When Asian Emasculation Meets Misogyny: On Eddie Huang’s Black Feminist Problem

I was an awkward and impressionable pre-pubescent Asian American boy when America’s imagination was captured by a certain William Hung and his off-key 2004 rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” on American Idol. That the most visible Asian male mainstream representation of the moment (other than, perhaps, the cartoonified Jackie Chan of the beloved Jackie Chan Adventures) was the butt of a crude national joke, and heir to a long history of Asian male pop culture buffoonery, is indicative of the messages that I and other Asian American young men received, and continue to receive, about our own sexuality and desirability. In the context of romance and sex, we exist for comic relief alone.

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Even as Asian American actors like Steven Yuen and John Cho begin to break down barriers for Asian American men as romantic leads, characters such as Han in CBS’ 2 Broke Girls continue the portrayal of Asian men as sexually inept punchlines.

 

The racial emasculation of Asian men in the American imagination is real, it is pervasive, and it is historically-rooted (dating back at least to the 19th century when Chinese migrant men took on “feminized” labor roles in the laundry industry). From pop culture to playground taunts, I doubt that any Asian American man can fully escape the psychological implications of this socialization in undesirability. For me, it remains a personal trope that requires constant unlearning, lest creeping doubts begin to resurface to cloud the way I see myself and my role in romantic and sexual relationships. I speak from personal experience when I say that it has real material and psychological impacts.

 

Cut to: the rise of celebrity chef and memoirist Eddie Huang, whose swagger, wit, and taste for controversy has made him one of Asian America’s most visible figures. The unofficial leader and visionary of the “movement of big dick Asians,” Huang’s persona has resonated with Asian Americans tired of being an “invisible” minority, and especially with Asian American men seeking to reclaim and reassert their own masculinity. But when reclaimed masculinity comes in such normative, ultra-hetero packaging, are we doing more harm than help?

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For many, Huang’s snarl and swagger have been a refreshing break from mainstream model minority representations.

 

Last year, Jenn Fang of Reappropriate.co coined the term “misogynlinity” (masculinity plus misogyny) to explain how, in working to counter their racial emasculation, some Asian American men may seek to reaffirm their own masculinity in problematic ways – namely, by conflating masculinity with misogyny, and practicing “manhood” through the objectification, violation, and conquest of women. Fang points to the popularity of pickup artist/dating coaches amongst Asian American men and the unfortunate tendency for some Asian American men to shame Asian American women who choose to date non-Asian partners as examples of how attempts to counter Asian emasculation can become oppressive forces themselves.

 

Thus, the trouble with Huang’s “big dick Asian movement,” or with any concerted attempt to address the widespread emasculation of Asian men in American pop culture, is in the framing. Are we critically redefining masculinity? Or are we simply seeking to claim a patriarchal and heterosexist version of American manhood for ourselves?

 

I have long feared that Eddie Huang falls into the latter camp. His Big Dick Asian Movement is legitimately grounded in the frustration of Asian men in America who have been emasculated, ridiculed, and mocked on movie screens, in classrooms, and on dating sites. But its framing and points of action are centered on a fundamentally misogynist notion of sexual entitlement, encapsulated in Huang’s oft-repeated statement of purpose that “Jet Li gets no pussy” in Romeo Must Die. That Huang grounds his project of Asian American manhood in the attempted subversion of stereotypes of Black male hyper-masculinity and the adoption of hip hop culture cements his project as one that reinscribes, rather than challenges, systems of racial and gendered oppression.

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Even Hudson Yang’s lovable portrayal of a young Huang on Fresh Off the Boat at times veers towards misogyny.

 

Which is why Huang’s recent and bizarre Twitter tirade against queer Black feminist blogger Mia McKenzie (creator of the blog Black Girl Dangerous) was upsetting, but not particularly surprising. McKenzie asked Huang to clarify a recent statement he had made on Bill Maher’s Real Time that “Asian men have been emasculated so much in America that we’re basically treated like Black women,” with Huang going on to reference OkCupid ratings, in which Asian men and Black women consistently score the lowest.

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See @NakedArtichokes’ Storify to see the exchange in full.

 

Though the statistics are well-documented, Huang’s phrasing was poor, and he could easily have been interpreted as using Black women as some sort of inanimate barometer for social oppression. Yet when McKenzie and other Twitter users (primarily women of color) asked Huang to admit that his comments could have been damagingly misinterpreted by his audience, Huang reacted aggressively, calling McKenzie an “idiot,” “wildin,” and, in a telling display of male privilege, attempted to silence McKenzie by calling her “boo” and mockingly asking her out on a date.

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Like McKenzie, I would have liked to give Huang the benefit of the doubt and assumed that the Maher segment was simply a matter of poor phrasing and the pressure of appearing on live television (rather than another instance of using Black oppression to render the experiences of non-black communities of color more visible). But Huang’s response is indicative of the fact that his philosophy of manhood is grounded in sexism, and leverages anti-blackness as a tool for subverting anti-Asian stereotypes. The fact that the success of ABC’s family sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, based on Huang’s memoir of the same name, has rendered Huang one of Asian America’s most visible figures, only compounds my disgust at this recent Twitter exchange.

