Statements in Search of Asian American Masculinity

Consider the fact that Leonard Chang wrote about a novel of his that was rejected by big-house publishers for not being “Asian enough.” As one editor told him…”You have to think about ways to make these characters more ‘ethnic,’ ‘more different…in the scene when [a character] looks into the mirror, you don’t show how she sees her slanted eyes, or how she thinks of her Asianness.” – FB post by Margie Andreason

I thought of replying: Yup, every day I look in the mirror and say “hello, slanty eyes” but some days I go “bonjour, gook” and on special days, “howdy you Jap” and I play some shamisen or biwa music, wrap my kimono around my yellow torso—no bathrobes for me—


on the days I’m seeing the Emperor, I strap on my samurai sword, band my top knot, and grunt like Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai


I do this even though my family has breathed in America more than a century


some days I look in the mirror, wonder, Who the hell is that? How did that face get here?


James Baldwin observed “we can only face in others what we can face in ourselves”


in Confessions of a Mask, when the young boy wraps himself in his mother’s kimono and scurries around the house shouting, “I’m Tenkatsu, the geisha magician!” he rams into his grandmother who stares at him like a being from another planet


can I really say, “I’m Tenkatsu, the geisha magician!” or even “I’m Toshiro Mifune?”


the racist ethnocentric spell check will not—on the first second third try—let me write his name


“Here’s one: How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. Excuse me, do you like Asian men?” Steve Harvey asked rhetorically. Then [in mock Asian accent], “No. Thank you.”

“How to Date a Black Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. Same thing.”

“You like Asian men?” he asked again and imitates a Black woman. “I don’t even like Chinese food, boy. It don’t stay with you no time. I don’t eat what I can’t pronounce.”

Harvey then doubled over in laughter.


“…every Asian American man knows what the dominant culture has to say about us. We count good, we bow well, we are technologically proficient, we’re naturally subordinate, our male anatomy is the size of a thumb drive and we could never in a thousand millenniums be a threat to steal your girl.

…the one stereotype that I still mistakenly believe at the most inopportune bedroom moments…is that women don’t want Asian men…we just don’t have the ingredients.

…I told myself that it was all a lie, but the structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world.

—Eddie Huang, New York Times


Eddie Huang: Lawyer, world class chef. Author of the bestselling memoir F.O.B. made into a hit television series. Travels the world on Huang’s World for Vice. Clothing designer. Worked on the Innocent Project, President of the Minority Law Students Association, Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at Cardozo School of Law.

Most likely it was Eddie’s New York Times opinion piece that made Steve Harvey apologize, which he clearly did not want to do.


Eddie was hurt by Steve Harvey’s insults.


Eddie can be faulted on issues of racism & misogyny


“Fanon’s psychoanalytic mode of analysis…the Black American experience which Huang seeks to emulate. Arguably, the Black male gangsta rap persona who flaunts his bling and is sexually promiscuous with a range of women, including White women, is a grotesque parody of and reaction against wealthy, White America whose social respectability masks the dark underbelly of class domination and sexual violence against women of color…

So, too, with Huang’s adoption of a hip hop influenced persona, and several discussions of how male Asian action stars “never get pussy” in his memoirs…Huang’s attitudes in regard to women becomes a theme running through Huang’s work, as in his constant reference to “shawties” (which, by the way, Urban Dictionary defines as a “fine ass woman” for those unfamiliar with the term, as I was)…his general tendency toward performed radicalism.”

Fresh Off the Boat & the Limits of Cultural Representation,” blog of Brian Hioe


Question: Critique the above critique starting with its ignorance of Black culture,

Question: What do Eddie Huang and Brian Hioe have in common?


In Passage to India another Aziz
did not read properly the perilous colonial cunilinguistic signals

a strange place for his latter doppelganger
meeting hunger with dinner at Le Bon Plaisir and his dictatorial choice

of wine and did he come on grossly with his porn moves
as consent’s the issue when non-consent is not spoken

didn’t he know the symbolic screed of Empire:
Don’t touch the White Woman!




of the testicles or else



no one would talk to me for this piece

not just Katie Roiphe’s whisper network or White women

but anyone: after all my piece is about

Asian men and who wants to talk about them


Three White women in a bar:
“Buy us drinks…” cock-

tails in hand they quickly
walk away

which is how he learned:
Never buy White women drinks

if you look
like a rich gook


Cuckservative,” often shortened to “cuck,” is a term of abuse[1] formed as a portmanteau of the word cuckold and the political designation conservative.[2]

…The term cuckold has a long history as an insult implying that a specific man is weak and emasculated, and may even feel pleasure at his own humiliation. The term “cuckservative” similarly implies that certain Republicans are humiliated through their actions while feeling thrilled and excited from their own degradation because of the abandonment of their own moral standards.[3][16]


Thinking of the degree to which
I still think like a White man:

Am I afraid
Of losing America

To someone like


Elias Cannetti said that a great writer must be three things: First the writer must be unique, and this uniqueness comes from something which may very well be a distortion or defect in the writer’s character or sensibility, some aspect sharpened to an unlikely and unnatural acuity. Secondly, the writer must be against everything in her time. Thirdly, the writer must be for everything in her time.


Searched today for the source of that quotation in my notes. Could not find it.

