Fu Man “Who?” – Understanding The Complex Emotions Of Being An Asian-American Man

In a lot of ways our computers, video games, and homework have all been a great distraction for us Asian Men. A porcelain tub we lean back in with eyes closed, dunking our cold and pale bodies as the water blurs our vision and capsizes our eardrums till we can’t hear or see the outside world’s bullshit. We log in, check out, and let all the voices of society silence themselves to sleep while we level up our way to emotional bliss. We escape the pain.

Asian guys are nerds who stay on the computer all the time.

AngryAsianMan-Laptop

I hate watching American sitcoms, they so rarely reflect the families us Asians grew up with. Most of us Whiz Kids were crafted in a factory that churned out star children; PhD machines who studied and calculated their way to an American dream that wasn’t even ours, but our parents’. It isn’t the dream we wanted but we still did it. Robots aren’t trained to think or decide for themselves. If you aren’t taught to value your own opinions and aspirations then what use is there in having feelings of your own? Feelings get you in trouble because feelings get in the way of The American Dram. You can’t do that.

My Asian ex-boyfriend never opened up to me.

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Asian American boys: the bastards of America. Our fathers are off on different shores in distant countries with wives and kids we never met, or up to their necks in TsingTao till their eyes turn red, or buried under a hundred other “gook” bodies that litter the the soils of the Korean and Vietnam War. So you take these fatherless children and expect them to become men yet you deny them the opportunity to see any Asian father figure on the T.V screen they’re cemented in front of. The screens they spend hours and hours in front of. To America it’s a mirror but to us it’s a screen that doesn’t look back. We keep looking but we still can’t find ourselves.

Why are Asian guys so weak and timid? They need to man up!

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What happens inside those tiny glowing screens? Like the sight of a thousand Chinese railroad workers hammering a steel nail into the ground the American message is simple and repeated over and over through caricatures and violent acts of racism: your father was no man, you are no man, and your kids will never be a man. Go home, little boy. You do not belong in the land of giants. Your voice does not matter because your voice isn’t loud enough.

This Asian guy I like won’t tell me if he likes me back. Why isn’t he speaking to me?

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The problem with being an Asian American Man is that you are stuck at a fork in the road but you’ve been told to stay still: while America tugs on your sense of identity and masculinity you want to push back and voice your concerns. But how do you teach a group of men to SPEAK UP when they were raised to politely raise their hands? How do you untangle these robot wires and let these men feel? We may ace and code our way to a middle-class but given the open floor beneath our feet where no one is willing to see us– not Asian women, not other men, not even Asians from Asia – what difference does it make what we think? It’s like we’re still on that railroad pounding away at the ground. This is our life.

I give up on Asian Men. 

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Asian Men are a complex and intricate group of individuals. Our own mental and emotional struggles are folded under our pillow by our unrelenting desire to succeed. To prove our worth to our parents that we can do it. That their efforts to cross those seas were not in vain. Dad, I can do it. Mom, I’ll make you proud. But when the the duty of your family pulls us to the right, the hunger to find our own identity yanks to the left, societal pressure drags us down, and the women who love us want us to stand up, we are bound to rip apart like a paper doll being fed into a room with paper shredders on all four walls.

I don’t understand Asian Men.

And you never will…

Because we don’t understand either.

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The Asian “I Love You”: When His ‘I Love You’ Is Different From Yours

I guess you could call me lucky.

DAT HAIR GAME DOE

DAT HAIR GAME DOE

Growing up, I was an incredibly tame yet cheerful child. I’m willing to wager that this was due to my close bond with my Mom. Even to this day, she’ll ask me to sit on her lap like some 160 lb man-child while she recollects stories from my childhood. The struggles we went through when our family immigrated and what a blessing I was in her life. Most importantly, she said and still says: I love you – and I’ll say it back.

I guess you could call me lucky because when you compare my warm upbringing to the one other Asian Americans and Asians experienced, like a debate over which is better, Pho or Ramen, the two are total opposites:

You could brush it off and say, well, that’s the culture! They say I love you in different ways! True. Very true. But when you’re an Asian American man dating interracially and your wife is, say, African American or Latina American and they are used to expressing their appreciation and love in a most verbose way, using carefully chosen words to convey their emotions, where does the Asian “I love you” factor into it all? What happens when verbal and non-verbal “I love you’s” collide?