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I understand the pain and frustration that stems from America’s racist emasculation of Asian men. But if, as in Huang’s practice, reclaiming Asian American masculinity means claiming all the ills of white American manhood – it’s patriarchy, entitlement, heterosexism, and racism – I want nothing to do with it.

 

To my fellow Asian American men: can we re-envision Asian American masculinity to be anti-racist, womanist, queer, and liberational beyond our own identities? Can we make space for the criticisms of our women of color peers, and confront the certain privileges and powers that come with being Asian men in America, rather than attempting to use those same privileges to silence and shame those who raise critical questions? Huang’s violent exchange with McKenzie is a reminder that if a movement towards reclaiming Asian masculinity has any place in radical – rather than reactionary – political spaces, we can and must do better.

 

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52 Responses to When Asian Emasculation Meets Misogyny: On Eddie Huang’s Black Feminist Problem

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  1. Alex May 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    I’m a white male married to a Chinese woman. We’ll be having kids soon and this topic is constantly on my mind. Do you have any suggestions what to do to balance masculinity with the tendency towards misogyny it sometimes leads to? We’re both immigrants to the US, but we’re planning on reaching back to Chinese culture explicitly through literature, fairy tales, and movies for a strong cultural identity (and hopefully therefore the confidence that comes with it). I’m at a loss as to what else we as future parents can do.

    • Kevin May 7, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      @Alex, the best thing you can teach your children is to respect one another. Check your own biases towards other groups of people and cultures, and strive to create an environment where your children’s first response to something or someone new is to try to learn more rather than to judge.

      As for masculinity, I have two recommendations for you. The first is to lead by example– if you can show your children what masculinity should look like in your relationship with your wife (I for one believe chivalry isn’t dead, although that certainly isn’t all masculinity is about…), then they will have a positive role model to look upon even as the media showcases examples where misogyny finds its way in.

      The second recommendation I have is for you to encourage your children to have positive relationships with both boys and girls– if your child can identify an experience and how it might negatively impact someone they care about, whether it be a friend, his/her sister or mother, then he/she will be much less likely to take part in that experience again. Self-reflection is key here.

      My third recommendation is to not take this website too seriously– the people this article speaks out against likely don’t care to read it; that you’ve made it to the comments shows that you care enough to make a difference (hopefully you didn’t feel vilified along the way as I did).

      Source: the 22-year old son of a while male married to a Chinese woman.

      • BB May 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

        I am not a father, but as the 24-year old son of a Japanese-American mother and White-American father, great advice Kevin! The only thing I’d add is that all you can do is try your best. No one is perfect!

    • Mark Tseng Putterman May 8, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      Alex – As Kevin mentioned, the fact that you’re reading these sorts of articles and confronting these questions means that you’re likely to do a better job at this than most. Keep being deliberate about making space for conversations about race, gender, and sexuality with your children, with your wife, and internally as well. Understand that their experiences in the world will be fundamentally different than your own, and understand they might not always want to talk about such things with you because of that. Make sure they have real-life Asian role models (their mother, grandparents, uncles and aunts, etc). Know that silence on topics that may make you uncomfortable may be read as lack of interest or caring. Make space for that discomfort.

      This open letter, written by a black daughter to her white father, might be relevant. It’s very moving. http://bluestockingsmag.com/2015/02/23/an-open-letter-to-the-white-fathers-of-black-daughters/

      • D. Wu March 16, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

        Mark, great article and I have 2 comments for you. First, like Eddie Huang who equates his tragic childhood of domestic violence with a typical Asian American experience (which is absurd), the author of the ‘black girl to white father’ letter also appears to be conflating issues of being part of a multicultural/color family (I reject the validity of the arbitrary notion of race that is a legacy of European/American imperialism and slavery) with having a shitty dad. Her dad sounds like a lousy father; I doubt very much that he would be a better father to a white child. My husband and I are different colors and “races”; in fact our (biological) children are all different colors. We are a close and loving family. Culture (both Chinese and Jewish) is a huge part of our everyday life. And for the record, my husband is a (super hot) Chinese man.

        Second point: I think it behooves every minority to experience life as a majority, if at all possible. It gives a refreshing perspective on social politics and the absurdity of allowing others to define you. It is very freeing and empowering. I strongly suggest you visit the country of one/both parents or ancestors’ origin for an extended stay, eg semester abroad, on work assignment, volunteer assignment, etc. It may be what helps you change your perspective on your masculinity to see so many people that look like you strutting around like they own the place!

  2. Eddie May 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Alex. Don’t whitewash them and teach them it’s ok to date black women.

  3. Cora. May 7, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    This article is spot on. This article is spot on. Unfortunately, the manhood that many MOC search for is still rooted in heteronormative masculinity often defined by violence, hypersexuality and misogyny

  4. Alex May 7, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Haha what? BGD wasnt looking for clarification. she wanted to find offense in a factual statement. She perfectly well knew what Huang meant but in another laughable bout of Internet outrage #134232475, this will amount to nothing because the “outrage” is about as far reaching as McKenzie ‘s echo chamber.

