8 Asians

When you open Wesley Yang’s  “Paper Tigers” in New York Magazine, you will notice a half naked East Asian man starring blankly right back at you as its greeting. Playfully, you may think that the title evoke images of tigers made out of paper until you read the tagline,

What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

You then scroll down to check how long the article is and you realize that it’s eleven whopping pages with the first page exploding with emotional outbursts from one who is clearly going through an Asian American identity crisis. If you haven’t noticed already, this is creating a stir within the APA community as some are declaring that he is an embarrassment to his race and others say that he speaks the raw, brutal truth.

Honestly, I love it when my Asian Pacific American community gets in a passionate uproar over matters like these. You then have blogging folks mass tweeting, Facebooking, and writing articles all over the Internet, and I relish the vast array of opinions being shared by Asians and non-Asians alike. The last time such a commotion happened was with Tiger Mom Amy Chua when she made a declaration that Asian parents are superior (which it may or may not be the entire truth, according to the author himself.)

I will step out and say that I appreciate the fact that Wesley Yang expressed himself frankly about his thoughts on his identity and the Asian/Asian American community. I agree with his mindset of not thinking like an immigrant. I, too, have been frustrated with a lot of East Asian values that I once found to be restricting and confining. I agree with his reports that Asian Americans are often stuck in the glass ceiling (or the Bamboo ceiling as he calls it here), to which our very own John Lin has specifically covered in an excellent article nearly three years prior.

Overall, this article is extremely problematic: First of all, Asian American does not equal banana or Twinkie. To say that the both are one and the same is ridiculous considering that Yang has a very pessimistic and outdated mindset in what he thinks an “American” is. Also, how do you write about the invisibility of Asian Americans when you don’t even associate with them? It speaks loud that Yang is full self-hatred but it’s confusing to really determine where he stands when his stance alternates randomly from bashing Asians to saying that they aren’t getting enough respect. As the article goes on, he boasts about the appeal of Western masculinity and that white women are not really just normal human beings like everybody else, but destinations to be traveled upon (thanks to N’jaila Rhee for providing that concise insight). Given that this article is published in a mainstream publication, there is a great danger that his voice will be considered as the “definitive” authority on the Asian American mindset.

I do appreciate that Yang spoke frankly about this and it is clear that this is an emotionally driven article, for which I could relate with on many points. But if there’s several things I want to say to Yang back (if he even bothers to read this), it would go like this:

Your face is not alien and it certainly does yourself a disservice by comparing yourself to a reptile. For that matter, stop seeing your racial identity and culture as a bane to your existence because really, no culture or race is perfect. While I think it is unfortunate that you see Western values and masculinity as something superior to your Asian counterparts, you are a product of your upbringing so I see where you are coming from. Even so, it has made you biased against the racial heritage you are from and it is therefore incredibly important that you should not forget who you are. It doesn’t mean you have to take pride in it or even love it fully, but it does mean you need to acknowledge who you are and embrace yourself completely.

Trust me, I’ve been down that road before and can understand the rage in being torn and confused between two different cultures. I noticed you keep using “Asian-American” to speak of yourself and of others; how about taking that dash out and realize that these two can go together? You may balk that these two will always be foreign to each other but like you said at the end of the article, you tell others to “dare to be something different,” and to make something of themselves. I ask you to apply your own words to yourself and connect the bridges that you see to be so far apart.

Despite whatever problems I may see with this article, it is for the best that we have voices like these telling it like it is. They may be right or they may be wrong, but honesty is a crucial force that needs to be welcomed in even if nobody wants to hear it. For the 8Asians readers out there, I strongly recommend you to take the effort to read the whole thing. If it manages to push your buttons or make you feel emotional in any way, then the article is for you. Stick with it and by the end, if you still vehemently disagree, you have your own unique voice to share it with the world. Use it.

h/t: Merlin C

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125 Comments to “Wesley Yang’s “Paper Tigers” and the APA Identity Crisis”

  • @Ed @jedifreac @BlasianBytch If you can’t look at it and see how bullshitty some of the conclusions they have come to is, I can’t help you. Here is a good link which might sort of help. http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/dog_whistle_evo_psych/

  • @bohemianeddy It’s a hilarious clusterfuck.

