Real Men Compete for Mr. Hyphen

November 11, 2009

On top of this, Asian men seem to be accidentally or intentionally
placed along the bottom of the masculinity ladder. We're either asexual
nerds, or evil Dr. Fu Manchus, or railroad diggers/launderers. We don't
have leads in movies, and when we do, we're still asexual fighting
machines (Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat). In real life, many Asian
men are making money and ascending the professional world (God knows
there are probably tons of Asian male lawyers and doctors) and yet,
that doesn't seem to be helping, does it?

Reading the post, and its subsequent comments and responses, I get the
idea that Bryan and many others feel the pressure to be more "manly"
and that mainstream culture and maybe even our own communities don't
support that. I feel you.

And I don't know about you, but I'm pissed.

pissed about having to buy into the dominant culture's ideas about what
is sexy. This whole "let's make money and everything will be alright"
mentality is downright insulting considering the predicament of the
national and world economies. I'm pissed that a man's physical
attractiveness can be boiled down to his height, and a women to her
bust. I'm pissed that being a responsible, caring person is laughed at,
while being a callous, bigoted womanizer is glorified.

here's the problem: we have a culture that overly values aesthetics
over character, selfishness over community, and perhaps even purposely
puts Asian men in the backseat. If only there were an organization that
flipped those ideas. Perhaps a contest that put strong Asian males at
the forefront, real men who cared about their community, had substance,
and might even look nice in a suit. A contest measured by deeds and
thought. A contest that challenged stereotypes and subverted the
dominant in everything it did, even through its very existence and
format. Yes, if only there was something like that. Oh, wait.

Mr. Hyphen tickets can be bought here.

See you Saturday.


Mic Nguyen

social media editor & blogger

Michael D. Nguyen is a writer who grew up and went to school in California and now lives in NYC. When he's not
internet shopping, he works in advertising. Follow him @mic_nguyen



damn, Mic.
Hi Mic,Great post! Thanks so much for the dialogue. I really appreciate it. As some people may know, I was involved with the creation of Miss Asian Oregon last month, and so I am into the pageant scene too. All this dialogue helps me to make sense of what we're doing.I will post more on this later, but what I would say is this: I question whether this is a Western vs. Eastern thing. More likely it's a MostPeople vs. SomePeople thing. I actually applaud what you're doing. You guys are raising money for a good cause, and you're having fun at the same time. More power to you.My question is whether or not it challenges the status of Asian mens' masculinity and attractiveness, as you mention above. Will this get more Asian American men and women dating? When we ask difficult questions of ourselves, this is really what it's about--what can Asian American men do to be respected as men within our own Asian American society?I brought up the money and performance art because of the observations by Lester Thurow and my own observations of performance artists--and we all live in a Western world. But would things be all that different if we were still in China? Do they have male pageants in China? The traditional Chinese male models have been figures such as Kwan Gung, the God of War, or the Monkey King, whose cleverness guided him through life. Even in the Three Kingdoms, we see qualities like loyalty and power and sacrifice as something to be practiced, not necessarily something to be seen.I don't feel pressure to be more "manly," but if "manly" means a focus on achievement, then that is something that I would teach my kids. I don't think that decision comes only from the Western mainstream way of seeing lifeAs for the money thing, perhaps we should encourage people to give it, and to use their money/power to create change. I'm just as annoyed by hoarders as everyone else. But things could change. I had people on my blog who decided to give money to Sam Yoon in order to advance the cause of Asian American men in politics. I think that's pretty darn cool. I think that's pretty darn proactive and militant.
I agree with your points in this article, but as an Asian female, I feel sometimes that Asian men use the angry Asian angle a bit too much. At some point being indignant over being discriminated just becomes complaining instead of seeing a problem and taking action to correct it. Asian men are powerful and sexy! It's time you show everyone it by showing confidence, instead of whining.
Mic, we feel you. But you just opened up a can of worms. Please do not suggest that we, a specific sector of AMs -- I would include myself, are trying to be as "manly" as the others.---------"Reading the post, and its subsequent comments and responses, I get the idea that Bryan and many others feel the pressure to be more "manly" and that mainstream culture and maybe even our own communities don't support that. I feel you.""I don't feel pressure to be more "manly," but if "manly" means a focus on achievement, then that is something that I would teach my kids. I don't think that decision comes only from the Western mainstream way of seeing life."---------What ever gave you the idea that the historically emasculated Asian man is now trying to fit the mold of the womanizer? Because we talk about getting some pussy, all of a sudden every progressive and their mothers have to be up in arms?? So we can't talk about tapping some ass on our blogs every now and then when it's necessary to get a point across?What have we become? If this progressive movement is headed toward censorship (all signs point in that direction), I'm hopping off this bad boy right now. What happened to real liberals?We can have all the lawyers and teachers in the world and it wouldn't help the AM image nearly as much as having one strong, positive Asian male role model in the media that has sex appeal. I'll double down on that any day of the week. Media is influence and power, things we have absolutely no control over as a specific minority group.You know what we want? We want balance. We want a better chance in the dating and mating pool by having a level playing field. We want our share of the pie. We want to be seen as having a libido just like any other man that walks these corrupted states. And if we keep getting getting maligned and ridiculed at the rate we are in the mainstream media -- subsequently limiting our chances of getting some ass -- you won't hear the last of it from AM's like me. I'll be damned if my chances of getting pussy are less than my other male counterparts.That's a promise.We need to extend our influence into the arts by any means necessary and portray our roles the way we see them, by us and for us. White America's not gonna do it for us, and they've proven that time and time again. Do you realize what that does to the psyche of younger Asian Americans when they keep seeing a silly ass Asian motherfucker jigging for change while the rest of America's fat asses are dying of laughter on their couches? You already know the question to that.If we keep having people, AMs and AFs, that sell their souls for fifteen minutes of glory for White America's entertainment, we are as good as circus monkeys. That's what we've become, and we've enabled this to continue for as long as it has, one hundred and whatever plus years and counting. I'll be damned if AA feminism continues to be a roadblock. Kingston's already had her pay day.All this and you wanna talk about morality?Don't give us a lecture on morals and ethics, and what it means to be a good middle class breadwinner. Those are ideals that AA's pride themselves on and I am glad that we at least have held on to those values and cherish it.In no way do we desire to womanize, we just want our fair share, with or without interest. And having a Western AM pornstar beating the back outta some ass from all walks of life, that's diversity for you. There are already too many medical professionals. How about some real change and true diversity?Let our children do something they are passionate about for once. It's time to let go of the steering wheel.FYI: One more thing, I support the pageant and I am glad we have good looking Asian males doing the right thing and being bold enough to put themselves out there for their cause. That's very admirable. Good luck to them.