  5. PB May 7, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    It was definitely a bad comparison and Eddie should have owned up to it. But I feel like it escalated when BGD started calling this guy an idiot. If you read through, an actual discussion was taking place until one person started hurling insults.

    Yeah he could’ve politely asked for BDG’s email to discuss but she totally took it personally like she was an object thinking she was going to be abused privately. I’m sure he’d be much more comprehensible when more than 160 characters are used.

    In the end I think its BGD loss for escalating that because she went against her own beliefs in calling him a “Violent ass, entitled, misogynoirist motherfucker….. Wanna-be ass fuck….Little man trying so hard to be a big man. He picked the wrong black woman to try that shit with.”

    As far as the other people commenting after their exchange…I really can’t explain that except he was being pretty misogynistic. Both of them shamed themselves. One just has a louder team.

    • Empress Peach May 12, 2015 at 6:59 am #

      You realize she said that AFTER he insulted not only her, but Kara Brown of Jezebel too?

  6. kebo drew May 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    What I wish that he would have said was “in the racist sexist colonialist hyperfeminization of Asian culture and the racist sexist colonialist hypermasculinization of African/Black culture, both Asian cisgender men and Black cisgender women find themselves in similar positions of being undesirable for the simple reason that they fall outside of racially gendered norms. This is a world that also make the femininity of queer cisgender Black femmes and transgender Black women suspect and invisible and ugly. It also makes the masculinity of transgender Asian transgender men and cisgender queer Asian men suspect and invisible and ugly. Where does that leave us? Okcupid thinks that cisgender heterosexual Black women and cisgender heterosexual Asian men should date each other, but what if they can’t because these horrid bigoted views, once internalized, make it difficult to love ourselves and anyone else that doesn’t fit racially gendered norms?”

  7. BW May 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    I completely disagree and have no problem with Eddie in this exchange. Eddie was clearly talking about the online dating stats. BGD had no genuine valid point to make save for asking Eddie to “explain himself” (when it was already perfectly clear he was talking about the online dating stats) and yet launches 5 aggressively worded twitter salvoes into Eddie. She was clearly looking for a fight to pick and Eddie called BS on it pretty quickly. Because it was BS. She wanted to make it a race issue when it was about the online dating stats and nothing more. When Eddie said as much, the attackers back pedalled (because trying then to get someone to admit at least what they said could have been badly interpreted is pretty much back pedalling imho). Then yeah, Eddie, wherein being crude and not PC is his schtick, went in and landed a few of his own. But you know, being too PC and well behaved is what makes the model minority myth stick, and what is killing us as Asian men. Today, I’d much rather we err on the side of Eddie Huang than on the side of William Hung. Simply, we need to be more ill behaved, more crude, more not PC. Or else we are always going to be good enough to do someone’s math homework for them, but not good enough to get the girl. BGD was looking for a fight and got one handed to her. Next time she’ll think twice about launching into someone so that she can bait them into mishandling their words to suit her agenda. Eddie made a completely valid factual point and comparison and, in response to her initiated twitter aggression, told BGD to basically eff off. Good for Eddie, I would do the same. This article makes a mountain out of a molehill.

    • JM July 27, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

      He was an asshole and mocked her. You finding that okay is disturbing, you’re part of the problem and have serious issues.

  8. Blane McDonald May 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    ^ spot-on

  9. Ricky May 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Alex: “Factual statements” can be offense, particularly in how they are phrased.

    Let’s look at the original statement: “Asian men have been emasculated so much in America that we’re basically treated like Black women”

    First of all, this isn’t even a factual statement. It’s a commentary based on OKC stats.

    The problem in this statement is “basically treated like…” Think of every and any instance you would use that phrase following a negative statement. Whatever follows this phrase would be “worse.” It implies that Asian men should inherently be treated better than Black women. And that’s what’s wrong with this statement and offensive about it.

    PB: From the storify, from the begining it looked like it never was a conversation, it was Eddie not listening and being dismissive. And why is it BGD’s “loss” for being rightfully angered? What? So it’s ok for now for Asian men to reclaim masculinity and stand up to model minority myths or whatever but it’s not ok for a Black woman to not put up with a misogynist dismissive asshole who thinks a proper place for a woman is to be his date, object of affection, his “boo” ???

    BW: GTFO, what is killing us as Asian men is your sexist selves.

    All y’all need to check yourselves.

  10. Cheng Liu May 7, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Personally I cannot relate to Eddie in Fresh off the Boat. When I was his age most people were either punks or ghetto (both to varying degrees), either you listened to Green Day and blink 182 or you listened to G-Unit and Snoop Dogg. I was always more of the former than the latter so I guess that is one of the main reasons why.

