Retiring "exotic" the word but not the idea
In a previous post, I suggested that most men who are vociferous about expanding the scope of interracial dating are, if they were to be honest with themselves, mostly interested in dating exotic babes, rather than broadening their appreciation of the world's cultures. Unfortunately for them, many such girls are turned off by the idea that a guy would be attracted to her in virtue of her ethnicity, as opposed to her individual qualities. She doesn't want to be the guy's most recent addition to his menagerie of Hot Babes of the World. Men are different, though, and most wouldn't care on the basis of what reasons a cute girl was interested in them sexually. Still, that leaves half of a sub-population that's cautious of dating outside their group.
At first, this was mostly a problem for White guys who had an (East) "Asian fetish" . How much of this hubbub came from concerned East Asian girls vs. East Asian guys who were trying to scare away potential poonanny poachers, I don't know. Anecdotally, though, East Asian women rarely participate in feminism of any stripe, while East Asian men have formed internet groups devoted to their bitterness. In the Wikipedia link above, it's mostly males who decry White male / Asian female relationships, while females are in favor of interracial dating or feel resentful that slang like "Asian fetish" has made them feel guilty about being attracted to White guys . However, there has emerged an independent "don't exotify us" movement within the South Asian community, and in this case a lot of the sentiment does come from the females themselves and so cannot be dismissed as the envious slandering of one's competition.
Unlike the East Asian case, then, this puts White Guys Who Like Brown Girls in a very sticky situation: the former must conspicuously prove to the latter that they do not have a "curry fetish" (or however the slang has it). A post at SepiaMutiny features a hint of the comic strip Questionable Content, including this example that illustrates the matter clearly: White guys with a taste for the exotic are overly eager to denigrate other White guys for using the word "exotic." In reality, White guys who say stuff like Steve in the comic are just a special case of the general pattern of "Guy who feigns empathy with girl's problems to get closer to her," part of the criteria for Byronic bad-boy. For instance, some guys pound the table about 3rd-order feminist concerns (e.g., how high heels are torture devices). All hot air amongst those jockeying for status. The same goes for the White trust-funding indie-rocker who pretends that a Brown girl wouldn't have been a rarity where he grew up. In fact, Northampton, Mass., where the comic is set (and home to Smith College), is 90% White and barely 3% Asian, of whom only a fraction are South Asians.
What we see in Steve's strategy is a churning of the euphemism treadmill, whereby words for sensitive topics become contaminated by association with their touchy subject matter and are jettisoned in favor of new terms that refer to the same thing. You're not supposed to refer to the Japanese as Oriental anymore, since that word is associated with something bad (I'm not sure what). So, White guys who like Oriental girls say instead, "Dude, did you see all those hot Asian chicks at the party?!" Only the sound-containers have changed, not the thoughts they convey. And now that the word "exotic" is officially démodé, we will soon see its replacement by a more palatable phrase. This changing of the linguistic guard will not change the reality that novelty-seeking is variable among individuals, and that in some cases it will take the shape of a guy who prefers hot girls from an ethnically dissimilar group over hot girls from his own group. This is as true for White guys as for Brown, Black, or Yellow guys.
Skimming through the thesaurus entries for "exotic," I can't see any of them catching on: alien, foreign, non-native, strange, mysterious, etc. Then what will likely happen is that guys will have to perform their ritual cleansing in more roundabout ways. For example, joking to a Brown girl, "Don't you hate it when goofy White people ask you what your favorite Ravi Shankar CD is?" Or perhaps, "Isn't it annoying when goofy White people see Bride and Prejudice and think they're suddenly experts on Bollywood?" Or, as we've seen in the comic strip above, casting aspersions on guys who use the word "exotic" to refer to people -- perfectly paralleling the taboo use of "Oriental" to refer to people (though it's fine when referring to carpets or cutlery).
I hate euphemism treadmills because they often force into retirement words that do their job better than their insipid successors. Consider "Semitic" -- "Jewish good looks" just won't do. And while I'm not quite sure what it means, the title of the Smashing Pumpkins album Siamese Dream is more alluring than Thai Dream. So how best to proceed? Well, first, the idea that there are men for whom South Asian (or fill-in-the-blank) ancestry is a sufficient condition for attractiveness is simply a red herring. The people we're talking about would list "ancestry" as a high priority, competing with other highly ranked priorities, including all the ones we're used to hearing about. Seen in this way, it's no more loathsome than a preference for tall women, who have no control over their height, and some of whom may wonder about whether men are in love with them or their height.
Moreover, I don't even see anything wrong with affectionate nicknames that refer to the girl's ancestry -- no more than if a guy with a preference for choleric exhibitionists referred to his girlfriend as a "firecracker." Indeed, Latin-American girls seem quite proud of describing themselves as having "fiery blood" or a "Latin temper." I have even seen a pornographic video in which the guy asks what language the actress is speaking, whereupon she shouts "Portuguese!" and begins to chant -- while being plowed -- a Brazilian version of "U.S.A! U.S.A!" They are that proud of being renowned as the world's sex-bombs.
One thing's for sure: if a girl would become visibly agitated upon learning that her ancestry was one component among many that attracted you to her, it is unlikely she would have been very open to dating outside her group in the first place. So, to the girls who don't fret about being exotified in the comic book way that rarely happens, your linguistic tip-toe-ing will just make you look like a namby-pamby. And obfuscation notwithstanding, girls don't dig pantywaists. Just don't behave like a colonial official, and you'll be fine. Recall also that some groups aren't so concerned about exotification -- the Latins for sure, and Persians are not yet up in arms about it either. But once the word gets out that Persian girls tend to be much better looking than the average American, something similar to the South Asian case could well happen. So chat up those Persian princesses (their term) with impunity while you still can.
 As the indirect product of a Japanese / French-American relationship on my paternal grandparents' side, I'm glad my Japanese grandmother had kids by a White guy. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad that I could outperform probably 29,999 out of every 30,000 people in visual problem-solving. But I'd be even shorter, skinnier, and more introverted than I already am if she'd married a Japanese guy. One of my father's brothers returned to Japan and married a Japanese woman, and that's fine; but I'm glad my father married my Scotch-Irish mother, who grew up on a farm in Appalachia, since I wouldn't have such a rascally hillbilly temperament otherwise.