"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, September 04, 2015

I'll Make a Man Out of You

Now Playing: Do I Wanna Know (Cover) by Hozier (maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new)

I’ve always had an ongoing, largely unspoken, feud with many of the Asian men that I know and have interacted with in my life. There is a restlessness, a frustration, an anger and anxiety that is difficult to put a finger on; they always seem to hit a nerve, but I can never quite catch them in the act.

As a result, I don’t have many Asian friends; I don’t hang out in Asian crowds and I don’t do stereotypically Asian things. I’ve never had an Asian boyfriend, can’t remember having a serious crush on an Asian, never hooked up with anyone Asian; and people pick up on that. I definitely pick up on it; I’m always conscious of how white washed my limited dating profile is becoming.

I am nothing unusual, by the way. It is a well-known stereotype - backed up by stats in online and real-time dating scenes - that Asian women seem to prefer non-Asian men. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does edge on being a slight bit suspect, and I’ve always wanted to break it down.

So here it is. My highly unscientific, very circumstantial breakdown of Asian Lady Racist Hormones.

(disclaimer: I am bi, but more on the straight end of things. Also much easier to understand the hetero narrative thanks to heteronormativity)

1. There aren’t that many Asian guys.

Asians make up something like 8% of the population. Australians of European descent make up 90% of the population. Statistically, there just aren’t that many Asian guys in the field; if you don’t have any racial preference (or fetish), you’re probably gonna end up with a white guy.

2. Cultural diaspora & dysphoria 

‘Asian’ is a pretty bad blanket-term, if you think about the huge diversity of ‘Asians’ who are living in Australia. There are lots of countries in Asia, each with their own unique language and cuisine and culture and their own histories of conflict (Korea & Japan? Interchangeable in the West, despite centuries of war and colonialism) Then there are the Mudbloods; mixed race, mixed heritage, half-white, half-everything folks. There are the ‘boat people’, the rich international students, the first generation immigrants and their second generation children, and Chinese families that have been here since the gold rush. People who speak one language or twenty. A huge variety in socio-economic status and levels of education. Most Asians don’t really have that much in common with most other Asians here; in fact, with the dominance of Anglo-Australian culture, a lot of Asians find it easier to find common ground in their Anglicization and with Anglo-Australian people than in a culture that is somewhat geographically near to their arbitrary ancestral roots. I definitely do.

Personally, I am a monolingual, second-generation Asian of mixed heritage who has been Western educated since I was a year old. I’m an Arts student at university and I meet most guys at clubs. The world that I live in is very white-washed, but, in a weird way, I am more comfortable in it than in The Fatherland. I am not Anglo, and at times feel very alienated and isolated from Anglo culture, but we share a common language and I have nineteen years of living in this strange, white world.

3. Unchecked misogyny & patriarchy in Asian cultures.

Misogyny and patriarchy are far from exclusive to Asia; but it goes largely unchecked, especially in immigrant populations in Anglo countries. In general (and this is a huge generalization with many exceptions), Asian girls seem to be more Anglicized, or more open to Anglo influence, than Asian guys; mostly because Asian guys get a pretty sweet deal in a culture that privileges them, rather than the White Man. I’ve explained before that in the Asian countries that I’ve lived in, there is a persistent, stubborn, pervasive nostalgia for pre-colonial Asia – which is fair enough, because colonialism fucked up Asia pretty good. Unfortunately, pre-colonial Asia was literally in the Middle Ages, and with this nostalgia for the good old days comes a nostalgia for medieval gender roles. Asian men really need to up their game in supporting women’s rights, especially the rights of women of colour. Instead, a lot of them fall back on it. Most guys are not into my feminism; but the few who have, have been white in the overwhelming majority. Yeah, they have a massive advantage on numbers, but I suspect that colonial patriarchy has worked its sick magic here.

I’m not pointing fingers here – it’s part of a colonial patriarchal narrative that fucks us all over, but fucks over women of colour in particular. Asian men, like all non-white/cis/het men, are ‘subordinate masculinities’ in a system that privileges white cis-het men. A reflex action that exists in a lot of subordinate masculinities is lateral violence and rampant misogyny against the women/queerfolk in their communities; sadly echoing the patriarchal structure of which they are also victims.

