Asian masculinity has been a long standing issue in American culture, particularly with all the detrimental stereotypes and yellow fever, where Asian males see white males “stealing their women.” For example, in response to Jenny An’s article where she declares she would never date an Asian male, Clarissa Wei wrote “I Am an Asian Woman and I Think Asian Boyfriends Are Superior (Well, Mine is Anyway),” where Wei embraces the model minority rather than rejects it. “Hard-working, humble, unwavering loyal to the family? …Why the hell would you say no to that?” she declares. But does she miss the point?
I honestly found Wei’s article almost as unproductive as An’s. While An’s article argues that dating non-Asian males reaffirms her “Americanness” (something I protest), Wei reinforces strange stereotypes of Asian men. Wei not only boasts about the high income and education of her boyfriend, but also his loyalty to family. Ok, sure, maybe many Asians emphasize family, but an overall statistic isn’t going to convince me to date within a specific race. Also, her bolded headlines? “He bombards me with gifts and food,” “He helps me keep fit,” “He’ll make a good husband for me” – what am I, shopping around for the best boyfriend or husband model? Asian males should not be commodities that list their good features on the back of a package.
To get a better picture of what Wei is trying to do, it’s probably best to look at An’s article that no doubt prompted her. An wrote about never wanting to date an Asian male. So Wei possibly wanted to side with Asian men, telling them that not Asian girls were abandoning their male counterparts. I skimmed through the comments section of An’s article, and there were countless males who lashed out at her for, in essence, “betraying” her race. If that is the case, does Wei try to prove there are Asian girls faithful to their race and accept the label of the model minority?
While I’m sure she meant to redeem Asian male qualities in the face of An, I find Wei’s reductionist policy detrimental. Not every single Asian male likes math, school, or buying girls expensive gifts and food – and they shouldn’t be expected to. Asian American men have long battled effeminate stereotypes. Long ago, because of the scarcity of women, Chinese men were forced to do more “female” jobs, like laundry and dishwashing. Although America doesn’t quite embrace Asian males the way it does Asian women, I would argue that while Asian males are desexualized, Asian females are over sexualized. When I google “Asian women” images, all I see are cutesy Asian women who are all showing off their cleavage in skimpy bikinis. (Before you think any women category would be sexual, I double checked with “white women” and believe me, it’s not the same.)
Ultimately, stereotypes of all kinds are harmful to all of us, male or female. Probably a good start would be recognizing that the model minority male or the sexual fetish female should not be viewed as “superior” advantages in the Asian dating realm. I know some girls write a list of what they want their future husbands to be, but no one is perfect. We shouldn’t be hunting after that “short busty Asian chick” or that “math wiz Asian family guy” because it leaves us all feeling more like exotic commodities than real people. And who wants that?