  • […] Are Asians Yellow?Vietnamese Lingerie Cafes Facing Stricter RegulationsWesley Yang’s “Paper Tigers” and the APA Identity CrisisMother’s Day with 8Asians: My Mother, Lost in Translation Unhinging Over Amy Chua & […]

  • @ErikaHarada @AZJ Oh, my. I completely misread this Yang article. Now I understand the entire piece was about interracial dating between Asian women and white men.

  • @mwei I don’t know; I guess because it came up in the Wesley Yang article and he lumped the ability to seduce blonde women with Asian American [het male] success?

    While there is a lot of conversation in APA circles about how stereotypes about Asian male sexuality prevent Asian American guys from getting laid, there seems to be less conversation about how stereotypes about Asian female sexuality results in the exploitation and physical harm of Asian American women. Facing a stereotype that cockblocks you is no fun, but it’s not a stereotype that will get you raped or killed. It’s troubling that racially motivated sexual assaults of Asian American women are often not considered hate crimes. I hope people are conscious that being an Asian American woman is no cakewalk, either.

  • @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye I don’t actually believe it’s possible to get through to this person. (I mean, this is a guy who is using a study about straight hetronormative American college women to generalize about the sexual agency of ALL women. A guy who thinks that by calling out the blatant mysogyny in his statements, I am unable to “think critically and intelligently without twisting everything they hear or read from an asian male, into a message about sexism.” Everything! Everything!) The only way to justify a comment like “women can get sex any time they want” is to be selectively blind to the diversity of women and the intersectionality of oppression, and to ignore historical and systemic gender-based discrimination both within our community and in greater society. The reason I called out his statement is NOT because I think I can convince him to see any of this, but in hopes that some of the other readers of 8Asians will see that comments like that will get called out in the Asian American community and on 8Asians.com. That Ed’s perspective is not necessarily the dominant perspective, nor is he “right” simply because other people remain silent. At the end of the day it is easier to call out sexism in our own community or to disparage Yang or JT for their opinions or methods, than to confront systemic oppressions or privilege. I just wish more people could see that misogyny and the IR disparity are inherently linked. That Asian American guys hold a personal stake in confronting sexism not only because of mothers, sisters, and significant others but because misogyny and feminization have been used to oppress Asian men, too. Clinging to or aggrandizing hetero male privilege isn’t the ultimate solution.

  • @jedifreac @mwei The racially motivated assaults are happening literally in my neighborhood. The perp is a hispanic man. I wonder if according to Ed, if the perp was an Asian male, he would not be to blame because us perky females won’t give it up for him.

  • @ErikaHarada @jedifreac @BlasianBytch Good heavens!! Pandagon.net and an article written by Amanda Marcotte is your defense against scientific research? Why am I not surprised you linked me to writer who is a feminist and a racist? Really!! She’s has neither the disposition nor the qualifications to refute any scientific claims. The best she could possibly due is plagiaries the findings of a contradictory scientific study (one you have yet to direct me to) at which point both theories are neither proven or disproven. Try again. Though I’m getting a much better picture of where your narrow thought process is derived from.

    I’m gonna throw this out there and guess that your bf is white, Since, the practice seems to be reading into peoples post, I’ll also assume that your preference is for white men. This alliance you try to convince people you have with Asian men, is nothing more than attempt to earn clout as an APA activist. Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.

  • @[email protected]

    Typical neo-feminist. All you have is to question my ability to read. Given the opportunity to support her claim, and rather than stating research, fact, or even some sort of well thought out, well supported theoretical position, will use this medium to name call. Hahaha!!! Hetero Male Privilege, that’s a good one. So for the umpteenth time how is the statement that sex is more readily available to females than males, sexist when nearly every research study conducted supports it? Perhaps the entire science community is sexist? Perhaps the very scientific laws that are the foundation of physics, biology, chemistry are sexist?

    Here I’ll do you favor and get your two very predictable responses out of the way

    – “If you don’t know it now, you’ll never get it and I’m not going to tell you. You man!”

    – “I don’t believe in that evo-psyche pseudo-science crap. You man!”