  11. it_me_femmy_fanny May 7, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Concise and well-constructed article. One question though: what’s with the use of the word “womanist”? I feel like if you’re going to go ahead and write a critique of misogynistic behaviors, there is no need to avoid using the word feminist.

    • TDF May 8, 2015 at 1:49 am #

      Wow step your game up. Womanist is not avoiding using the term feminist. There are ideological differences between the two terms. Google is huge, use that search bar. You’ll then realize how offensive and dismissive (and in some ways racist) your comment is. I’ll chalk it up to you maybe not actually knowing what womanist means.

    • RVCBard May 8, 2015 at 2:17 am #

      Womanism refers to a specific kind of anti-oppression work. Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Womanism

    • Linda May 8, 2015 at 8:02 am #

      Hi! Many black feminists, unable to identify with the white feminist movement, have chosen to claim the term “womanist.” I believe it was used to be encompassing of all women in the struggle, rather than in an attempt to avoid using the word “feminist.”

  12. hungryghost May 8, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    I’m not defending Eddie Huang here, because he does descend into assholish behavior, particularly towards the end. But I do believe Eddie is trying to fight the good fight, whether or not you agree with his tactics. But yes, his taunts are problematic and do invoke racist and sexist tropes, whether or not he’s just trying to be funny. Really, he’s not helping his case with the “boo” comment or his “sushi date” mockery. If he wants to convince people that he’s on their side (which I believe was his intention), that’s not how you do it. But with that said, BGD (whose writing I normally admire) doesn’t come off as exactly mature here either. BGD kicks off this descent into name-calling by saying Eddie is “trash”. But regardless of all the ad hom in this entire exchange, the main thing I think everyone’s missing here is the amount of insight any “outsider” can have into the experience of another marginalized community. Asian men do not — and cannot — truly understand the experience of black women. It’s just a starkly different history of lived experiences that Asian men just never face. But conversely, black women cannot understand the experience of being an Asian man in America. The experience of hyper-sexualized objectification does not give one a special insight into the experience of being an emasculated foreign other. These are just two very different experiences of race and gender that neither side can completely related to. To pretend to know oppressions outside your own, is a bit arrogant. What is shared between these two communities though is the general experience of being marginalized by white patriarchy, which is ultimately the culprit. And that’s what we should be focussing on instead of bickering about perceived slights between communities. Remember, oppression isn’t a competition. All people of color are marginalized in a multitude of ways, and we’re not going make much progress if we’re fighting amongst ourselves.

    • The Alchemist May 20, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      There are 3 tropes in the American consciousness regarding Black women. “Jezebel” is hyper-sexualized but “Mammy” is stripped of her femininity. Mammy is sort of the female version of the emasculated Asian male. “Sapphire” is the Sassy Black Woman™.
      This article might help:
      “Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and their homegirls: Developing an “oppositional gaze” toward the images of Black women” by Carolyn West
      http://www.drcarolynwest.com/media/sites/162/files/article_mammy-jezebel-sapphire-homegirls.pdf

  13. Mark Tseng Putterman May 8, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks for raising this question! I’ve used the term “womanist” in place of “feminist” in deference to the many women of color who have criticized feminism as centering the experiences of white women, while marginalizing the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.

  14. J G May 8, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Asian men don’t have the luxury to make their masculinity “anti-racist, womanist, queer, and liberational beyond our own identities”. How can you be anti-racist when you got the white man coming down on you with all that racist misogynist shit? How can you be womanist when your not even a man? How can you be open to being queer when your already assumed to be queer?

    Asian men are already perceived to be anti-racist due to their supposive timidness and fearfulness…it takes balls to be racist in today’s world, something Asian men are already perceived to not have.

    Asian men are already perceived to be womanists due to their undesirability and low sexual value, they worship the women so of course they are womanists.

    Asian men are already perceived to be pro queer because its assumed of course that your a feminine queer anyways so it would only make sense.

    You can’t have sophisticated masculinity when you don’t even have basic masculinity, just like you can’t have self-realization before you have basic shelter. It’s nice and dandy that your thinking about the bigger picture and I appreciate you writing the article, but you gotta realize that we are in no position to consider them. To consider and practice this type of “im the bigger man” masculinity will just cause you to be perceived as a cop out because you don’t got any balls.

    Masculinity is not theoretical, its balls. Some men have them, some don’t. If your an Asian American man in America, your default perceived status is no balls. So what you gonna do brah?

    • Christopher Slager May 8, 2015 at 11:33 am #

      Not that I agree with your stance but it is an interesting stance. “How can you have sophisticated masculinity when you don’t even have basic masculinity?”

      • MNA May 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

        Why strive for “basic masculinity”, when it is such a destructive force?

    • MNA May 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

      What are these “balls” and why are you so adamant that Asian men must strive and struggle to attain or develop “balls”? What is the endgame for these “balls”? Is it solely to get access to “pussy”?

    • brownstocking May 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

      “Asian men are already perceived to be anti-racist due to their supposive timidness and fearfulness…it takes balls to be racist in today’s world, something Asian men are already perceived to not have.