In racially diverse countries like America or Australia, there is a tendency for different ethnic groups to view women of their ethnicity as ‘our women’. The idea of a man dating a woman of a specific ethnic group as ‘stealing’ her from men of her ethnic group is utter horseshit, but remains permanently fixed in the racial politics of the post-colonial world.

A woman of colour doesn’t experience racism in isolation to sexism. Often the racism we experience is sexualized and the sexism we experience is racialized. In non-Asian men, this manifests in yellow fever. In Asian men, this manifests as entitlement. Either way you would expect, being who I am, that I would turn my nose at the slightest whiff of misogyny. This means I have rejected quite a few guys in my time. Some of them have been Asian. It is a racial thing, but not how you might think.

4. Bias.

I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve grown up in a society that has taught me to see white beauty standards as the ideal, and that has probably impacted my split-second, very drunk decisions a lot.

But, hang on – aren’t Asian men also conditioned to view white women as beautiful? Yes, but the way that colonial patriarchy works is that they have been conditioned to view them as beautiful, but unattainable – they belong to the white guys. Another way of looking at it is that a relationship between a subordinated masculinity and a privileged woman causes conflict in this power structure; who is more superior? Who has the upper hand on privilege? But for women of colour, we are taught that both white men and men of colour are superior to us. It’s all kinds of sick and twisted and *mostly subconscious, I am aware very few people explicitly and actively think like this*, but that’s how the world works right now (which is why, Asians, you should back up my feminism because *I am trying to fix this*).

But a lot of Asian men seem to be of the belief that the white washing of beauty standards has doomed them all; because white women are unattainable and women of colour are too busy humping white guys. I’m sorry, but get your head out of your ass.

Society has given me a lot of weird ideas about who is superior to whom, and I’ve largely ignored most of it. I have a snobbish bourgeois disdain for the working class beaten into me by my middle class upbringing and education, but that didn’t stop me from hooking up with a bricklayer. I have overlooked and ignored all sorts of physical and other ‘inadequacies’, both genuine and culturally constructed. In the end, we are not our skins, we are not our bodies, we are not our ethnicities, and we are not what society tells us that we are. Romance and love and sex is just people colliding and sparks flying and we can all be part of that.

All of us have to learn to be nice for the sake of being nice; especially men, who are dealing with that pesky male entitlement. Asians do get a shit deal, and I acknowledge that – the odds are stacked against us. But don’t become the fedorable mra or the trolling video game dick; don’t be that guy who whinges endlessly about how bad they have it and accidentally becomes the biggest dick in history that nobody would ever touch with a ten foot pole even if they looked like Ryan Gosling. I acknowledge that cultural indoctrination is probably putting a lot of women off the scent of most Asian guys; but if you finally do manage to catch someone’s eye and you’re a total misogynistic cunt, then any chances you have go completely down the toilet completely of your own accord.

A lot of people also seem to think that the negative sexual stereotypes of Asians only apply to men, and because there are heaps of white guys just dying to fuck yellow women, that Asian women magically don’t have any dating problems. Firstly, of the men who want us, very few of them turn out to be decent human beings. I’m sure most women say that, but most women don’t have to deal with the fact that they are fetishized, objectified, and dehumanized for the colour of their skin, which is something I dealt with from the second I became ‘on the market’. And before that; I was a sexless Asian, too. I was involuntarily celibate throughout grade school and it was frustrating and humiliating; trust me, I get it. But every time I try to be conscious of the fact that the world that I live in is pulling me away from the men that share my cultural heritage, I end up eyeball-deep in a toxic mix of misogyny, entitlement, and a stubborn worship of patriarchal ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’, none of which is called out and remains stagnant and resistant to change. It is a sad and frustrating state of affairs for all involved.

I live in hope that this trend will change, or at least that there are enough exceptions to this rule. I often feel alone and isolated; I am often the only Asian in the room, and sometimes I think it would be good to have someone who gets it. But I am not property. You are not entitled to me. And it is a mark of respect to you that I refuse to let you cower behind the same system that oppresses you.

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