Why can’t asian men get laid?

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asian like meNew York Magazine writes about the plight of Asians in America.  Do you think New York Magazine cares about Asians?  It doesn’t.  The article isn’t about them.

The author’s name is Wesley Yang.  He looks like this:

Wesley Yang

caught between his Korean genetics and American environment.  When psychiatrists debate “nature vs. nurture,” Wesley Yang is the answer.

I’ve contrived to think of this face as the equal in beauty to any other. But what I feel in these moments is its strangeness to me. It’s my face. I can’t disclaim it. But what does it have to do with me?

Millions of Americans must feel estranged from their own faces. But every self-estranged individual is estranged in his own way. I, for instance, am the child of Korean immigrants, but I do not speak my parents’ native tongue. I have never called my elders by the proper honorific, “big brother” or “big sister.” I have never dated a Korean woman. I don’t have a Korean friend. Though I am an immigrant, I have never wanted to strive like one.

Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: an invisible person, barely distinguishable from a mass of faces that resemble it. A conspicuous person standing apart from the crowd and yet devoid of any individuality. An icon of so much that the culture pretends to honor but that it in fact patronizes and exploits… a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots who simply do not matter, socially or culturally.

The article laments the pressured upbringing, the schooling, the violin, the conformity, and contrasts these things with what they missed out on.

What did they miss out on? Social skills; leadership skills and training; masculinity skills. 20% of the article describes JT Tran, the Asian Pick Up Artist.

But this article isn’t unique to Asians. Paragraph 2 is about being Korean, but 1 and 3 can be applied to any smart, socially awkward white guy.

But what the article can’t be applied to, at all, is the experience of being a woman. Even the appearance of Amy Chua, the prototypical American mother, isn’t really lamenting her own Asian upbringing, per se, but her difficulty with, for example, corporate law– her inability to advance in male dominated areas. So she retreated to a) academia; b) mothering.

I’m sure that Asian females have unique experiences as well, but this article isn’t about them. JT Tran, the pick up artist profiled in the article, specializes in teaching Asian men how to pick up white women.

In blunt terms, the article is about how it sucks to be a beta male in an alpha male country. Well, duh. But that problem has nothing to do with being Asian; and comes with a hint of anger at alpha males and women for excluding the “betas.” Note that the number one most viewed and most commented article at NYMag is “Woman With Two Lovers Trying To Hide The Bruises.” That sex siren probably isn’t interested in betas.

Which means that the article isn’t about being a beta male, either, but about identity: how can I get everyone to believe I’m someone I’m not, when they can all see right through me? Not a problem unique to Asians.


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26 Responses to Why can’t asian men get laid?

  1. Guy Fox says:

    “how can I get everyone to believe I’m someone I’m not”… with them being the ones who have to change (because, as you point out, his problem isn’t his ethnicity).

  2. sunshinefiasco says:

    While I agree that this issue is in no way exclusive to Asian men, I think this piece is an attempt to grab some of the Tiger Mom press that’s still running around.

    On the professional half of the article: This part strikes me as friggin’ ludicrous, because holy crap, corporate culture has a lot to do with corporate advancement. I also find it personally amusing because I live and work in Korea, and “professional culture/comportment” is enough of a big deal in terms of making an impression that the Korean government incorporated it into our orientation. I’m not talking about dress code, I’m talking about primarily, drinking culture, and how generally to conduct yourself on the semi-mandatory workplace hang-around dates that are a fact of life anywhere you work in this country.

    While I understand that it’s not something in every college/career prep book— Oh wait, it is. “Be a well rounded student.”, the importance of interviewing, being personable, mnemonic devices for name learning, etc. So why is this emphasis on sociability coming as such a shock? More interesting: The lack of assimilation makes it more possible (or at least more common) to get unbelievable resumes/credentials, but also makes it harder to rise above a sort of entry-level really good resume position.

    This quote from Amy Chua, discussing her personality in law school explains the good test scores, the impeccable resumes, and likely, one reason that so many high-achieving asians/asian americans are stuck in one sort of level (It’s also why Korean high school students who have studied English since grade school know more about English grammar than I do, but can’t hold a conversation): ” I also wasn’t naturally skeptical and questioning; I just wanted to write down everything the professor said and memorize it”.

    I am not a lawyer or a law student, but does that seem like someone who would be well-qualified for most legal positions? Someone who naturally accepts what is presented as fact by “someone who should know”? Memorization is an important component in learning/passing law school in general, but critical thinking is just as important, isn’t it? The same sort of self-confidence/arrogance that is required for developing/trusting/advocating for your own opinions is needed to “stand out” for a promotion… and to meet girls.

    On dating: This is the same schtick sold by that Mystery dude who had the vh1 show a while back, and to me, it seems to be the part that is most completely divorced from ethnicity/race. What’s a little more interesting to me is that the Asian Playboy markets himself as treating Asian men to meet blond, blue eyed white women. Mystery’s shit isn’t directed at women of any specific race; it’s directed at a specific type of women who hang out in large all-girl groups in bars. Google some clips from “the Pickup Artist” to see what kinds of girls I mean. However, based exclusively on what I’ve seen in Korea, the blond, big blue-eyed girls are the prize (even more than at home), especially the kind who hang out in groups of 6 in clubs. Seems to me that the Asian Playboy is just racializing recycled crap from The Game in order to get gigs at Yale and his name in NY magazine.

