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“I’m just not attracted to Asian men.”
March 18, 2014 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Asian male stereotypes complicate my love life.
posted by rcraniac (248 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
A woman is allowed to be attracted to what she is attracted to. People should also not resort to lazy stereotypes. These two things seem to be somewhat conflated in this piece.
posted by planetesimal at 2:57 PM on March 18 [27 favorites]


planetesimal: "A woman is allowed to be attracted to what she is attracted to."

A woman (or gay man) should consider the reason why they find 1/3 of the inhabitants of the planet to be unattractive.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:04 PM on March 18 [38 favorites]


I see "I'm not into [X]" [tall girls, fat girls, guys from New Jersey, Republicans] a whole lot more than "I'm not into Asian men."

Obviously, some worthy and excellent people are being overlooked due to a category or perceived category.
posted by mochapickle at 3:05 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


No one proposed disallowing any particular behavior. I don't know why that idea comes up anytime someone suggests being critical of a particular behavior.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:06 PM on March 18 [36 favorites]


Probably relevant previously.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:06 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


People are allowed to be into whatever they're into. However, just because something is obviously not ripe for prohibition doesn't mean that it can't be racist as all hell.
posted by KathrynT at 3:07 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


I don't know why that idea comes up anytime someone suggests being critical of a particular behavior.

Some people have a natural attraction to straw men.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:08 PM on March 18 [33 favorites]


As someone who's dated Asian men, I find this article (and this similar comic told from the perspective of an Asian man) extremely intriguing. It never occurred to me that this would be the case until a guy I dated mentioned the "desexualized Asian man" trope to me in passing.
posted by Sara C. at 3:11 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


> However, just because something is obviously not ripe for prohibition doesn't mean that it can't be racist as all hell.

I don't think it's particularly racist to deny sexual congress or personal company, as people aren't the same thing as public resources. But, I'm quibbling over using racist versus bigoted.
posted by planetesimal at 3:15 PM on March 18


To quote Jen Kwok, "Don't gotta be serious, just fuck an Asian man." Also, to quote Jen Kwok, "Yeah I'm dating a white guy, but I ain't no hypocrite."
posted by chunking express at 3:16 PM on March 18


I don't think it's particularly racist to deny sexual congress or personal company, as people aren't the same thing as public resources.

Attitudes can be racist as well as actions.
posted by KathrynT at 3:17 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's particularly racist to deny sexual congress or personal company

How bout if its based on their race? meaning, how bout if its exactly what the FPP is describing and what we are talking about?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:17 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I think there are really important and interesting things to say about this topic. This piece is not that piece, however.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:17 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


> Attitudes can be racist as well as actions.

Sure, but we're talking your body here.
posted by planetesimal at 3:18 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I'm not attracted to Asian men either. Does that make me racist or homophobic? I don't think sexual attraction can be evaluated on those metrics.
posted by Justinian at 3:19 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


This is the best response to this stupid stereotype I've seen in 10+ years of living in Beijing, where the author met her white boyfriend. I'm a white male, and yes, I have dated mostly Asian women in all of that time, but that's based on the available dating pool. My history of partners is just about in line with the city's demographic profile. And no, I haven't been here for 10 years for the women. And yes, I do get asked that question about once a week by people I never want to talk to again.

True, a person is allowed to be attracted to whoever they want, but writing off an entire race, or transferring attraction to an entire race, because you believe certain things about that race is the very definition of racist. No two ways about it. And good lord if I haven't seen that in action from men, women, white, Asian, and every other race here. The level of ignorance I have to deal with on this issue is staggering sometimes, and it is so, so pervasive.

I have anecdotes I could share, but I'm on my way to work. Date people, not races.
posted by saysthis at 3:20 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


I don't really have an opinion, but is it wrong, on a moral level, to be unattracted to low-status signifiers?

We can talk about how arbitrary or unfair or systemically perpetuated some status signifiers are, but what about on the whole people currently on the dating market?
posted by pmv at 3:22 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Justinian,

Are you not attracted to Asian men because of their race?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:22 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Argh. I'm really bummed out that this is still a thing that Asian Americans agonize over.* I once got into a spat with a guy friend who insisted that being exoticized as an Asian woman had to be better than being emasculated (or made invisible) as an Asian man in America. It was a very sad event in the Oppression Olympics. I still assume things are better in the land of media representation (good lord, the presence of even a few hot Asian American men on TV is a big difference) but the politics of dating seem to have not changed that much. For a long time I tried to defuse some of the awkwardness by insisting to anyone who asked, "Oh my type? I have an Asian fetish." Which often led into a discussion of can an Asian American self-fetishize.

*[I lived in SF in my early 20s but then decamped for Korea and then Hawaii, where being Asian is the norm, so have been out of the racial stereotypes loop.]
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:22 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I feel like the "I can't help who I'm attracted to" line is both understandable and yet such a cop-out. If you're talking about an entire ethnic group, then hey, just own up to the fact that you have some serious racial hang-ups. They're most likely socially constructed, if it makes you feel better. Examining your unexamined assumptions is a healthy process! Your preferences can change when your interrogate them and get to the root of them. You might find there's some garbage thinking behind the scenes. And sexual attraction is fluid, not set in stone.
posted by naju at 3:23 PM on March 18 [45 favorites]


I think the point of the article is "if you find yourself saying 'I'm not attracted to [race]' maybe you should examine how much of that is attraction and how much is internalized stereotypes of the race."

Some of y'all are trying real hard to find a way to make this article say "not being attracted to Asian men makes you, personally, a racist."
posted by griphus at 3:23 PM on March 18 [46 favorites]


Sure, but we're talking your body here.

Are we? I don't sleep with everyone I find attractive. Just because the thought of Rachel Maddow geeking out over infrastructure spending makes me all rosy-cheeked doesn't mean that I expect to find her at my dining room table with nothing but bridge blueprints, horn-rimmed glasses, and a smile. Nobody (but NOBODY) is arguing that anyone should institute any kind of quota system for sexual partners. But if someone categorically defines their attraction pattern in a racial way, I think it would behoove that person to break down their reasoning and look at the social and cultural attitudes that may be informing their preferences.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on March 18 [32 favorites]


Quick, count the Hollywood movies with an Asian male love interest. Come on. I can't remember any other than Romeo Must Die.

And that's fucking sad.
posted by sukeban at 3:24 PM on March 18 [16 favorites]


When people are saying what they are and are not attracted to they should attach a 'yet' to the sentence.
posted by srboisvert at 3:25 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


And The Wedding Banquet, too. But that's like 20 years ago.
posted by sukeban at 3:25 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Date people, not races.

What if I'm really ambitious?


When people are saying what they are and are not attracted to they should attach a 'yet' to the sentence.

I'm not attracted to phlegm. Yet.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:26 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


I can't remember any other than Romeo Must Die.

Not even this one. They removed the scene that showed Jet Li kissing Aaliyah because it tested poorly.
posted by justkevin at 3:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Are we? I don't sleep with everyone I find attractive. Just because the thought of Rachel Maddow geeking out over infrastructure spending makes me all rosy-cheeked doesn't mean that I expect to find her at my dining room table with nothing but bridge blueprints, horn-rimmed glasses, and a smile.

I should hope the hell not because it's MY house she's gonna be at, perusing the liquor collection and contemplating the drink she's going to mix while we talk health policy!
posted by rtha at 3:27 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


Doesn't the relationship that Harold has with his fiancée figure prominently in the Harold & Kumar sequels?
posted by Selena777 at 3:28 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Why does anyone need a reason for attraction or non-attraction? I don't think we should have to explain ourselves or our choices to anyone.
Hollywood movies aren't the only movies in the world. Quick--name a white, Anglo-Saxon male lead in any Kitano movie.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:28 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Not even this one.

I'm used to Chinese/ Hong Kong movie prudity standards, so eh, I wasn't expecting much on-screen sexytiems anyway.
posted by sukeban at 3:29 PM on March 18


Are you not attracted to Asian men because of their race?

Well, that's kind of a loaded question isn't it?

But, okay, mostly I'm not attracted to them because they don't have enough X chromosones. But if that doesn't make me homophobic, and it doesn't, why would it make someone racist if it was the "Asian" part rather than the "men" part?

I don't think people are all like "Oh, I thought that guy was attractive until I found out he was Asian". Someone who does that is obviously a racist.
posted by Justinian at 3:29 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Date people, not races.

What if I'm really ambitious?


Forget that, date every human! And every gender!
posted by saysthis at 3:30 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the "Asian" race.

Is it this Asian or this Asian or this Asian or these Asians or this Asian or this Asian?
posted by brokkr at 3:31 PM on March 18 [32 favorites]


I don't think people are all like "Oh, I thought that guy was attractive until I found out he was Asian".

No, it's people saying "I don't find that guy attractive even though I have literally never seen him, nor do I know anything about him."
posted by KathrynT at 3:32 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


I don't think sexual attraction can be evaluated on those metrics.

I personally don't think sexual attraction can be evaluated on a racial metric at all.

Which is what I find so racist about "I'm not attracted to Asian men."

I have a type. My type is dark hair and dark eyes, usually olive or darkish toned skin, and often tall, though not everybody I've dated has been tall. That type encompasses a lot of different races.

Similarly, I'm pretty specifically not into blond/fair people, or really redheads either. And yet I'd never say, "I'm not attracted to white men."

People come in all different types of packages. Starting the conversation from what race you are/aren't attracted to -- despite the fact that people of a given race can actually look very different from each other -- is racist.
posted by Sara C. at 3:32 PM on March 18 [19 favorites]


But, okay, mostly I'm not attracted to them because they don't have enough X chromosones. But if that doesn't make me homophobic, and it doesn't, why would it make someone racist if it was the "Asian" part rather than the "men" part?

This is a really weak argument. Sexual attraction based on a sex or gender is completely differnet in every conceivable way to sexual attraction based on one's race.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:33 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Quick--name a white, Anglo-Saxon male lead in any Kitano movie.

Do you take long-lived TV programs about expats in Japan?
posted by sukeban at 3:33 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


FTA: So the next time you hear someone say, “I’m just not into Asian men,” do me a favor and slap them across the face.

Sorry, but violence, especially against women, won't solve the problem.
posted by Renoroc at 3:36 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Quick, count the Hollywood movies with an Asian male love interest. Come on. I can't remember any other than Romeo Must Die.

Or more generally: see how many East Asian male actors you can name who aren't known for martial arts or stoner comedies.
posted by painquale at 3:37 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


If you aren't attracted to an entire race, fine. But if your self examination doesn't go beyond "I'm just not attracted to them" then god knows what other racist garbage you have running around your brain unexamined.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:37 PM on March 18 [33 favorites]


Re the Asian men and media love interests question, the only thing coming to mind for me is the fact that, for a while on How I Met Your Mother, Robin dated Kal Penn. Though I'm not sure how South Asian stuff comes into this. The person who enlightened me about the "desexualized Asian male" trope was an Indian-American guy, though.
posted by Sara C. at 3:38 PM on March 18


The article was okay, but the title alone really sums it up for me. Asian male stereotypes (combined with a general sense of ownership over Asian women's sexuality) complicate my love life. No matter what choice I make, it will be fraught and full of baggage, and someone will question it. And this is without me making any grand statements like I'm Not Attracted To Asian Guys or I'm Only Attracted To Asian Guys or whatever, mind you. Because other people can't just shut up and date who they want to date without insulting Asian men in the process, every choice I make becomes a referendum on my politics, instead of just me being attracted to someone. I'm not verbalizing this well at all but ugghghhghgh

(I feel like I have to trot out my ethnic background like credentials or something whenever this comes up. For the record, I am white and Asian)
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:39 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Quick, count the Hollywood movies with an Asian male love interest. Come on.

The second Fast & Furious trilogy (Fast & Furious through Furious Six). I wouldn't exactly call the Fast & Furious movies unproblematic, but the ethnic diversity in the cast is way beyond what you'll see in any other Hollywood franchise.
posted by Copronymus at 3:39 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Because other people can't just shut up and date who they want to date without insulting Asian men in the process, every choice I make becomes a referendum on my politics, instead of just me being attracted to someone.

I think this is a great description of how the concept of "privilege" works.

As a white person, being in an interracial relationship either does not affect my reputation at all or gives me tons of Good Liberal Cookies. I am pretty much free to go out with anyone I find attractive regardless of their background.

If you're not white, suddenly there's all this stuff.
posted by Sara C. at 3:42 PM on March 18 [41 favorites]


I mean, part of the problem here is that for the most part, our understanding of who we are attracted to is biological. We talk about pheromones, dopamine, sexual orientation as an inherent part of our genetic structure - we understand attraction to be something we don't have control over. Even our metaphors hint at a certain scientific determinism - chemistry, attraction, sparks. And so you have folks who say, well, I can't help who I am attracted to, because biology.

The problem is that race is not about biology. That sort of thinking is what led to a lot of institutionalized racism. It is wrong.

That said, I am anti this popular thing that happens where interesting and important sociological claims are discussed using only Hollywood films and popular TV as evidence.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:42 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Quick, count the Hollywood movies with an Asian male love interest. Come on.

I kept waiting for years for Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung to cross over as Hollywood stars, because HUBBA HUBBA, but alas, it was not to be.
posted by scody at 3:42 PM on March 18 [26 favorites]


I really appreciate how she demonstrated how little things have progressed (or not) as far as Asian male portrayals in Western mass media.


Sure, but we're talking your body here.


We're talking about the mind. Is attraction to any particular race completely or even mostly hardwired? Because as she demonstrated in this piece, there is an awful lot of social and cultural conditioning in the US that says "Asian men aren't really men, they are not attractive." And I have to wonder, what is all of that for if it's natural anyway? Stereotypes serve a purpose and they are cultivated and carefully maintained. Many lies have to be told and many truths ignored, some of which she pointed out in the essay.

I've personally interrogated my own responses to black men and found there were a lot of stereotypes and fears behind my aesthetic preferences. For a very long time I believed I just wasn't attracted to most black men. When I was a teenager I thought it was because I didn't have anything in common with them. There was a lot of underlying racial anxiety and at the time I identified more with white people. I didn't know that about myself; I just figured white men were better-looking and I only had crushes on white boys, only considered them romantically. As an adult, I reasoned it was because they were more like brothers to me. I couldn't see a black man acting sexy without seeing my father's face; that was a real problem! So I reasoned it wasn't prejudice anymore, I had worked on that, but I just couldn't be attracted to them.

In my early 20s my best friend, also black and also "just not attracted to black men", went on a six month trip to Mexico and later she went to Africa. While she was in Mexico, for the first time in her life she realized she missed being around black men. Then in Africa she fell in love with a black man and was attracted to him in every way, romantically and physically. That didn't work out but she continued to date men of different races afterwards, for the first time actively seeking out black men. I was mostly a hermit then but from her experiences I realized it was possible.

