Two years on from graduating from Goldsmith’s University with a BA in Applied Social Science Community Development & Youth Work, I have worked in various settings and places relating to youth work and challenging needs. I remember my dissertation about Chinese and East Asian people not engaging in youth and community services, and I recently started to reflect on my own identity as an East Asian man. If my course has taught me anything, it’s about really focusing on the self when you start to feel insecure. There, you can ask yourself why you feel that way and begin to deconstruct the reasons behind your emotions.
I’ve recently realised I have been harbouring feelings of internalised racism since… childhood, I guess? Especially since I went to secondary school, where your sexuality is starting to run rampant thanks to them pesky hormones. I honestly thought I was not good enough to be a sexual or romantic partner thanks to certain stereotypes, and I still do to some extent. I really don’t think I possess the desired facial features to be considered traditionally handsome, what with my chubby jowls, short nasal bridge, wide nostrils and squinty eyes. Hell, I can’t even carry off the pretty boy “bishounen” look with my face! Now that I’ve mentioned stereotypes, let’s look at a few examples of common sexual stereotypes and racial profiling related to men of different ethnicities, shall we?
- Western White men are seen as the pinnacle and rational paragons of human life, because they said so and they have historically decided who or what is desirable in terms of sexuality and quality of life.
- Black men – be it African, Caribbean or what have you – are labelled as dangerous gang-bangers with massive cocks who are emotionally ill-equipped to be fathers, yet are “bad boys” who can be “reformed”.
- Arabs and South Asian (the Indian subcontinent) men are these days painted with the same brush of violent terrorists who apparently disrespect women with the whole burka and arranged marriage discourse.
- Chinese/East Asian men however? Beta male cuckolds with small dicks, lacks sexual desirability and masculinity and always in a position of servitude in meagre jobs, though they work hard and earn a lot of coin.
Obviously these are mass generalisations, but with Afro-centric and Middle Eastern people, they have their advocates that challenge their stereotypes and profiling because they are ironically empowered by the “aggressive” labels they are given and they have had quite a bit of coverage in the media and on the internet. Plus, I’ve heard a fair number of female friends of mine talk about how sexy those ethnicities are. On that note, have you ever SEEN or READ anything about East Asian people challenging the stereotypes they face, or any comment on how sexy their men are? I had to do quite a bit of searching on the subject. Oh, and don’t forget – East Asians have the highest population count on this planet, yet we are still seen as lesser people anyway! Also, isn’t East Asia the part of the world where they made martial arts part of popular culture?
Also, apart from martial arts movie god Bruce Lee, have you seen or know of any East Asian lead actors, let alone ones who are portrayed as a romantic protagonist in mainstream movies? Apparently, the ending of Romeo Must Die had to be changed because the image of Jet Li kissing Aaliyah was not well-received. In fact, the only moment I can think was from stoner movie Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies when the Korean lad Harold finally told his Latina neighbour Maria how he felt about her, and this felt so empowering to me despite the fact I’d be just as awkward as John Cho’s character was here!
Going back to those feelings of internalised racism, they have made me try to overcompensate in how I present my image in order to break those emasculating stereotypes, as I usually have a beard, a scowl and a lumbering gait when I walk to show how masculine I am, which I am fairly comfortable with, by the way. In terms of my history with the fairer sex, it’s spotty at best. I dated someone a long time ago who turned out to be a manipulative sociopath, leading to a prolonged and messy break-up, and I would pursue those I liked who I would later find to be in relationships already or were not emotionally available for me. Plus, I have a tendency to be very picky and careful with women who I would pursue romantically in the first place, because bad experiences has no doubt led to some serious trust issues for myself.
In a roundabout way, much of my sexual energy since my mid-20’s would be channelled into becoming a better, well-rounded person. I honed all my artistic hobbies and talents, became more confident in front of people, started to become more patient and understanding, improved my social skills and was even learning to converse with women in a friendly, funny and non-threatening manner. It also helped that I befriended and worked with some great people along the way to guide me – particularly those who are involved in artistic endeavours. This all culminated into getting my degree two years ago. In essence, I formed a positive identity I can call my own. Yes, I am and always will be a stereotypical nerd, but given my personality development, I was actually called an “alpha male” by a good friend of mine. Well, a modern take of one anyway. I didn’t do all of this to impress people – I did it to improve my own self-worth. I’m just glad that I didn’t go down the Elliot Rodger route.
Let me emphasise that this blog merely focused on how the desexualisation and emasculation of the East Asian male in general Western society has affected my life. There are enough articles out there that discuss the historical practice of this (such as America’s “yellow peril” propaganda), the very apparent practice of whitewashing and yellow-face as well as the complete lack of East Asian representation in Hollywood, as well as the fetishization of East Asian women with their overt femininity, submissiveness and that whole “me rove you rong time” bullshit that certain unsavoury men seem to covet. As for LGBTQ and non-binary East Asians, I am nowhere near qualified or experienced to discuss that, so you’ll have to read this article instead or educate me.
To conclude, I’ve not written this as some kind of self-pitying call to ask for a date. Far from it. It’s me being open about my own feelings and experiences, which is something I never would have done before years ago. Besides, as I’ve mentioned previously, I am a right picky bastard when it comes to dating now. However, I will end on a positive note here, because to the credit of my East Asian genetics, I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am and I still have a wonderful full head of wavy black hair. Small saving graces, I guess.
Oh, and I’m not going to bleach my skin either. Fuck that shit.