eChinaJOBs APP Download

Understanding the Construction of the ‘Asian-Guy’ Stereotype

Jan 16, 2017 By PamyuPamyu , Comments (4)     Add your comment Newsletter

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WeChat
  • Email
  • More sharing

Pretty much on a daily basis I feel someone not-so-slyly staring or double-glancing at me and my Hong Kong boyfriend holding hands. So what’s the deal here?

I'll admit, before starting university in the UK, I knew very little about Hong Kong and indeed Asian guys in general. Coming from such a small rural town in the English countryside had simply meant that I had never been exposed to Asian culture. The only ideas I had to go on concerning Asian guys came from the portrayal of them in Western media. Akin to all the stereotypical tropes it has unfortunately created, my image of Asian guys was that of an effeminate, shy, not-so-passionate-when-it-came-to-lovemaking man. Either that or Jackie Chan. None of this was due to my, or anyone else’s, conscious ignorance to foreign culture, it’s just how it was; the information wasn’t there for us, so naturally, we didn’t know. But then I met my Hong Kong boyfriend.

Every person, regardless of cultural background, is an individual. It would be ridiculous to generalize, categorize or judge according purely to factors of nationality. Yet we do. Why don’t we judge every flavor jam as the same when we see it on the shelf in the supermarket? They’re all in glass jars, they all have fruit. Well obviously, we can tell that all jam’s jam, but within that category there’s strawberry, raspberry, over there’s blueberry… If someone asked you to buy jam you’d say sure, which flavor? So why do so many of us have such a singular opinion of Asian men as one ‘type’ when obviously there are an infinity of possibilities within each individual?

To begin with, jam’s never had to deal with being a binary ‘other’ to our Western selves. We automatically know there are a plurality of flavors of jam; when it gets down to it, we don’t simply think of it as one collective ‘jam’, there’s always in our minds the understanding that not all flavors of jam will be the same just because it shares the same noun, ‘jam’. However, (and bear with me here) when we think of men between East and West, we have the tendency to think of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Here, we do consider Asian men as one collective ‘type’, and this ‘type’ is ‘other’ in relation to ‘us’ on the opposite side of the binary pole. Thinking in this binaristic fashion does not allow us to naturally view Asian men as individuals since we’re so busy thinking of them as a collective ‘other’ to ‘us’.

Meeting my boyfriend abolished my conception of what an Asian guy ‘should’ be like, and encouraged me to think instead what this particular person is like. Of course, cultural backgrounds, styles of parenting, traditional values etc. can affect an individual’s behavior, way of thinking, life perspectives, dating styles etc. but this is not to say that an individual is exclusively dictated by what their culture and childhood taught them. There are an innumerable amount of factors that can shape an individual, no one should focus solely on the binary tag ‘Western’ or ‘Eastern’ when forming an initial opinion of someone.

Equally, an Asian man cannot be defined by the stereotypes that the Western world created and projects onto him (the whole effeminate, shy, small penis deal the media’s shared out). This misconception, one which I myself was disillusioned by, is often why we are so shocked to see a Western girl dating an Asian man. What the media has taught us an Asian man is like just doesn’t appeal to what Western women have been accustomed to thinking and have been taught is ‘attractive.’ On top of this, we assume that all Asian men simply must fall within this stereotype because they’re on that binary side of ‘Asian guy.’ So what’s that girl holding that guy’s hand thinking?

Well, if we can detach ourselves from the media-produced stereotypes that have become so ingrained within us as truth, and detach ourselves from thinking exclusively in terms of binaries (East and West) we can start to see each man for who he really is, not an Asian-stereotype, but as 100% binary-free, stereotype-free individual.

I feel more and more people are taking this step in understanding, and that it is occurring at an exponential rate. I still feel a not-so-sly stare from a passer-by as I walk holding my boyfriend’s hand. But no media or binaristic-thinking will ever deter me from continuing to hold on.

Read more from PamyuPamyu, or find more blogs by our community here.

For the latest China related news and stories sent right to your phone follow our WeChat account:



The use of any news and articles published on without written permission from constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.

Keywords: Asian stereotype Asian guy stereotype

You might also be interested in

  • I’m Sure It’ll be Fine: Street Food and Food Safety Standards in China

    Street food is more than just a way to fill one’s stomach in China; it is an integral part of the food culture. And despite Chengguan, food scandals and ever tighter restrictions getting in their way, street food vendors continue. The public just can’t say no.

  • Same Name, Different Game: 5 Ugly Facets of the Chinese Workplace

    It doesn't take sharp observational skills to notice that China is a very, very different place from whence you came. It doesn't matter where you're from – I happen to come from America, and so use this as a baseline for my own experience – China is completely different from it.

  • Charity in China: The Low Down on Street Begging

    If you live in a Chinese east coast metropolis, with all its Western brand paraphernalia, it's easy to forget that China is still a developing country. In a typical month you're likely to see more chauffeured Rolls Royces than hand tended rice paddies. It won't be too long however, before China ...

  • Overcoming Adversity: 5 of the Most Common Fears of China Expats

    Living in a place like China that has a very different culture, language and ideology can definitely make the average person shake in their boots. Here are some useful tips I picked up over the last five years to help you integrate and conquer your biggest fears in order to become a true China ...

  • 10 Status Symbols in Modern China

    Since the opening and reforms of the late 1970s, China’s economy has boomed, leading to a rise in wealth and a burgeoning middle class. With new money comes status symbols, and modern China has plenty. Here are 10 of the most ostentatious and intriguing.

  • The Residue of Design: 8 Symbols of Luck and Good Fortune in China

    Chinese culture certainly has no shortage of symbols of luck and good fortune, many of them stemming from wordplay or riddles. These symbols are easily seen in everyday life, but sometimes their meaning is not easily discernible. Here we take a look at eight lucky symbols often seen or heard ...

4 Comments ( Add your comment )


the fact he actually holds your hand in public is a miracle, just don't make him carry your purse.

Jan 20, 2017 19:20

its ridiculous, every stereotypes are

Feb 03, 2017 09:39

I agree that generalising is ridiculous, you might want to say that to those White women and Asian men who generalise every White man/Asian woman couples as being "a self-hating woman with a loser White supremacist who couldn't get anyone back home" because it's very far from the actual truth and yet lots of people seem to believe this crap. I mean just look at my photo, not bad looking at all, still today I get asked by every White fempats to go out for a drink (which I can't being married), I had lots of fun with German girls before coming to China, yet apparently I'm a loser just because I prefer Asian girls and married one. Well the way I see it is those who see me as a loser for my choices are the actual losers, they hate me and my wife because we are happy together while they are lonely.

Feb 11, 2017 02:34

well said

Apr 11, 2017 06:44

Add your comment

All comments are subject to moderation by staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate. Please use the Classifieds to advertise your business and unrelated posts made merely to advertise a company or service will be deleted.

Please login to add a comment. Click here to login immediately.

Do you know more about this topic?

Share your experience with other readers and earn points and rewards.

How can I earn points? Post Blog

Share your blog with others and earn 5 points.

Most Read in eChinacities

This week This month

Living in China

Featured Comments

Hot Jobs Hot Classifieds