That didn't mean it had to happen, that didn't mean I had to date anyone for any particular race-based reason, but it did lead me to interrogate my "preferences" and I made the conscious decision to see if I could change them. I had a lot of reasons why I decided to do this, not least of which because it would expand my dating pool a LOT since I'm surrounded by black men. I mainly just wanted to be more comfortable with black men as men. So I've been working on this for the past few years, in many ways. Since I take public transportation a lot, one thing I've done is really look at the black men on public transportation. I would always notice the white guys my age, but not the black ones. So I really looked at them, trying not to stare of course, but to see their features and how they move. To see them as just guys. Another thing I did was seek out black romantic movies to see black men as love interests, particularly with black women.

And guess what, it worked. I was watching an ensemble movie and I realized there were a lot of different black men, with different features, and they all looked good. Now those were actors so they're above-average but that hadn't happened to me before unless the actor was super-hot (whereas white actors didn't have to be). The next time I got on the subway it was different, I was different. There were lots of black men around, and I saw them as men, and I saw each of them as unique and many of them were quite attractive. Just ordinary guys but I'm an ordinary woman myself. That high bar wasn't there anymore. I've come to appreciate some cultural things like the way many black men look very good in clothes, or the way many of them move to music. It's not some overriding thought, I just see them the way I never saw them before. It's very comforting and it's something I still examine because it's so interesting to me. I can easily see myself now married to a black man when that was hard to imagine before.
posted by Danila at 3:43 PM on March 18 [57 favorites]


It's kind of ridiculous how very little time the article spends actually looking at why a person might say "I'm not attracted to Asian men", and a lot more on presuming, as a foundational belief, that it's entirely internalization of racist media.

I dare say a person's allowed to think that heavy epicanthic folds are unattractive to them without being a bigot.
posted by kafziel at 3:43 PM on March 18


I dare say a person's allowed to think that heavy epicanthic folds are unattractive to them without being a bigot.

That specific feature is not something all "Asian" men have, and even those who do, it doesn't look the same on all of them.
posted by Danila at 3:45 PM on March 18 [17 favorites]


The problem is "race" is a mushy concept to begin with, but it does generally track to differences in physical appearance. And physical appearance is deeply intertwined with each individuals feelings of attraction to other individuals. Yes, everyone should be met and connected with as an individual, but if a person is or isn't physically attracted to attributes that tend to overlap to a high degree with racial categories, it may be that that person finds themselves very interested or not very interested in dating people of that race.

None of that excuses racist remarks, and I personally know a white guy (in NYC) who's dated like 8 asian women in a row and I find that pretty gross, but people like what they like and wanting there to be no correlation between physical attraction and race is wanting human beings to be something other than what they are.
posted by crayz at 3:45 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


It's kind of ridiculous how very little time the article spends actually looking at why a person might say "I'm not attracted to Asian men",

I imagine that people say this kind of thing out loud because they have no idea how dumb it makes them sound. That's usually why people say dumb shit out loud. They don't think it's dumb, and they don't think it makes them sound dumb (or racist, or insensitive, or ignorant, or or or). Apparently, "I'm just not attracted to Entire Race" is regarded as a neutral statement of fact, with nothing else going on with it. That is a weird thing. But it does give me useful information about the person who would say something like that.
posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on March 18 [21 favorites]


the Asian men and media love interests question, the only thing coming to mind for me is the fact that, for a while on How I Met Your Mother, Robin dated Kal Penn.

I haven't seen much of the TV show, but Stephen Yeun's character in The Walking Dead is in an interracial relationship, right? Is he ever sexualized, or is he mostly presented chastely?
posted by painquale at 3:50 PM on March 18


I'm not sure why I should care what this hypocrite thinks. Better to hear it from an "Asian man."

Anyway, if this were reframed in terms of culture rather than "race" it might be more interesting.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:51 PM on March 18


Seconding what crayz said.

Also, I feel like kafziel is on to something when they say the article presumes, "as a foundational belief, that it's entirely internalization of racist media," rather than exploring what a person means when they say, "I'm not attracted to X."

People aren't giving some sort of unconditional, a priori statement about their likes. They're just making a generalization. Is what they mean different from what they say? Yes. But do you realize how vast the amount of times this happens on a daily basis? Conversational language isn't a technical, precise instrument.
posted by SollosQ at 3:51 PM on March 18


I kept waiting for years for Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung to cross over as Hollywood stars, because HUBBA HUBBA, but alas, it was not to be.

I kept my hopes high for Ken Watanabe after Inception, but no, back to playing samurai.

Even Gackt crossed over to the USA just to play a samurai. Well, he had been playing Uesugi Kenshin back home for some years, but *still*.

Gratuituous Gackt in samurai and non-samurai PVs.
posted by sukeban at 3:52 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I find Asian men more attractive than other men, generally. Is that racist? I'm pretty sure I know why that is - the first two guys I really found myself attracted to happened to both be Asian.

It seems to me that, if this isn't racist, there's no reason to assume the opposite is racist either. And if it is racist, I'd like an explanation of why.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:54 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Okay, I have a suggestion - if you are "not attracted" to Asian men, seek out media in which Asian men are portrayed as attractive - for whatever "attractive" means to you, whether muscular or geeky or chivalrous or funny, etc - look at some of this media daily for a few months and revisit the topic.

I have found that my standards of "attractive" have changed dramatically (not about race, since not being attracted to [race] people has not, historically, been my experience - nerdy people with glasses of all races have a walkover with me) through intentionally seeking out media in which fat women, for example, or older women or trans women were portrayed diversely and positively. I was surprised, in fact, by how much my ideas of attractiveness changed simply through exposure. In fact, I've become incredibly skeptical about any kind of "I can never ever not even once be attracted to [a member of group]" statement.

For me, the experience has been very much a "yes and" one. My primary type will always be short, chubby people with glasses and dark hair, but I have had no trouble at all developing supplemental types.
posted by Frowner at 3:56 PM on March 18 [35 favorites]


Trying this again: While I think a healthy dose of self-examination is a wonderful thing, it's not exactly the fact that people who aren't attracted to Asian men exist that bothers me--it's that they feel the need (and indeed the right) to say such a thing, over and over, loudly and often in an insulting way.
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:56 PM on March 18 [13 favorites]


I'm attracted a very specific body type, and facial features, in men. Rarely have I seen these physical traits in African-American or Latino men, so I have yet to be attracted to African-American or Latino men. (Well, not strictly true: the Latino man I recently went on a date with turned out to be a homophobe who didn't like to read, so the bloom was off that rose really fast.)

White guys and the full range of Asian men demonstrate these physical features frequently. So I've been attracted to them, and when chemistry and shared interests come into play, dated them.

Attraction is fucking complicated as hell.
posted by gsh at 3:56 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


And this is without me making any grand statements like I'm Not Attracted To Asian Guys or I'm Only Attracted To Asian Guys or whatever, mind you. Because other people can't just shut up and date who they want to date without insulting Asian men in the process, every choice I make becomes a referendum on my politics

This. It's stupid to call someone racist because of who they're attracted to.

But it's definitely a mean thing to do, and maybe even racist, to go around saying, "I'm not attracted to X people." Even if you're just saying, "I'm not attracted to computer programmers" or "I'm not attracted to people with tattoos" that's a crappy thing for computer programmers or people with tattoos to hear. Why say it?
posted by straight at 3:57 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


reframed in terms of culture rather than "race" it might be more interesting

Maybe? I think it would be a really different conversation, though. I mean right now I (a white person) am dating another white person, but we're from different ethnicities. That's a very very different thing from this issue.
posted by Sara C. at 3:59 PM on March 18


Race, as a social construct, carries implicit cultural meaning. That's worth discussing.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:59 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I have a type. My type is dark hair and dark eyes, usually olive or darkish toned skin, and often tall

See, and no one will have any problem with this statement at all, even though e.g. I have blue/green eyes and brown to lighter hair and light skin, so because of my genetics I'm not physically your type. The only difference is your type spans across many boundaries of the concept of race, so there's little use in your defining it in racial terms. But the fact that someone's physical type overlaps to a high degree with a concept of race doesn't make that person a racist - in some alternate world your physical type/anti-type might overlap with racial boundaries to a much higher degree.

I'd still agree with the idea of not stating except perhaps in very private/intimate conversations "I'm not attracted to race/ethnicity X", but just the fact that stating "I am attracted to race/ethnicity X" is seen as much more acceptable should give some clue that this isn't really about racism, but just about some people being sad that many people aren't attracted to the physical attributes that they happened to be born with. Yeah, life sucks sometimes.
posted by crayz at 4:00 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Trying this again: While I think a healthy dose of self-examination is a wonderful thing, it's not exactly the fact that people who aren't attracted to Asian men exist that bothers me--it's that they feel the need (and indeed the right) to say such a thing, over and over, loudly and often in an insulting way.

If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them. I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation. Nobody goes around informing everybody that they aren't sexually attracted to Asian men.

Guy I used to play City of Heroes with, a Phillipines-born Chinese-American, used to complain about the very same thing, how Asian women never wanted to date Asian men. He was also very, very insistent that any woman of Asian heritage who didn't hold fast to the cultural traditions of her ancestors, with all the misogynist trappings, was a "sell-out". So, I dunno.

For bonus points, analyze the trappings and prejudices of the statement "I'm not attracted to fat men."
posted by kafziel at 4:01 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation.

I have absolutely heard this, more than a few times, in casual ladytalk chitchat. (I'm white, in my thirties, and live in a major metropolitan area, if that makes a difference.)
posted by lalex at 4:03 PM on March 18 [24 favorites]


What were the ethnicities of the speakers? Asian, or not Asian?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:04 PM on March 18


Sexual attraction based on a sex or gender is completely differnet in every conceivable way to sexual attraction based on one's race.

Why do you say that? I'm not asking as a way of arguing that the highlighted statement is untrue. I really don't know if it's true or not. Do we know enough about the sources of sexual attraction to draw that conclusion?
posted by layceepee at 4:04 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I think it's even worse among us queer dudes, because confessing my severe case of the hots for Jackie Chan sometimes elicited two syllables in the word "gross" from snitty air-pinching greaseboys, to say nothing of my suggestion that I wish Beverly Hills Ninja was gay porn and ended up with Chris Farley in the loving fuckadelic embrace of Robin Shou.

I really don't get the whole "type" fiasco.

When I was ten, my type was TV's bushy-haired snarling hotpot, Kevin Brophy, as Lucan, The Wolf Boy and a certain ten-year-old Jewish boy. When I was fourteen, it was Merritt Buttrick as Johnny Slash. When I was fifteen, it was the superhot black guy in my class, when I was sixteen, it was the guy from Otherworld, and when I was eighteen, it was the keyboardist for The Insect Surfers, and when I was twenty, it was compact hairy Italians with blue eyes and feathered mullets. It's been Elias Koteas in the back of a Lincoln, Tom Lister, Jr. in the office of the President, Chris O'Dowd in the basement of an office building with Richard Ayoade, a Belgian kickboxer I once saw scratch his balls and then discreetly sniff his fingers in a Los Angeles gym. Lead singer of Los Amigos Invisibles, when he's looking scruffy and a bit buzzed and has a little beerbelly? I'm going to need to lie down with a cool towel on my forehead, thank you.

Types change, or one would hope they would.

I guess I've had types, and I've had some racist types and exclusions in my tender years, but in adulthood, it's hard to fathom why would anyone, given the wild panoply of diversity that modernity allows, would rule out anyone by race. The thing that's just silly is that we go looking for traits and types of guys, but then presume that you can have an entire race or culture that somehow doesn't contain some selection of the same traits and types that all races have.

Takes all kinds to make a world, as they say.
posted by sonascope at 4:06 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


What were the ethnicities of the speakers? Asian, or not Asian?

If you are addressing me, generally not Asian.
posted by lalex at 4:06 PM on March 18


What about "I'm not attracted to short men" - is that not acceptable to say, even among friends with no short men in the conversation? Is it just not acceptable to ever state what genetically determined physical attributes one is attracted to?
posted by crayz at 4:07 PM on March 18


I've become incredibly skeptical about any kind of "I can never ever not even once be attracted to [a member of group]" statement.

Sure, and this is true of most preferences. They evolve, they are susceptible to exceptions, and we can condition ourselves to change them. It's true of music, art, food, fashion. It's true of where we prefer to vacation and what sort of places we prefer to live. Why wouldn't it equally be true of this preference? It's not surprising. The reasons it is controversial are tied up in external issues, none having to do with the relatively simple logical operation of the principle.
posted by cribcage at 4:12 PM on March 18


I have definitely heard people say they weren't attracted to Asian men. I've also heard someone say it was weird to be. This is not an uncommon attitude at all, I don't think it's generally seen as remarkable.
posted by Danila at 4:12 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I find it impossible to exclude a race of people as friends/lovers/partners. There are so many other more important factors to consider than skin color. Of course, I'm not white, so YMMV. I know that I've been "selected" based on my "exotic" looks by other people. And that makes me resentful after a while.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:13 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Do we know enough about the sources of sexual attraction to draw that conclusion?

Yes.

We know that race is not biological, and thus there is no way that race could be a biologically coded factor in sexual attraction.
posted by Sara C. at 4:13 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Once again, when people say they're not attracted to Asian men, or black women (the latter statement I've heard just as much as the former, and both groups are statistically significant in terms of being less dated- citation to be supplied if requested), they're generally not only talking only about physical features, but cultural and social perceptions as well. And attraction for physical features are often influenced by cultural and social perceptions, too.

We know that race is not biological, and thus there is no way that race could be a biologically coded factor in sexual attraction.

That seems like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:15 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation. Nobody goes around informing everybody that they aren't sexually attracted to Asian men.

Not sure how to prove it, but it's a real sentiment that is expressed openly and proudly. If you're lucky you will even hear the "short penises" thing by way of explanation, with a laugh. Some people lack self-awareness.
posted by naju at 4:16 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


If you've seriously never dated or even found attractive someone outside of either your race or the race of your society's power structure - sorry, you're probably racist. And lazy.

It's likely not your fault, but there are multiple people in this thread providing examples of the hard work they put in to counter the branding society puts on to minorities wherever you are - there's nothing stopping you from personally putting in that same work.

Everyone bears some responsibility for the perception of races in the general society. Just cause you're not actively wearing KKK robes and burning crosses doesn't mean you're good, here.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:19 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


The only exception I’ve seen to date is Walking Dead’s Glenn Rhee, played by Korean-American actor Steven Yeun.

Steven Yeun is smoking hot. I wish I had something more substantial to contribute, but, I, er, got distracted.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:20 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


they're generally not only talking only about physical features, but cultural and social perceptions as well. And attraction for physical features are often influenced by cultural and social perceptions, too.