      Asian men are already perceived to be womanists due to their undesirability and low sexual value, they worship the women so of course they are womanists.

      Asian men are already perceived to be pro queer because its assumed of course that your a feminine queer anyways so it would only make sense.”

      Except, no, they’re not, at least where I’m from in NorCal. I think you have a great speech, but it’s full of flaws around perception (most likely your subjective viewpoint) and reality (which can, admittedly, also be subjective).

      Yes, we have oppressions, some in common (white patricarchy) but they play out so differently within and outside our communities. Masculinity, though, is more than “balls.” And can be, and has been fluid.

    • HipElSeven June 28, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Real shit.

  15. Rena Kelebek May 8, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    @ Mark Tseng Putterman: Do you know the video artist Richard Fung? He wrote an article called “Looking For My Penis” and analysed gay porn pointing out exclusions of Asian Males, Asian Males either not appearing at all as desirable or in form of racist exotist stereotypes being bottom, being feminine etc. For me this contributes to the questions of masculinity you were discussing, also a perspective that is not (hetero-)normative. Your article also reminded me of what Stuart Hall wrote on stereotypes and how it’s so hard to break out of them because if you try – as a racialized person – to not confirm a certain stereotype you often end up affirming another racist stereotypes. Hall talks about black males reaction to historically being emasculated in slavery to turn to hyper-masculinity which has become another anti-black racist stereotype. If you like I can try to find the citation, in case you don’t know them already…

    • Mark Tseng Putterman May 13, 2015 at 9:30 am #

      @ Rena: I am familiar with some of Richard Fung’s work, but hadn’t read the article. I just read it and it’s a fantastic read. Thanks for calling it to my attention!

  16. Liz May 9, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    I think this article clarifies a lot and I hope that Mr. Huang reads it because I do not think the exchange he had on Twitter was productive. I read the exchange and found myself thinking why is this girl picking on him and trying to push him into a corner.

    This is mostly for the person talking about sophisticated masculinity. The end game of acquiring this masculinity seems to be to get the girl. I think this whole discussion is conflating gender and sexuality. Gender being how you act according to your sex and sexuality being who you desire and who desires you back. I agree that on television and film Asian men are portrayed as undesireable sexually. And the fact that they have sexual needs is the joke. But “growing balls” -adapting to a particular notion of what you think a man is – is not going to get you the girl (or the man) and is merely going to make you seem like you are a jerk.

    Also not sure I like the title of this article making Black feminist a problem.

  17. IAmIBe May 11, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    “That Huang grounds his project of Asian American manhood in the attempted subversion of stereotypes of Black male hyper-masculinity and the adoption of hip hop culture cements his project as one that reinscribes, rather than challenges, systems of racial and gendered oppression.”

    “Huang’s practice, reclaiming Asian American masculinity means claiming all the ills of white American manhood”

    I’m going to disagree slightly on both counts. Huang’s attempt at asserting a new Asian American masculinity isn’t grounded in white American manhood. How many white guys you know talk about their boo? How many white guys talk about their boo wildin’ out? No, Huang’s project is grounded in, as you say, stereotypes of Black male masculinity, but it’s not an attempted subverision. He’s quite sincere in his embrace of those tropes.

  18. In the same boat May 11, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    Alex, I have been through this experience as a white American married to a first generation Chinese woman with a daughter now in college. Some of my comments are practical and culturally specific. Some are not. I hope you find something useful and that they generate some ideas for you. I hope the moderators overlook its length.

    1. In addition to the literature, fairy tales, and movies you mentioned, don’t forget the food. People bond over meals. Being able to enjoy dishes from all over the world gives you an entree (pun intended) to all those cultures. Don’t raise a picky eater. Start with making baby food out of those Chinese leftovers. Then teach your kids how to make a few dishes. If they learn how to make potstickers from scratch, they will be popular everywhere. And learning a little vocabulary around eating and drinking is a great way to start learning the language.

    2. I knew a Chinese immigrant couple living in a small Midwest town with a very small number of Chinese but with both kids and the grandparents in the house. They spoke Chinese and ate Chinese food at home. The boy adamantly preferred speaking English, eating hamburgers and trying to be like Michael Jordan, with an air of disrespect for his immigrant family. I think it was a struggle for the parents and at the time a mystery to us why this was happening. But it was reflection of the kids he was in school with in a small Midwest town. If you live in a more diverse place (as for example, the San Francisco Bay area where the public schools will be so very diverse, e.g. with Latino, Asian, South Asian, African American and Caucasian) then your children can easily observe and experience both processes of assimilation and cultural heritage pride.