"What the hell, man! Why didn't she swoon over my cover of Maxwell? I KNEW I should have given the final rose to the Black chick with the natural hair!!"

“What the hell, man! Why didn’t she swoon over my cover of Maxwell? I KNEW I should have given the final rose to the Black chick with the natural hair!!”

Each and every one of us regardless of culture or gender all possess a unique set of love languages: ways that we feel love. For many Asian cultures, love is shown through gifts and actions. That’s probably why the parents of your Asian boyfriend of 2 years haven’t said they love you but they always bring over food or give you plastic bags filled free slippers or apples. Random gestures that, in your western mind, may mean nothing but, to them, mean everything.

"Bai Li, I bought this Physics book at the garage sale so you can prepare for 3rd grade! WHAT? Not Interested?! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!!!"

“Bai Li, I bought this Physics book at the garage sale so you can prepare for 3rd grade! WHAT? Not Interested?! YOU DON’T LOVE ME!!!”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Western love: it’s shown through words and touch. Peek your head into any sleezy nightclub and you’ll definitely see guys wording and touching their way into a girl’s heart via “let me touch your boobs.” See where things get complicated? See why interracial dating in the AMXF landscape can be so difficult? The way a person demonstrates love is often the method they expect to see it returned. A kiss for a kiss, not a kiss for a bag of persimmons.

So tonight, ladies and gentleman, when you go to bed next to your Asian boyfriend or Latina American girlfriend, make sure you show your love in a way they can understand. Be it a foot rub, a surprise cookie from Ms. Fields, whispers of sweet nothings into their ear, or a gentle kiss on the cheek. And maybe then they’ll close their eyes, kiss you back and think to themselves…

“How did I get so lucky?”

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K-Pop Changed My Life: How K-Pop Taught Me How To Be Asian American

In many ways, K-Pop has changed my life.

HOW

You see, K-Pop isn’t just a plate of abs that look like inverted ice cube trays or ridiculously stylish dudes singing god knows what. To me, it means more. To us, the Asian American community, it means much, much more. The arrival of K-Pop on American shores serves as a watershed moment in which Asian Americans were finally able to look down into a puddle of airbrushed idols and superstars and ask themselves…

Is that… me? Is that what I look like? Is that… who I really am?

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Growing up I never had Asian action figures. Mine were always beefy White men with marble sized eyes and noses shaped like arrowheads. I idolized the manliness of Don Draper from Mad Men and wished I were as tall and beautiful as Adam Levine. But I never thought about it from a racial point of view. I didn’t have to question it because I just accepted it. Because that was just what men looked like. That is what the hero looked like. That is what a masculine, sexy man did: he rappelled down a building, all 6 foot 2 of himself, and saved the day with his super White self. And I loved it.

So when K-Pop came around I was confused. I wasn’t used to seeing Asian people in such high production videos and films. I wasn’t used to them taking off their shirt, or kissing other women, or acting sexy. That’s not an Asian Guy! Where’s the Kung-Fu? Where’s his calculator? He’s the sidekick of some taller White guy – where that guy? Is this a mistake? It must be a mistake! To see nothing but effeminate Asian Men growing up was quite damaging. I saw it all and wondered if I was destined to be half a man, but what made it worse was the rest of the country seemed to agree.

AGA

It’s funny. If you look at this blog and go back far enough, you will arrive at a place where there are no photos of Asian Men or K-Pop stars. You know why? That’s before I knew about K-Pop. And why did that suddenly change to a bright splash of yellow? Simple: When I discovered K-Pop and realized the endless supply of people who looked like me, in non-stereotypical ways, with emotions and expressions and styles that represented who I was, I made a promise to use nothing but Asian Men in my photos. I don’t plan on going back either.

"Go back? BISHHH, SWERVE!"

“Go back? BISHHH, SWERVE!”

In all honesty, I actually dislike most K-Pop music. Not because of something inherent about Korean Pop, but I just hate most Pop in general. I’m more of a Jazz Man. Nevertheless, I will be forever grateful for those dancing and singing machines half-way around the world because for the first time in my life, they made me feel like I was something more. More than just a side-kick, more than just an owner of a Dry Cleaners, more than just a caricature. I can be the hero who rappels down the building, all 5 foot 7 (and a half!) of myself to save my girlfriend from a sneezing cold or my career from spiraling into an expected heap of Nursing, Engineering, or Accounting.