The German woman artist I was infatuated with in Tokyo

knew Cannetti, described him as a “gentle soul”

She knew Bertolucci too, called him a “pimp”

I met Sontag in Tokyo at a panel where Torimitsu spoke

His soundtrack for Kurosawa’s Ran I played all that year writing

Or reading on the Ymanote-sen Proust Naipaul Oe Enchi

Five years later

Turning Japanese was reviewed on the cover of the New York Times

And I quickly fell

Into my present obscurity


Question: Why do Asians have small dicks?

Answer: They’re all women

(Special thanks to Louis C.K. who obviously holds

no problem with his dick).


In the article on pickup artists, the [anonymous Asian American]

“continues to lay out a story of Asian American male distress

relevant to those who have packed Master Krauss’s living room.

The story he tells

is one of Asian American disadvantage in the sexual marketplace. Yes,

it is about attracting those women whose hair

is the color of the midday sun and eyes the color of the ocean,

and it is about having sex with them. He

won’t 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:

the courage to pursue what you want, the skills

to make whom you desire desire you back…”


“White guys do what they want,” he proclaims, “why not me?”

(cause White guys are assholes?)


Reader I lied: I never took the seminar.

I am

the seminar


Huang had a rough twenties, bumping repeatedly against the Bamboo Ceiling. In college, editors at the Orlando Sentinel invited him to write about sports for the paper. But when he visited the offices, “the editor came in and goes, ‘Oh, no.’ And his exact words: ‘You can’t write with that face.’” Later, in film class at Columbia, he wrote a script about an Asian American hotdog vendor obsessed with his small penis. “The screenwriting teacher was like, ‘I love this. You have a lot of Woody Allen in you. But do you think you could change it to Jewish characters?’ ”


All I got out of the last paragraph: small dick


got to have a yellow woman if you’re a yellow man

short people have no reason to live


(I’ll have to pay Randy Newman for those lines)


Everything is about sex except

which is about power
—Oscar Wilde


a sentence for any
married couple


there is power in being


in knowing nobody sees

the things you see


“I pay attention to you because you matter, and if you ignore me, it’s because I don’t.”


The psychologist Dacher Keltner, who has studied the relationship between empathy and power, has written that while people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others—such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing—when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.’


about my relationship with my White wife:

someone observed

the one who makes more money

always feels

contempt for the other


In certain situations, the more articulate and educated I appear
—if I actually let loose full throttle my intellect and learning—

the more I risk being perceived a threat
in my Asian-looking face and body. I must pick

and choose when and where I let my intelligence and learning
show and to what degree…for they can, in an instant, be

perceived as uppity, arrogant, showing off. And if that happens,
the foreignness that is my face, my body, can be turned

to that of the outsider, the inscrutable threat, the one
who wants to take something from White America


The article’s title: “Should We Fear A.I.?”

Oh great, fear of Asian Intelligence.


I'm 43 now. I've been a performance poet since I was 16 or 17. In my early years, I was told by many people, some of them well meaning, that there was no “market” for Asian American men, writing about Asian American men. If I wanted to get published or be successful, I would need to find a way to write about or towards anyone except people like me. –(from my friend Bao Phi’s FB page)


Whether onscreen or in the popular imagination,

the Asian woman tends to fall into one of several predictable archetypes:

the evil temptress, obliging mistress, loyal servant,

fanatical tiger mom, ruthless overachiever. One of the pleasures

of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang: Creating a new


Chloe Kim, the teenage gold medal snowboarder from Southern California;

Mirai Nagasu, the first American female Olympic skater to execute a triple axel;

her teammate Maia Shibutani, who, in the ice-dance competition with brother, Alex,

helped capture the team bronze medal. Half

Team U.S.A.’s figure skaters are Asian American: How

the hell did this happen? asks the Trump voter. And how

did Kim Jong Un’s sister, that Northern Korean dragon lady, get so close

to our beloved Ivanka (oh white knight Jared, wherefore are thou?)


“Do you know Chloe Kim?

“Do you know Kim Jong Un?

“Do you know Mai and Alex Shibutani?

—Not exactly but they’re my cousin’s kids

“Well, I rest my case.


“Asians are the loneliest Americans,” Jay Caspian Kang wrote in a New York Times Magazine story about a death and the search for identity in an Asian American college fraternity. There is no solidarity, in Kang’s opinion, just a “cartoonish and blurry” sense of racial belonging. “Asian pride is a laughable concept to most Americans…A common past can be accessed only through dusty, dug-up things: the murder of Vincent Chin, Korematsu v. United States, the Bataan Death March, and the illusion that we are going through all these things together.”


dr david dao dragged down the United Air aisle
screaming “I have patients waiting”

and whether they believed him or not
some of his own people hate him

for saying his being dragged
was worse than escaping from Vietnam

[trans.: what a bourgeois fuck,
thinks he’s the model minority]


david dao is not an Asian American superhero

neither is

david mura

the raison d’etre of

this poem


The title of my memoir Turning Japanese

echoes the song

slapping some Brit slang

(for US readers: Picture slitted eyes

jerking off). So


Marc Hayashi

—star of Chan is Missing

once said to me

“Every culture needs its eunuchs

and we’re it.”


John Chu, dir. Crazy Rich Asians, writing to Coldplay to ask the rights to their song, “Yellow”:

I know it’s a bit strange, but my whole life I’ve had a complicated relationship with the color yellow. From being called the word in a derogatory way throughout grade school, to watching movies where they called cowardly people yellow, it’s always had a negative connotation in my life. That is, until I heard your song. For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways I had ever heard: the color of the stars, her skin, the love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made me rethink my own self image.



to have

a yellow woman if


a yellow man

Scroll to Top