Yeah, but isn't that... racism?
posted by Sara C. at 4:22 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've been assuming if someone says "I'm not attracted to Asian men" they meant they generally didn't find sexually attractive the set of physical characteristics found more often in such men than in other races. If they literally mean they don't like Asian men because they are Asian that's racist. But I don't think that's what people generally mean.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


That said, I am anti this popular thing that happens where interesting and important sociological claims are discussed using only Hollywood films and popular TV as evidence.

Well, unfortunately, this is important. This is where kids get ideas about where to put people who aren't out around them in sufficient numbers to represent themselves. If you grow up seeing Asian men as gross inhuman clowns, you're not going to be attracted when you meet one, even if he is not a gross inhuman clown.

I remember some girls in middle school asking me if Chinese people got divorces. Or if they even had sex. (I'm not Chinese, incidentally.) I'm sure they grew up to understand that, yes, Chinese people have sex and divorces, but I doubt they moved them from the box that they had dropped them in. Whereas white dudes were never in that box.
posted by ignignokt at 4:23 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Can we equivocate "I'm not attracted to Asian men" with "I'm not attracted to African men" or "I'm not attracted to European men" or "I'm not attracted to South American men?"
I think it sounds stupid at best.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:25 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Data regarding the relative attractiveness of Asian men on OKcupid

And also this article from November of last year about the Are You Interested app.

Someone I know was dating an ethnic Chinese guy, and when she mentioned this to a group of female acquaintances, someone made a dick size comment. An Asian female to be exact. So yeah.

There's more too, on how much money an Asian American male has to make in order to partner with someone and yep, it's way more than a white male has to make. Yes. There's lots of data on this topic, it's not just Asian American male paranoia
posted by wuwei at 4:26 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I've been assuming if someone says "I'm not attracted to Asian men" they meant they generally didn't find sexually attractive the set of physical characteristics found more often in such men than in other races.

Given that Asian men are not aliens, their physical characteristics are really not all that different from, say, that of a black man's are from those of a white man's. Maybe it's worth thinking about why that particular set of characteristics has been deemed so widely unattractive.
posted by ignignokt at 4:26 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


Since I've been drifting through j-rock PVs on youtube this past half hour, I have to add that Sakurai Atsushi is easy on the eyes, too. Romance | Kagerou | Zangai | You're My Disease. And now I'm going to bed, 'cause it's past midnight here.
posted by sukeban at 4:26 PM on March 18


But I don't think that's what people generally mean.

Which is why someone for whom the phrase and mindset actually affects their life and who has seen things you haven't and experienced things you haven't wrote this thoughtful article on how you should consider that maybe your viewpoint isn't totally correct.
posted by griphus at 4:28 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


I have absolutely heard this, more than a few times, in casual ladytalk chitchat. (I'm white, in my thirties, and live in a major metropolitan area, if that makes a difference.)

Yes, this is the context in which I've heard it, too. Only a couple of times, and not from anyone I knew well. I honestly don't remember the exact ages or ethnicities of the women who said it. It's not like something I've heard in the supermarket or a town board meeting or anything.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:30 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Noah Cho's How I Learned To Feel Undesirable.

All that said, just based on anecdotal observations of the youths, things seem to be getting better somehow.
posted by ignignokt at 4:31 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


There are so many "Asian" men I'm trying to imagine ruling them out as a category. What, all of them? Even the hot ones? Isn't Korea like, a leading exporter in improbably pretty male performers?

Uh, how do I navigate this without making fetish stereotypes out of people?
posted by Phalene at 4:33 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Which is why someone for whom the phrase and mindset actually affects their life and who has seen things you haven't and experienced things you haven't wrote this thoughtful article on how you should consider that maybe your viewpoint isn't totally correct.

Except that they didn't, because the article was written by an Asian woman who's in a relationship with a white man.
posted by kafziel at 4:40 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Well, unfortunately, this is important. This is where kids get ideas about where to put people who aren't out around them in sufficient numbers to represent themselves.

I mean, I get this sentiment. But I am not convinced that American Ultra-Popular Media is really nearly as much of a developmental influence as people would like to think, or often claim. I mean, this is the whole do video games make people violent sort of debate, which, eh. It's easy to point to some pop culture thing after the fact and be like "see!" But I'm pretty skeptical that there's really an interesting, causal relationship there.

I could be wrong. I grew up in a really homogenous culture with little media exposure, and I am more or less attracted to basically everyone.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:40 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


There are so many "Asian" men I'm trying to imagine ruling them out as a category. What, all of them? Even the hot ones? Isn't Korea like, a leading exporter in improbably pretty male performers?

I do not think Korean flower boy exports would do much to demolish these very wrong stereotypes about Asian men in the West though. But yeah, there is a wide range of Asian male beauty as seen in this Buzzfeed list, though any list that omits John Cho is not to be taken seriously.
posted by peripathetic at 4:41 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Everyone saying that, well, of course it's possible to decide you're not attracted to an entire race should definitely check out that Buzzfeed link in peripathetic's post. The vast majority of people mentioned look NOTHING alike at all.

I mean, who could blanket exclude a group of human beings that includes both Naveen Andrews and Takeshi Kaneshiro?
posted by Sara C. at 4:46 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


definitely check out that Buzzfeed link

Oh...oh my. Is it warm in here? Just me?
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:50 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Uh, how do I navigate this without making fetish stereotypes out of people?

I know! I'm mentally compiling my List of Asian Actors Who Give Me the Vapors with half my brain, and asking myself, "Hey, is that helpful?" with the other half.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:51 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


That buzzfeed article defines "Asian" as "from anywhere between Afghanistan and San Fransisco". Which is no better or worse than any other definition, but probably doesn't help aid clarity.
posted by cromagnon at 4:52 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


They list only House of the Flying Daggers as Takeshi Kaneshiro's claim to fame? What's Red Cliff, chopped liver??

Gratuituous Jay Chou, who's another glaring omission from the Buzzfeed list. He was Kato in the Green Hornet movie.
posted by sukeban at 4:55 PM on March 18


The problem with that approach is that 1) most of those celebrities are almost overwhelmingly Asian celebrities, not Asian Americans, and 2) MeFites can drool over them as much as they'd like to, but they don't seem to have found any lasting mainstream success in Hollywood.

Honestly, it's not about Asian idols. It should be more about Jeremy Lin types- people who are approachable, everyday, normal seeming in their excellence and appeal. We need more Glenns, romantic comedies with John Cho, dramas with prominent Asian American male characters without it necessarily just being about Asian American issues.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:02 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I thought it was a good article. Also, she addresses, in the article, a lot of the things people here are debating.

Re: people are just attracted to whoever, it's biology:

Does it occur to people that our racial dating preferences have been socially conditioned? That it’s no coincidence we don’t associate Asian men with masculinity and sexual prowess, since they are almost exclusively cast in roles that are limiting and decidedly unsexy?


I don't think white people realize just how strong the cultural bias in the US is toward white = most attractive, and everyone else is on another tier. Yes, I have heard many people say they don't find Asian men attractive, Asian people too. That's the "internal racism" part of things. I am an Indian American woman and had a gay male friend in college say, "I find your skin tone really ugly." People really say those things out loud. It wasn't even a dating experience, obviously. It was just something he thought I should know.

Also being a "hypocrite," she talks about that too:

Yes, I’m dating a white guy, but I’ve also been attracted to Asian men, black men, Latino men – every-color men, really, so long as they’ve got that winning combination of style, swagger, and intellect. I refuse to exclude white men from my dating pool, just as I would not write off any other group of men on the basis of race.

She's not saying you HAVE TO date an Asian man. She's asking, and people in this thread are asking, people to examine this "biology determines sexual attraction" idea, because it totally discounts the fact that our cultural stereotypes, misunderstandings, and prejudices influence attraction as well.

Really though, every Metafilter thread about Asian American experience tends to have a lot of backlash that the author should have ever even expressed an opinion or that their experience could possibly be valid. It's really frustrating.
posted by sweetkid at 5:10 PM on March 18 [49 favorites]


I am an Asian man married to a white woman. I live in the US. And I have definitely heard people specifically say they aren't attracted to Asian men. Even my wife has heard it, typically from other women, when she mentions my ethnicity.

Is there anything wrong with finding certain physical attributes unattractive? No, of course not. But what we find attractive is partly innate and partly influenced by our culture. Asian men can't be innately physically unattractive, otherwise why would so many women in Asia find them attractive? And the Asian men that women find attractive in Asia are usually not the same ones that would be found attractive in the US - compare one of the willowy "flower boys" in the comments above to square-jawed Daniel Dae Kim. So what would make so many people in the United States find Asian men unattractive, if not culture?

And so people often point out stereotypes and portrayals in American mass media as influencing that cultural perception. That isn't to say they are the only reason why people aren't attracted to Asian men. But they aren't exactly helping.

I will say anecdotally, that when traveling in Europe, I felt that women found me more attractive than in the US. My wife is from Sweden, and when I was there it seemed much more common for white women to date outside of their race (not just Asians - just in general) than in the US.

Why don't we see more Asian guys in relationships with non-Asian women? I think it's a vicious cycle thing. I've heard women mention that they aren't necessarily unattracted to Asian men, but they were never approached, or they assumed Asian men didn't like dating outside of their own race. And a lot of Asian men are reluctant to approach non-Asian women, precisely because they are aware that many will flat out not consider them because of their race.

These days, I am seeing it more frequently in New York - it's still a very rare thing, but I always point it out to my wife and get really happy every time I spot another couple "like us."
posted by pravit at 5:14 PM on March 18 [31 favorites]


sunset in snow country: " it's not exactly the fact that people who aren't attracted to Asian men exist that bothers me--it's that they feel the need (and indeed the right) to say such a thing, over and over, loudly and often in an insulting way."

As an Asian American male who has lived in two of the most "liberal" cities in the U.S. I have like a million stories to tell on this topic, but I don't think I will. Why would I want to share my lived experiences when people are just going to tell me all the ways in which it is invalid or somehow my own fault or a result of oversensitivity or whatever.

It does amaze me to see people who are otherwise media literate and accept implicitly that the messages we bombard people with from a very early age shape society at the individual level, giving them a baseline for 'normal'--but then suddenly get all skeptical when it comes to this one thing.


kafziel: "If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them."

Okay, one story. In college I remember vividly sitting down in the student center lobby across from a classmate I had known for 4 years. I say hi and made some small talk, but otherwise was just killing time while waiting for a friend. Out of nowhere she says to me "I'm not attracted to Asian guys. Like at all." And then proceeded to tell me the ethnicities and their qualities that she WAS attracted to. Basically, very pointedly letting me know she was off limits to me, but in a way that made sure it was clear that it wasn't about our individual incompatibility as people, but my incompatibility. With society. Like, there are probably weird white girls who are into multi-culturalness on campus and you should spend time with them.

34 year old me would have asked her why in the hell did she assume I would care about what she thought, whereas sadly 20 year old me said "okay" as if it was an okay thing to say to a person.
posted by danny the boy at 5:15 PM on March 18 [83 favorites]


Why would I want to share my lived experiences when people are just going to tell me all the ways in which it is invalid or somehow my own fault or a result of oversensitivity or whatever.

If anyone says "Maybe she was just awkward....", I vote we blow up the internet.
posted by rtha at 5:29 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


...ly racist
posted by Apocryphon at 5:30 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


We're talking about the mind. Is attraction to any particular race completely or even mostly hardwired? Because as she demonstrated in this piece, there is an awful lot of social and cultural conditioning in the US that says "Asian men aren't really men, they are not attractive." And I have to wonder, what is all of that for if it's natural anyway?

So true. The image of Asian men in the popular media is so very very very square and sexless. Like most people I'm not terribly attracted to square and sexless people, so I thought I just wasn't attracted to Asian guys. And then, of course, I actually get to know an Asian guy for the first time in my life, discover he is neither of those things, fall in love and get married to him. So yeah, I was being, if not racist, then at least prejudiced and presumptuous back when I thought I wasn't attracted to Asian guys. And I'm willing to posit that other people with such set "preferences" are too.

However, if it makes anybody feel better, I tend to notice these things and I feel like the the real world is a lot more with it than popular culture lately w/r/t Asian guys being considered dateable. Especially among the young, hipster-y people, I see a lot of non-Asian girls with Asian guys and it always warms my heart a little - even if it only means I won't be such a sore thumb anymore at the in-laws.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:31 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them."

Well you're just out of your depth here. It is said to people and around people, explicitly and implicitly. Take my word for it. If not, go look up the relevant research papers. That's what I had to do, and I'm even a fucking Asian.
posted by polymodus at 5:33 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


I've heard it in casual lady-chit-chat too. And both times I dated an Asian man I got a lot of questions about their penis size, also in casual lady chit chat situations. No one has ever asked me about the size of the white men I've dated, fwiw.
posted by sockermom at 5:37 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


That buzzfeed article defines "Asian" as "from anywhere between Afghanistan and San Fransisco". Which is no better or worse than any other definition, but probably doesn't help aid clarity.


But that IS Asia. We can argue about its cultural and political boundaries, but that is another argument for another day, and it changes nothing about how Asian men (Thai, Bhutanese, Korean, Indian etc) are perceived in the West.
posted by peripathetic at 5:38 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


I can't believe it took like 100 comments in this thread for someone to mention Daniel Dae Kim.

Just as a reminder: Daniel Dae Kim.

But I agree with Frowner that level of exposure makes a big difference here. Culturally, the majority of exposure as sex symbols/romantic interests, etc. in America goes to the old standard - white men and women with a fairly narrowly-defined look. Whenever we see someone outside this standard, it's always within the confines of a gross stereotype - the exotic Asian woman, the funny fat girl, the sassy black woman, the spicy Latino (and on and on). I think it's gotten a little better in the past 10-20 years or so, but the progress is painfully slow.

I, too, have a type. I am attracted to guys with glasses. It occurred to me recently that despite this preference (and without realizing it) I've never actually dated a guy who wears glasses. :(
posted by triggerfinger at 5:39 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


One of my coworkers not only said this this recently, he said a variation on this that is arguably MORE AWFUL. And this was at work. In the office. In mixed company, including in front of his boss.
posted by Sara C. at 5:39 PM on March 18


Observation - while reading this page without logging in - the ad I get served is a "meet oriental girls" banner. I'm worried that that ad, and the market forces that compel that type of advertising, plays a role in how Asians men and women are portrayed.
posted by phyrewerx at 5:41 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Jess the Mess: "Especially among the young, hipster-y people, I see a lot of non-Asian girls with Asian guys and it always warms my heart a little"

Yeah the one bit of optimism I have is that among the young people of my fair city there really does seem to be a lot of progress on these kinds of issues. I totally believe it is due to the availability/popularity of non-western media, as well as the slow progress that has been made in Hollywood.

Like, many teenagers don't care about people being gay because they, unlike us, grew up with gay people on TV and in the movies. Like it was normal. I can name exactly two contemporary leading male AA actors who are regarded as "hot" (by some) and that is two more than my generation had.
posted by danny the boy at 5:42 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Like most people I'm not terribly attracted to square and sexless people, so I thought I just wasn't attracted to Asian guys.