K-Pop changed my life, and the lives of many Asian Americans, not because it gave us a new standard, a new identity to aspire to…

K-Pop changed our lives because it wiped the white tile clean, painted it yellow, and said, “here… now it’s your turn.”

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The Main Reason Why Interracial Dating Is Taking So Long To Catch On

We 2014’ers all know the feeling.

You’re downloading something and the progress window pops up: 5 minutes remaining.

DA F*CK?! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS BULLSHIT!

Gaksital Kang To Crying

“HIGH SPEED INTERNET MY ASS!”

You stop the download, delete it, and spend another 20 minutes finding a faster download. But remember when you downloaded a SINGLE song from Napster and it took damn near a full day? Perhaps that’s the symptom of living a high-speed life: once you hit 90 mph you expect everything – from the time it takes to get an even, orange-julius shade skin tan to your quest to find 1-minute ramen noodles that cook in 55 seconds  – to go just as fast. Once you go fast, you can’t go back. Our impatience also extends beyond the microwave (the one in your kitchen and in the tanning salon) and into the world of Interracial Dating.

Every so often I’ll hear someone bicker about why Asian Men haven’t stepped and sped up in the American dating game. It’s like we’re in the Olympics of dating and love making and our coach, aka, society, is egging us on to flirt and fuck faster. “You call that a thrust?! THRUST THOSE PALE THINGS! THRUST! THRUST!”

"OH GOD! MY ASS IS CRAMPING! IS THIS NORMAL?!"

“OH GOD! MY ASS IS CRAMPING! IS THIS NORMAL?!”

Now, I could do to your brain what Anton Chigurh did to his victims’ foreheads in “No Country for Old Men” with my bare knowledge on why it’s taking Asian Men so long to step up their dating game, but I think we need to discuss an even bigger issue. One that I think is impacting the Interracial Dating progress of not only Asian Men, but Black Men and Women, and *gasp* White Men as well.

Time

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Do you know how long it took to see an Asian guy get some action on T.V? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY SLEEPLESS NIGHTS WE’VE WAITED?!

Perhaps you need a refresher but the legalization of Interracial Marriage via Loving v. Virginia happened just shy of 50 years ago. It’s been 50 years and we’re BARELY starting to see Interracial Relationships gain visibility in the media. And even in those instances there’s still hostility against a goddamn Cheerios commercial. So if we can’t even get a collective “hell yea!” for the poster-child of Interracial Dating in America (Black and White couples) then how the hell can we expect faster progress for Asian Men and Non-Asian Women (AMXF)? Why are we in such a rush to raise our crosses and crusade towards the “Asian Men need to man the f*ck up and start asking Black/White/Latina women out on dates” cause when we can’t even get Black and White couples comfortably settled in?

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Now, this isn’t to say that we should get lazy and stop our push towards a better, more confident Asian Man who isn’t afraid to make some Blasian Super Babies by the dozens, but we should be patient. This isn’t an iTunes song we’re downloading, this is social, racial progress. We have made great strides within these past few years but it will take even more time. And that’s a reality many of us find difficult to digest. To know that, sometimes, progress in life will take much longer than the 5 minutes it takes to buffer Grand Theft Auto 5.

So be patient, my Asian Man-loving, Interracial Dating brothers and sisters. I want to see that Blasian Super Baby society just as bad as you do but we need to chill out and let time take its course. Hell, it might even take another ten, thirty, or fifty years.

But Ranier, what should I do till then?!”

THRUST! THRUST!

"Time to lube up!"

“Time to lube up!”

This Is Why You’re Single: “I Can’t Date Someone Outside My Culture – They Won’t Understand Me!”

You know that strange sixth sense you get when you can feel all the eyes in a room watching you? Like a giant spider peering into your soul, the room grows silent and all you can hear are a thousand eyeballs moving as you think to yourself, “goddamn, what the HELL are you all looking at?!” I knew I was the only Filipino in that Vietnamese restaurant, but damn, did I look that out of place? Then I realized something: they weren’t looking at me – they were looking at my girlfriend…

My Black girlfriend.

