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Casually leaning across the table on a Friday in Hubbub, Anshuman (C ’19), who requested his last name be omitted, thumbs through screenshots of Grindr messages. “Flash me that exotic chocolate ass.” It’s accompanied by emojis of a monkey, a dark–skinned man wearing a turban, and a pile of poo.

They’ve investigated dating history patterns through social media, or heard through others whether their partners are “creepy with Asian girls.” Holly says dating history is often what raises alarms for her: “If I am the eighth Asian woman in four years, then I know.” To other students, it’s not so obvious.

“It’s not like they’re petting your hair and asking you to tell them about your parents’ immigration story,” Holly says.

After comments like this, Ashna says she has a hard time trusting the intentions of the white men who flirt with her.

She is wary to date them, and actively puts up a “protective layer.” This racial dynamic exists in the queer community as well, students say. so I know a lot of Asian men who are queer who make it a point to be the dominant one in relationships, especially when it’s a white partner,” says Luke (C ‘19), a student who identifies as a half–white, half–Asian man and requested his last name be omitted.

“How can you tell if someone has a fetish for Asian women? But it is important to interrogate it.” At Penn, many Asian students say they can trace their first experiences with feeling objectified to their first year at Penn.

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