White man > (Asian man = White woman)?

For majority of Richard Fung’s “Looking for my Penis,” he recounts analytical experiences of watching gay pornography. He points out that majority of the films interested audiences have encountered circles around primarily white figures. From what he notices, the white homosexual male commonly takes a considerably more masculine and assertive role as opposed to the Asian male. That is to say that despite the similar sexual orientation being shared by the actors, the Asian is still somehow reduced to a more feminine and submissive version between the gay males. Fung also mentioned that while the fantasies commonly had the white man take the wealthy position role, he could not remember any instances of seeing a white male as the servant or underdog.

If Asian males were to be included at all, they take on the demeaning role of becoming a lesser servant who can not be measured equivalent to the white actors. In rare scenes where the Asian man do take the initiative, the focus is shifted towards the reaction of the white man. Such emphasis inevitably decentralizes the attention away from the Asian’s dominant position and lowers his significance as the authority. Fung admits that while sex is pleasure, it is also pain and humiliation because it constantly reminds him of his place and boundaries.This ties back to common theme of reduced manliness within traditional Asian men. As if taking an inferior stance in the heterosexual world wasn’t bad enough, the assumption is carried over into male homosexuality. The Asian man always must yield to someone deemed more masculine.

M Butterfly, a film I watched in a prior ASAM class, ambiguously touches on the topic of homosexual masculinity between a western man (Gallimard) and an eastern man (Song). For majority of the movie, Song disguises himself as an oriental female who warmly bonds with Gallimard. With the display of several scenes of physical affection and the final revelation of Song’s gender, the audience has to decide whether Gallimard was aware of the situation or not. Taking into consideration the length of the relationship, it is likely that Gallimard had known all along. This could mean Gallimard was homosexual and merely took on the more masculine identity in relation to his western origins. The other possibility is that Gallimard compared a clearly male Song to a western female. Because even a western female is equally or more masculine to an eastern male, Song’s actual gender would hardly be distinguishable in the eyes of a western Gallimard…

Random confrontations with homosexuality and masculinity:
As far as the course readings go, Yankee Dawg You Die does contain minor details that could allude to Vincent’s actual homosexual orientation. His telephone talk with Kenneth alludes to this as well as the necessity to be a ‘leading man’. The American Born Chinese and Chew seems to focus less on the concerns of Asian masculinity and more towards the stereotypes of being animal- like and different. Yet the sheer size and power that Mason has over Tony may very well prescribe to theĀ  inferior physique and stature of the man from the east. He may be manly, but certainly not as manly as Mason…

2 thoughts on “White man > (Asian man = White woman)?

  1. While reading Chew, I felt as though there were still many aspects that had somewhat of an Asian masculinity focus. Throughout the entire book, Tony seemed to get beat up on and constantly needed to be saved. Most of the time, it was Mason Savoy who would come to his rescue. In these rescue scenes, Savoy would all of a sudden become much bigger in the panel than he usually is, and much more vicious, and it would almost seem like Tony shrinks. However, one thing I noticed was that at one point, even a white woman (Amelia Mintz) had to save Tony from 3 white, French looking, bad guys. The part that was even more shocking that while all 3 of the villains had guns, Amelia was able to save Tony just by using her vivid descriptive powers. In my opinion, this almost seems to put Tony’s masculinity at a level even below a white woman’s. Compared to everyone else in the story who were seen carrying guns, in my opinion Tony was still made out to be scrawnier and less masculine than those people (although I do believe that Tony was made to look more masculine than how most other stereotypical Asians are made out to be). Tony was also made to look less masculine compared to the Russian woman at the Gardner-Kvashennaya International Telescope. She is made out to have a lot more muscles than Tony, has a bigger gun, and a meaner, scarier face. Once again, only Mason looks larger than she does. During the fight scene at the end when Tony confronts Mason, the entire time Mason is made to look exponentially larger than Tony, and Tony’s body language just makes him look feeble (in one panel you can see him sweating and shaking while he is pointing his gun at Mason).
    I do agree that Chew focused mainly on stereotypes and being different. The fact that Tony had a skill that forced him to eat body parts shows him as being “weird” and “different”. Throughout the book there were many instances where when people would find out that Tony was Cibopathic, they would almost get scared and disgusted. A major example of this can be shown in the scene were Tony goes to inspect all the files from the Evan Pepper case, and finds a dead dog in a bad. The person who was in charge of the files starts to talk about how the dog was for the “freaks” who are “cannibals”, and then gets scared when he realizes that Tony is one of the people that he was talking about.

  2. Homosexual Asian American males experience the burden of the intersectionality between race and sexual orientation. As Kevin mentioned, gay Asian males remain as the submissive relationships with gay Anglo-American males although they have the same sexuality. Homosexuals are considered a marginalized group in relation to the hegemonic male. When you dissect the situation further, there exists another marginalized party within the marginalized group– homosexual ethnic minorities. In one of my previous ASAM classes, I examined the ladder of homosexual ethnic groups and their preferences. At the middle, or the most desired position, is the Caucasian male who has the opportunity to reinforce his masculinity upon other less-desired groups. Thus, within this spectrum, White males are still imagined as the most stable and successful figure. Further up on the scale is the homosexual African American who represents hypermasculinity. Portrayed as beast-like, they are a threat to gay White men who are sometimes wary of being dominated. The homosexual Asian American man is at the very bottom of the ladder because they are objectified as passive sexual submissives. The power relationship between Asian American and Caucasians is reinforced by the Asians’ feminized and demeaning roles in the mainstream entertainment industry as well as the porn industry.

    We see the reinforcement of power balance in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly when Song kneels before Gallimard during their encounter after the trial. Though he is dressed in a suit and slacks, he presents himself as the willing Butterfly that Gallimard had loved. Rene shifts from a disgusted face to a subtly softened expression once Song reenacts his submissiveness. The scene shows that there is only interest when there is a power-based relationship in which the White is dominant and the Asian is inferior. According the Edward Said, the aesthetic relationship between two things is solely based on a power and politics (aka West as masculine and East as feminine) .

    In The Chew, Tony is the protagonist but there are still signs of his ethnic and sexual inferiority. Many of the Caucasian characters, in particular John Colby and Savoy, are illustrated as much more masculine compared to Tony’s small and skinny frame. They are more confident or brash in their behaviors which characterize them as the typical masculine heroic figure. Although he is a powerful Cibopath, Tony’s masculinity does not equate to that of his partners’ because it is assumed that he would not have made it alive if it were not for Savoy’s assistance. Perhaps his cibopathic abilities is substitutes for Asian’s stereotypes as extremely intelligent.

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