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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”.
“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.
In the BBC’s official response to BEA’s letter, it stated its commitments to diversity (in a rather patronising, verbose manner). But Asian women are understandably in a rush to change the status quo.
A quick browse on the Internet for “yellow fever fetishes” brings up a host of websites, articles and videos, mostly from the US, that express humour, distaste and offence at the sexualised objectification of East Asian women, with some equating yellow fever to racism rooted in colonial ideas of power and submission.
Yet this portrayal epitomises what many see as a narrow perception of East Asian (defined as Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc) women.
Part of the bias is down to aesthetics, it would appear, as a study by Cardiff University in 2012 on facial attractiveness showed that East Asian women scored highest, while East Asian men came bottom of the pile (interestingly, results for black and white individuals did not show discernible differences based on gender).