    3. I think self-confidence and self-respect begets tolerance. Provide as many opportunities as you can at an early age for the children to develop lifelong interests in which they can take pride in their own accomplishments, beyond academics. From our experience it was sports and music, with music the eventual winner. Keep it fun but encourage the discipline and hard work to become good at it – a metaphor for life. There will no doubt come a time where the activity that was once easy becomes difficult. How many kids quit, for example, piano lessons, but as adults, regret it? So as an adult you may need to figure out a way to encourage your kid how to get over that hump. If you want to keep the Asian theme, martial arts can be found anywhere. In larger metropolitan areas you can find programs in traditional Chinese instruments. But for the character development it doesn’t have to be from the Chinese tradition. And with respect to music, it doesn’t have to be that stereotypical classical piano or violin player with a brutal tiger mom. Our daughter got started in piano at age 4, went from Christmas carols to jazz at age 6, influenced by the interests of that first piano teacher. And the group activities of jazz band and jazz choir in junior high and high school kept the music fun. I can’t emphasize the group aspect enough in keeping it fun. She wouldn’t have lasted in the solitary life of practicing your scales and arpeggios and perfecting Rachmaninoff. We included musical theater. We included some traditional community choir. And we included music camps and sports camps in the summer. Kept her too busy to get wrapped in computer games. Also, we kept her going with soccer and other sports until those activities essentially became 24/7 all year round and professionalized, and she made the decision to concentrate on music around 8th grade. And I would advise that if you and your wife don’t enjoy supporting or participating in the activity, then everybody will eventually find it hard work rather than fun. It has to be fun for all.

    4. So being well rounded with arts and sports, and especially the arts, can go a long way to balancing those gender issues. I played sports through college and all I have to show for it is a few vague memories of the glory years along with a few broken bones and sore joints. But the boy who goes for example into music, particularly musical theater and choir, finds himself in the minority, and so very much needed and welcomed, and surrounded by lovely and talented ladies – a wise decision in my opinion. And my experience has been that in the arts you can’t fake it or coast. The kids know who has got talent and is working hard. And unlike the typical classroom, it ain’t cool to be disruptive in a rehearsal. So it teaches academic integrity and the value of hard work at an early age. And the kids develop peer relationships (even professional relationships) based on mutual respect at an early age that you don’t find even in sports. I don’t think superintendents of school districts get that when they think the easy decision to save money is to cut the arts programs. If you can’t find these programs in the public schools, various community not-for-profits are working to fill the gap, and the private schools are realizing that arts programs are a highly visible competitive advantage. And I would add that perfect test scores and a dozen AP tests are less important for getting into a good college than the demonstrated pursuit of passionate interest in something.

    5. We spoke English at home. A big disadvantage. Hopefully you can raise your kids bilingual. In metropolitan areas with a critical mass of Chinese you can find after-school or weekend programs to teach Chinese to all ages from toddlers on up. They are often geared for where Chinese is spoken in the home, since second generation kids often don’t learn the written language. So start early. The best we could do, was that my wife worked a bit on pronunciation and a few characters and we took our daughter back to China to visit relatives every 3-4 years or so. And eventually I stopped going, so that our daughter got immersed in Chinese during the trip. At least having an ear for Chinese from an early age (like having a taste for Chinese food), even if you are not fluent, is very important for possibly learning the language later. She studied French in high school but decided to take up Chinese in college. She went to visit the relatives in China on her own this January, where she spent two weeks as honored guest among all the aunts and uncles and cousins. She experienced her extended family independently for the first time, and primarily in their native language. It was eye-opening and rewarding.

    6. Chinese language stations can be found on cable and satellite. There are gadgets that you can connect your TV through the Internet to a seemingly endless supply of Chinese TV shows and movies, including Western movies with Chinese subtitles. Lookup the Xiaomi tv box.

    7. I would add a few more things. First, your kids need to live an unsheltered life. They need to have some failure and rejection and learn how to cope and respond. I think kids who have achieved early success too easily often plateau when they face the challenges of getting to the next level. No one remembers whether you were on an U12 champion soccer team. No one remembers whether you were the best singer in your elementary school. So when I see parents moving their kids from team to team to get on a winning soccer team, I shake my head. When I see parents fight to get their kids the lead in the musical, I shake my head. You will see adults behaving badly without the best interests of the kids. And I can guarantee you that your family will see discrimination of all sorts from the blatantly illegal to the micro-aggression. Your kids need to see that, understand that for what it is and rise above it, hopefully without anger, or at least with an anger that fuels a drive to succeed. And finally, respect for one’s cultural heritage is a kind of loyalty to people, place and time. Loyalty is a virtue that employers, politicians, professional sports teams, celebrities and institutions of all sorts have taught us is no longer important. Hopefully, despite societal pressures, your kids learn loyalty to family, friends and institutions. And as an aside, understanding loyalty, hard work and resilience amidst the unsheltered life will provide much more meaningful college applications essays.

    8. Realize that when kids are young, they are driven to please the adults. At some point (maybe junior high or late elementary school ages), their peer group becomes much more important. Your kids will go through a phase where despite your education, experience and fluency in English, anything and everything about you makes you uncool, unhip, a general embarrassment. Despite your best intentions, then everything becomes a struggle. Be patient. You’ll miss those early years. You’ll hate those teenager years. But in the long run, they’ll respect you and love you for your patience.

    I hope this helps.