This. I don't think people who say "I'm not attracted to Asian guys" are necessarily racist, or have even met many Asian people. I think they just have a general perception of Asians that is unattractive. Even in my hometown, I heard people saying this, and I was one of maybe 5 Asian people in the entire town - so how could they possibly even have an idea of what "Asians" as a whole are like, other than from movies and TV?
posted by pravit at 5:49 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them."

I'm not even asian, i'm native. And i look like a somewhat tan white guy skin tone wise.

I have heard people say this or bring up this sentiment out of nowhere with no provocation more times than i can remember to count. Like, more times than i could count on my fingers.

And this is when there were no asian guys around, and there wasn't really much context for it other than some people got in to the "what do you find attractive" discussion. I've also seen it dropped completely out of nowhere like Danny The Boy describes above where i'm left thinking in retrospect "what did that have to do with anything? huh?"

Without anyone ever having even directly talked to me about it, i just operated under the assumption that this was like a pervasive force following asian dudes in america around all goddamn day. And i live in what's considered a super liberal-y progressive city.

Saying or implying this is a strawman is like saying that black kids don't get punished more in school, or something.(To bring up a recent, and vaguely similar cockfight that happened on here)
posted by emptythought at 5:49 PM on March 18 [16 favorites]


I can't remember any other than Romeo Must Die.

Not even this one. They removed the scene that showed Jet Li kissing Aaliyah because it tested poorly.


I remember hearing that in the documentary The Slanted Screen, but Jet Li said that wasn't why they didn't use that scene.
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's really exciting for me to see women of many races post clips of Mindy Project and say "that's SO ME" and Aziz Ansari make fun of his dad and non Indian friends are like "that's like MY DAD" Like, people identlfy with Indian Americans as people like them, and that's cool.

Cool and encouraging that kids now might not get the crazy othering I experienced as a kid, but...crap still happens.
posted by sweetkid at 5:51 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


I've also confirm that people say these things, unprovoked and unneeded. It maybe doesn't directly impact me, but it makes me feel bad for friends who have been made to feel crappy by these attitudes over the years.

Part of what is shitty about it is how fast people are to excuse it with denial (people don't really talk that way!) or dismissal (people can't help who they are attracted to!), instead of reflecting on how attraction is created and nurtured by all kinds of things around us.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:57 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


Is it this Asian or this Asian or this Asian or these Asians or this Asian or this Asian?

We use "Asian" as a term not because there actually is a 'race' called the 'Asian race', but because many people talk as if there is a race called the 'Asian race', the same way that many people talk as if there is a race called 'White'.
posted by suedehead at 5:59 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


i would not mind terribly if mindy project hired everyone on that buzzfeed list.
posted by twist my arm at 6:07 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Just wanna echo that this cultural perception, media and race stuff runs far deeper than most people suspect. It can lead to self-loathing. I spent a good chunk of my young adult life convinced I was too deeply unattractive to date - like, literally on the level of a horrible facial disfigurement or something. There was nothing wrong with me, I was fine. But hey, that was the narrative I was fed - amplified by many little things, some of which was being flatly told "I'm just not attracted to your race."
posted by naju at 6:08 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Mere Exposure and Racial Prejudice: Exposure to Other-Race Faces Increases Liking for Strangers of That Race

I find articles like this interesting and insightful, especially when contrasted with common-sense notions of how attraction is supposed to "be". While of course this is just one paper situated in a body of ongoing scientific work, it suggests to me, the ideas that, given the global world we live in today, attraction is a) more malleable than people commonly understand it to be, and b) more circumscribed than people believe is applicable to themselves.
posted by polymodus at 6:11 PM on March 18 [16 favorites]


Huh. I'm kind of stunned that there isn't more agreement here that categorically saying you're not attracted to Asians isn't racist. I'm a white woman. I'm attracted to particular features and particular people; some of those people have been white, and others have been Indian or Korean. I'm not attracted to all Asian men on the planet, just as I'm not attracted to all white men. It's all about individuals. Saying you can't be attracted to someone from China is like saying you can't be attracted to someone from Michigan. What could more obviously be prejudice?
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:14 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


[A couple comments removed; if you are not trying to pick a fight, please find a better way to frame your thoughts about this.]
posted by cortex at 6:18 PM on March 18


Yeah, saying "I couldn't ever be attracted to any member of Race X" gives me a distinct whiff of "All members of Race X look alike," or "I can't tell members of Race X apart." I'm not saying that's what people are literally, consciously saying, but that's where my mind immediately goes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:27 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Wow, all aboard, this thread is about one or two stops short of Youtube Comments Station on the Willfull Ignorance Express. To be fair, the piece in the OP doesn't offer a whole lot of food for thought-- while I value the author's opinion in sort of a general human respect way, I don't think her essay has a whole lot going on in it to talk about. So I kind of get how this thread is a natural Batsignal for people who don't really want to think about racism but somehow still want to talk about it/not-it. But really y'all.
posted by threeants at 6:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that was more oblique than I intended. Clearerly: being all "the fact that people's attraction is influenced by racism has nothing to do with racism" is wack.
posted by threeants at 6:29 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


"the fact that people's attraction is influenced by racism has nothing to do with racism"

If that's directed at me, let me clarify: I'm not saying it has nothing to do with racism, just that there are different kinds and levels of racism, that the person him- or herself may not even be aware of.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:34 PM on March 18


I have found that my standards of "attractive" have changed dramatically (not about race, since not being attracted to [race] people has not, historically, been my experience - nerdy people with glasses of all races have a walkover with me) through intentionally seeking out media in which fat women, for example, or older women or trans women were portrayed diversely and positively. I was surprised, in fact, by how much my ideas of attractiveness changed simply through exposure. In fact, I've become incredibly skeptical about any kind of "I can never ever not even once be attracted to [a member of group]" statement.

I agree with this and I'm not sure I believe sexual attraction is any more immutable than, say, food preferences. At root though, I think, this conversation is always going to be quietly dominated by a huge elephant in the room, which is homophobia/heterosexism. Even the slightest concession that sexual attraction is in any way not permanently and forever set in stone opens the door (rightfully) to the troubling of the concept of sexual orientation and, above all, capital-S Straightness. Cue queer panic.
posted by threeants at 6:35 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I think that "I'm just not attracted to Asian men" isn't so much about attraction as it is about status. Race is a social construct, so saying "no Asian men" is a social stance.

I think the women saying this are fearful that being linked to the (hypothetical) Asian man will drag down their social status somehow. To me, they're just acting as a counterpoint to the men who hope that being linked to an Asian woman will boost their social status.

Either way, it's dehumanizing, so I do think it's racist.

As a white person, being in an interracial relationship either does not affect my reputation at all or gives me tons of Good Liberal Cookies. I am pretty much free to go out with anyone I find attractive regardless of their background.

There's a whole lot of baggage around white women being with black men.
posted by rue72 at 6:48 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Some might find this piece about a white woman married to an Indian man interesting: The White Woman’s Burden
posted by homunculus at 6:52 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Wow, the title of that article makes me cringe.
posted by sweetkid at 6:58 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


We know that race is not biological, and thus there is no way that race could be a biologically coded factor in sexual attraction.

But we don't know if sex or gender is necessarily a biologically coded factor in sexual attraction.
posted by layceepee at 7:06 PM on March 18


Race is a social construct, so saying "no Asian men" is a social stance.

Yes, a racist social stance.

I don't really get the people who are trying to lump this into a "cultural thing" or "social reasons" or the like, since ultimately that reduces to "because they're racist."

There's a whole lot of baggage around white women being with black men.

The "baggage" you refer to is the fact that, once upon a time, a black man could be murdered for so much as looking wrong at a white woman.
posted by Sara C. at 7:10 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


In my family of six, I am one of four men. Only one of the four married a white woman. The other two married an immigrant (Pacific and Middle Eastern Americans); I married someone who happened to be born in Japan, but grew up in the same quasi-hippie 60's Midwestern culture I grew up in. I had a couple other partners who who half-Hispanic and part-Black.

We all have our personal racial inclinations, and mine is a little funny: my blue-blooded mother was WAY into international relations. Well: we took it to heart.

Sorry I don't have time to read all the above comments; I'm sure they are really interesting. I just have to get up early tomorrow.
posted by kozad at 7:11 PM on March 18


Yes, a racist social stance.

Sara C., I agree, that was my point. That's why I literally wrote, "I do think it's racist."
posted by rue72 at 7:14 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Related article: I didn't pay much attention to Jeremy Lin until I realized he was getting me laid.

I think there are some people, especially gay men, who have a sort of defensive reflex when they hear what sounds like someone criticizing them based on who they find attractive. It's not without reason and I definitely understand where that's coming from.

But just empirically speaking, gender preference appears to be in a different category than many other sexual preferences - e.g., race. For one thing, gay people get a huge amount of pressure to try to find a woman, ANY woman, who they find sexually attractive: pressure from their parents, their peers, strangers, etc. In some cases this pressure takes a very extreme form, namely conversion therapy. And yet we know that in spite of all of this pressure, gay men are basically without exception unable to rewire their sexual orientation, even those who are the most highly motivated to change. So to put it another way, this experiment has unfortunately been carried out in a very large population all over the USA with only negative results.

In contrast, the experience of falling for someone who matches your preferred gender, but to whom you ordinarily wouldn't have given the time of day, seems to be very common across straight and LGBT populations alike. At least in stories I've heard, a lot of this seems to come about by developing a crush on one person, sometimes a celebrity and sometimes a friend or acquaintance, which then spills over into other people who resemble them in some small ways... much like Jeremy Lin in the above blog piece. So I think there is either a massive quantitative difference here, or (and this is where my own intuition is leading me) a qualitative difference.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:15 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


Sorry about that!
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on March 18


Sorry about that!

All good
posted by rue72 at 7:16 PM on March 18


Also anyone who is not convinced this is a real thing that people say should scroll through Douchebags of Grindr at some point. The sentiment described in the FPP is really depressingly common.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:26 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


It amazes me how much blatant discrimination against Asians gets accepted. The whole college thing, for one. Some of the anti-gentrification sentiment (which by now is nth wave gentrifiers complaining about n+1) immediately local to me has an anti-Asian tinge - for example I saw the Community Board minutes for an alcohol license hearing where they advised against beer-licensing a guy opened a Japanese hot dog shop in part because "he is an immigrant." I was kind of flabbergasted. Or this regarding NYC schools...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:29 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I also recently watched Walking Dead and then an episode of Star Trek Voyager because someone had never seen one ... we discussed how 1 Asian guy was allowed on TV at a time, from Harry Kim, to that guy on Lost, to Glenn fighting zombies. I think my friend had an example where in recent years we've progressed to occasionally two.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:32 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


This cracks me up because I am not very good at faces and grew up as often the only white person in the room in Singapore.

It is totally racist and about exposure. When I went to boarding school in New Zealand, I had such trouble telling white people apart if they had similar faces and colouring, just as our classmates couldn't tell the Japanese girl apart from the Thai girl despite like, a foot in height. Eventually, I did but I definitely get white dudes mixed up.

I'm married to a Chinese-Singaporean, and I have heard plenty of racist crap, including not finding asian men attractive, always awkward when my Asian husband turns up and people realise I am not a real Expat.

All of this just makes me think: "More for meeeeee!"
posted by viggorlijah at 7:42 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


The years between Star Trek TOS and Next Generation were really bleak times for us.
posted by cazoo at 7:43 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I'm a straight white man and I lived in China for a while a few years back. I met a straight white woman who'd also been living there for a while. She complained about how it was "unfair" that in this country I was surrounded by viable sexual partners, while for her there were absolutely none. "The men just aren't attractive. As a race I mean", she said.

It wasn't the last time I heard the same thing expressed (as if it were the least controversial idea in the world), both in China and at home, both by women and gay men, and people who would consider themselves politically progressive.

It seems to me that some people on this thread are pretending that this uncomfortable phenomenon can't be real but it absolutely is. Hollywood's appalling racism is part of it, but it's a bit of a chicken and egg problem on that front.
posted by moorooka at 7:58 PM on March 18 [22 favorites]


Also, I know that an actor takes what roles get offered, but fucking Ken Jeong should be ashamed of himself.
posted by moorooka at 8:02 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I hear you, but Ken Jeong is kind of amazing. He's a licensed doctor and was still practicing at least a few years ago.
posted by sweetkid at 8:06 PM on March 18


planetesimal: "> Attitudes can be racist as well as actions.

Sure, but we're talking your body here.
"

No, we absolutely are not. We're talking about attitudes.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:08 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


As I've been a member here for years, many discussions have helped me with self-reflection and self-awareness. I have always considered myself a loving and open-minded person, despite the fact that sometimes I feel the need to investigate some of the negative tendencies I have. MeFi has helped me dissect and challenge my outlook on mental illness, race/ethnic relations and diversity, politics, religion, sex and gender issues, etc, and I hope I have grown and continue to grow.

I suppose my type is males with short dark or salt and pepper hair, as tall or taller than me (5'4"), fair to olive skin, and "big" (like former football player sized; round, but still strong and muscle-y). That usually translates to white, Latino, Native, or even Asian.

However, while I've found plenty of guys who are non-white to be physically attractive, and have dated a few Latino and Asian guys, I continually find myself with white guys. I feel guilty that while I might see a guy as "hot," I would probably never place him on my LTR list (for lack of a better term) because of personal prejudices. I'm working to fix that, but as I'm in a long-term situation with a white guy that meets my needs and I find completely physically/sexually/emotionally attractive, I'm unsure to what the timetable on that challenge may be. FWIW, I'm a white woman from the southeastern US with a large, fairly diverse friend and acquaintance group.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 8:09 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I mean, who could blanket exclude a group of human beings that includes both Naveen Andrews and Takeshi Kaneshiro?

I dreamed about Naveen Andrews so many nights while watching and rewatching Lost. Mmmm!
posted by limeonaire at 8:11 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


cazoo: "The years between Star Trek TOS and Next Generation were really bleak times for us."

TNG didn't break the bleakness. I was super let down by TNG (in retrospect), and it felt like a step backwards. I mean it kind of blows my mind how TOS had not only an Asian man but a Black woman as main characters in the 60s. TNG felt so much less progressive in comparison. I mean there was room for an exotic Asian wife, but we never got our Asian male interracial kiss.

No Asians in the main cast for DS9 either, and christ am I still furious about Voyager. What a shitty deal for Garret Wang. I'm sure they sold it to him as being the next Sulu and instead he got Harry Fucking Kim.

'Crazy shirtless fencing Sulu' vs Harry 'can't get laid or promoted' Kim. Harry 'can't pick a less sexy instrument than the clarinet' Kim. Harry 'who is always the literal sidekick to the white bad boy' Kim. I would have rather there not been an Asian character at all, than the same old tropes.
posted by danny the boy at 8:12 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


triggerfinger: "I can't believe it took like 100 comments in this thread for someone to mention Daniel Dae Kim."

