Asian men shouldn’t need to meet Western masculinity standards to be considered “hot”
Steve Harvey has a unique knack for embarrassing gaffes. If you recall, he’s the talk show host who awarded the Miss Universe crown to the wrong contestant in 2015, and then in his Twitter apology managed to misspell the countries represented by both women involved. In this past, these flubs have mostly generated there-he-goes-again laughter. But Harvey’s recent comments regarding Asian men can’t be as easily dismissed. Essentially, Harvey told his audience that he couldn’t imagine any way an Asian man could ever be deemed attractive—causing a social media eruption by playing into long-standing stereotypes of Asian males as emasculated and nonsexual.
Within hours, the internet hive mind had posted a staggering array of undeniably hot Asian guys, such as those on this expertly curated list by Huffington Post relationship editor Brittany Wong: “21 Fine-As-Hell Asian Men Who Will Make You Swoon And Then Some.”
But these galleries a little awkward. Highlighting a handful of insanely gorgeous genetic-lottery winners doesn’t exactly contradict the assertion that average Asian men like me are, in the eyes, minds, and hearts of the West, inherently unappealing.
In fact, these hyper-hot galleries underscore the fact that these guys are exceptions to the rule; that by reaching an optimal standard of Western masculine beauty, these Asian men have managed to overcome their racialized lack of appeal.
The trap that Asian men have fallen into is pernicious, because the rush to showcase these paragons is often led and cheered on by Asians ourselves. In doing so, we’re reinforcing the basic premise of critics like Harvey: that adherence to Western masculinity should be the yardstick by which manhood and sexual appeal are universally measured. Instead of rejecting objectification and fetishization—realities that Asian women face every day—Asian men are aspiring to such circumstances
Where’s the list of “hot” Asian men featuring Masi Oka, who changed my life when he put the Hiro in Heroes, or Ken Leung, best known as Miles Straume in Lost? Parvesh Cheena, who can be seen now on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is all hot, all the time in my book.