In Toronto we pride ourselves in being a city of multiculturalism, of inclusiveness, and of quite simply never having to feel like the “token friend”. I personally stand by all of the above. But don’t let it get to your head – most of the time, I’ve realized, the most unsettling racist remarks are inflicted by a perpetrator who doesn’t see him/herself as the perpetrator. But should we ever let ignorance discredit another person’s feelings?
In my white majority high school I would play along with all the jokes and stereotypes in order to come off as the ‘cool, integrated Asian’, but I now see how destructive this is to real discourse and progress about our collective decolonization. And although the examples I will be outlining reflect my own personal experience as a South-East Asian woman, I am hoping that people of any colour will be able to project their own version of such experiences and gain some insight or perhaps a feeling of solidarity. These are real things I’ve had said to me on my various bar hopping trips and I think it’s important to call them out. I hate to be “triggered turnt chick at the AP spewing profanities at anything with a penis and an agenda to fetishize”, but it is what it is my dudes.
Here are some racist pick-up lines straight outta the Oz Strip and how they make you look to me:
The “You’re _____ For An Asian”
A personal favourite as I don’t know what does a better job at giving away “dehumanizing neocolonialist douche”. It really isn’t a compliment to have your entire self reduced to a reference point, and although it may not be entirely apparent in the heat of the moment, things like this only reinforce principles of white supremacy and beauty that are so deeply embedded into our society. Douche.
The “Hey (Insert Random Female Video Game Character)”
I don’t care how good Chun Li’s legs look or how cool you think Kitana is. It’s ridiculous that you think saying this would ever end in anything good. Anyways this guy most likely watches a lot of hentai – and not just for shits and giggles, he really gets off to this stuff. Also exclusively listens to vaporwave.
The “Let Me Guess Which Asian You Are”
This guy almost definitely has just returned from the South-East Asian backpacking trip of a lifetime, in which he grazed a whole resume of countries so briefly that he won’t actually remember their names, well except for Thailand since he ~found himself~ at the Full Moon Party. Anyways in addition to picking up a smoking habit and spiritual enlightenment he has most definitely become educated in the art of differentiating between the various Asians and Polynesians of the world, and wants to use ~you~ as a human gauge of this new found knowledge! The list typically starts as follows: “Vietnamese? Chinese? Japanese? Korean? Chinese?” and that is the extent of the effort.
The “Let Me Take You Out For ~~pho~~ Sometime”
This one is essentially a “Let me guess which Asian you are” on coke. He is feeling especially confident today and has made the brave decision to actually make culinary associations with the ethnicity he has so knowledgeably projected onto you. There’s a chance he actually just genuinely likes that place at Dundas and Ossington but for someone wearing so much cologne it’s pretty unlikely. By the way, I’m Indonesian and Filipino FFS.
The “I’m Into Asian Girls”
Just f*ck off.
Words and illustration by Bianca Weeko Martin (@badgyalbibi).