Who, by the way, stole the show when he was on an episode of Voyager. Now that was the Asian astronaut we deserved.

He was also on Enterprise, but we don't talk about Enterprise.
posted by danny the boy at 8:29 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


All of this just makes me think: "More for meeeeee!"

I'm working to fix that, but as I'm in a long-term situation with a white guy ... I'm unsure to what the timetable on that challenge may be


Yeah, I think these are the key to why the dating behavior of individuals is really a drop in the bucket here. Like, believe me, I have tried, and I cannot date ALL THE ASIAN MEN by myself. I'm gonna need help from at least a few of you people here!

Jokes aside, this is what the author of the piece is talking about when she says these things "complicate her love life." When she dates a white guy, people take it as tacit approval of all the insults that get hurled at Asian men. These comments perpetuate--not cause, mind you, but perpetuate--an atmosphere in which any individual person's choice of who to date is charged with meaning, whether we like it or not.

(I'm so glad to come back to this thread and see that people have said a lot of the things that I was trying to say. I was getting so very very frustrated.)
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:36 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


'Crazy shirtless fencing Sulu' vs Harry 'can't get laid or promoted' Kim. Harry 'can't pick a less sexy instrument than the clarinet' Kim. Harry 'who is always the literal sidekick to the white bad boy' Kim.

Harry 'Garrett Wang was a constant, well-documented asshole to the writing team for all seven seasons' Kim.
posted by kafziel at 8:36 PM on March 18


TNG felt so much less progressive in comparison. I mean there was room for an exotic Asian wife, but we never got our Asian male interracial kiss.

TNG also made sure to keep the only black male regular desexualized and unlucky in love. I suppose the nerdy black guy is sort of stereotype-bending, but at a certain point it started to feel like they either didn't want to have black female guest stars or didn't want to depict an interracial relationship on the show.

Trek corrected that with Sisko's character, I think, but I still would have liked to see Geordi get laid for once.
posted by Sara C. at 8:43 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


He was too busy reading Gregory the Terrible Eater.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 PM on March 18


Harry Kim had one of my favorite Star Trek lines ever. That should score him some points.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 PM on March 18


kafziel: "Harry 'Garrett Wang was a constant, well-documented asshole to the writing team for all seven seasons' Kim."

I think your summary of the situation is uncharitable.

But besides that, can you explain exactly what you're implying? That it is okay for the writers to punish an actor they have a conflict with by saddling his character with racist tropes?
posted by danny the boy at 8:57 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Harry 'Garrett Wang was a constant, well-documented asshole to the writing team for all seven seasons' Kim.

Really? Tell me more.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:58 PM on March 18


Oh, also, why isn't Harry Shum Jr. a bigger breakout star from Glee? Easily the cutest guy on the show.
posted by scody at 9:03 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Trek corrected that with Sisko's character, I think, but I still would have liked to see Geordi get laid for once.

Yeah, but even the the far-flung utopian egalitarian Star Trek future, Sisko, a black man, is only allowed (by the writers) to marry or date other black people. TV Tropes calls it Like Goes with Like.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:07 PM on March 18


"I can't believe it took like 100 comments in this thread for someone to mention Daniel Dae Kim."

I'll always think of Daniel Dae Kim as "Lt. Smugman," because that was my and my sister's nickname for his character on Crusade.

TV Tropes calls it Like Goes with Like.

We always called it "Love for Isaac." Because, if there was a Black woman other than Della Reese in the guest star lineup in the opening credits of The Love Boat, odds were she was going to be a love interest for Isaac the bartender.

(When I saw a pretty Irish girl talking to the Irish detective in the previews for last week's Ripper Street, I thought, "It's the Irish version of 'Love for Isaac!' It's 'Love for Irish!')
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:21 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


KISS ME I'M TOKENISM
posted by shakespeherian at 9:32 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]


At APA [Asian Pacific American] conferences, non-profit organizations, and even on hit blogs, the voices of APA women and gay men dominate. That’s because APA women and gay men are easy to sympathize with. APA straight men? Not so much. They’re evil, remember?
link.
This article is problematic as far as gender roles, but it's still worth reading for the facts....the author's observation has been true , in my experience, since the late 1990s.
posted by wuwei at 9:53 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


What about "I'm not attracted to short men" - is that not acceptable to say, even among friends with no short men in the conversation?

Is that the sort of conversation you enjoy hearing from other people? Lists of kinds of people they are and aren't attracted to?
posted by straight at 10:07 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I'll add to the anecdata, for what it's worth, and if it'll shed more light on the issue. As an Asian male who immigrated to the USA, I don't have the cultural baggage Asian Americans pick up in their formative years, so I was surprised when I went through experiences similar to those described here. My most vivid memory was sitting in a karaoke bar with some friends enjoying the music, and having an Asian American girl tell me unprompted that she didn't date Asian men, period. It felt like it was important for her to communicate that to me, and I can't begin to imagine what conditioning had to have happened to shape her worldview so.

In the end though, I like to believe that we'll all be the same color someday, so cheers to that.
posted by kyp at 10:57 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Wow, the title of that article makes me cringe.

Woah, damn, yeah; kind of went into it giving the benefit of doubt, thinking perhaps the title would turn out to be biting satire...nope!
posted by threeants at 12:25 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I guess what I really don't get is the need to voice these fucked-up racist dis-attractions, knowing the kind of harmful reverberations that emanate from doing so. Very few people would be so uncouth as to look at your dating history and offer unsolicited commentary on the makeup of your partners. I've been in relatively few serious relationships, and from looking at the demographics of people I haven't dated, you could conceivably postulate that I hold a sexual animus against Russians, Hindus, men, blonde people, undocumented immigrants, people over 30, flight attendants-- whatever. For the most part, nobody's going to guess that you don't find yourself attracted to "Asian" people if you don't feel the need to speak up about it. As someone who tries to work through my own prejudices, I get the whole "fucked-up ingrained attitude that I'm having trouble shaking" thing, but I really don't get the urge to cross over into being vocal about the attitude itself-- even if you can't be bothered to raise your own consciousness about it, surely the least you can do is clam up.
posted by threeants at 12:35 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I guess what I really don't get is the need to voice these fucked-up racist dis-attractions, knowing the kind of harmful reverberations that emanate from doing so.

I really don't think people see it as harmful, though. Even if were to go as far as sit down and think about it, they probably justify it in their minds as the best course of action for everyone involved. Like, they may think they're circumventing an awkward conversation that may arise if flirtation were to occur.

As for why they would say it when Asians aren't around or aren't the topic of conversation, that's harder to guess. Maybe they think it's engaging in small talk. Or maybe they want to identify as being part of an "in group", one that can joke about Asian men?
posted by FJT at 12:51 AM on March 19


I really don't think people see it as harmful, though.

That's pretty much the definition of unexamined privilege.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:02 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


What's wrong with crazed shirtless fencing?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:05 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I was only into white men because that is who I grew up around, despite being half Asian. Then I went to my country of half-origin when I was 17 and thought "meh, they're all ugly! They're a lot smaller and skinnier, hardly taller than me! Their faces are different and make different expressions!"
Within one month my perception changed. Simply being around so many Asian men reconditioned me (that, and being a horny teenager). I saw attractive guys and unattractive guys, smiley ones and grumpy ones - the racial thing stopped mattering.
I even lost my preference for tall guys.
It was amazing. When I go back there, the difference still jarrs me, but I've stopped seeing "different" as "undateable".
posted by Omnomnom at 1:09 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I'm an Asian-Canadian who grew up in Canada. I currently have a strong preference for Asian guys, especially East Asian looks, but I was turned off from them during my teens and early twenties when they often shamed me for not being "a real Asian girl" because I was too loud, geeky, rebellious, and listened to Sleater-Kinney.

Several years later, I'm now back in my country of origin, often finding it difficult to date because men find me too loud, geeky, and rebellious. Good thing I swing both ways.

I still try to meet men, but goddamnit. The super traditional family + strict expectations of women (and mandatory pregnancy!) is proving to be a huge barrier for me back in Asia. I have to look for the black sheep just like me.
posted by Hawk V at 5:19 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


What about "I'm not attracted to short men"

I'm a short guy and this phrase is not an opinion, it's an axiom of the universe.
posted by colie at 5:43 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Observation - while reading this page without logging in - the ad I get served is a "meet oriental girls" banner.

[Quick PSA: Skeevy ads? Send them to us! We love getting those — so we can block them. Thanks, carry on!]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:09 AM on March 19 [12 favorites]


I'm a short guy and this phrase is not an opinion, it's an axiom of the universe.

Or at least an axiom of online dating, I suspect. It would seem that being able to casually sort by arbitrary height or race enables and magnifies unthinking bias, though I don't have a citation for that. (And it's not like old fashioned ways of meeting, like being introduced by a friend, don't have their own forms of bias built in.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


"...Stephen Yeun's character in The Walking Dead is in an interracial relationship, right? Is he ever sexualized, or is he mostly presented chastely?"

Not chaste (NSFW video).
posted by Jacqueline at 7:16 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation.

Two points:
1. I am an Asian-American gay man and I have definitely heard this in conversation with gay acquaintances or guys that I have just met. This is in my experience a common attitude among gay men in the US, where I would argue that (East) Asian men are in general at the bottom of the sexual desirability hierarchy.

(And yes, I know that a Takeshi Kaneshiro or a Daniel Henney is going to be ranked above an obese balding white man by most gay men, but as a whole, I do believe that gay Asian men as a group are perceived to lack the majority of features that are deemed physically attractive by the mainstream American gay community. For whatever reason.)

2. I have also definitely had this said to me by Asian-American women (about the men they find attractive). I don't care about who they date -- I'm not in that battle, after all -- but I don't really understand why they feel that this is an acceptable sentiment to say to me. I'm not trying to sleep with Asian women, or any women, here, but it's not like this negates the fact that I'm also an Asian man. It really boggles my mind.
posted by andrewesque at 7:41 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


"I'm a short guy and this phrase is not an opinion, it's an axiom of the universe."

Peter Dinklage is sexy as hell and he's about as short as it gets, so there's hope for you too.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:48 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Quick, count the Hollywood movies with an Asian male love interest.
Sigh. I was just thinking about this in relation to Veronica Mars. I love the show and just saw the movie. In a way I can't blame it for being whitewashed, since at its core it's basically about rich white privilege.

But with a cast of dozens of recurring characters, including a few great black characters, and some good (if heavily stereotyped) Latino characters, it's pretty sad that there's one recurring character who is Asian-American. That's right: Mr. Wu, the nerdy physics teacher, who shows up in all of five episodes. Can you get any more stereotypical? The show is set in California; it's not like Asian-Americans are thin on the ground there.

And then there's this moment, which I (as an Asian-American man) thought was hilarious, but it also perfectly illustrates the problem:
Mr. Wu: Veronica, I think when you get out in the world a little more, you'll discover that not all well-dressed, articulate, detail-oriented men are gay. Many of them are just... Asian.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:49 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


What about "I'm not attracted to short men" - is that not acceptable to say

How is this also not an obvious example of prejudice? I think things get murkier if you start talking about whether you could be attracted to people who are horribly disfigured, or something. But I think that anyone who dates men could end up being attracted to at least one shorter man out there, and anyone who believes otherwise has been just as brainwashed by society as those who think they couldn't be attracted to someone who's Asian.

Am I the only person bothered by the listing of attractive Asian guys in this thread? I mean, yes, positive media representation obviously influences people. But why do we have to objectify people here?
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:00 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Mere Exposure and Racial Prejudice: Exposure to Other-Race Faces Increases Liking for Strangers of That Race

Two years ago I totally thought that I "just wasn't attracted to Asian men". I mean, it's just a personal preference thing, right? I try hard to be a progressive person! I'm not racist!

Then for one reason or another unrelated to dudes I got really into Korean television, and after about 3 months of that I realized -- man, "Asian men" covers a LOT of different people, and I definitely find some of those people physically attractive. (*cough* Lee Min Ho *cough*) What the heck was I thinking before?

Part of it was just the plain lack of Asian men in Western media, so I didn't see a diversity of people and roles. And part of it was absolutely my willingness to buy into those limited roles as a sign that "all Asian men are X". I'm not going to make this call for anyone else, but for me, yes, saying "I'm not attracted to Asian men" was racist.
posted by jess at 8:32 AM on March 19 [14 favorites]


What about "I'm not attracted to short men" - is that not acceptable to say, even among friends with no short men in the conversation?

My Mom - a tallish lady at 5'8" - dated an absolutely wonderful man a bit shorter than herself when I was a teenager. Once in a blue moon, when she was getting ready to go out, she'd sigh and say to me, "I do miss wearing high heels, but he's SO worth it." I don't believe she ever said it to anyone else, and I certainly can't imagine her saying it within his earshot. (In a small town, she knew that the former would have inevitably led to the latter.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:43 AM on March 19


I really don't think people see it as harmful, though. Even if were to go as far as sit down and think about it, they probably justify it in their minds as the best course of action for everyone involved. Like, they may think they're circumventing an awkward conversation that may arise if flirtation were to occur.

Yeah, better to crap on entire groups of people than have to deal with an awkward moment of saying "no" to someone you don't want to go out with.

It's not the worst thing someone has said because they're too cowardly to just say "no, thank you." But it's one of those situations where people are willing to do who-cares-how-much harm to save themselves a little bit of trouble.
posted by straight at 8:46 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Meant to add - she was VERY attracted to him. They were an adorable couple, and let's just say that my sister and I had the house to ourselves several nights a week. She just liked the heels but didn't feel she could wear them around him.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:46 AM on March 19


If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them. I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation. Nobody goes around informing everybody that they aren't sexually attracted to Asian men.

I wonder if the very many experiences posted in this thread of people hearing about this very phenomenon will have given kafziel any food for thought on the topic.
posted by sweetkid at 9:41 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


If not, I'll gladly chime in with more anecdata from the two years I dated a man of Filipino descent. I heard that phase more times than I could even begin to count. I've heard it since, too, but people seemed to really want to tell me how unattractive they found people like my boyfriend during that relationship.

Granted, he also had long hair and sometimes liked to wear my skirts, so we were also occasionally setting off people's gender-issues and sexual-orientation-issues, and it's hard to say exactly which of those things people were reacting to when they recoiled in horror at the idea of me dating him. Or acted as if I were some brave, brave white girl to risk the social faux pas of dating...gasp...AN ASIAN MAN, and they just had to let me know how much they admired me for doing something they apparently found so unimaginable.