But I’ll get back to that story in just a minute…

One of the laziest excuses I hear from people uninterested in interracial relationships is their need to satisfy their culture. “How can I date a non-Indian man? What about my culture? How will he like my food?” “But, I’m a Black woman! There are things that only a Black man can understand about being Black and I need that in my Black life! How the hell can an Asian man understand what I’ve been through?!” “Aye dios mio! Yo soy Mexicana! Esta chino? PORQUE, NO!”

I get it. I really do. You value your heritage and your connection with your culture is so tight not even a TSA agent with a latex glove and a bottle of Astroglide can get through. You know your religion and interests are important so you feel like dating someone of the same background will be easy. A stress free relationship where you don’t have to explain why you do the things you do to a person who, in your mind, simply cannot understand “your people.”

“OMG like how can I date a guy who won’t understand my passion for corny Bollywood films? I AM NOT WATCHING IT WITH SUBTITLES!!”

But you’re wrong.

Since when have ANY of your damn relationships been easy? Most of the shittiest relationships I’ve been with were Asian women themselves who I shared the exact same culture and heritage with. The problem with the culture argument is that it assumes all relationship problems exist for culture reasons when truthfully, it’s almost always a personal issue.

Many moons ago I dated a Filipino girl who had a Filipino mom, Japanese dad, she ate rice and liked listening to R&B slow jams – basically your standard Asian girl. Unfortunately, she cheated on me and my 14 year old self was overly jealous. It was an epically disastrous relationship equivalent to Satan shitting on the Hindenburg just as it fell from the sky. But guess what? All of those reasons had nothing to do with our culture, it had everything to do with her infidelity and my insecurity.

“It’s OVER, Tyler! I don’t care if you slept with my grandmother! How could you NOT like the Red Sox and Mayonnaise as much as I do?!”

Now ask yourself this: does the success of a relationship truly hinge on whether or not your boyfriend likes Salsa dancing? Will your relationship crumble if he doesn’t know how to properly roll a Pierogi and shop for deli meats for your Russian family? Is he less of a man because he can’t fully understand the struggles of being a Black woman in modern society? Will you care for and love him less because he can’t speak your native language?

No.

“I’m sorry, ridiculously chiseled and immaculately styled Asian Man that is making me hot and heavy, I can’t date a man that hasn’t even attended a single Barmitzvah! GO AWAY, COMMIE!”

Believe it or not, culture can be taught. We as humans can learn to adopt and learn to understand and learn how to cook the way your grandmother does. Those are things you can teach a man. But honesty, loyalty, a sense of humor, a taste for an unexpected road trip or a passion for corny scary movies? THAT is something you cannot teach. Those are the beliefs that make your relationship great. Those are the true values that erect the foundation for a healthy love that lasts. If you can find those key qualities in a man and he just so happens to be Asian, or Black, or Sri Lankan, why not go for it? Why let that ONE thing get in the way of an amazing relationship?

When I sat in that Vietnamese restaurant earlier today, with all eyes on my girlfriend as she masterfully rolled and ate Banh Xeo with all the veggies and fish sauce intact, I completely forgot that she was Black. All I cared about was, damn, my baby got skills. She may not look Asian or have experienced life as an Asian, but she’s willing to understand my life and my interests while also teaching me hers. Because at the end of the day I didn’t choose her for her culture or heritage, I chose her for her heart, her mind, and our shared love affair for trying something new.

Culture does not define you – you define it.

 

Asian Culture Tips For Non-Asian Girls: How To Do The Asian Head Bow

I get a lot of fan mail from my blog readers about how much they love Asian culture. They talk about how much of the Korean language they’re learning in class, and how good they are at chopsticks. Up front I congratulate them but deep down in the center of my cold Asian heart — where my future Tiger Father will soon flourish — I want to *politely and gently* slap them with all my might.

“Go away. I’m allergic to Weeaboos”

You see, Asian culture really isn’t that difficult to understand. Whether you’re a pro at it or you can’t tell the difference between Kimchi and Toyota, I have a handful of easy tips to place into your non-Asian bag of tricks. First things first…

Learn The Asian Head Bow!

Obama rockin’ the Asian head bow like a champ.

You know how in movies whenever an Asian businessman meets an American businessman for the first time there’s always that awkward handshake scene? Yea, don’t even try to bow to your hot Asian date. Why? First off, most younger Asian guys don’t even do that kind of bow and second, it would come off as racist if you do it to him.

