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In response to Erin Chew’s “On How To Be An Asian Male Feminist Ally”, I agree with most of her body of work, in principal. 

Except for a lot of her writings on Asian Masculinity which, quite frankly, is very superficial. Of course, it’s not her primary concern and it doesn’t have to be, but I see this with other Asian feminist writers where they talk AT Asian men, but not WITH them. 

For example, this article which in principal is fine, but misses key points that (if you put aside motherland patriarchy and just concentrate on America for now) for an entire generation, a minority (large but vocal) practiced toxic Asian femininity where they BRAGGED about their own white conquests. In other words #ToxicAsianFemininity. And somehow that’s the equivalent of what Asian men are doing. It’s not. 

AMs don’t get access to white privilege and power. Where the hell is my white privilege if I date and marry white? There is none. But AFWM pairings do get instant access to very real and very measurable white privilege. 

And this idea that it’s bragging when (and sure, many of it is), in fact, it’s trying to counteract internalized racism created by not only society, and the media, but also the vocal minority of Asian American women who- in their bragging- put DOWN Asian men. You don’t really see that in AMWF: it’s mostly about, “Hey if I can do it, so can you! Fuck what Hollywood says about Asian men!” 

But a significant trend in AFWM is, “I don’t date Asians because they look like my dad/brother/abusive.” You can date outside your race without putting your race down, but there are a LOT of bad apples in AFWM who do both. So there’s a FALSE EQUIVALENCY to the effects and comparison of AMWF/AFWM. 

So when Erin writes about how AMs can be better allies to AFs, in principal I agree. But the gender rift started first (and again, if we simply set aside the motherland’s patriarchy which is problematic as I know first hand) with a generation of Asian American women and still continues to this day. 

This discrepancy is being writ large now too in if you take the two biggest Asian American novels that are being or have been turned into film, there’s Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club with it’s depiction of AM and AFs/WM, versus Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan where the AM and AF protagonists are positive portrayals. But you cannot say that about the one-sided portrayal of the Joy Luck Club

And yeah, the Asianwoman-splaining about how I should feel about my own masculinity and gender identity vis-a-vis our shared American culture is annoying. A lot of Asian female writers talk ABOUT us Asian men and AT us but not WITH us. 

Thus, in the Asian American sphere, there’s a lot of Asian feminist writing lambasting toxic Asian masculinity (fairly and un-fairly), but opposing toxic Asian masculinity doesn’t automatically mean they support a healthy Asian masculinity. 

If anything, I tend to see an AF push towards Asian men being more like Hollywood portrayals of liberally progressive white men. Which is just another white male construct and not one of Asian men’s making. We have the right to create our own space and identity of our own making and not just become a yellow clone with liberal white male sensibilities. 

So before asking us to be allies with Asian feminists, it’d be nice if they became allies to AMs first. 

4 Comments

  1. I’m actually inclined to agree with a lot of what you’ve written. There are some VERY MESSED UP things about Asian feminism–and the Asian female community as a whole–that need addressing.

    Yet I also recall an article called Paper Tigers in NYMag where you were previously interviewed. Direct quote from the article regarding your beliefs: “Yes, it is about picking up women. Yes, it is about picking up white women. Yes, it is about attracting those women whose hair is the color of the midday sun and eyes are the color of the ocean, and it is about having sex with them. He is not going to apologize for the images of blonde women plastered all over his website. This is what he prefers, what he stands for, and what he is selling.”

    So you’re hardly in any position to critique Asian women for bragging about their “white conquests” when you yourself do the exact same. Congratulations on upholding white supremacy by furthering the notion that white beauty is to be prized over all other women. Asian men and women both need to cool it with the white worship.

    And yes, you do get certain privileges for dating white women (although admittedly much less than in WMAF). Head into any black feminist space discussing BMWF if you don’t believe me.

  2. Except the difference is, I don’t PUT DOWN other people’s choices. I don’t police Asian women’s dating choices insofar as they don’t affect other people’s. You can date whomever you want WITHOUT hurting other people. But that’s not #ToxicAsianFemininity does. The critique isn’t the BRAGGING which is the point you missed. It’s the use of it in order to undercut other people.

  3. I didn’t dismiss your point, I simply said that it was a little hypocritical of you to make it. And you’re right. Rather than stand by AM, time and time again many AFs have chosen to denigrate their brothers to curry favor with white society. It’s the women who really need to step up now and address this.

    So that’s really the key difference between the two us that needs solving? AM chase after white women while AFs chase after white men AND denigrate AM along the way? We cannot attempt to build a stronger Asian community and strengthen AMAF solidarity without first critiquing our own internalized racism. After all, it is white supremacy and the difference in which each gender is assigned value in Western society which is the true cause of our divisions in the first place.

  4. No AM in their right minds would associate with such a toxic and genocidal disorder as Asian American feminism. It is a sickness.