Whatever their issues were, they were incredibly skeevy and inappropriate and I wish to god I'd been a bit older and more sure of myself and had given those people the full verbal smackdown they deserved.
posted by Stacey at 10:10 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


sweetkid i was honestly wondering the same thing. for me personally, i wonder whether anybody's mind was changed, and i'm hopeful that some people reading this are at least willing to reconsider their positions. i know there are many people in the world that feel there is no possible harm in having and loudly expressing preferences (i think this conversation would go poorly IRL and i doubt i'd go there with just anyone) and i was on that side until very recently. even though i already felt that the media constantly influences how we feel about ourselves and others. i can't explain the disconnect except to say that it maybe bc it feels really harmless to be attracted to whomever? not that i would go around loudly proclaiming my preferences, but it feels exactly like liking blondes or athletic people or having height requirements.

i understand the kinda kneejerk reaction that talking about sexual attraction, a conversation that's pretty normal to have, has to have all these secret PC rules and constraints. i mean we've been checking other people out since elementary school and now all of a sudden we have to be nice about it??!

i guess it's easier if i don't think of it as man, i was being so fucking racist, but more as a reevaluation of how i came to have my preferences, and how, as others have demonstrated, those preferences are not carved in stone and didn't come from nowhere. you don't have to do anything about your own preferences just like you don't have to deliberately befriend people of all ethnicities to prove you're not racist. just understand that a lifetime of being influenced by the world around you might have left marks in areas you didn't think were influence-able.

there were a lot of personal stories in this thread, but Danila's comment up top was especially great. it's not rocket science or a new idea, but that simple concept of Really Looking at people, as cheesy as it sounds, really humanizes this whole discussion for me.
posted by twist my arm at 10:30 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Apocryphon: "What's wrong with crazed shirtless fencing?"

Absolutely nothing. That's the point. Sulu was shown as a complex character, on par with everyone else on the bridge. He had passion, desires and sexuality. That's an unusual portrayal for an Asian character. Contrast with Harry Kim, who is the opposite of those things: boring and sexually non-threatening. Neutered.

Take a look at a recent example: The Big Bang Theory. One of the most highly rated and watched shows (bleh) in recent times. Four nerdy friends, whose social awkwardness is the entire point of the show. What happens to them over the series? Alpha nerd gets the hot girl he has been pursing all along. The womanizing self-deludedly "suave" character marries a hot girl. Even the asexual, no need for human companionship character gets a fucking girlfriend.

What does the one Asian (male) character get? Crippling social anxiety and a literal inability to speak when it comes to women.

And what does the one Asian (female) character get? To be the exoticized girlfriend of the alpha nerd, and then written out when we all lose interest.

You think that's a coincidence? You think it hasn't always been like this in Hollywood?
posted by danny the boy at 10:43 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them. I really don't believe for a second that "I'm not attracted to Asian men" is a statement that you ever hear bandied about in casual conversation. Nobody goes around informing everybody that they aren't sexually attracted to Asian men.


Oh Jesus Christ. I can't. What's wrong with you?

I tried not wading into this thread. Hi. I'm an American-born Chinese. I don't have the cachet of a K-pop star, nor do I look like Chow Yun Fat. Some people say my dad looked like Bruce Lee when he was young, that's about as close as it gets. Nor do I have the built-in dating pool of an immigrant community because I am not really one of them. My Cantonese is broken and my Mandarin worse still.

I hate barging into arguments waving my yellow card, but there comes a time when a man must play it.

I've dated white girls, some of them seriously. Every single one of them caught shit for it from their white friends who were just baffled and fascinated. And I run in very liberal, very progressive and urban circles, where it is just viewed as a normal thing to not be attracted to Asians. If their hometown friends were from small-town communities where there might have been 1% Asian, it got even worse.

Sure, they were fine with my personality. Sure, they thought I was smart and was ambitious and had great things ahead of me and everything else you'd want your girl friends to have in a boyfriend. What no one could understand was how an Asian guy could be hot.

The experience of Asian males and Black females must be considered separately from other combinations in America. If you don't see race and just want to see people, you are blind to a long-standing cultural preference among White men for Asian women that is not counterbalanced at all. Among Whites and Hispanics, there is no difference in interracial marriage among genders. But among Asians, twice as many women married outside their race as men. Twice. As. Many.

In this sense, the Asian guy with a rice-fed all-American childhood is doubly screwed. Every portrayal of a virile Asian man with sex appeal or romantic appeal comes from abroad, none are like us. We are nerds here to do your homework and teach your math.

I get plenty of dates, mostly with white girls since the Asian pool where I'm living right now is rather small. Don't think for a second that I am bitterly complaining that I am entitled to a white woman, no one is saying that. But what we are saying in this thread is real and is a product of the lives that we have lived.

It's something I have to consider every time I ask a girl out that there are non-zero odds she's going to flat-out say no because she "doesn't find Asian guys attractive". Maybe it's that we can't really grow sideburns, maybe it's that our skin is yellow or our faces are weird, it doesn't matter. There's a trope for the hypermasculine black male and the sexy Latino. There are no sexy tropes for the Asian male.

Now, there are white girls who happen to have a thing for Asians. They're very rare, but I've met some. This does not in any way make up for the mass opinion that we aren't hot.

I'll be fine. But it wears me out when people loudly deny that Asian-American males occupy a very strange position in the American dating pool that our foreign-born compatriots don't.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:46 AM on March 19 [36 favorites]


Contrast with Harry Kim, who is the opposite of those things: boring and sexually non-threatening. Neutered.

But wasn't every character on Voyager, and indeed every aspect of Voyager sort of boring and neutered and beige-ified?

Not to excuse the treatment of Harry Kim at all, but in general the show seemed to have a problem where it was afraid of anything actually happening.

I have less of a problem with a show that has a character like Harry Kim and also every other character is sort of defanged and bland than a problem with a show full of exciting stuff where the only Asian is a fucked up Yellow Peril caricature (*cough* Community *cough*).
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on March 19


"the only Asian is a fucked up Yellow Peril caricature (*cough* Community *cough*)"

Abed is a Yellow Peril caricature?
posted by Jacqueline at 10:52 AM on March 19


Oh wait, I just remembered that Abed the character is 1/2 Palestinian, not 1/2 Indian like the actor. So you're talking about Chang?
posted by Jacqueline at 10:53 AM on March 19


[Comment removed; if you're quoting something inflammatory it's a good idea to be clear about the attribution, and if you're just sort of throwing out invented examples at length of what would be an obnoxious or odious thing for some notional third party to say there's probably a better approach than sticking that in quotes.]
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM on March 19


Wait a sec, I just realized Chang isn't the only Asian-American character on Community, because Abed.

Though it's not like Abed is a brilliant counterpoint of daring stereotype breakage, or anything. It's interesting, because I'm pretty sure Abed is Dan Harmon's personal stand-in/Mary Sue character, and he has his moments, but he's still yet another example of the desexualized Asian man.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 AM on March 19


But wasn't every character on Voyager, and indeed every aspect of Voyager sort of boring and neutered and beige-ified?

I see your point, but this doesn't seem like a good place to go, in this thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:00 AM on March 19


Sara C.: "But wasn't every character on Voyager, and indeed every aspect of Voyager sort of boring and neutered and beige-ified? "

Contrast with Harry's 'best friend' Tom Paris, who is the rogue to be redeemed: served time in military prison, gets the exotic half-klingon half-latina, is the bad boy pilot and races shuttles for fun, is the hero in all of his holodeck adventures while Harry plays his sidekick.
posted by danny the boy at 11:01 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


If this phrase actually does get said to people - I'm not convinced it's not a strawman to start - it probably shows up most often as a response to Asian men demanding an explanation for why someone won't go out with them.

I just want to provide yet another data point that yes, "I'm not attracted to Asian guys" or "I don't date Asian guys" is an actual thing that is said. Sometimes with weaselly qualifiers like, "oh, I've never met an Asian guy I'm into, I'm just not into Asian guys." I went to a university that was about 40% Asian, and I still heard it there throughout my college years. It always baffled me given the incredibly wide range of Asian guys on display literally everywhere you looked.

I think the discussion is a little more complicated when you factor in women of color talking about their own communities, because I have also definitely heard women say something about how they'd never date or marry a guy in their own ethnic group, but that's frequently followed by a list of cultural attributes they dislike, which is its own kind of stereotyping and prejudice, but not the same thing as the racism that underlies "I'm not attracted to Asians."
posted by yasaman at 11:02 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Chang is really super fucked up offensive, though.

The whole subplot where Shirley hooks up with Chang and gets pregnant, and nobody knows whether it's Chang's baby or Shirley's husband's baby is one of the most racist things I've seen on TV this side of Amos N Andy or something.
posted by Sara C. at 11:03 AM on March 19


I just realized I never thought of Chang as Asian before, either.

Which, as a white person, I totally had the luxury of doing in a way other people don't.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:04 AM on March 19


I mean, I don't know how much clearer it can possibly be. Why did Will 'bang every alien' Riker get a trombone, and Harry Kim get the clarinet? Why does Riker play in jazz ensembles to the accolade of his peers, while Kim's neighbors on Voyager complain about the noise when he practices? His best friend Tom Paris even makes fun of him for it.
posted by danny the boy at 11:05 AM on March 19


I just wanted to add that at the end of the article, I misread this sentence:

That, or show them a picture of Takeshi Kaneshiro.

For a moment, I thought the author's paragon of masculine attractiveness was Takeshi Kitano.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:07 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I agree that Harry Kim is yet another in a long list of desexualized Asian-American male media characters.

I just think there's so much worse out there, on shows that are currently on the air, and yet somehow managing to depict even more disgusting caricatures of Asianness.

I'm on your side!
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


> If you aren't attracted to an entire race, fine. But if your self examination doesn't go beyond "I'm just not
> attracted to them" then god knows what other racist garbage you have running around your brain unexamined.

I made a list once. It was so long I'd need to live to be 474 years old to examine every topic even if I only gave ten minutes to each one. That's why I have so little time to devote to unpacking other people's invisible backpacks for them.
posted by jfuller at 11:09 AM on March 19


I agree that Harry Kim is yet another in a long list of desexualized Asian-American male media characters.

I just think there's so much worse out there, on shows that are currently on the air, and yet somehow managing to depict even more disgusting caricatures of Asianness.

I'm on your side!


So let people point out shit wherever it stinks rather than say "Oh, well, other kinds of shit were all over that general area." This is no time to get into a debate over just how bad Voyager sucked.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:13 AM on March 19


This is a difficult issue for me to unpack as an cisgender Asian male, because I fully support people choosing who they want to date and who they can reject. But man, personally it really stings when people say "Nope, sorry not into Asians." When I was trying to date, it got to a point where I thought it was more polite to just call me ugly. Because at least I can think to myself, "Okay, I understand, there are much better looking guys out there (Asian and otherwise) than me." Or think, "Well, okay, I should probably get a haircut, and lose some weight, and get rid of this neckbeard so someone else will find me attractive."
posted by FJT at 11:31 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Tom Paris definitely falls into the category of handsome dashing white crewman in Star Trek, much like Riker. And Harry Kim is desexualized, but to be fair I think most of the crew are as well besides the h.d.w.c. - Chakotay was the warrior Native American who ends up with sexpot 7 of 9, but wasn't his sexuality pretty muted as well? (Also, whatever happened between Harry and 7? I heard about it but I didn't know how far it went.)

As far as Chang from Community goes, I find his crying monologue in an episode a few weeks back to be interesting- one thing he says is "Are all Asian men like a joke? If it's like a racial thing-" which demonstrates the show runners are aware of his portrayal. So are they calling out their own use of the trope, in order to dismiss accusations of it, or excuse it? Some sort of random bit of self-awareness? I find it really curious, and I hope someone calls Dan Harmon out on it (and Chang's characterization in general) at the next Comic-Con or whatever.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:35 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Comment removed; if you're quoting something inflammatory

I'm not going to try to rephrase that, but the point is, this whole subject matter is deeply inflammatory. "I'm just not attracted to XX" is an assault and MEANT as an assault. When we choose to entertain and nurture such thoughts, there's a Tourette's-like aspect to them, a sort of compulsion, that causes them to force their way out of our minds and to be uttered aloud, and only then can we feel relief. But once they have escaped into the wild, like memes they demand to be repeated and to propagate. Even the act of repudiating them helps them to spread.

I realize these issues are worth discussing, but the feeling that we are somehow participating in the assault is inescapable to me. I feel slimy just reading the thread title, and my prior comment was perhaps an injudiciously-worded attempt at conveying the mental states I felt I was in a sense party to.
posted by xigxag at 11:39 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Harry's neighbors criticizing him for playing the clarinet is really beyond the pale, for Star Trek.

I mean, previously throughout the franchise we've seen that virtually every character has some kind of dorky hobby. It's a world of community theatre, amateur string quartets, and off-hours chess tourneys. So it seems pretty fucked up to me that the Asian guy gets dinged for that sort of thing.

I was prepared to argue that there's a fine line, and writers have to be allowed to actually write characters, and the like, but nope. I draw the line at mocking Harry for playing the clarinet. I mean, if Star Trek could make playing the trombone in a Dixieland jazz band cool for the sake of Riker...?
posted by Sara C. at 11:52 AM on March 19


I agree that Harry Kim is yet another in a long list of desexualized Asian-American male media characters.

I just think there's so much worse out there, on shows that are currently on the air, and yet somehow managing to depict even more disgusting caricatures of Asianness.

I'm on your side!


Sorry for phrasing my first response to this so confrontationally. You're right, we basically agree. I just don't think the existence of more recent, maybe worse examples of this kind of racism justifies putting aside the less recent, maybe less egregious ones. It's okay to point out two bad things even if one is less bad than the other. They're both two drops of the same poison in the same barrel.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:57 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


You guys gotta admit that racism towards Asians in general is more socially acceptable, and this attraction issue is part of that. People casually make offhand remarks about Asian people all the time like it's no big thing. It's just a general view of humanity that many people share and no one thinks, "Wow, what a jerk," when someone makes these comments.

For the most part.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:59 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


For a super relevant (and depressing) media illustration of all this, by the way, you can see the fuss that's being caused from Lorde simply having an Asian boyfriend.
posted by naju at 11:59 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


It's like hating mayonnaise. For some reason, talking crap about Asians, very vocally and explicitly, does not fall under the rubric of racism. It's more like an opinion or a personal taste.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:09 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


> I've dated white girls, some of them seriously. Every single one of them caught shit for it from their white friends who were just baffled and fascinated

I never got shit for it. It was never serious, though; maybe that's important.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:17 PM on March 19


One of my favorite things is when I work out that I'm being racist, sexist, classist, some other variety of bigot, or just an asshole. It's not my favorite feeling, mind you, but the best thing about being alive and human is that you can learn, and learning to live better, and love more, and to find more understanding is the best antidote to the occasional red-faced realization that you just aren't getting it.

I was pretty racist about Asian folks, albeit in that sort of privileged progressive "aren't we all one, under the skin?" party-line all-talk kumbaya bullshit way that privileged progressive folks can be all giddy and self-satisfied about our amazing colorblind world of social magical realism, and still be self-congratulatory in little clusters at a party in which everyone's pretty much just like us. I don't really do the whole "I'm not really attracted to—" line, and haven't, because it just seems like a weird way of establishing one's public persona (I'm more than happy to ramble on at length about things I don't like, but people…I dunno), but if you'd asked me to picture my dream gay husband twenty years ago, I guarantee I wouldn't have pictured him as an Asian guy.

