I was just sent this link from Marie Claire entitled The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women and the subhead reads: “Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?”
“Not another white guy asian girl article,” I thought to myself. I kept reading…
Call it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn—35 years his junior—he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty!
Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng—17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.
Were these tycoons consciously courting Asian babes? Do any of them qualify for the unnerving “yellow fever” or “rice king” moniker? It’s unsavory to think so. But after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized.
Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes—Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual—are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie’s “China Girl” topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them? [full story]
The “Woody Allen Effect?” You mean HE’S the one to blame for this? [/sarcasm]
The article — written by Ying Chu — rehashes a lot of issues that have already been dissected, skewered, and critiqued in countless other publications (fetishization, in particular), but she also cites that globalization as a key reason that “bigwigs [sic] seek Asians.”
Consider that, stateside, Mandarin classes have spiked 200 percent over the past five years (apparently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was an early adopter; he taught Mandarin classes in his Dartmouth days), and China has claimed status as the world’s top export nation. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that Asian kids’ intrinsic work ethic makes them outsmart American kids in math. (In the latest Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development international education survey, Taiwanese students were tops in math, while the U.S. placed 35th.) It’s as though these Western men are hungry for a piece of that mystical Eastern formula. As such, Asians (in addition to African orphans) are hot commodities right about now—status symbols as prized as a private Gulfstream jet or a museum wing bearing your name (neither of which goes so well with a frumpy, aging first wife).
I have a bunch of different reactions to this oft-debated topic. I find Chu’s flagrant mentions of stereotypes (mail-order bride) to be annoying. And I think it’s pretty funny that Chu refers to all these “accomplished Asian women” throughout the article as simply “trophies,” “foxy,” and being “more than exotic arm candy.” By stating as fact that these Asian women are status symbols and commodities, Chu, on one hand, tries to dispell a myth — but she uses the other to confirm it.
But I figured rather than making too many of my own observations, I’d just put it out there for critique and commentary by our readers. Surprisingly, as of this posting, no one has commented at Marie Claire’s site. But over at The Frisky, a post entitled “Asian Trophy Wives”: A Label We Could Do Without is already up, and I couldn’t agree more with that headline.
Flickr photo credit: ©Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski; used under Creative Commons License