I despise MRAs. In case you don’t know, MRA stands for “Men’s Rights Activist.” You’ll often find them trolling in the comments sections of news article that talks about rape, pay inequality, depiction of women in the media, etc.
Here are some of their familiar choruses:
"Divorce court favors women!"
"Men have to fight in wars!"
"Men have to pay for first dates and face the risk of first rejection!"
"Women are privileged because they get to cry while men can’t!"
"Women are supposed to be submissive and deferential because biology."
"Waaaah, the hot girl in class won’t give me sex even though I’m Nice to her!"
You get the idea. Mainly, they’re guys who despise feminism because it has deflated the value of the Average Guy. For example, back in the 1950s, any Joe Schmoe with a high school education and a job was probably seen as a decent catch because most women relied on men for financial support. Fast forward to now, and with so many women having post-graduate degrees and their own income, suddenly Joe Schmoe isn’t worth so much on the sexual market anymore.
He COULD work hard to improve himself and become more of an eligible bachelor (e.g. stay in shape, read some books, learn to cook), OR he could just sit on his ass and whine about the oppression that men face these days from those women. Yeah, you know those same women who dominate all 19% of Congress?
Anyway, my point is that MRAs are despicable people and no confident and successful guy should want to be associated with them.
So it’s much to my dismay when I see Asian guys somehow sounding a lot like MRAs when they talk about certain advantages that Asian women have in American society. For example, Asian women are more readily accepted socially and romantically by the White majority. There is arguably more positive representation of Asian women than men in the media. Asian female news anchors are a common sight because Americans associate them with positive feminine qualities. Meanwhile, when and if Asian men show up in the media, it’s usually as villains (if we’re lucky) or as anti-sexual comic relief.
When it comes to Asian American literature, America listens to the voices of Asian WOMEN, not men. Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston are the Asian equivalents of Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes; that is, minority writers that are presented to White Americans as being representative of their groups. It is almost certainly not a coincidence that both Tan and Kingston flatter the American ego at the expense of the Asian one, especially the Asian male one.
So in this context, how can Asian men talk about gender differences in our demographic without sounding like an MRA? It’s a very tricky situation, but here are some general pointers.
1) Don’t make it about sex
Things such as the interracial relationship disparity and Asian male stereotypes are key symptoms of anti-Asian prejudice, but don’t bring in your own sex life (or lack thereof) into the debate. This makes it sound as if your main complaint is that you’re not getting as many hot chicks as you think you deserve. That’s not a cause that most people want to support.
2) Be an ally of feminism
You can be critical of anti-Asian male prejudice AND support feminism. You can be critical of a certain branch of Asian feminism that seeks to demonize Asian men while ignoring the many transgressions of White men, and still be supportive of the idea of gender equality. If you can show that you’re an ally of feminism, then you can also neutralize the most broad-brush (and lazy kneejerk) attack against you, which is that you’re a sexist who wants to subjugate Asian women.
3) Don’t use terms like “sellout”
As a rule, you don’t want to insult or demonize people you’re trying to have a dialogue with. Sad fact is that there ARE indeed sellouts of all types who will try to fit in with the most dominant group. But name-calling ends debates before they even start, and we want to have a dialogue here.
4) Find sympathizers with non-Asian women
In my experience, non-Asian women often have an easier time empathizing with the issues of Asian men than some Asian women do, especially if those non-Asian women have had relationships with Asian men and know what kind of prejudices that we face. These women aren’t regressive anti-feminists; they’re well-educated feminists who don’t have racial blinders on when it comes to Asian issues. By finding White, Black, and Latina women who support you, you can again neutralize the inevitable attack against you that you’re just trying to figuratively bind Asian women’s feet.
5) Be an awesome person
The predictable ad hominem attack against you will be that you’re a typical Asian male loser who plays Starcraft all day and has no friends or girlfriends. Therefore, you’re just a whiner. While there are some people like that, it’s not as if Asian male discrimination only afflicts the dorks. Here’s Tim Chiou, a 6’2” handsome Asian actor, talking about how he knows what it’s like to be devalued for his Asianness. If you exhibit charisma, social ease, and a diverse group of friends, you will be given much more credibility when you speak out.