How It’s Done:

In most cases, 15 degrees is perfect. Anything more and you better be meeting the president of Taiwan or Kim Jong Un.

1. Position your body like you’re ready to bow down

2. Bend from your neck/upper chest — kinda like you’re nodding your head.

3. Bend down only about 15-20 degrees.

4. You can maintain eye contact while bowing down if you want. If not, no biggie.

 

Why You Should Do It:

“I like my girls curvy, tan skinned, and raised to respect their elders!”

The Asian head bow is something that no one has ever instructed me to do, I just do it because I see other Asians do it. It’s basically a casual way of saying, “I acknowledge you and I respect you” — or whatever kinda of zen bullshit you wanna come up with. It’s essentially the non-verbal equivalent of saying thank you and can be used towards anyone.

When To Do It/To Whom:

If all else fails and you can’t score with your Asian date, bowing to the cute Asian waiter might catch his attention! YOU NEVER KNOW!!

Whenever you’re engaging in some sort of business transaction: paying the cashier at the bookstore, giving your credit card to your waitress, or thanking the Sushi Chef after you leave the restaurant, make it a point to do the head bow. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose spectacle that requires precise timing and background music — you just do it. It’s quick and simple, much like a head-nod or a thumbs up. You especially do this towards older Asian people.

 

How You Can F*ck It Up:

lulz

Timing, intensity, and location are key. You can’t bow too slowly or else you’ll look like you’re seeking attention, nor can you bow too low or you’ll just look like those awkward Americans who doesn’t know jack shit about Asian culture. Additionally, you shouldn’t just do it any damn time you like or you might run the risk of coming off socially awkward.

It should merely be the cherry on top — not the entire goddamn ice cream itself. So relax… it’s not that difficult.

What You Should Learn From The Racism Against Lorde/James Lowe

I think I’ve come to a point in time where racist tweets, journalism, and overall bigotry isn’t just common, it’s expected. I’ve learned to accept the fact that as an Asian-American in the 21st century we are not welcome at the table of America. We do not sit at the same table, we do not eat the same food, and we certainly don’t go back home and share the same stories. Our narrative is different because our experiences are different. We are different because America makes us feel like we are.

But one of the beauties of being a minority is that although we sit on different sides of the room, away from the rest of white America, we can relate to the struggles of our Asian brothers and sisters from afar: UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, and anywhere else we’ve managed to call home. And although our problems may be different in many ways (job discrimination, racially motivated violence, racist media) we all feel a connection of pain.

So when I read the news about James Lowe, boyfriend of New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, being the target of racist tweets, I felt compelled to say something. “So…” you may ask, “what’s the big deal?”

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a non-Asian woman that has a penchant for Asian Men. You love us when we’re nerdy and awkward, and you swoon when we’re ripped and sophisticated. So how should you feel about this Lorde/James Lowe issue?

You see, interracial dating is actually much easier than people think. The problem is rarely you or him. The biggest problem seems to be other people. If you’re dating an Asian guy now or look forward to finding one in the future, you need to understand that you will eventually come across racist shit like this. You will walk down that street and people will shout, “you need a real man!” or “why are you with him?!” Your boyfriend will be passive-aggressively teased by relatives who say, “are you Chinese? Can you do Kung Fu? Haha!” And even if you’re big and famous like Lorde, your boyfriend will not be off limits. If anything being popular will encourage more of that bigotry.

So my advice to you is this: expect the oblivious men and women that will make stupid comments about you and your relationship. Know how to deal with it by standing up and shouting, “YEA, my boyfriend is Asian. We’re also sleeping together. WHAT ABOUT IT?!” I’m not too sure if Lorde has addressed the racism but I can only hope that she does. And if it ever happens to you, you need to prove that you’re a woman worth fighting for by being the woman that fights for him.

It’s bad enough that Asians don’t get any breaks or support from the public when we are ridiculed and harassed, but you? His girlfriend? His fiance? You need to fill that gap. And if you can manage to be this brave, this loving, this supportive, I can assure your Asian boyfriend will always have a seat for you at his table.

Please, especially if you’re a non-Asian WOMAN, you need to speak up against this shit. You need to be the counteractive voice to these idiotic children. Write something, post something, or share this. You say you like Asian culture? Then voice your opinions.