away from this conversation. Hell, it will very well be the first of many.
xoxo,
B.S.

Dear BS Advice,

Why am I lonely?

Dear One More Lonely Phe,
Ooof! You, me and the rest of us. There are neverending reasons to be lonely. We inhabit this sphere of cosmic material that’s shooting through the galaxy. We live in poorly designed cities that don’t facilitate community or human interaction. We attend schools that foster competitiveness and feast on the ego. We infinitely scroll through information on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter of a world happening around us while we remain still. We are taught that the only relationships that matter are heterosexual, monogamous, and long-term. We are taught to see ourselves only in comparison to others, but we are also taught that dependence on others is weak. So basically you’re not alone in this. These structures are all breeding grounds of loneliness.
In this dystopian capitalist global economy, it is all too easy to pretend we’re independent. But really that’s a myth. Interdependence is a fact of life, and that’s probably what you are noticing.
Wasting away on Tinder or OkCupid can relieve feeling of loneliness for brief moments.  But then you have to remember that these people are really not in your life. Focus first on the people closest to you, there’s so much to learn from those relationships if you are open to being vulnerable and being moved by others.
Spend time connecting with people you already really love and try to avoid throwing random energy towards people you covet to spend time but haven’t made time for you. Being around a bunch of people all the time just for the sake of being around people often doesn’t help with loneliness. What you are craving is human connection. In my book, that translates to quality over quantity.
xoxo,
B.S.

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*Non-professional advice guaranteed to be better than Yahoo Answers.*

1 Comment
  1. So I’m really glad about a lot of the things that the advice column is suggesting to the first letter writer to help them figure out whether these white men who study east asian studies are fetishists or not. Like, solid advice on how to find out whether someone’s a racist/imperialist/colonist. Definitely answers part of what the letter writer is asking. But a lot of it feels really empty and simplistic.

    The way the advice starts with “I am 100% sure you are attractive whether or not white men, fetishists or not, concur” isn’t really helpful? Perhaps, it attempts to shine light on ~individual beauty~ regardless of the standard of thin, white, oppressive etc. etc. beauty norms that exist. However, it doesn’t seem to really do anything than offer a sort of empty critique of a system that I’m sure the letter writer is WELL aware of. I regularly wonder if the “everyone’s beautiful” feel-good statement really does anything to divest from these systems. Like if society tells someone that they’re unattractive, and that person feels unattractive does it help when a person says “NO YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL!” ? If this is supposed to provide advice to people who are/feel ugly, is the proper response to say their feelings are invalid? Like, what? Not that the letter writer ever says that they feel ugly, but the response given to them makes it seem like the author of this post thinks that they don’t feel beautiful….

    Instead I might offer the letter writer the following advice regarding beauty/feeling attractive only as a racialized body:

    Yes you are beautiful, but society/a lot of the people you find attractive may not or will not always see that. this is a reality that you are probably living with unless you are Beyoncé and even She has some h8ers. Moving forward it’s important to think about how your ideas of beauty are built (like do you look at pictures of white br0s with 6 packs all the time and they are the only ones you find attractive?) and diversify your media + porn. Look for and talk about not conventionally attractive people you find beautiful and talk about it with your friends. It’s hard work and might start with telling yourself you’re beautiful, but in my experience, the more critical work happens when you start recognizing beauty in others. It takes time and work and effort, but it can make a difference.

    Additionally, my advice for the person who doesn’t feel attractive and is considering using their racialized/fetishized body in order to find bae or get the D involves a series of questions for the letter writer.

    1) Do you want the D or do you want to find bae? Depending on your answer to this, you should act accordingly. If you just want sex, I honestly think you should go for it. Unless having sex where you feel objectified/fetishized makes you feel bad. Then don’t do it. If you want to find bae/honestly care about feeling fetishized/don’t just want the D, read on.

    2) What kind of bae are you looking for? Is this supposed to be long term? Do you just want some coffee dates to occupy yourself with? Are you looking for something serious? Will you get emotionally invested if he turns out to be an undercover racist? Your answers to these questions should take you in a direction that will hopefully lead to an answer.

    3) Do stereotypes matter to you a lot?

    As a sort of general fact, society shouldn’t make you feel bad about conforming to stereotypes especially because living your life entirely in opposition to all the stereotypes someone might have about you can be exhausting. It’s important to think about how you spend your energy and if you want to devote that energy to defying stereotypes. If that’s what’s going to make you happy, by all means you should go for it. But if being submissive and having sex with fetishizing men will make you happy, then you should do that. Think about your well being as you choose what to do going forward. Be selfish. If these endeavors make you start feeling bad about yourself, you should probably consider stopping them, but honestly, if these potentially fetishizing men are the only options right now, make choices that will make you happiest. Society tells us that compromising is losing, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, we don’t and can’t “have it all”

    4) Do you really believe that every white person can be sorted into racist/fetishist and anti-racist/not fetishist? The idea of that you will be able to determine whether he is a closet racist or not is highly unlikely in my experience. Like even the white people I trust to not be racists, sometimes say racist things/are racists! The reality of racism is that it is pervasive. Even people of color (who are not racist by definition a la power + privilege = racism*) definitely have internalized racist thoughts. With that in mind, think about white people who have to actively decide to confront these things instead of being forced to because self hatred is destroying them! Think about how many racist thoughts they must have! So like, I honestly don’t think it’s 100% possible to find a PERFECT white anti racist, but like, in terms of real people who we might want to invest in cause they’re attracted to us and we want their D, we should think about where they’re at, whether they’re going to try and improve if they get called out, whether they make you mostly happy or mostly angry, whether you feel like they’re a compassionate person, etc. Like, if you look hard enough, most white people are probably at least a little bit racist. So if you REALLY want to avoid the “unconscious imperialistic fantasy” at all costs, it might just be best to swear off white people.

    Seriously, some people do it and it makes them really happy.

    ANYWAYS, best of luck.

    TL;DR ask yourself what you want. do what makes you happy. if you think something will make you happy, go for it, and if it starts making you feel unhappy/not good about yourself, SERIOUSLY consider stopping. fuck the haters.

    *there’s much more rigorous, and better ways to understand this, but this argument probably has the most mainstream traction

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