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Sunil Adam Headshot

No eHarmony With Asian Men

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No one would want to be in the shoes of a black man in America. That is a given. Having the highest incarceration and unemployment rates, not to mention a reputation for violent behavior and drug use, black males are the most stereotyped segment of American demography. As comedian Chris Rock claims, even a crippled homeless white man will not want to trade places with him. "And I'm rich," Rock protests.

But there is a silver lining. Apparently Asian men are actually worse off than their black counterparts, at least in one category -- dating preferences of white American women. According to a survey of racial exclusion patterns in Internet dating, the most excluded categories are Asian men and black women. A survey of 6,000 Internet dating profiles by Belinda Robnett and Cynthia Feliciano of the University of California, Irvine, reportedly found that "Asian males and black females are more highly excluded than their opposite sex counterparts."

That means white American women would rather opt for black men than Asian males (including East Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi), although the latter tend to be more educated, more qualified, more gainfully employed and better placed in the social hierarchy than the average black male. Such social and romantic ostracism even by "fat white women with daddy issues" -- the sorts who go for black men according to standup comedian Jim Norton -- might seem incredulous to Asian men with an inflated ego to nurse.

How does one explain this predicament of Asian men, who are raised to be proud and upright men of character with undisputed leadership roles assigned in the family and society? Even if I'm eminently unqualified to make sociological or cultural deductions, let me offer some possible clues.

At the outset, Asian men are far fewer in numbers than black or Latino men, which restricts their exposure, availability and access to white women. They are also culturally alien to white women in a way that black or Latino men are not. Barring a small community of Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the Pacific North East, Asian migration is relatively new -- most of it taking place since the repeal of racist exclusionary laws in the 1960s. On the other hand, blacks and Latinos were part of the turbulent American history from the very outset, and hence have a history of social relationships with European Americans.

The enviable standing of black men in sports and music -- two major preoccupations of American life -- also gives them an advantage over Asian men, who are conspicuously absent in American popular culture. And Chinese, Korean and Indian students, be it in school or college, are invariably classified as nerds -- hardly a "cool" category that generates dating buzz among females, particularly during the "vampire-chick-lit" phase they inexplicably go through.

It is also interesting that the very reasons why Asian women are sought after by white men who care to date or marry outside their racial confines, are conversely the reasons why Asian men are probably excluded from white female preferences. Several studies found white men prefer Asian women because they are seen as "homely" -- obedient and faithful -- as compared to Asian men, who are possibly unappealing because of their reputation for being domineering, hierarchical and illiberal. Unlike Asian women, Asian men tend to be much more authoritarian, conservative, religious and profess fealty toward their cultural values that are often incompatible with Western mores.

It is also quite possible that white women summarily exclude from their romantic pursuits Muslim men, who form a sizable segment of the Asian-American population that includes Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Central Asians, Arabs, Persians and an assortment of South East Asians. While apathy and animosity toward Muslim men can be explained away, however imprecisely, given the political environment in the U.S. since the 9/11 terror attacks, religion seems to play curious, even if inconsistent and often contradictory, role in social relationships. For instance, there are many instances of Jewish men marrying Hindu and Buddhist women, but quite inexplicably the same cannot be said about Jewish women opting for Hindu or Buddhist men. Similarly, there is no evidence of white men who are unencumbered by racial considerations preferring Muslim women, although they possess the qualities that are much sought after by such men -- obedience and fidelity.

Although they invariably factor in romantic preferences, none of the surveys I've cursorily checked paid adequate attention to white women's preference or lack thereof to physical characteristics and attributes of Asian men. It would have been interesting to know how they viewed the Mongoloid and Caucasian features and physique of East Asian and East Indians respectively.

Given my own ethnicity, however, I can say with some certainty that the three-day stubble that young Indian men seem to sport nowadays, aping white young men, will not change their status with white women.

Losing it might help their case in the next survey.