  3. boeotarch says:

    This guy laments being seen as boring and unimportant, after having done everything in his power to actually be boring and unimportant. I think that’s all that really needs to be said of him.

  4. localhost says:

    More precisely, rather than being a beta in an alpha society, he’s trying to compete against alphas in a higher stratum. He won’t see himself in the context of women for whom he is an alpha.

    Put another way: he’s been taught that he should be playing in the majors and his narcissism prevents him from being a contented everyday hitter in the minors.

    You’ve got to play within yourself or you’ll only play with yourself.

    I’m trying to remember who taught me all this stuff…

  5. JohnJ says:

    You’ve got to love this line: “The real trick is understanding what rules are not meant for you.”

    Too true.

  6. stiffbreeze says:

    “I’ve contrived to think of this face as the equal in beauty to any other.”
    But the face sports a goatee, which has a negative effect in most dating markets, and it surely doesn’t upgrade one from beta to alpha status.

  7. Balsamred says:

    This article was pretty creepy–it seems to be all about becoming the kind of Asian white people like (or more specifically, the kind of Asian guy that white women like), and defining oneself as Asian in reference to white people.

    Pretty much all the varied cultures of Asia are represented in the US, so “Asian culture” is a generalization so broad as to be almost useless, and really only has meaning if you are trying to define it in opposition to white people. The “Asian culture” being described here seems to refer mostly to Chinese American culture, and little if at all to other East, Southeast, or South Asian cultures. It also seems to describe something that is somewhat regional. (In my hometown, for example, many of my Asian classmates’ parents encouraged them to become teachers or policemen, professions that don’t require an Ivy League degree but do carry a certain status in society, particularly in Confucian-influenced Asian countries, but that are definitely not for the socially inept types being described here.) Filial piety is kind of a throwaway because it is valued in many cultures throughout the world and has nothing to do with Asia specifically. (“Honor your father and mother” used to be a part of ‘Western’ culture, too. )

    I think there is a disconnect somewhere where people like our author and some of his interview subjects are conflating “Asian culture” with “Asian-American culture,” or more accurately “Immigrant culture,” because there are more similarities with non-Asian immigrants here than there are with 3rd or 4th-generation Asian-Americans (and Chinese-American culture is very much a separate entity from Japanese-American, Indian-American or Filipino-American culture, etc.)

    The “bamboo ceiling” he discussed briefly is a genuine problem worthy of much more attention than it was given, especially as to how it affects women who are doubly disadvantaged. But does he really think that the whole continent of Asia is lacking in alpha males or leaders? Having lived in other countries for long periods of time myself, I understand the immigrant mentality of “work hard, blend in, be inoffensive, don’t give the natives any reason to object to you” as the formula to avoiding xenophobia and being able to progress as far in society as your ethnic background will let you. This can pretty much be summed up by the quote from Amy Chua’s father: “If something seems unfair at school, just prove yourself by working twice as hard and being twice as good.”

    The way this attitude is passed down to the children of immigrants (in many countries and of many backgrounds), and how they can go about overcoming it and taking their place in society, is definitely an interesting subject worthy of deeper examination. Unfortunately this article doesn’t really touch on that at all, unless it’s through the pick-up artist guy, and I’d like to think that there is more to strive for in the goal of equality than being able to pick up white women in bars.

    • CubaLibre says:

      “I’d like to think that there is more to strive for in the goal of equality than being able to pick up white women in bars.”

      If it’s men you’re talking about, there really isn’t.

    • philtrum says:

      Well, he does spend a fair amount of time on the seminars for Asian professionals, in which they are taught that they should speak up at meetings etc. There is a big focus on career advancement in the article, “work half as hard and be twenty times as successful” etc.

  8. wisegirl says:

    Ironically, he laments being “invisible” and yearns to be seen for who he really is; yet, he objectifies women. If he were claiming that it was imposible for him to find love and really connect with a woman because he is immersed in white culture and therefore invisble I could sympathize, but getting laid is not an honorable pursuit.

    • philtrum says:

      I find pick-up artist stuff pretty gross myself, but I didn’t get the impression that Yang and Tran are necessarily on the same page when it comes to women.

      Meeting and striking up a conversation are necessary first steps to finding love and connecting with someone, and I know a number of decent men and women who have a lot of trouble doing that. So I sympathize, even if the adolescent fantasy sold by the PUA crowd (“with these techniques, you can get ANY woman you want to do ANYTHING you want, blah blah blah”) makes me more than a little ill.

      • Cosmicomics says:

        The unfortunate thing is that it takes this sort of crazy guarantee to get men to approach a woman for a simple conversation — when in actuality just going up and saying “hi” and taking an interest in the other person works wonders.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      No, that’s the part that’s almost too funny to be true–

      If I remember correctly, Yang doesn’t have problems getting with white ladies. He, who rebelled, refused to take a steady job (or later, one with benefits), he didn’t write a masterpiece, he didn’t get laid (for a while) and, I imagine, he smoked a fair amount of weed, also claims with a weird pride “I have never dated a Korean woman.” While that doesn’t explicitly say that his girlfriends have been primarily white and/of other Asian decent, I’d bet a beer on it.

