CULTURE & ARTS
01/16/2017 02:24 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2017

Eddie Huang Opens Up About Why Asian Male Stereotypes Are So Painful

"There were times I thoroughly believed that no one wanted anything to do with me.”
Brad Barket via Getty Images

Celebrity restaurateur Eddie Huang responded to Steve Harvey’s recent distasteful jokes about Asian men with some poignant words.

The Fresh Off the Boat author wrote a raw, revealing op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday addressing Harvey’s daytime show segment in which the host laughed hysterically at the idea of being attracted to Asian men. 

In the powerful piece entitled “Hey, Steve Harvey, Who Says I Might Not Steal Your Girl?” Huang explained that Harvey’s comments are reflective of the commonly held belief “that women don’t want Asian men.” And that stigma has had a profound effect on Huang. 

“No matter how successful I was...there were times I thoroughly believed that no one wanted anything to do with me."

“No matter how successful I was, how much self-improvement was made, or how aware I was that stereotypes are not facts, there were times I thoroughly believed that no one wanted anything to do with me,” Huang wrote. 

The Baohaus owner, who’s Taiwanese-American, said that growing up, he was aware of the various stereotypes attached to Asian-Americans. And while he understood he didn’t fit many of the traits spun out of the “model minority myth” ― like being good with computers or acting subordinate ― the particular conclusion about Asian men’s desirability stung. 

“Attractiveness is a very haphazard dish that can’t be boiled down to height or skin color, but Asian men are told that regardless of what the idyllic mirepoix is or isn’t, we just don’t have the ingredients,” he wrote. 

Huang, along with other friends, have used different tactics to cope and dispel the stereotype, he said. For him, it was comedy. Still, Huang wrote, the media’s harmful propagation of the stereotype has had very real effects.

"The structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world.”

“I told myself that it was all a lie, but the structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world.”

Indeed, there have been countless jabs taken at Asian men outside of Steve Harvey’s recent one. It’s difficult to forget Sacha Baron Cohen’s off-color comment at last year’s Oscars. The ceremony’s host, Chris Rock, had already made offensive jokes about Asians earlier in the night, and Cohen, who was in-character as “Ali G,” took another step further to joke about “hard-working yellow people with tiny dongs.” 

As Huang mentioned, it seems as though many have bought into this harmful stereotype. Data from dating site OKCupid showed that Asian men actually have a much harder time getting a date, compared to other groups.

But Huang has called on people to stop perpetuating this idea.  

And, as it is 2017, we think it’s about damn time, too. 

Check out Huang’s NYT piece here. 

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