I believe that anything in life can be a double-edged sword if there is a group that knows how to control it and the other that does not.
The mass media is such a dangerous double-edged sword. The Internet is, too. While someone is enjoying it, someone is directing it for his own purpose. While we believe that we are learning, or simply entertaining, we are being manipulated by the information, the images, the sounds, the plots, or the characters. While we are so sure that we the Internet is the bridge of communication and the tool of expressing ourselves, someone is setting up so that any of your statements can turn out to be harsh criticisms against an individual, a group, or a population.
Just saying. But it can be more than just saying.
It was a strange moment when I first heard someone say “I don’t do Asians” or “I don’t find Asian men attractive” on her blog post. Obviously, it did not concern me directly. Unfortunately, when you are living in such a diverse country and see yourself as a part of a group, a member of a community, how quickly a certain word can make you blush, how quickly it can raise the alarm inside your head? Very quickly.
Perhaps this semester is the time to get deep down into the Asian men’s problems. Why are they seen as “nerdy”, “geek”, “good at Math”, “shy”, “asexual”, and “physically unattractive” (Any of you might possibly come up with more adjectives than I just did!) Why are they seen as “undateable”? Where do these stereotypes come from?
It has a lot to do with Hollywood movies that we have watched since we were little. It has a lot to do with all of the pictures that we have encountered while enjoying a good time on the Internet. I has a lot to do with a random Tweet that was trending, or a YouTube video that was created and shared unstoppably on social media, like viruses.
In an interview conducted by The Asian Boss which then uploaded the video on YouTube, more than ten young non-Asian women were asked if they knew any Asian male actor. “I can’t think of anyone on top of my head,” “Jackie Chan,” “Bruce Lee,” and “the kung-fu guys” are the only responses. Asia, the largest continent of the world, is the place where all guys do martial arts, refuse to care about appearance, and restrict themselves from sexual activities, or at least, that is what the majority of Americans think about Asian men.
Also, it seems easier for these young women to make a list of bad characteristics of Asian men than to do so with good characteristics. At the end of the interview, all of them agreed that media, movies, jokes, and comedians had had a strong influence on the ways they feel about Asian men. And for the most parts, the jokes are becoming the reality!
It does not mean that Asian men are extremely passive agents during the process of emasculating Asian men.. A lot of them admit that they are considered as “not attractive” and “effeminate” because they are too shy. They want to prove that they are different from the stereotypes but are too afraid of being judged and humiliated by women, even Asian women. As a result, they normally choose to turn away to avoid rejection. This action accidentally deepens the existing stereotypes.
Nonetheless, many of them are taking more positive actions, hoping that their participation on the Internet would be able to debunk the negative and limited portrayals. A lot of Asian American men nowadays are blogging and vlogging about their cultural differences, their experiences as oppressed individuals in society, the dilemmas that they are dealing with, the tips that they have collected after years of interacting with people, and most importantly, their hopes for a better future.
Perhaps it will take a long time for these divergent voices to reach the whole public. But one day, I also hope that there will be more and more diverse images of Asian men in the mainstream culture so that no one will say “I don’t do Asians” ever again.