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Racing Romance

Racing Romance: Love, Power, and Desire among Asian American/White Couples

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Racing Romance
    Book Description:

    Despite being far from the norm, interracial relationships are more popular than ever. Racing Romance sheds special light on the bonds between whites and Asian Americans, an important topic that has not garnered well-deserved attention until now. Incorporating life-history narratives and interviews with those currently or previously involved with an interracial partner, Kumiko Nemoto addresses the contradictions and tensionsùa result of race, class, and genderùthat Asian Americans and whites experience.Similar to black/white relationships, stereotypes have long played crucial roles in Asian American/white encounters. Partners grapple with media representations of Asian women as submissive or hypersexual and Asian men are often portrayed as weak laborers or powerful martial artists. Racing Romance reveals how allegedly progressive interracial relationships remain firmly shaped by the logic of patriarchy and gender inherent to the ideal of marriage, family, and nation in America, even as this ideal is juxtaposed with discourses of multiculturalism and color blindness.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4852-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Why do we fall in love? What are the components that constitute love and desire? How do we develop and sustain feelings of love for another person?

    Having an intimate relationship with another person is seen as a decidedly private activity in our culture. Yet desire and passion for other people is shaped socially and culturally, and often reflects a person’s desire for self-realization and a social identity, and by extension a person’s craving for certain social and cultural powers. The promise of self-realization can be seen fleetingly in one’s identification with another person, who is seen both as a...

  5. Chapter 1 Interracial Relationships: Discourses and Images
    (pp. 19-36)

    Relationships between asian american women and white men have historically been shaped and organized around three ideological constructs, which have also played a critical role in America’s maintenance of its national identity: (1) colonial/postcolonial U.S. imperialism; (2) discourse aboutmodel minoritiesand multiculturalism; (3) global and locally maintained desires for whiteness. The next three sections discuss how these three ideological structures have shaped the discourses and experiences of Asian American women’s relationships with white men. I focus especially on gender in these ideological structures and gendered effects on the relationships.

    From early in the history of the United States, Asian...

  6. Part I Asian American Women with White Men

    • Chapter 2 The Good Wife
      (pp. 39-72)

      From the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day, the image of the Asian woman as subservient, loyal, and family oriented has been popular. During the period of U.S. political and economic dominance over Asia after World War II, overfeminized images of Asian women became a catalyst for the rising visibility of intermarriage between Asian American women and white men. Studies of military wives and correspondence marriage (also known as mail-order or pen-pal marriage) have reported that such stereotypes are pivotal to white American men in choosing Asian women as wives over American women.¹ However, the image of...

    • Chapter 3 A Woman Ascending
      (pp. 73-104)

      If the interracial relationships of foreign-born Asian American women reflect postcolonial/neocolonial gender dynamics, and if these relationships have somewhat reinforced the dominant images of Asian American–white marriage, nevertheless second-generation Asian American women flout such stereotypes of subservient femininity. Distancing themselves from stereotyped images of Asian femininity (but still fashioning themselves as “exotic” model minorities), second-generation Asian American women view the interracial relationship as a place to negotiate the racist gaze upon them and claim themselves as equal to whites. Possessing a white man becomes the strategic testimony to being different from racially subordinate or colonial subjects, and to being...

  7. Part II Asian American Men with White Women

    • Chapter 4 A Man’s Place
      (pp. 107-124)

      To date, no study has empirically examined Asian American manhood with a particular focus on heterosexual relationships, much less in an interracial context. Perhaps because of “the larger society’s taboos against Asian male–white female sexual union[s],”¹ the social environment surrounding Asian American men’s relationships with white women, through which some Asian American men negotiate their manhood, has remained unexplored. Although much of the existing research addresses the inequalities in interracial relationships between Asian or Asian American women and white men, especially in the context of transnational marriage,² little work has been done on relationships between Asian American men and...

    • Chapter 5 Playing the Man
      (pp. 125-141)

      Like the professional asian american men already discussed, who symbolically viewed intermarriage as a validation of their middle-class manhood and as a critical component of assimilation, young unmarried and nonprofessional Asian American men in my study viewed white women’s approval and recognition in interracial intimacy as critical to consolidating their own Asian American manhood and to refashioning their racial identities. This chapter focuses on Asian or Asian American men in their twenties, and on their white partners, and discusses Asian American men’s strategies for competing within, and ascending, the hierarchy of masculinity. The chapter illuminates how these men’s strategies have...

    • Chapter 6 Men Alone
      (pp. 142-154)

      This chapter discusses why some Asian American men, regardless of their past histories of dating white women, ultimately prefer dating a woman of their own ethnicity. In the previous two chapters, I discussed Asian American men’s competition with ideologies of normalized white masculinity; in this chapter, however, I discuss two Asian American men who expressed a desirenotto follow the path of approximating to white masculinity. Although both had dated white women in the past, they were single at the time of the interviews. I discuss how awareness of mainstream racism and sexism in America and a desire to...

  8. Conclusion: Matters of Race and Gender
    (pp. 155-164)

    This book has illustrated details of various Asian American–white relationships. Asian American–white intimacy shares more commonalities than differences with same-race relationships. It is similar to same-race intimacy in that is shaped by ideologies of gender, marriage, and family more than by race. But it is also different, and not because of essential racial and ethnic differences but because of the continuing impact of historically produced discourses and images of race, compounded by discourses of nation, citizenship, and immigration.

    Structural inequalities have emerged distinctively through the surroundings of, and gendered patterns within, Asian American–white American intimacy. As the...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 165-168)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 169-182)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-190)
  12. Index
    (pp. 191-196)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-198)