Sunday, August 22, 2010

Asian-American men get shafted even in literature

I've been participating in a heated debate over the performative contradictions in Asian-American female activism on BigWoWo. One of the commenters went on a search to find literature where the protagonist and love interest of the story is an Asian-American male. His findings are appalling, yet not all that surprising to say the least. Here, take a look!

From the Meet Asian American Authors book list from Amazon
The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y. K. Lee
Based in: WWII Hong Kong
Male protagonist: British White Male
Love interest: White female/Euroasian female
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See
Based in: Olden days China
Male protagonist: None (Though there are abusive Chinese Husbands)
Female protagonist: Chinese females
Soon to be made to a film directed by Wayne Wang (Joy Luck Club 2)
Pearl of China: A Novel by Anchee Min
Based in: Cultural Revolution China
Two female protagonists
Antagonists are Chinese males
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
No male protagonist/love interests?
Mainly about a rough childhood.
,b>Dragon Bones: A Red Princess Mystery (Red Princess Mysteries) by Lisa See
Based in: Modern China
Male Protagonist/love interest: White American Male
Female Protagonist: Chinese Female
Petals From The Sky by Mingmei Ye
Based in: China/US
Male Protagonist/love interest: White American Male
Female Protagonist: Chinese Female
Good Things by Mia King
Male Protagonist/love interest: White American Male
Female Protagonist: White American Female
Only Uni (The Sushi Series, Book 2) by Camy Tang
Based in: US
Male Protagonist/love interest: White American Male?
Antagonist: Creepy Asian American Male (but attractive?)
Female Protagonist: Asian American Female
My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
Based in: Japan/US
Male Protagonist/love interest: Older White American Male
Antagonist: Japanese Male
Female Protagonist: Asian American Female, Asian Female
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
Amy Tan: No need for explanation here.
Sweet Life by Mia King
Male Protagonist/love interest: White American Male
Female Protagonist: White American Female
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Amy Tan Classic - The quintessential example of how to throw all Asian-American men under the bus.
Kira-Kira (Newbery Medal Book) by Cynthia Kadohata
Based in: US
Children’s book, sounds quite beautiful though. No Asian guy bashing!!!! (I think)
Wild Ginger: A Novel by Anchee Min
Based in: Cultural Revolution China
Male Protagonist/love interest: Chinese Male who turns Antagonist
Female Protagonist: Euroasian Female
The Last Empress: A Novel by Anchee Min
Based in: Ancient China
Male Protagonist/love interest:: None, but a lot of pathetic Chinese Males
Female Protagonist: Chinese Female (To be fair, Tzu Hsi is probably judged a lot harder by Ancient Chinese historians because she was a woman ruler, the men during those times have probably done a lot worse).
Unaccustomed Earth: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short stories that deals with a range of issues.
NO white saviors from what I have read.
The Space Between Us: A Novel ( Deckle Edge ) (P.S.) by Thrity Umrigar
Based in India. Indian female/Indian male?
The Namesake (movie tie-in edition) by Jhumpa Lahiri
Male protagonist: Indian American male
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Various characters, but no Asian Male?
Itsuka by Joy Kogawa
Fight for compensation for Japanese-Canadian internments.


  1. I don't know what you hope to achieve by looking for this stuff. Confirmation bias is a very powerful thing.

  2. Somebody else was curious if he could find some literature where Asian men are the protagonist and love interest of the story whether it be intra or interracial relationships. I'm still actively seeking out literature where Asian men are the lead.

    I didn't go actively seeking a "confirmation bias" so before you go on making false accusations towards me I suggest you get your facts straight.

  3. I wasn't making an accusation. I was just stating an observation. I've seen plenty of novels with Asian male protagonists. And just like novels with female characters, the author tends to be the same gender as the male protagonist. So you just need to look. People write what they know, so it's no surprise when a woman writes about women or men about men. I don't get offended when white authors only write about whites. That just what they know.

  4. Confirmation bias isn't something we actively create. No one wants to be biased. They just are in some cases. It works on an unconscious level. Do I think you actively sought to look for books with only female protagonists? No. But even when you have been confronted with statistics that say that intermarriage rates between AMERICAN-born Asians are similar, you refute them. So that is confirmation bias. Based on people's environment, experiences, they can have a very skewed perception of reality. Because not everyone's experience is representative of the real world at large. Maybe their town or school, but not the WHOLE world. Of course, one can't dismiss their experiences if they were objective. But it's important to be open and recognize that your experience does not define the whole Asian American male experience. Everyone has different experiences, so just be open to that. Everyone thinks that they know society. But most people hang out with those of the same class and background. Our environment is self-selected. Our friends/associates are self-selected.

  5. Now, why are there more Asian women/white male couples than AM/WF couples? Because there are more Asian women, PERIOD, in the U.S. Why? Due to mail order brides, military brides, international marriages, adoptees, etc. Plus, aborting female babies is not as common in the U.S., so there are more Asian girls being born per capita when compared to Asia. If you go to Asia, there are strong gender disparities, especially in China where abortion of female babies is a common practice. This has been going on for a long time. That's why there are more boys than girls in school. Too many couples want a son due to pressure from their parents, society, etc. This is going to be exacerbated in the future when Chinese males will find great difficulty finding a bride, period, because there just won't be enough Chinese women to date. Even if all the Chinese women dated Chinese men, there would not be enough because too many will have been sent overseas to be adopted or aborted. Yes, there are Asian women who will not date Asian men, but you have to consider other factors. Interracial dating isn't the big problem you see it as. Lack of females is. When the numbers of Asian males and females are equal in the U.S. and Asia, then we can see how much interracial dating affects the population. But when Asian women outnumber Asian men, it just makes no sense to blame them when there will be more couples, PERIOD, involving Asian women, interracial or not.