It's an irritating realization, this, because I was, for years, first a camper, then a counselor for the NCCJ in a summer camp program that was all about diversity and leadership education, and I could talk a good game, but the little lingering pattern of bias that is baked into us by a biased culture in the act of socialization was right there. I could talk a good game about race, about sexual orientation, about cultural and religious tolerance, but even still, we sometimes have the threads of understanding, but haven't managed to knit them together into something real.

I was lucky enough to work the night shift in a medium-sized imaging service bureau in which I was the only white person among 30-40 Vietnamese folks, and it started out as a sort of alienating, isolating experience. I'd sit in the lunch room, in my little corner, while the rest of the night crew would be at the big tables, laughing and chatting and sharing food that they cooked as a collective effort. Only one or two had been in the US long enough to have a mastery of English, so I'd be friendly, but our communication was mainly related to the tasks at hand and not much else.

In a combination of a high lonesome feeling and a sort of excessive and somewhat high-handed sense that I should embrace the exoticism of the moment (itself an oddly imperial impulse, though the result was reasonable), I checked out Vietnamese language tapes from the library and would sit at my microfilm scanner with the tapes playing on my headphones.

It was an interesting experience, starting to hear a little buzz of words boiling out of the music of an unknown tongue, though I'd hear dada-dada-dada-JOE and dada-dada-JOE-dada which would turn into dada-JOE-eating-so-much-McDonalds-dada, and when I'd react, cluing them into some glints of understanding, they started substituting a nickname I'd eventually find was "Uncle Fatty" in Viet (and, more amusingly, wasn't really a mean nickname, either), but I was learning.

I started slipping in my "cảm ơn" and other little snippets, pronounced so badly that usually the phrases operated like a remote garage door opener wired to eyebrows, but while I speak Vietnamese so badly that toddlers would correct my words, I soon had an office full of friends and adopted family, particularly the older women, who made me a place at the big table and shared food that I usually loved. They gave me a poke when my polite thank you for the gift of a box of mứt was mispronounced into something obscene, laughed at my misunderstanding of li xi money, as I proffered little red envelopes to women twice my age at Tết, invited me to insanely complicated weddings with more costume changes than a drag ball, and otherwise treated me like a big fun doofy guy that they all sort of loved, and while that job was increasingly obnoxious, I adored my coworkers.

"Hey Joe, can you get Train Noojen to fill out a W4?" my cretinous bosses would ask, knowing that I was the bridge to the staff that busted their asses to keep the business running for people who hadn't a clue or an interest about Vietnamese culture.

"You mean Tran Nguyen?"

"Yeah, that guy."

"I'll talk to him."

The sad thing was, when I started, I really could hardly tell Train from Tran, and I had all the same old tired racist suppositions about at least Vietnamese folks, garnered from the same sketchy ideas behind more old tired racist suppositions, but seven years later, I knew better.

I was lucky, in that I fell into a full-immersion course of Don't-Be-A-Racist-Dick 101, but media could go a long way towards breaking down the bullshit. It happened for us queer folks on TV and in the movies, albeit in a lumpy and not always ideal way, and then via the internet, but holy fuck are we ever a backwards lot of assholes when it comes to people from all parts of Asia. Rewatched an old favorite film recently, and found myself saying "goddammit" every damn time John Hughes clanged that fucking gong for Gedde Watanbe's appearance, to the point that I didn't even want to be sitting on a table with Jake and a cake by the end.

I wonder what it is that makes this so hard to crack, particularly in this day and age, other than the old old story of stuckness and how we just cling to our stupid beliefs like they've ever done us a damn bit of good.
posted by sonascope at 12:24 PM on March 19 [14 favorites]


There's always an exotic other.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:30 PM on March 19


"[Abed is] still yet another example of the desexualized Asian man."

I think we've seen as many people express romantic/sexual interest in Abed as have expressed interest in Jeff, actually:

- Jeff's Billiards classmate (S01 E17 Physical Education)
- Robert, the gay guy in the bar (S02 E10 Mixology Certification)
- Robin Vohlers, the Secret Service agent (S02 E17 Intro to Political Science)
- Annie Edison, when Abed was roleplaying Han Solo (S02 E24 For a Few Paintballs More)
- Rachel, the coat checker (S04 E08 Herstory of Dance, then back in season 5)
- Carol, the deaf student (S05 E06 Analysis of Cork-Based Networking)

The problem was they were only in one episode each (finally lampshaded by Britta in S04 E06 when she asked Abed, "Are you going to have another intense burst of compatibility with a girl we never see again?") until Rachel returned in season 5.

Meanwhile, Jeff has had Britta, Professor Slater, Sabrina, the mom of those annoying high school kids, and Annie, and Dean Pelton. It's implied that lots of women are attracted to Jeff and that he dates outside of school but we haven't seen much of that on screen. (Then again, it's also implied that Abed does as well when he says in S01 E17, "The truth is, lots of girls like me, because let's face it, I'm pretty adorable. And my aloofness unconsciously reminds them of their fathers. I'm more used to them approaching me.")
posted by Jacqueline at 12:33 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Oops -- that Britta question was S05 E06, not S04.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:43 PM on March 19


Robert, the gay guy in the bar

This was actually a pretty interesting takedown of the desexualized Asian trope, because the whole time Abed is assuming that the guy he's talking geek with couldn't possibly see him in a sexual way.

The thing about Abed that fascinates me is that it's a case study in why it's important to have diversity in an ensemble series. Because on a TV show (especially a sitcom) that lasts years, you're going to flip through every permutation of love interests, sexual tension, cute girl/guy of the week, etc. You really need to be flexible about the types of stories you can tell, or things will get stale really fast*. So even though in a lot of ways Abed embodies a lot of the tropes, there are some episodes where he has a romantic subplot. And it's generally not played for racist lulz in the way that Chang's romantic subplots inevitably are.

I personally feel like, for Abed, he's treated a lot like Geordi was on TNG where sometimes he has little side-story romances, but they are usually short-lived and not presented in an empowering way. Though I think Abed does better than Geordi in that department -- I remember the secret service episode being particularly sweet. Still, it would have been nice to see a season arc where Abed and Annie date for a while, for example. (OMG I TOTALLY SHIP IT)

*Which is, I think, one of the casualties of desexualizing Harry Kim on Voyager -- you end up with a show that basically can't tell any stories, because you've declawed everything for reasons of what I assume is writer laziness.
posted by Sara C. at 12:44 PM on March 19


"...the whole time Abed is assuming that the guy he's talking geek with couldn't possibly see him in a sexual way."

No, he knew what Robert was after. Abed just really really likes talking about Farscape.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:47 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


WHO DOESN'T?
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


so, more anecdata to pile on:

I am an Asian immigrant who moved to the West as a teenager, and went through a bit of a rebellious phase where I wound up rejecting a lot of the cultural expectations that attends to expat Asians and Asian Americans. My first real relationships were with white women, and my relationship history since then has been distinctly non-Asian. I am attracted to Asian women, and do still approach them but I often find myself as the male version of Hawk V -- culturally non-compliant.

In the years after university, I got involved in a music scene where, through a particular confluence of coincidences, a few Asian-American men were already able to prominently establish themselves as hot/desirable/charming, and inter-racial dating was quite normalized. I mean, yes, we did have to deal with fetishization, and the odd drunken/incautious comment from certain girls trying to "collect us all" like some kind of Pokemon game (eww). And, for a while, we'd even hear grumblings from our white male friends about how they envied us for having the advantage of being 'exotic' like it was some special privilege to be this desirable objectified Other. But all that said, it was nice to, at least, not feel like I was in a disadvantage and that, to a certain degree, the relationships that I could get into were unburdened by this baggage. As far as I know, none of my prior partners ever caught flack for dating an Asian person, at least not within our peer group, but I'm not particularly surprised that it happens to others. And when it does happen, it is shitty.

For a bit of time, also as part of that youthful self-absorption, I used to think that it was just a matter of confidence that had to be built up, and any Asian guy who complains about their dating failures as cloaking run-of-the-mill insecurities under the cloak of racial prejudice. I used to think that guys who complained about Asian women dating outside of race were just being narrow-minded and also needed to date outside their ethnicity. Just stop obsessing about your Asianness and treat people as people and you'll be fine! It worked for me! (as spoken from a position of privilege, sorry, HUMC)

As I got older, though, and started dating beyond that initial group that I was involved in, I realized that I was, in many ways, benefitting from this emergent normalization and exposure; and the rest of the world doesn't really work this way.

I'd still believe that confidence and being genuinely happy with yourself counts for a lot .. that people who you truly want to be with see you as a human being, and will respond to what you present and attraction will form from that (and the ones who don't see you as a human being aren't worth your goddamn time anyway, thanks for reminding me of that, jfuller) But it is kind of funny how culture plays a role in that confidence, and how some of us get a lucky bounce and others get shafted. If society just equates your physical identity with eunuchs and other asexual nerd/non-hero types, and when you have few to no symbols that confirm that you are, in fact, normal and attractive and desirable, then it's easy to take every rejection as some confirmation that you are actually this eunuch and all of your past experiences are just aberrations/luck/a different time; and that does eat away at confidence. And this is nothing to say about how all of those messages are consciously or unconsciously interpreted by everyone else, who has less stake in its truth and therefore less of a reason to challenge them.

tl;dr -- exposure and normalized sexual tropes for Asians do help. They do bring their baggage in the same way that primal Black men, or submissive Asian China dolls have their share of racial fetishization to deal with; but on balance at least having the overall culture validate that you are a normal human being with the same range of desires, traits, and virtues is a good start. It'd be nice if the Othering that occurs when these racial tropes are promulgated would just stop, and all of the ethnicities get to play with all of the iconic archetypes that white mainstream characters get.
posted by bl1nk at 2:45 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]



I wonder if the very many experiences posted in this thread of people hearing about this very phenomenon will have given kafziel any food for thought on the topic.

Just to be clear, I didn't mean that the purpose of my or other Asian/Asian Americans' comments/anecdotes were to convince disbelievers that these things happen. A lot of times, I share my experience and want to hear other experiences just to have a voice. The "hrmph, never had a think about it but now that I do, nope this isn't a thing" voices in these threads get a lot of attention for understandable reasons, but it's also really a great and empowering thing to me and others to be able just to talk about an experience. It's not always about convincing someone.
posted by sweetkid at 4:50 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


"My most vivid memory was sitting in a karaoke bar with some friends enjoying the music, and having an Asian American girl tell me unprompted that she didn't date Asian men, period. It felt like it was important for her to communicate that to me."

This is the most annoying part of the phenomenon - people's need to broadcast to the world how repulsed they are by Asian men. It's like, hey, guys, I'm not into Asian guys, okay? Imagine a straight guy walking around going, "Just so you know, everyone, I'm NOT attracted to men. Okay? I'm just not attracted to them."

That happened in this article, for instance. The whole thing is a serious WTF. The author felt as if she had to let not only Asian men know she was not interested in them, she had to let the rest of the world know that she agreed with a lot of people that Asian men are just awful and to be avoided. I guess she did it to fit in? To prove she's like totally super assimilated into American culture and stuff? It's one of those sad cases of putting others down to elevate your own position.
posted by ChuckRamone at 5:52 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


OMG I hadn't seen that XOJane article. Totally disgusting. "It Happened To Me" has got to be trolling at this point, or the most clueless racism on a mainstreamish website.
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I just noticed a hilarious contradiction in what she's saying. She doesn't like the supposedly traditional Asian values of middle-class striving for a better life, yet she doesn't date Asian men exactly because she's a social climber and wants to better her status. I don't think she should have so baldly revealed her motivations even to white people. Someone she's interested in might be turned off by that.
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:09 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I remembered that article. There was also a follow up. I'm not sure if it was a mea culpa, or an attempt to use it as a learning moment?
posted by FJT at 6:24 PM on March 19


There's a difference between the assimilation that the writer seeks, and the middle class success that her heritage is pressuring her to achieve. One is being accepted as normal in the society that she has adopted, the other is just naked materialism. You can be a member of the middle class, but still hold yourself as separate from "white society", and immigrant communities have been doing that for decades "melting pot" be damned. Conversely, you can be struggling and working low wage jobs but still seen as a peer and equal by your color blind peers. I think that if the author could only choose material success or acceptance by white people, she'd choose acceptance.

Also, in fairness, I do think that there is a legitimate grievance there that is poorly articulated. There is patriarchy and misogyny within a lot of immigrant Asian communities. There is also racism that is sort of masked in identity policing where you're not even supposed outside of your nationality. In university, I've had friends who formed Korean-Thai or Japanese-Filipino couples that were essentially deep-sixed at graduation by family pressures to "stay pure". Forget even the consideration of dating white or black people.

And that? That's straight up racist bullshit from the other side. That's kids who won't grow up and tell their parents to stop controlling their lives. That's a whole package of cultural dysfunctionality that isn't necessarily part of this thread but can be the elephant in the room when a bunch of Western Asians talk about relationships. That's what I was responding to initially when I was younger, and it does need to change, and I support women who speak out against it.

But the author lost me when she said that even if she met an Asian guy that rejected that same patriarchical baggage, she'd still reject. Honey, it's nice that you have recognized your baggage, and are willing to own it; but you're muddling your message by bringing that into your essay. Stay on point and chop off that whole second half.
posted by bl1nk at 6:29 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


This is the most annoying part of the phenomenon - people's need to broadcast to the world how repulsed they are... ...Imagine a straight guy walking around going, "Just so you know, everyone, I'm NOT attracted to men. Okay? I'm just not attracted to them."

I think it's actually pretty common, from both men and women. I'm under the impression you'll pretty easily get this pre-emptive boundary-broadcasting if you're, say, a fat women in a bar. It's rare for it to happen against me, but it can, and I'm someone who at first glance will appear to have all the privileges.
posted by anonymisc at 6:34 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


One is being accepted as normal in the society that she has adopted, the other is just naked materialism.

Well, the way I see it, her trying too hard - talking about how white she is - marks her as more Asian than other Asian Americans. If you're American, you shouldn't feel the need to assert that part of your identity so desperately. Maybe it's because she came at the age of three rather than being born here, or maybe she's very susceptible to the expectations of society. And in terms of naked materialism vs. cultural assimilation, I think in either case you're pretty worried about impressing some group of people, about keeping up with the Joneses, which strikes me as "foreign" in how ostentatiously and tastelessly she expresses it. Aren't Americans supposed to be like cool and not trying too hard (but secretly trying pretty hard)?
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:38 PM on March 19


I think the entire cast of Sex and The City would disagree with you.

