Asian American Sexual Politics

Asian American Sexual Politics addresses the way that American society has harmed Asian Americans and their identities. I feel as though it is impossible to discuss Asian American Sexual Politics without touching on the violence that happened in Atlanta. That is just one example of hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have become more prevalent since the start of COVID-19 as people have perpetuated the notion that somehow Asia itself is responsible for the pandemic. However, this is made worse when our elected officials call Coronavirus by a different name- “the Chinese virus.” Using terms like this instead of the actual terms gives a green light for people to be overtly racist. This connects to Asian American Sexual Politics in a very immediate way as the hate crimes that recently took place in Atlanta, Georgia were motivated by points covered in Asian American Sexual Politics. 

Asian women face, what the author describes as, “marginalized femininity” which means that their femininity is seen as inferior to other expressions of femininity. This notion that Asian American women must be readily available to white men is a dangerous notion as it causes a sense of lack of when men don’t have access to these women. Which is seemingly what led to the murders in Atlanta. The shooter drove out of his way to visit this massage parlor in particular, which shows not just an intense sense of entitlement for relationships in women in general, but specifically women of color and in this case Asian American women. Men, like the man in Atlanta, feel rebuked when they don’t receive the sexual interactions that they have been promised from childhood and act out in dangerous ways, which can also be seen in the Toronto incel van attack of 2018.

As the author explains, the fetishization and exoticization of Asian American women has become a major issue. Asian women are expected to be “sexually pure, a faithful partner and always giving. But in the outside world, she may be constructed as an exotic, sexually available, kinky freak” (Chou 89). This view is extremely dangerous because it continues the lack of autonomy Asian women have over their own bodies. Many of their relationships, as Chou suggests, are marred by the belief that they are somehow “unique” or “more desirable” because they are Asian American. This means that they have to experience sexualization in their most intimate relationships, where they should expect support. “Yellow fever” doesn’t just remain in heteronormative relationships, as Chou suggests that Erin, a lesbian Asian American woman, has faced the commentary that her straight peers have heard. Along with this, the constant infantilization of Asian American women through our media channels have made it so Asian American women are unable to openly accept their sexuality As the quote above suggests, they are expected to be pure and wholesome members of the community without any sexual desires.

When touching on the concept of masculinity and the feminization of Asian American men, I think it is important to address the fact that these tasks that make Asian American men seem more “feminine” are not truly feminine things. Asian American men being involved in household tasks and owning restaurants does not inherently make them more feminine, which, I think, shows a critique of the United States’ view of genders in general. We have connected traits such as being able to take care of oneself and others and being comfortable forming homosocial bonds with being “traditionally feminine” that when people who don’t identify as female do them they are viewed down upon. The discussion of “bad boy” posturing on page 115 shows how even the notion of fitting into “traditionally masculine” ideals is inherently racist and homophobic. As they describe how they fear being viewed as homosexual, and Chou explains that white men are more likely to get a pass on the same actions.

Along with this, it is interesting to view how many of the people that Chou interviewed connected with “geeky” culture and were; therefore, submitting to the model minority box. The concept of the model minority is usually applied to Asian Americans to define them as they are traditionally stereotyped as smart, quiet, and docile- which makes them the least likely threat to white supremacy. However, the concept of geek culture is almost an alternative identity for Asian Americans. Interestingly, the notion that white men benefit more from “bad boy” posturing can also be applied to benefitting from being seen as geeky. As many Asian American boys still expressed how much they were bullied even when they found an in-group within a geeky community.

The discussion of “anti-black” sentiments from first generation parents to their second generation children is a very interesting assessment of how racism can permeate into other groups. As Chou explains, racial profiling, fueled by systemic racism, is present in all aspects of life and many Americans don’t even realize that it effects their views. It is interesting to see the family perspectives from both sides of interracial marriages. I also really enjoyed seeing that Brent’s wife was openly supportive of his identity and showed that to her family. I found the term “gaysian” a little odd, especially since Chou proves that she is comfortable with LGBTQ+ Asian Americans throughout the reading. It just felt jarring to read out of nowhere near the end of the text, and pulled me out of the reading.

At the end of the last chapter, Chou suggests that “the white racial frame can place psychological boundaries on what partners Asian American men think they can access” (Chou 171). However, I feel like the sentence could’ve been cut to “the white racial frame can place psychological boundaries on… Asian American(s)” and it would have shared the sentiments that Chou has been sharing throughout the whole text of Asian American Sexual Politics. 

Alex Lagon

1 Comment

  1. Great job! You have covered the major points in the reading. Make sure that you bring some of these issues up in class today. Our facilitators will appreciate it.

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