Being of South-East Asian background growing up in Australia, these types of comments are not something unfamiliar to me. I have grappled with race and culture many times and I expect that battle to continue long into the future. It’s not the comparisons that bother me. It’s not about the person I’m being compared to. It’s the fact that I’m even being compared. That I’m not me, but rather I am reduced to how I look or who I resemble. I don’t get to define myself anymore. That’s the part that bothers me. After all, it happens to everyone, right? It is the casual nature of these comments which makes it so problematic. It has become so normalised and so easy to dismiss that I don’t feel like I have a choice to even bring it up.
While backpackers extensively contribute to the national economy as tourists and workers, they are only here on a short-term basis. Being temporary non-citizens there is less emotional investment into backpackers’ wellbeing and security. It is important to evaluate whether national policy overlooks (or even supports) the ongoing pattern of violence against backpackers because their presence benefits the national economy.