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Asian men in the world of online dating
Have you ever wondered who might be having the most difficulty with online dating? It turns out that Asian men have run into more online dating issues than any other demographic when it comes to dating on platforms like Tinder or OKCupid.
Unlike Asian women, who are so sought after in online dating that there are entire dating markets devoted to connecting men with women of Asian descent, Asian men can barely scratch the surface of online dating. Often ignored or bluntly shown a lack of interest, it is a real issue for them.
However, why might this be the case? Where did this sort of difference originate from? Is there anything people can do to improve the situation?
In this article, we will be exploring the reality that Asian men face with online dating, exploring the emasculating stereotypes they face on a daily basis. We will look at the roots of these stereotypes, how they are perpetuated online, and the effect that has had on real people.
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It’s a struggle that they have wrestled with well before the advent of online dating and recognizing the roots of this situation for its harmful impact on a large demographic of people is important for the effort of moving away from negative biases.
Emasculating stereotypes and the impact leftover
Stereotypes are harmful beliefs that plague all groups of people, negatively influencing the opinions of others toward them and other individuals like them. At its most base, it is a means for grouping people into categories of “Us” and “them”, resulting in a hierarchy that puts the recipient below.
Stereotyping can be done in seemingly innocuous ways, ranging from presumptions of a person’s skills or habits to transforming that person into a social pariah and justifying it based on the beliefs in these stereotypes. Even innocent and minor stereotypes can have damaging effects on people.
Like many stereotypes, although not all, the ones that Asian men face on a day-to-day basis are steeped in racial assumptions that demean them into objects of ridicule, scorn, and aversion. And like all stereotypes, these stem from historically racist beliefs, misunderstandings, and differences.
These differences can develop in a confrontation of cultures as one meets and categorizes the others’ looks, habits, lifestyle, and values. Over time, these categorizations can develop into passively held beliefs that inform a person of another demographic’s characteristics, habits, and flaws.
For Asian men, these have developed from a history of depicting Asian men via television, film, and even war propaganda as disadvantaged when compared to other men from other racial or cultural demographics.
There are several stereotypes which stand out when considering the negative depiction and, in turn, view of Asian men, but none are as impactful to Asian men when they are engaging with online dating as is the stereotype of the emasculated Asian male.
The emasculated Asian male is depicted as a weak, effeminate male counterpart to typically western, white men, although other races are used in this comparison. Whether it is a portrayal as being physically weak or emotionally erratic, Asian men have historically been emasculated in film and TV.
This doesn’t mean that all stereotypes are negative on the surface. Take for example the current stereotype of Asian men as smart, competent and hard-working. While this may same complementary, it also pigeon-holes them to unrealistic standards.
Taken further, they are also vilified as being too smart, too focused on academics, and even so one-dimensional in their studying that they are utterly lacking in personal skills. In turn, because they are so focused on intelligence, they are physically weak and emotionally fragile.
This has been a representation of Asian men in films that have dehumanized them into a range of simple stereotypes, such as the bucktoothed Mr. Yunioshi and his “Engrish” accent in the 1961 Audrey Hepburn movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which was intended to mock Asian men.
Other depictions include the 1984 film “Sixteen Candles” character Long Duk Dong, who demonstrated many stereotypes in the film that persist today, including his being socially awkward and difficult to understand while also being lecherous but a sexually inept loser.
These depictions of Asian men as being less masculine than their non-Asian counterparts has seeped into the subconscious beliefs of many non-Asian, and even Asian, people. Couple their emasculated stereotype with the belief that they have small penises, and these values become expected of them.
Ultimately, these stereotypes have developed into a blanket understanding of East Asian men as less sexually attractive compared to other men. This results in Asian men being overlooked and frequently consciously avoided on dating apps and dating websites.
A history of cultural tropes
In the beginning of the last century or so, Asian men were perceived as illiterate, undesirable, and full of filth and disease, ultimately being believed to be unassimilable into Western culture. Asian men were in turn seen as marginal members of humanity, being segregated into ethnic groups.
Coupled with the misrepresentation in Hollywood film and television, Asian men struggled to gain a more favorable position in Western society that would challenge these negative stereotypes. In turn, Asian countries sent the highly educated into Western countries, feeding into the smart stereotype.
The end effect has been that Asian men have struggled with a combination of both positive and negative stereotypes that have placed societal, physical, and psychological expectations on their behaviors and talents.
But where does this lead the many Asian men who struggle with these stereotypes?
The answer is, unfortunately, facing a myriad of troubles, ranging from issues of self-confidence and pressure to succeed, to barriers in careers that feel they lack leadership skills even if they may be intelligent. And in dating, it leaves many Asian men feeling undesirable and emasculated.
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Confronting issues of self-confidence and rejections
As we have pointed out, confronting dating rejection can be difficult, especially when you are simultaneously tackling the root of these rejections stemming from stereotypes. It is a clash against deep-seated beliefs concerning masculinity, race, and sexual attractiveness.
The result is a mix of negative emotions wherein Asian men find themselves feeling unattractive, failing to live up to other, normative ideals of masculinity. They become self-conscious of their looks and sexual prowess, and it becomes a double blow as rejections fuel further negativity.
But there has been a response to this kind of attitude, as Asian men begin to recognize their own identity and embrace who they are. It begins with rejecting stereotypes and offensive categorizations and being happy with who you are, and moving toward alternative masculine values.
Pushing for change and broadening horizons
One of the most effective ways in which Asian men have confronted this stereotyping is to find alternative role models in film and television who stand out against traditional stereotypes. These are men who embody positive, non-stereotyped personas that encourage and build confidence.
By moving away from a self-critical view which only invites similar viewpoints into your life, Asian men have found role models that build their dating self-confidence. They have begun to look for Asian men in positions of leadership and guidance and have shifted their definitions of masculinity.
The challenge lies with how ingrained these stereotypes are within a given culture, and to how much effort it will take to remove them from the broader socio-cultural imagination. As more awareness and education grows, however, the power that these stereotypes hold over us will begin to wane.