I think that also saying "Aren't {nationality}/{cultural group}/{a whole race of people} supposed to behave a certain way?" is .... guess what?

Crass is crass. Ain't no nationality or ethnic group got a monopoly on that behavior.
posted by bl1nk at 6:42 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


The anxious, self-hating, neurotic thing does strike me as similar to a cultural theme that's already been done pretty well by some members of the Jewish American community, but not in such a crude way. So I guess in that sense, she's being American, but not necessarily mainstream American. More like cultured, liberal urbanite with many torturous contradictions that she likes to embrace because that's who she is and she's totally okay with that. Or maybe she's the brash, outspoken, in-your-face American who likes to tell it how it is. I simply don't understand the need to embarrass yourself and display your lack of brainpower in the process. It's like she decided to wrestle with this identity issue in full public view because she's a silly attention monger or she thought she was saying something earth-shatteringly novel.
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:57 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid to read the XOjane article. Like a couple of people here have said, the reasons why some Asian American women avoid dating fellow Asian Americans are a separate bucket of problems. Sure, media representation and socialization are influential. My dad's fellow Korean immigrant friend had four daughters, raised them in Ohio, and daughters 1, 2, 3 married white guys, while daughter 4 married an Asian guy; daughters 1, 2, 3 told their parents that if they raised their kids in west central Ohio in the 1970s they should not be shocked that their kids married non-Koreans. If the only Asian male faces you grow up with are in your immediate family, it's not always easy to make the leap to seeing Asian men as partners once you do get to the big university/big city.

But the stress of doing gender wrong within an immigrant culture (lord, Korean churches of American suburbia made me terrified of Koreans for a good five years) is an awfully strong reason to run for the hills of assimilation. I always dated Asian Americans despite my fear of large groups of Korean Christians but I assume it was because I dated three Asian guys in a row by happenstance in my late teens and early 20s (er, embarrassingly enough, Taiwanese American, Korean American, Japanese national) and then felt compelled to continue the streak.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:02 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Asian man here. As someone who has been surrounded by non-Asians his whole life, reading some of these comments has been... emotional. I will say this though, watching Rebecca Gayheart fall for an Asian dude in Vanishing Son did wonders for my confidence as a young buck and gave me a major thing for curly-haired women for a long time.
posted by AceRock at 8:09 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


There are some things in the xojane article and follow up I agree with - like the parts where she talks about how our whole culture is geared toward "white culture is tops, the exact best thing you want to be" and it's disorienting and depressing when you're not that thing. I agree with that and I had similar feelings of "white is normal, so wanting to date only white people is normal, so..."

I mean my parents really wanted me to try dating Indian guys so they set me up with their friends' kids, but i didn't want to date any of them because they spent the whole time checking out blondes. I've also dated Asian guys who wanted to actually date me, so I'm not saying "everyone's like that" but I did go through a period where I was like, what's the fucking point of trying to date my own race if they're checking out blondes.

But she spent all this time in the original article talking about how she won't date Asian guys because patriarchy and it was clearly click bait stuff and really terrible of xojane to publish. If she had been a little more thoughtful of her own prejudices it would have been better but as I read it it was very "hey, white people who mostly read xojane. Here's some stuff about my culture, it's way fucked up so I appreciate yours. Keep on keepin on."
posted by sweetkid at 8:15 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


But really spamandkimchi that xojane article is fine to skip in my opinion.
posted by sweetkid at 8:16 PM on March 19


Does it occur to people that our racial dating preferences have been socially conditioned? That it’s no coincidence we don’t associate Asian men with masculinity

To me, the thing that most obviously supports that is the extremely different way Asian women are generally perceived.

Obviously, there are other factors at play, but if Asian women can considered highly attractive, even fetishized, while Asian men typically get the opposite treatment, there's likely to be a strong cultural conditioning component.
posted by spaltavian at 9:59 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Obviously, there are other factors at play, but if Asian women can considered highly attractive, even fetishized, while Asian men typically get the opposite treatment, there's likely to be a strong cultural conditioning component.

I think it even dates as far back as the European Orientalism of the 18th and 19th centuries, and sensational tales of European women kidnapped into harems and such. You start to see this theme emerge in this European artistic and literary movement of the submissive Asian woman who will do anything to please, and the tyrannical Asian man who globviously abuses the poor Asian women in his harem because he's so totes inferior to the Western hero who rescues both the white virgin and poor Lotus Blossom.

Then you get into the cringeworthy Colonial and post-Colonial (and even Asian nations that weren't official colonies of Western empires were thought of as if they were) Western stereotypes of the opium denizens and the long-suffering "houseboys" who are portrayed as if they're too dumb to know that Clark Gable is verbally abusing them in front of his guests. (Well, I like to pretend he does know, and that he's secretly peeing in Clark's coffee every morning).

And, as disgusting as it is, in Colonial narratives, the native women tend to become reduced to sex objects. Sure, the hero of the story will probably prove his heroism by developing feelings for a woman he could have just intimidated into sex, but there you go.

Traditionally in movies and other mainstream literary forms, sexual aggression in a woman has been something reserved for villainesses; since women are naturally so weak and vulnerable *eyeroll* it's the one weapon they have against the male heroes. Well, that's where the old trope of the Asian Dragon Lady comes in. She's got to double down on the sexual aggression because standard Vanilla Whore faminine wiles just going to cut it.

Asian men lose the most when we can't get past all this nonsense, but Jesus Murphy, everybody loses a little bit. Those who don't learn from history, etc.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:15 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Well, the way I see it, her trying too hard - talking about how white she is - marks her as more Asian than other Asian Americans. If you're American, you shouldn't feel the need to assert that part of your identity so desperately. Maybe it's because she came at the age of three rather than being born here, or maybe she's very susceptible to the expectations of society. And in terms of naked materialism vs. cultural assimilation, I think in either case you're pretty worried about impressing some group of people, about keeping up with the Joneses, which strikes me as "foreign" in how ostentatiously and tastelessly she expresses it. Aren't Americans supposed to be like cool and not trying too hard (but secretly trying pretty hard)?

It seems really off base and bizarre to blame it on her here. I mean yea, she went out of her way to go write this piece of drivel, and didn't bother to examine really why she thought any of that in any meaningful way...

I don't know why this bothers me so much. I mean, she wrote a gross article, but the language you used there combined with

The anxious, self-hating, neurotic thing does strike me as similar to a cultural theme that's already been done pretty well by some members of the Jewish American community, but not in such a crude way. So I guess in that sense, she's being American, but not necessarily mainstream American.

Just makes me really, deeply uncomfortable. I don't disagree with your thesis of "So why is she processing this in public?" but the "oh maybe she's an attention monger" thing squicks me out too.

I mean, this is something that i've heard an assload of times being completely on the sidelines of the game, and having nothing riding on the player. Can you imagine how much more exposure to it you'd get as an asian woman, even hypothetically? People already get mentionitis about this completely randomly, as if it's like sneezing at the sun.

If it's something that you start hearing as soon as, or even a bit before boys and girls stop thinking eachother are "gross", it's going to be pretty deep seated. Defending it is weird, but i think attacking her and psychoanalyzing her in the way you did or placing the blame solely on her is wrong.

And i mean, seriously, the jew derail sounds like some crypto stormfront poster thing. what the fuck?
posted by emptythought at 11:31 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah it's cultural imperialism. Western power has always projected their own values wherever they go. Not content to take just physical resources, they'll take whatever else they like and dismantle the rest. They'll fuck our women--but obviously won't let our men fuck anyone, because that implies power parity. So the narratives about docile and exotic women, and villainous or neutered men. History indeed.

But I'm obviously just mad because I can't get a date.
posted by danny the boy at 11:44 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Just makes me really, deeply uncomfortable. I don't disagree with your thesis of "So why is she processing this in public?" but the "oh maybe she's an attention monger" thing squicks me out too.

Well, this is something that a lot of people go through - probably everyone of her background. Yet she's presenting it as something novel that she's the first one to have thought of. Or, like sweetkid pointed out, she's doing it to say to a white female audience: "Hey, I agree with many of you out there, and let me corroborate for you that, yes, Asian men are awful patriarchal tyrants. I'm just as white as you are when it comes to this. Please accept me into your inner circle." And she's doing it without examining maybe the role that Asian women play in that awful Asian culture she's trying to distance herself from. In fact, she's facilitating some stereotypes herself, such as Tiger Mom or Asian Woman Obsessed with Status, when she goes out of her way to defame her own race and state that she's doing it to climb the social ladder. And, as far as I'm concerned, wanting to be accepted by white Americans and rejecting Asian culture is as much about status as wanting to go to Yale and drive a Benz. Is it all her fault? No. There are elements of Asian and Western culture to blame. But she's certainly not helping things by being complicit in it and confirming people's stereotypes about Asian men and Asians in general. It's totally irresponsible, selfish, and plain stupid to approach this like she is.

And there's absolutely nothing "Stormfront" about the self-hating thing I mentioned. People like Woody Allen and Philip Roth have addressed these things very directly in their art.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:06 PM on March 20 [9 favorites]


I think that's really well said ChuckRamone.
posted by sweetkid at 12:10 PM on March 20


This whole discussion is deeply interesting to me, because I spent half of my childhood in Hawaii, and the other half in Central Pennsylvania. So I went from a culture where many (if not most) of my male role models were Asian males to a culture where there were very few adult Asian males in my orbit, period.

On top of that, I went directly into a privileged school system (relatively speaking), where the expectation was of high achievement and academic prowess, so all of the kids I was around (of any ethnicity) were generally on the upper side of the social and cultural stratum (parents were doctors, lawyers, etc, and the kids were usually bound for Name Schools).

It gave me a huge blind spot that causes me to wince when I look back on my teenage and college years. I wound up being one of those kids who, because he literally could not conceive of Asian males being discriminated against, assumed that the experiences people were having were invalid or otherwise skewed by some failing on the part of the person relating the experience.

After all, every one of the Asian kids I knew were considered outstanding young men who'd be a catch for anyone, and the Asian men I knew were pillars of the community and the decision makers, politicians, etc, who made the rules! Even in Central Pennsylvania! Hell, I wanted to be most of those guys, because they had their shit together.

Yeah. It is to facepalm.

The idea of there being room for the entire spectrum of human experience went right past me. It was just a different flavor of the same racism: the kids I knew weren't allowed to be normal. They had to be exceptional. In Hawaii, there had been room for normal, everyday Asian lives: not spectacular, just, you know, normal. But in Central Pennsylvania, if you were going to have the temerity to be Ethnic, you had to be outstanding. Because, otherwise, the white majority would happily fasten onto you as an example of every negative stereotype about Those People.

Anyway, I just want to thank the people who are relating their experiences here for opening my eyes a bit more, and I know I'm going to be paying a lot more attention to this particular set of blinders.
posted by scrump at 10:15 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


Nobody Loves An Angry Asian Man

Also via Angry Asian Man: How To Hit On An Asian Girl, (aka How Not to Harass an Asian Girl.)
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on March 21


I jumped in because - yeah. Epicanthic fold?
Not a thing all Asians have, and often they have the less pronounced kind of, single eyelid thing, but that is also really, really common in Europeans, but Europeans don't tend to get flack for it.
Lots of models etc have the more pronounced epicanthic fold, like bjork does.
Others have it slightly, and upon googling, Robert Pattinson has slightly mismatched eyelids, and the right one kind of has a bit of a fold. Ok, I'm reaching a little there, but pointing out, that this is obviously not an unattractive feature. Better examples would be Keanu Reeves, and for the 'single eyelid', from an entirely European guy, there is Kris Holden-Ried, aka Dyson from 'Lost Girl', which is who I was thinking of when I started googling.

Most 'Racial' monikers, but 'Asian' in particular, are such a broad categories, that there are seldom any single features that many attractive Europeans or other ethic groups wouldn't have, or that all Asians would have. You like more buff guys? I wish I had a picture of my friends Rugby playing Asian ex-boyfriend. Smoking, and built (kind of superman build - ha! Dean Cain!).

Sexual Attractiveness isn't really inherent, it's more like food. We usually have to try a tasty new thing, quite a few times, to develop a taste for it. Racial stereotypes usually serve to reinforce existing tastes, which mean we don't get presented with sexy types to develop that taste.
I think it's really heartwarming the number of people here who thought they had a 'thing', and gave themselves a bit more opportunity to widen those taste.



Also, thanks to this thread, I just realised why I find James Franco a bit hot, but kind of not all the way there - it's because he merely reminds me of the more hot (to me) Lo, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.



Finally, I found the link to OKcupid trends re dating message replies by race very interesting (with expected disheartening-ness).
Most interesting, was the major mismatch between gay guys and straight females was on Middle Eastern guys.
Now, OkCupid presented it as Men prefer Middle Easterners. Gay men and straight men both respond best to Middle Easterners, and the preference is quite dramatic., but of course Lesbians liked Middle Easterners as well.
So basically it was just straight women who were the outliers - I'm inclined to take the opinion that the response rate for gay guys is indicative of actual overall attractiveness, but that straight women probably have more assumptions about the role of women in middle eastern society etc, and overall racism as a discouraging influence.
Middle Eastern men contacting other Men, or non-European/Middle Eastern ethnic groups, can probably be assumed to be more 'alternative' and open to new ideas, so have a better response rate as well. Kind of a self-selected filter, that white women don't have?
I'm actually just trying to figure out what is going on there, and taking it as a given that Middle Eastern men, are actually attractive.
posted by Elysum at 10:25 PM on March 22


One of my country-white girlish crushes was Burt Kwouk, Cato in the Pink Panther movies. Currently I adore Tim Kang, Kimball Cho on The Mentalist. Not only is he smokin' hot, he is well-educated and philanthropic (and smokin' hot.) It is just plain rude to subvert friendly social interactions by declaring out of the blue You are not my type because XX. You don't want to get too close to such a person anyway.
posted by maggieb at 12:04 AM on March 23


From Louis Theroux's documentary on Thai bride matchmaking: "I think in comparison to Thai men – you just gotta remember what happens here in Thailand." (Found in this excellent thread.)

The white subjects in the documentary operate on the assumptions that Thai men are terrible and undesirable, whereas Thai women are childlike and highly sexually available. (There is a horrible part in which a matchmaker comments that even when they have a real headache, they'll never "have a headache" wink wink.)

Other than Theroux, no one questions it; in their circles, it's totally an OK thing to say that Thai men are so monstrously undesirable. As discussed in the OP, it's also an OK thing to say in broader circles, perhaps slightly more politely.
posted by ignignokt at 6:25 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Interesting article in the Awl about an Asian American man running a PUA-style dating "bootcamp" targeted primarily at Asian/Asian American men. The PUA stuff is yea gross but the author of the article is a Filipina woman and the article is well written. It touches on a lot of the racial issues discussed here. Worth a read for people who want a closer look.
posted by sweetkid at 8:43 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]


That is a great article and would make for an interesting FPP in its own right.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:51 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


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