The journey from boyhood to manhood is hard. But it’s even harder when it feels like you aren’t even considered a man to begin with. With stereotypes that “all Asian men are effeminate and passive with small dicks,” our Asian brothers really get the short end of the stick. However, Franklin teaches us that it doesn’t have to end there, and that no matter the stereotypes that exist, you decide whether to be enslaved by them or push everyone to rethink them altogether. The key to setting the record straight: being your true self and an ambassador of your own worth. You believe it first and let the world dare to catch up.
There is this stigma that all Asian men are very effeminate and passive with small dicks. But it isn’t true, and it can be frustrating to hear people assume that without getting to know you. At the end of the day, I think I’m just another guy trying to break out of the stereotypes that people put try to put me in. But it’s hard because of course you’re affected by what people say and think about you, even when you say you’re not and that what others say and assume doesn’t bother you. In some way it is going to affect your actions and how you see people around you.
For example, because Asian men are assumed to be passive, I became a target of bullying in high school. When I would hang out with my other Asian friends, these group of guys would often come to our table and knock the cards out of our hands. They assumed that because we were Asians, we wouldn’t do anything about it.
Eventually, there was this one day when they were being real assholes to a friend of mine and I decided to fight back. But instead of the guys getting punished, because I fought back, I got suspended. All of a sudden, I was no longer allowed to go on certain trips and people started looking at me as if I was a bad kid.
When I would hang out with my other Asian friends, these group of guys would often come to our table and knock the cards out of our hands. They assumed that because we were Asian, we wouldn’t do anything about it. [But one day], I decided to fight back.
So, that sent the message that even though I wasn’t the perpetrator and I was being targeted, fighting back wasn’t the right choice, and that I was expected to just take it. That became one of the lowest points in my life because I felt like I was being forced to play into the stereotype that was expected of me.
It didn’t matter that I stood up and fought back against something that was obviously wrong. It didn’t feel like anyone had my back or supported me—not my friends or school administration. That was one of the lowest points in my life because even though I stood up for someone else—and later became a target because of it—no one was willing to stand up for or protect me.
I always felt torn between cultures. I was born and raised in America but there were also times where it felt like the Taiwanese way didn’t always fit, which made me feel like I was stuck in the middle and didn’t fully belong to either side. By the end of high school, I wanted to learn even more about Taiwanese culture to get a better idea of who I was and came from.
So, instead of my mom spending money on sending me to prom, I asked her to use that money to book me a ticket to Taiwan so I could stay with family there. During my trip, I ended up staying for two months, and that’s where I was able to experience just how different American and Taiwanese culture were, starting with masculinity.
On TV in America, there is a pretty clear picture of what a man is supposed to look like. He’s generally white, square-jawed, and a muscular, hair, manly man. But the Taiwanese standard of masculinity when I visited more aligned with K-Pop musicians and artists, who were tall, thin, and often prettier than some girls.
Because I’m naturally thin and a little on the taller side, I fit the Taiwanese standard of masculinity, which meant that I was able to go from always feeling invisible to getting a lot more attention from everyone.
In America, you never hear the words “sexy” and “Asian male” in the same sentence due to stereotypes….That’s why I try to do everything I can to share my perspective and push people to realize that Asian American men are more than the limited stereotypes people place upon us.
Another major difference is how forward you are when it comes to dating. In American culture, you have to be more forward. Generally, the guy goes up to the girl and asks for the number because being a man is about leading, taking initiative. But in Asian culture, it’s actually a turn-off if you are too strong in your approach. There’s a preference for cutesier things, such a nervousness, being shy, and very considerate. No one really wants a guy who seems too experienced or like he’s been with a lot of women.
For example, let’s say I approached a girl in New York City. To stand out, I would talk her up and exude confidence through eye contact and my actions. But in Asian culture, it’s better for the guys to come off as more shy and not seem pros at picking up girls. Monogamy seems more important than just a guy with 10 million girls chasing him, which I think makes the dating process more meaningful instead of it feeling like a race to instant gratification.
Ultimately, in America, you often hear the words “sexy” and “Asian male” in the same sentence due to stereotypes. Just the fact that I can look online and see videos like “Asian boy gets white girl” or a series entitled, “Would you ever date an Asian guy?” proves that. Part of that is due to the fact that there isn’t much representation of strong Asian American men who are successful, outside of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, which can really cause you to grow up feeling alienated because there aren’t many men who look like you.
That’s why I try to do everything I can to share my perspective and push people to realize that Asian American men are more than the limited stereotypes people place upon us.