    • kifa May 12, 2015 at 2:55 am #

      to all the good-natured, well-intentioned “white men married to asian women” – i’d say kudos on your soul searching. but also one important step would be to recognize y our whiteness, white privilege, and most importantly, how that factor itself plays into your becoming an “honorary asian” via your asian wives/girlfriends. in the same way asian/asian american men need to seriously examine their heterosexism, intra and inter-ethnic racism (e.g., east asians against south/southeast asians), and homophobia… it behooves white men (whose masculinity historically has been and at present continues to act as a more “desirable” foil to “undesirable/inadequate” asian masculinity) to be more aware of and critical of their (white) privilege NOT to have to worry that much about race when it comes to dealing with their masculinity/sense of identity (e.g., dating market, employment, lack of racialized criminalization, etc). just a gentle suggestion.

  19. Andy mahal May 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    I don’t know much about huang, but I did see the segment on bill maher. I honestly don’t know what the brouhaha is all about. I thought he made it pretty clear what his intention was in referring to black women vis-a-vis similarities on okcupid etc. even in the explanation in his tweets, he’s being clear and clearly not disrespectful. Could he have chosen marginally better words to express himself? Maybe. But the fact that this post was written at all makes it seem like we really aren’t ready to confront this issue. The whole emasculation of Asian men in popular culture issue. like way to go drowning out such a long due discussion in pointless discussions about word usage and placement. like black men or just men in general don’t use language like this all the time? he doesn’t even say anything remotely offensive to her after explaining what his intention was, and she retorts with calling him a mosogynist etc etc.
    I’m all for improving the discourse but it seems like you re really really really reaching, when you end it with a call to Asian men to conduct their struggle against decades of complete emasculation in a better and more thoughtful way. Instead of showing solidarity. especially when there just isn’t enough evidence,, based on the two things you mention, the maher segment and the tweets, to prove that he has some kind of a bias against black women.
    Btw, I’m a POC and not an Asian man or a black woman, so I don’t really have a stake in the fight Per se. just thought I’d share my outside perspective, cause the blatant way in which these tropes about Asian men are employed has troubled me for a while now.

  20. K May 12, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    For those accusing him of being an ass towards the end.. He’s trolling. He realized there is no point in arguing with her at that point because she doesn’t want to hear anything he’s saying. He offered to do it professionally via email, yet she chose to attack him instead. His trolling is reacting exactly to the words she called him: “misogynist”. If she calls him all these words when he actually wasn’t one to begin with, then he will treat her like what she calls him, is his mentality. Eddie knew there is a point where you can’t argue with people committed to NOT understanding him.

    • Mo May 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

      @K – He was being an ass, plain and simple and for several obvious reasons. For starters, he pulled the ever so common and played out move of trying to derail the debate by offering her a date (which is funny, because I don’t find him remotely attractive at all and he looks twice as tacky with that grill and that bs “swagger”…people still use that word haha). Men do that ALL THE TIME because they either can’t or don’t want to handle a woman who has more going for her than just her looks.

      And then he switched to using a blaccent to further derail the convo (imagine her countering that with responding in an accent that mocks Asian). I don’t know why people fail to see the racism behind non black people using AAVE but then again I’ve seen the excuse that AAVE came from hip hop which is a flat out boldface lie since dialects (blaccents/AAVE) associated with black people date back to the slave days yet hip hop came to fruition in the late 70’s (but for all the black culture loving jackasses out there it’s “amazing” how little they know about black culture outside of rap, basketball and grills oh and “swagger” ha).

      Whatever excuse you want to make for him, it’s a bad look since he clearly can’t accept a debate unless it’s on his terms because why should she give him her email? She clearly did not feel comfortable and yet you want to blame her for not giving this bigoted asshole her email?? And you really think he was going to be a professional via email when he publicly showed his ass?

      No Eddie knew there was a point that he was wrong for derailing the debate by relying on name calling (calling BGD an idiot then boo and Feminista Jones a bum but you think they owe him some type of commitment hmm ok), offers of dates and pathetic racial jokes because HE REFUSED to commit to a discussion outside of his control (especially when its a disagreement).

  21. Alan May 12, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    “Masculinity” has different meanings depending on which culture you’re coming from. European Americans define it with the connotations of power and control. Asian Americans define it with success and intelligence. Hispanic Americans define it with cool and suave. I see no reason why we should conform to European connotations of masculinity.

    But hey, this is America’s melting pot where you can think however you want.

    • Jefferson May 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

      “Masculinity” has different meanings depending on which culture you’re coming from. European Americans define it with the connotations of power and control. Asian Americans define it with success and intelligence. Hispanic Americans define it with cool and suave. I see no reason why we should conform to European connotations of masculinity.”

      How do African Americans define masculinity? How do Muslims define masculinity?

  22. blkcowrie ❀ May 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    fyi re: white fathers (albeit in this case with Black daughters):

    “Dad, when you decided to have children with a Black woman, what did you imagine your role would be in nurturing these children’s racial identity and self confidence? I think you expected Mom to be solely responsible for transmitting race to us because she was the Black parent. What could you, the white parent, contribute, right? What could you have done?

