Jan 30, 2008

A (New?) Different Asian Male Stereotype

People have been writing and talking about the asexual, effeminate, emotionless Asian male stereotype in the United States for a long, long time. People are still writing and talking about it. There's another type that pops up here and there, especially when something awful like Virginia Tech happens, that suggests the boiling over of a repressed, frustrated, unpredictable Asian male (the ticking time bomb of the quiet kid in the corner who draws/writes/thinks violent things for himself, and for good measure, mutters a lot too). Though people may connect the two (repressed sexually, or overcompensating), they are different.

But that "angry asian male" (not speaking of one in particular, hat tip) exists in another space. That's domestic violence. As you likely know, it runs pretty deep in our communities, both here and abroad. While some part of it, I'm sure, is that we're in a patriarchal society and the way that man mis/treat and abuse women is not checked enough by social norms, there is still too much violence happening in South/Asian communities for us not to look at this more directly and closely. And while I know this isn't something new - I just wanted to ask the question, why are Asian men taking out anger, in whatever way and from whatever root cause, on our Asian sisters?

On the broader subject of domestic violence, what does it mean for a community or communities (specifically desi groups in the U.S.) to have so many domestic violence organizations around the nation? Does it mean both that it is a serious issue, and it's one that's easy to rally around and create organizations that focus upon the issue than things like workers' groups? Why aren't these issues becoming less prevalent in our communities - I don't think it's because the steady stream of immigration brings more "traditional" men with fucked up values/performances of gender through violence against their partners. Without empirical data, I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers also come from native born or long-time U.S. residents who are South Asian as well.

So what is it about our men? Why are these issues still prevalent? And how do we move away from the angry (violent) Asian men in relationships? Do we need more affirmative, critical, and safe spaces for Asian men to work through these and other issues? Do any still exist?

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