From Amy Tan to Michelle Kwan to Constance Wu, there are many Asian American women who have achieved great success and are upheld as leading figures of the community. But sometimes (and especially online), Asian male support is muted or reluctant.
Is it resentment at seeing women in power at all? Or does it have anything to do with the feeling that only by closely allying with whiteness can Asian women succeed at the highest levels in America, thus leaving Asian men behind? Is that what’s behind some of the online harassment of Asian women by some Asian men?
In this special-format podcast, Jess poses simple but direct questions for Teen, Chris, and Jong to answer in hopes of further illuminating the Asian male perspective.
The following are edited excerpts from “Do Asian Men Resent Asian Women’s Success?” the 37th episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A.
A lot of these [famous and successful] Asian women have historically been with white men. That’s the simplest and most honest way to get to it. A lot of the distrust [from Asian men] is that these women are going to upheld as aspirational figures for Asian Americans, especially young Asian American girls to look up…. And this is clearly the result of a biased system in which [order to succeed as an Asian woman], you need access to those white spaces, which usually comes with having white partners and friends.
In Alex Tizon’s book, “Big Little Man,” he’s going over his mother’s journals and his mother was taking notes on her experiences assimilating into American society and her husband’s. It was night and day. His mother was being invited all over the place and doors were opened by white men, while his father was getting doors shut in his face, even though he was an experienced attorney. That is an extreme example, perhaps, but I think that pattern is seen over and over again.
Tensions are high, so I don’t doubt there are bad actors who do want suppression for suppression’s sake because it’s an uncomfortable topic and it would have to get too real. But there is also a legitimate case to be made that opening a treatment of this subject that is pitch-perfect — and maybe there is no pitch-perfect — does tend to come with a lot of, as Chris would say, “dumbshittery,” that does make lives difficult for good actors who are trying to do good work. It’s really hard to parse through that signal.
I see Asian guys and I’m thinking, what’s the mirror to that [angry online] identity? What’s causing that? There are things that I think we’re not aware of that we don’t see, that when I went online, I started to see. I started to see the sheer amount of trolling that was happening. I think a lot of it was done by white guys posing as Asian women…. I doubt it was Asian women, but a lot of these guys are young and dumb and they’re gullible. Or even knowing it’s a white troll, you know it’s effective because there are truths behind what they’re saying.