Last month, Eddie Huang, author of “Fresh Off the Boat,” brought to our attention the full extent of just how harmful his misguided attempts at reclaiming Asian masculinity are. Self-appointed spokesman of his “big dick Asians” movement, Eddie seeks to oppose the racist emasculation of Asian men in a way that I can only see as counter-productive.
He’s mistaken from the start, conflating masculinity for misogyny, a rising trend among Asian Americans. The attempts of Huang and many other Asian American men attempts to reclaim their manhood all manifest through the objectification and conquest of women.
As a typically female-presenting Chinese person, I can’t believe the internalized racism and misogyny that I’ve faced from fellow Asian men. It all ranges from “Why do Asian girls only date white guys?” to ham-handed pick-up artists techniques that leave me cringing. I have to ask the question: Why are Asian men resorting to the definition of masculinity instilled by their oppressors?
Do not reinforce the docile Asian woman or abusive Asian husband stereotypes, and definitely do NOT incorporate anti-blackness and homophobia into your definition of “macho.” This is your chance to reclaim masculinity, guys – at least do it well.
But back to Huang. See, last month he got into a Twitter argument with notable black feminist Mia McKenzie. The exchanges between black and Asian communities have always been tenuous. Good at times, worse at others. It’s important to remember that as Asians, no matter our gender, we benefit from anti-blackness. (I’m looking at you, Eddie.)
McKenzie asked Huang to clarify a statement he made on Bill Maher, that “Asian men have been emasculated so much in America that we’re basically treated like Black women.”
He pointed to an OKCupid study showing that Asian men and black women were among the least desirable – a fair study, with truthful statistics – but what happened after the fact just blows me away. I expected misogyny from Eddie Huang, but from a self-proclaimed lover of hip hop/”the struggle,” I never expected this.
After he got to explain side, all McKenzie did was explain why what he said was problematic and ask for an apology. Now, I’m siding with McKenzie here, but even if I weren’t, there are ways to disagree respectfully and this is not it. This is a thinly veiled sexist pass.
Rightfully, both non-black people of color and the black community were quick to call him out.
(For the full conversation, click here)
Finally, a takeaway lesson we could all learn from this (besides that performing masculinity as misogyny is definitely a misguided attempt to redefine men) is that we need to be more aware of anti-blackness in our communities. I was wary of Eddie’s hip hop-drenched persona from the start (how are you gonna act like you’re about that life when your fame comes from media about you growing up in a suburban white neighborhood?). As a collective community, we need to be more aware about calling out problematic and high-profile people.
I care about all the Asian men that feel lesser because of a feminized Asian narrative, but I’m starting to question if they care for me. I’m starting to wonder if they care for anything aside from their own struggle.
How does it feel, Eddie, to have the Asian community not back you up? This is a warning to future “big dick Asians”: We do not tolerate misogyny. We do not tolerate your efforts to set back our path towards solidarity.