Recently, I shared a video to my social media accounts which discussed the emasculation of the Asian male. The video featured women who were asked if they find Asian men attractive.
They just laughed.
This is a prime example of how stereotyped portrayals of Asians in the media negatively impact society’s perception of Asians. Asian men, in particular, are frequently shown as little and nerdy. They are rarely presented as a love interest or as the leading man. Outside of martial arts films, few Asian men in the media represent strong and assertive characters.
Of course, you have the apologists, the people people who make excuses for people who hold the view that Asian men are unattractive. One commenter on my post said “Asian women, particularly Chinese and South Korea [sic], are the least attractive in my honest opinion. I have preferences. What’s wrong with that?”
I’ll omit this commenter’s name as I’m sure he’d prefer to remain anonymous considering that he deleted his comment after I responded to it. “It’s cool that you don’t find Asian women attractive. I don’t find you attractive, either.”
The thing is that there is a difference between people being attracted to a certain type and dismissing a type altogether. It’s perfectly acceptable to have preferences for a particular set of features but to categorically say that one race is totally undesirable is rooted in xenophobia. It’s not about personal preference; it’s about personal prejudice.
Think of the stereotypes perpetrated by Western media about Asian men. They’re small. They’re effeminate. They’re dorks. The media tells us that these are the men who don’t fall in love by the end of the movie. They are perpetual sidekicks, ancillary characters, comic relief. They are one-dimensional characters to be laughed at or to help the hero on his quest.
Is it any surprise, then, that women don’t find this trope attractive? They quickly change their minds when presented with an assertive Asian leading man. Several women on my post expressed their attraction to Steven Yeun, a Korean-American actor who plays Glenn on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
The stance that Asian men are unattractive stems directly from their mischaracterization in the media. It’s time for this to stop. Better representation in pop culture won’t end racism but it will go a long way in undoing the harm that has been done by generations of stereotypes.