    …now please present carry on

  • @jedifreac @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye Oh boy, I really didn’t think the “femi-nazi” existed but there you are. Everything is sexist and anti-feminist and all men are out to oppress women. Every argument you present is based on feminist ideology and you personally can’t even abstract “Intersectionality” that you’re referring to. You’re reading from a text book without understanding it’s premise in the context of this argument. As for calling out my statement, well if you’re calling out my statement we might as well get Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs and 40 other researches who support “Ed’s perspective” and throw some of your psuedo-sociological theory at them and see how long it takes for them to burst out into laughter. Your statement…

    “At the end of the day it is easier to call out sexism in our own community or to disparage Yang or JT for their opinions or methods, than to confront systemic oppressions or privilege.I just wish more people could see that misogyny and the IR disparity are inherently linked. That Asian American guys hold a personal stake in confronting sexism not only because of mothers, sisters, and significant others but because misogyny and feminization have been used to oppress Asian men, too. Clinging to or aggrandizing hetero male privilege isn’t the ultimate solution.”…

    Is literally the only time any of you have made any sense in the last 100 posts.

    Ernie, if you wanna ban me from this site I would not be upset

  • @Ed @jedifreac @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye ernie, if you do ban Ed from this site, I will be the one that will be upset. I am not minding this exchange of conversation between you all but I believe we need to all take a slight breather about this matter. I see valid points from both of your perspectives. At this point, it is clear that you disagree very passionately so it may be better to leave it off as “agree to disagree”…

  • @Ed @jedifreac @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye “I’m gonna throw this out there and guess that your bf is white, Since, the practice seems to be reading into peoples post, I’ll also assume that your preference is for white men.” Ed, hate to break it to you but being a feminist while asian does not equate to having a preference for white men. i did not become a feminist as a reaction to my overbearing patriarchal father/confucian society, thus explaining my inexplicable attraction to white men and unfair refusal to date asian men. if you believe that then you are buying into the same amy tan bullshit that the masses do. fyi, i consider myself a feminist and i prefer to date asian men (i am an asian woman).

    And this: “Oh boy, I really didn’t think the “femi-nazi” existed but there you are. Everything is sexist and anti-feminist and all men are out to oppress women.” this statement is so familiar. i think i’ve seen it before. oh yeah, like when a minority group (any minority group, take your pick) points out the inherent racism/bigotry in something and the privileged majority group goes “oh look at you angry blacks/immigrants/etc. everything is racist and anti-minority and all whites are out to oppress you.” this would probably infuriate you, as it should anyone, but its sad you can’t see you are doing the exact same thing here.

  • @GoGo @jedifreac @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye GoGo, if you look at the first 3/4 of my posts in response to these yahoos, I backed up my original statement and continued to ask why they found my statement sexist. All the while fabricating these sexists, disgusting sentiments, like I encourage rape and objectification of women and still failing to explain all these feminist sociological concepts (which have no proven basis) that supposedly, so clearly explain everything I’m missing. Before this I honestly believed the “femi-nazi” was just a made up caricature, imagined by oversensitive block heads or bitter old men who can’t stand the paradigm shift of a progressive society. But I see that they do exist. The goal is to over analyze and misanalyze everything a man says and use it as an opportunity to disseminate their feminist ideals and toot their own horns.

    and you’re right, I am doing the same thing, quite knowingly in fact. At some point if diplomacy fails you go to war. Their weapon is stupidity, so I gleefully give it right back.

  • @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @ErikaHarada @BlasianBytch @moye In all honesty, that really isn’t an option. It’s not that I had a view point and they had an opposing view point. It’s that they magically created a link between my statement and the oppression of women, thus making me an oppressor of women and also letting me know that they think I’m an oppressor of women. I take unyielding and passionate offense to that. So as I’m telling Ernie, if he feels the need to keep this site at certain, hospitable level then he should ban me soon. Because I’m certainly not going to get pushed around and insulted by the likes of few unoriginal, uninspired, neo-feminists.

  • Unoriginal and uninspired? Like you should be talking. 🙂 And your insistence that this is all based on “science” is laughable — you’re a disgrace to the scientific community by implying that all scientists agree with such pseudoscientific claptrap. Google around, or hell, ACTUALLY TALK to real life scientists and researchers and see what they say — you will see that the social exchange theory, as well as many other evo-psych related studies are NOT widely accepted science. @Ed @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye

  • “I’m gonna throw this out there and guess that your bf is white, Since, the practice seems to be reading into peoples post, I’ll also assume that your preference is for white men.”

