A Chinese friend of mine is getting married to a German guy next year. I’ll call her Sophie.
When she sent me the invite, I asked Sophie if she prefers interracial dating. She didn’t mince her words:
“It’s not that I haven’t tried dating Asian men, but in my experience they are judgmental, narrow-minded, and passive aggressive.”
Now, it would be easy to just brush off my friend’s statement as a racist generalization. Obviously not all Asian men are not like that. But as in all stereotypes — there’s an element of truth. Recent data corroborates that Asian men aren’t very desirable to other races. Whereas Asian women and White men are extremely desirable.
So what’s wrong with Asian men*?
Let’s look at the common stereotypes.
1. Asian Men Aren’t Masculine
The stereotypical Asian man is not manly.
Sure, if you watch Asian movies (where the whole cast is mostly Asian anyway), the hero is portrayed as the epitome of manliness. But internationally, Asian men have never been portrayed as overflowing with testosterone. Say Asian guy — and we don’t think of a macho guy like Hugh Jackman. We think of a socially-awkward, bespectacled, nerdy programmer.
What are traditional Asian values that don’t gel well with masculinity? How about these?:
- Keeping your head down and working hard. Not self-promoting.
- Being humble, often to the point of false self-depreciation.
- Emphasizing education (and grades) above everything else.
- Being subservient to authority.
- Being soft spoken.
- Avoiding conflict with others.
I’m not saying that to be manly, you need to be a loud-talking, conflict-seeking jerk. But look at some traits we normally associate with manliness: confidence, assertiveness, and speaking boldly. Aren’t they almost polar opposites to stereotypical Asian culture?
The irony is that some of these values which make Asian men less masculine — are the exact same values which make Asian women very desirable.
Is Asian culture the most feminine of all the racial cultures out there? I’m not sure — but I’ve never seen any man other than than an Asian carry a ladies handbag. Neither have I seen boybands from anywhere else in the world as feminine as some of the Asian boybands.
2. Asian Men Are Patriarchal
Asian culture is male dominant. Sons are favored over daughters. Men hold substantially more power. And women are expected to be subservient to men.
While I fully agree that there should be fixed gender roles in a male-female relationship (i.e. a man should be the leader in his relationship), the power balance is extremely lopsided in traditional Asian families.
Patriarchy causes men to be insecure when they see women progressing. Think of all the putdowns you hear from chauvinistic men when they see a strong, sexy woman. And the horrible names that insecure men call women who aren’t interested in them. Or in tragically extreme cases, the women who are hurt and killed in the name of “family honor” — when they decide to marry someone their father doesn’t like.
What does patriarchy have to do with why Asian men aren’t attractive? Well, men who grow up in a patriarchal environment find it difficult to understand modern women. And if they don’t change their antique mentalities — they’re just going to repel them.
Instead — in an increasingly globalized society, women flock to men who give them freedom. Who treat them as equals, rather than servants. Who woo them with sincerity and charm, instead of expecting to own them because they’re the “weaker” sex.
Plus here’s one more thing that’s unattractive about chauvinistic Asian men — they don’t open doors for ladies.
3. Asian Men Are Closed-Minded
Asian men have a reputation for being unadventurous. For being unspontaneous, unromantic and boring too.
Perhaps it’s the long-term implications from growing up in a culture of risk-aversion. Asians (at least not the annoying ones) generally don’t like to stand out from the crowd. Wesley Yang’s brilliant article at nymag.com puts it this way:
“The loudest duck gets shot” is a Chinese proverb. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is a Japanese one. Its Western correlative: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Or maybe it’s the negative side of an emphasis of family. Yes, Asians think the world of their parents and want to uphold family honor. But what happens when Asian tiger moms are overprotective and get overly involved? What if the timid Asian father holds his son back from fully exploring the world?
Right. Our Asian male hero might just remain stuck in the sixty-year-old thinking patterns of his parents. He might view anything out of the ordinary as too much. He plays safe all the time.
And what about the all-important topic of sex?
Not the Asian man’s forte for sure.
It’s not that we all need to be promiscuous freaks who use Fifty Shades of Grey as a playbook. That’s for every couple to decide for themselves. But Asian culture makes sex all hush hush and taboo. It’s not healthy. And it doesn’t encourage Asian men (and women) to be good lovers.
* * * * * * * *
Is there hope for the Asian male? I think so. But instead of getting upset at why the world’s women view us as least attractive, we need to accept there’s certain parts of our culture that should be improved. And to work doubly hard at dispelling negative stereotypes people have about us. Women will love us for that.
Here’s my beliefs: It’s possible to be assertive, without being arrogant. To be academically proficient, without being socially awkward. And to be fully Asian, while being fully man.
I’m biased of course. After all, I’m just another Asian man.
But at least my friend Sophie — who’s getting married internationally soon — used to like me too.
Do you agree that modern Asian women prefer internationals to Asian men? What are some of your pet peeves about unattractive Asian men?
*I use the term “Asian” very loosely in the article above. I realize that there are huge differences in different countries i.e. Japanese culture is very different from Indonesian culture. But for the purposes of this article, “Asian” represents my knowledge and experience about Southeast and East Asians.
The original version of this article first appeared at Emmagem
Pic Credit: “CNBLUE in Thailand” by Fizhasan