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The 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti and Puccini's 1904 opera Madama Butterfly served to popularize the image of the submissive and doll-like East Asian woman, while Hollywood promoted the sexualized Asian femme fatale in the form portrayed by Anna May Wong as Fu Manchu’s daughter. Hwang argues that this phenomenon is caused by stereotyping of Asians in Western society.

For some white men, sex tourism to countries such as Thailand is built around a fantasy that includes the possibility of finding love and romance.

7% of married Asian American men have a non-Asian spouse, 17.1% of married Asian American women are married to a white spouse, and 3.5% of married Asian men have a spouse classified as "other" according to U. Things that the men found appealing in Asian women included subtlety and quietness, eye-catching long black hair, a mysterious look in dark eyes, and a propensity to give more consideration to how their partner feels than to themselves.

Lum described the stereotype associated with an Asian fetish as an obsession with seeking "somebody submissive, traditional, docile...

A Western fetish for Asian things developed out of a European tradition of fascination with the East, and a history of othering the inhabitants of those regions.

Middle Eastern women were fetishized in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and after the First Opium War in the 1840s and the opening of the Chinese treaty ports to foreign merchants, East Asia became the focus of Western commercial and imperial interest.

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