    I’m gonna throw this out there and guess that you don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend. If you do, I feel sorry for them.

    @Ed @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Nice try but yes I do. Try again.

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Again, send me link that’s not attached to site run by a feminist or a racist. I’ve given you more than ample opportunity to do so and yet you continue to spew this consistently unsubstantiated claim that there exist a scientific study somewhere that refutes those key points in the Social Exchange theory. Awaiting your response…

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Hmmm so you do have a white bf. Hahaha predictable!!

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Hmmm so you do have a white bf. Hahaha predictable and unoriginal!! So taking from GoGo’s thoughtful assertion, did you …

    ‘..become a feminist as a reaction to your overbearing patriarchal father/confucian society, thus explaining your inexplicable attraction to white men and unfair refusal to date asian men’ ?

    This is the first useful thing I’ve learned in the last 100 posts!! Whoohoo!!

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Again, send me link that’s not attached to site run by a feminist or a racist. I’ve given you more than ample opportunity to do so and yet you continue to spew this consistently unsubstantiated claim that there exist a scientific study somewhere that refutes those key points in the Social Exchange theory. Awaiting your response…

    And to be clear, “refutes the key points” in relation to the sexual availaibility by gender statement and supporting arguments. Carry on…

  • @ErikaHarada @bohemianeddy @jedifreac @BlasianBytch @moye Nice try but yes I do and incidentally she can have sex with me whenever she wants and so far vice versa but we both know she is in control. But really has it come to this? Are you going to start cracking momma jokes? I just want proof, hell a viable theory that supports your notion that sex isn’t as readily available to women as it is to men will suffice. Anything Erika, anything. The onus is on you, I’ve already backed my claim, the fact you consider it psuedo science is amusing but beside the point and effectively without merit.

  • @ErikaHarada @jedifreac @mwei Hahaha clever! I see attack me on a sub tread that I’m not on. Well, let’s face it, you don’t “wonder” what I’m thinking because your MO is to have already fabricated details of my character to fit your profile of me. I will give you credit though as I’m surprised that you didn’t just declare me as the perp. Hmmm progress perhaps?

  • @jedifreac @mwei WOW it seems the conversation has not ended. When I brought up the point i was making originally, my main intention wasn’t to focus on the IR dating debate, but I got drawn into it probably because I’m a man. I’ll try it again from the beginning. So people (mostly females and some males) are upset with Yang and Tran because they ignored the AF perspective, promoted the PUA method, and made AM looked bad. My original point was that since there are real racism that puts barrier for AA, and dating being one of them for the AM (as most people seem to agree), then it would take action that goes against the social norm to fight against it. Now if all a person wants to do is to talk about it, then there’s little point, because at the end of the day thing will not change much. Much like how it took a civil war, and forced integration to combat injustice, it would take action not words to fight for equality for AA. To illustrate my point, here’s an example of a comment from the original article

    “Asian men have problems dating outside their own race because women are racist, and white women are the most racist. All of my friends are white chicks and none of them will even talk to guys in bars who aren’t white. It pisses me off, and yet even I have never gone out with an asian guy (although that’s because I wanted hapa kids). You should really have some sympathy for asian men. Also, I found the white people in DC to be extremely racially ignorant even though I have always grown up as the only minority.”

    Now without getting into her attitude about hapa baby, she seems to be sympathetic, and is aware of the racism around her. She talks to people about it, and maybe even to her white friends. However, at the end of the day the reality is she’s with a WM, so the discrepancy persist, and the racist WM privilege is reinforced. Now yang and Tran are doing something that goes against this norm, even if I don’t agree with them completely, I can see that they are making a real change through action. I see what they do as necessary evil, and because I am a man, I focus more on the necessary part, and for a woman she might focus more on the evil part. In the end it comes down to the fact that action speaks louder than words. So for AF to have sympathy from some of the more frustrated AM when it comes to other issues that affect the AF, I think action from AF would go much further than just words. Which is why I posted response to Jedifreac originally about her idea of using words to make changes.

  • I should have done this a long time ago, but I am now closing this thread because of the off-topic nature and because the conversation no longer adds value to the discussion of Wesley Yang’s article by any party.