    “You could have checked your own whiteness. You could have acknowledged that you were the husband of a Black woman and the father of mixed children and considered the implications of this. You loved a Black woman and helped make Black children; your relationship with us should have made your home of invisible whiteness impossible to inhabit. If you don’t live there anymore, Dad, I would like to know. I have been given no indication that you have left.

    “You could have talked to me about race, Dad. You should have been part of the conversations I had with Mom about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. If you thought your presence would have been an imposition, you were wrong. I interpreted your absence as a sign that you had nothing to say and no stakes in these issues. I needed to hear you speak to learn how to speak about my race. You are not unmarked and the whiteness you gave me is not either, even if we operate as if it is. I would not be writing this letter if this were true.”

    (http://bluestockingsmag.com/2015/02/23/an-open-letter-to-the-white-fathers-of-black-daughters/)

    hope this is useful and relevant to those genuinely concerned.

  23. Jacque March 25, 2016 at 2:10 am #

    This whole conversation of Asian men/black women being undesireable is very disappointing to me, but not surprising. Neither group in my opinion are undesirable, but they are the farthest from the norm of what European or white america determines beauty to be. Many people are so eager to chase after the great white dream. One culture is not and should not be the standard by which beauty is determined. Everyone is beautiful within their own uniqueness. Black women are the strength of the african american culture, a result of having to perform the same duties as her male counterparts during slavery. The black male was definitely emasculated, as a result, but like a child he saw what the master held to be his ultimate treasure and he went after it ” the white women.” In my opinion, the black male resents the black women because she is strong because she was conditioned to be. In the same way I view the Asian man as the strength of their family willing to sacrifice whatever to take care of their families. I think that sometimes the weaker members of the race are the ones that seek relationships outside of that norm. The black man seeks a more submissive mate because he despises the strength of the black female. The Asian female wants to get away from the submissive role that she has to play in the Asian culture. The white race in general tends to think of itself as the superior race because that has been their brainwashing as well. They are less likely to marry outside of their race because of their superior thinking. But when it happens it’s generally as I stated before the weakest member of that cultural dynamic the white women. Who maybe be valued at a higher level by someone of a different race, since she has been strategically placed by the system of racism as the ultimate prize. In conclusion, what I deduce from all of this is that black women and Asian men are the rocks of their cultures. They are the glue that keeps their cultures going strong. Their is nothing feminine about an Asian man, to endure the many hardships and sacrifices that they are willing to make for family. As for the black female, perhaps if she didn’t have to play the role as male and female in her culture she would have the luxury of coming across as being more feminine, but at this point and time that is not the case. Black america can’t afford for her to be weak, but she is tired! So Asian men and black women hold your heads up you are so much more desirable than you are made out to be!

  24. Foure May 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Hi Mark, just want to say your article is excellent. Thank you for articulating my thoughts. Wish I had half your talent at communicating the nuances of sexism and the questionable desire of some men of color to aspire white male privilege. As an Asian woman I’ll say this again and again–East Asian cultures are extremely sexist and misogynistic. I mean a country doesn’t kill millions of female babies because it’s deeply committed to gender equality. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures have a far longer history than the West of systematically and brutally enslaving women through dowries, arranged marriages, and indentured servitude after marriage. Yet when Asian women talk about this publicly and question this we are ignored, mocked, ridiculed, and harangued like Mia McKenzie was by Eddie Huang. At least more American women are waking up to the fact that when looking for feminist allies the heterosexual Asian man will typically be the last to challenge the white male patriarchy except to demand that they claim it for themselves. Knowing this your article as an Asian American man is even more of a rarity–your gender egalitarian attitude a diamond in the rough.

    • Rhoninx June 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

      If east-Asian cultures are so against gender equality wouldn’t east-Asian men block women from attaining leadership positions? Isn’t South Korea’s president a woman? Isn’t Taiwan’s president also a woman? This all happened before the United States got a female president (although Hillary may be the 1st). Arranged marriages were not against women in all cases. It was an arrangement to prevent the ruling class from being diluted. You wanted the son of a wealthier family to marry the daughter of another wealthier family. It was basically caste or class protection and both the fathers and mothers of the bride and groom benefitted from it. On the other hand, arranged marriages between elderly rich men and the daughters of poor fathers would not be good. Overgeneralizing that east-Asian cultures are inherently misogynistic makes you sound like somebody who has never actually grown up in east-Asia or speak any of the east-Asian languages. It sounds very Amy Tannish. Your generalizations might be believed by non-east Asians but the truth is far more complex by people actually living in east-Asia.

  25. Foure May 24, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    The first step that any man can take if he truly supports feminism is to take the time to listen to what women like myself are saying and consider the validity of our words. Really take the time to listen because women’s thoughts are constantly ignore and disparaged by men (especially in Asian cultures!). Don’t do what Eddie Huang did to Mia McKenzie–try to shut her out and shut her up even before she’s finished speaking. A feminist listens to and respects what women have to say.

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