So I’ve been pretty hard on girls, both white and Asian (and by extension girls of all races) in the last couple of pages. But if you look really deep, really REALLY deep, the issue goes further than that. The fault doesn’t lie totally with the girls or the white guys who go for them – the fault lies in how much Western society hates Asian men.
Lest you doubt me, let’s look at some concrete examples. Take a good look at the picture on the right here. Here are some examples of the typical Western outlook on the Asian male, as exemplified by William Hung, and the typical Western outlook on the Asian female, as exemplified by Lucy Liu.
Notice a little disparity here?
Asian females usually do pretty well in the Western media – we’ve got knockouts like Lucy Liu and Zhang Ziyi all over the magazines and movies, which of course is only more fodder for the white male Asian fetishist movement. By contrast, the typical Asian male in the Western media isn’t there for his looks. He’s there because he’s funny or goofy (in other words, easy to ridicule). Sure, we’ve got people like Jet Li and Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat… but these guys are their for their ‘kung fu skills’. When was the last time you saw an Asian male actor in a Western movie who wasn’t some martial arts master? Probably Watanabe Ken from The Last Samurai… a Japanese actor who had to be imported, because there are scarcely any Asian male actors in the US! Along the William Hung lines, when was the last time you saw an Asian male in a reality TV show? The token Asians always present in any reality show is usually some Asian female, and she’s usually at least mildly attractive and sometimes crazy for added bonus. (See Ivana from The Apprentice.)
Where the Asian female in Western media is there to appeal to the white male Asian fetishist (or indeed, may have CAUSED the white male Asian fetishist – a chicken-and-egg situation to be sure), the Asian male is there for amusement, whether in a display of martial arts prowess, or simply being something to laugh at. Many people have heard about Abercrombie and Fitch’s racist shirts. A&F, of course, is one of the epitomes of American white-rich-boy culture, and the fact that shirt designs such as the one on the left even made it out of the planning room, much less onto shirts and into stores across the US, belies the deep-seated racism against Asians (mostly towards the Asian male) that pervades much of Western society.
In an era in which Coca-Cola has commercials targeted to the black and Latino populations, in an era in which the token Asian in the Bush administration is Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, the Asian male consistently gets left out of the picture. (Astute reader Geoff Grecynski reminded us that Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, is also Asian. However, he doesn’t count as Bush’s choice since he was originally picked by Clinton for Commerce Secretary. Not only is Mineta a token Asian in Bush’s cabinet, he’s also the sole token Democrat! I wonder how often Rumsfeld beats him up and steals his lunch money.)
Asia, as an incredibly diverse region of the world, is no more discernible to the average American then is the difference between Paraguay and Uruguay. I (a 3/4 Taiwanese, 1/4 Japanese individual) often get asked “What part of China are you from?” When I’m in a nice mood I explain that I was born in Kansas and have lived in Ohio my entire life. When I’m in a mean mood I ask the white person what part of Ireland they’re from. Usually they’ll say they’re not from Ireland, to which I’ll reply
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell all you white people apart.”
It’s too bad I’m not usually in a mean mood. My buddy Tom (Chinese descent, born in Illinois, lives in Iowa) once got asked “Is she your sister?” by some old white lady after a concert given by a young Asian pianist. I guess we’re all related, right? After all we all have our names determined by throwing silverware down the stairs. Another question I get asked a lot is “Can you read this?” Most white people who ask me this are lucky, because I do indeed read both Chinese and Japanese, and I don’t often get to say “no you idiot, that’s in Korean!” I ought to carry around a scrap of paper with some Cyrillic writing and ask anybody who asks me this question to decipher it.
(Incidentally, that character on the Abercrombie shirt that was no doubt picked at random by some white guy for looking cool? Ironically one of its meanings is ‘lawsuit’.)
After some thought, the problem might actually be we Asian male’s fault. Why? Because Asians are taught, from birth, not to complain. Asians are the most stoic people on earth. Asians don’t cause trouble. Asians can be subjected to slavery (building the railroads for fat Western white cowboys, the descendants of whom now live in Texas and the White House) and concentration camps (WWII internment camps, anyone?) and we STILL won’t complain. As a result, Western Society doesn’t even consider us a minority anymore. Tom once applied to a minority scholarship sponsored by AT&T which specified that the competition was only open to “blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, or female Asians”. What, are Asian males magically not prejudiced against in this country? No, we just don’t count as a minority.