  6. Now, the marriage rates between foreign born Asian women and Asian men have a great disparity. Why? Because it is easier for immigrant women to find a native spouse than for an immigrant man. That's just reality. It's not unique to Asians, but all over the world. You can be angry about that. But that's practical. Men need to be established to an extent in society to find wives. Women to a lesser extent and that is why it is easier for poor women to marry rich men than vice versa. You can be angry about that, but that's just reality, not racial, just reality. That's also skewing the numbers to a great extent.

  7. @jstele,

    Do you think that the lack of display of Asian-American men in media, entertainment, advertisements and literature has minimal to zero impact on AM's social acceptance and desirability?

  8. @jstele,

    There are times when I can concede to your arguments and grudgingly agree with you, but what you just stated there makes absolutely-no-fucking-sense. Stay on the topic!

    This isn't about issues arising from China. We're talking about Asian-AMERICAN issues; the dating IR disparity between Asian-American males vs females. Why are you obfuscating the issue at hand by adding in another variable into the mix?

    Don't try to explain the IR disparity by statistically engineering some reason in order to warrant your baseless, futile argument. I could agree with some of the assertions that you've made in the past but now you're just being wholeheartedly asinine.

  9. Well, I think the media influences as well as is a reflection of the social mindset. However, I do believe that the media is behind the actual U.S. population as I have come across many black and white and, of course, Asian women who are into Asian men. I just think this kind of thinking reinforces the mentality of victimhood. And I really don't think that is empowering, ultimately, for Asian men or women.

    What I have posted IS relevant to the topic. Because the number of Asian women in the population RELATIVE to the number of Asian men DOES make a DIFFERENCE. If there are more Asian women than Asian men, then there will be more interracial AF couples. China and other Asian countries do make an impact as Asian men do not strictly date women from the U.S. The dating pool for any single person is as wide as the world is. I know lots of Asian women who marry overseas in Asia, so then there will be less of them to marry in the U.S. You must seriously be in denial if you do not acknowledge the fact that marriage migrants affect the rate of interracial AF unions. White men are BRINGING OVER Asian women who they have already married or are sending over for mail order brides.

    "In other words, 1 out 2 American-born Asian women outmarry, 2 out of 5 American-born Asian men do the same; that’s not a huge difference and certainly showers cold water on the overheated idea that Asian women are “abandoning their people” in droves. Sex has little to do with it; generation is a far more powerful indicator."


    So they are saying that 50% of Asian American women as opposed to 40% of Asian American men are getting married to people of a different race. That's just a 10% difference.

  10. I've made a comment to Jstele's view on IR, so I won't repeat it here.


    As to the booklist, All I did was type "Asian American authors" into the booklist search and clicked on the first list. So I wasn't LOOKING for this result, in fact I was overly optimistic in the beginning.

    So you've actually came across books written by Asian American female authors that have Asian American male as protagonist/love interests? Tell me the name of the book and I'll go get it (that was the whole point of doing that list). But please don't count Free Food for Millionaires as one though.

  11. jstele, stop your bullshitting, NOW. The sex ratio between Asian American males and females is essentially equivalent to the general US population.

  12. I want to comment on the list. Amazon list can be made up by anyone. This list was compiled by a white dude, so there is some biased.

    But still, the glaring evidence that even Asian American female author put white males as protagonist and love interest is indispustable.

  13. Starting with something positive today. The hunt for a new list. Let's get to it fellas!

  14. Bone by Fae Myenne Ng sounds pretty good.

    Oh yeah and thanks for making my list famous!(sort of)

  15. Read this for a change: Tomorrow When The War Began and the 7 book series it spawned - by Aussie author John Marsden

    Male Protagonist: Thai/Vietnamese-Australian Male
    Female Protagonist: Anglo-Aussie Female

  16. Not sure if you gave this guy permission to copy/use your work but thought you might want to read it just in case.

    I have an article on Asian men and white women books if you are interested. I don't like spammers so I won't leave my work here but it's not hard to find if you google it it's usually at the top.

  17. Jstele

    "So they are saying that 50% of Asian American women as opposed to 40% of Asian American men are getting married to people of a different race. That's just a 10% difference."

    Far more Asian women get married as compared to Asian men. The percentages on cohabitation are more telling. Although the percentages are similar the raw numbers of Asian women with non-Asian men (white men) are far higher.

    Yet another case of statistics being used and abused.


  19. What Jstele is saying is that once the biggest barrier to an Asian man in the U.S. is cultural rather than racial. If discrimination against Asian men were purely racial, then American-born Asian men would not be outmarrying at such high rates, rates that exceed that of even Black men.

    If every Asian-American man were American-born and every Asian-American woman were American-born, then the IR disparity wouldn't exist because roughly half of the Asian-American men and women would be dating/marrying non-Asians.


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