      (Tortured writer casting off his suburban lifestyle to live in a ramshackle mansion and have issues holding a job? Sounds ripe for an arty white girl, especially if there’s weed.)

      That’s part of what makes this piece so weird: it’s a sort of Asian/Asian-american cultural roundup that vaguely responds to/attempts to capitalize on Amy Chua, and in my opinion, this one is suuuuper disjointed.

  9. AdamSaleh1987 says:

    You sound like you read a lot of Roissy, but I have to agree. It’s an article trying to entrance people to reading it by hitting a hot button issue but keeping them reading because a lot of people are beta and thus can relate.

  10. Minerva says:

    How about something simple as – many Asian men, just like many white guys, are fixated on the Playboy ideal and then get pissed because they are not her ideal.

    Come to think of it, every single 40 yo. guy I know falls in this category.

    There’ white women who marry Asian (or so-called Beta guys) and it’s not because the men had “cool moves”. It’s because both had enough brains to look beneath the surface.

    • philtrum says:

      There’ white women who marry Asian (or so-called Beta guys) and it’s not because the men had “cool moves”. It’s because both had enough brains to look beneath the surface.

      You know, I’m always kind of resistant to that “look beneath the surface” talk. It makes it sound as if “beta” types who find each other and are happy are just willing to overlook the uggo. (Not saying you meant this, just that that’s how it reads to me.)

      In fact, I think people who are fixated on the culturally determined physical “ideal” don’t know what they, themselves, really like. They know what kind of mate will project a certain image to others and that’s what they think they should have.

      And it seems to me that the upbringing Yang describes would predispose you to that kind of thinking: it doesn’t matter what you really like, it matters that you appear successful.

      • philtrum says:

        Bah, sorry for the HTML fail. The first paragraph is quoted, the rest is me.

      • Minerva says:

        It makes it sound as if “beta” types who find each other and are happy are just willing to overlook the uggo.

        That’s true, it can give that impression. But these days even average is considered ugly. :)

        The best example I can give you is a relatively untainted 9 year old who’s having a puppy crush on his classmate. It’s not because she’s beautiful, it’s because “she’s so funny!”. Yes, she’s pretty too but there are much prettier girls – only they aren’t funny, nor are they cool to hang out with.

        I think many Polish people could relate to Yang’s upbringing. Appearances are extremely important to them too. So yes, they don’t have a monopoly on that.

        • philtrum says:

          Right. But the point is, he’s not looking at her and cringing.

          I think there are elements of this “Asian” upbringing in many places; Upper Canada has many elements of that “don’t stand out” ethos, complete with a proverb (“tall poppies will be cut down”). But the Tiger Mother ethic takes it to another degree of intensity.

  11. philtrum says:

    Even the appearance of Amy Chua, the prototypical American mother, isn’t really lamenting her own Asian upbringing, per se, but her difficulty with, for example, corporate law– her inability to advance in male dominated areas. So she retreated to a) academia; b) mothering.

    Are you sure?

    Chua is quoted revealing her own lack of interest in her legal studies. She didn’t care about the rights of criminals, she wanted to memorize instead of analyzing, she didn’t “feel the passion”. This is what you’d expect from someone who’s been raised to ignore her own perceptions and preferences and choose a career (from a VERY short list) based on status and money, rather than what you actually do all day in that career. Hell, can you think of a less lawyerly statement than “If something seems unfair, work twice as hard and be twice as good”?

    I knew a girl whose mother planned, from childhood, that she would be a dentist. When the girl got to university and informed her that she’d rather be a doctor than a dentist, this was cause for tears and recriminations and threats of disowning. That is extreme, of course, but illustrates the basic mentality, whether you call it Asian or Chinese or immigrant or something else.

    This doesn’t seem to me to be about her being a woman. When you read about women’s problems in corporate law or the corporate world generally, what do you read? Sexual harassment. Boys’ clubs. Work-life balance. Child care. Maternity leave. The mommy track.

    There’s overlap on the social end, but you don’t generally read about women who are happy to put in longer hours and do more punishing work than anyone else as long as you don’t ask them to think critically. I think Yang is right to attribute these traits primarily to Chua’s upbringing and not her sex.

  12. janedotx says:

    Yes, it’s about being beta, but the troubling thing about Asian-American culture is that it deliberately institutionalizes beta behavior. And that’s what this article is really about.

    • boeotarch says:

      I don’t think the stock Asian-American upbringing enforces textbook beta behavior (be good but not too good); they want high achievement, just within the established systems and norms. Iconoclasm is not one of their values, but as has been said elsewhere this is an attitude of immigrant communities everywhere.

      Consider also that Asians are not automatons, and as parents they’re susceptible to every flaw white parents are, i.e. being controlling, trying to live through their children vicariously or use them to climb socially, and the like. I’m not convinced that the attitudes we talk about as “Asian-American” have ever been that rare among whites or any other group.

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