Are White Men More Confident and Dateable than Asian Men? AKA, I Hate White Supremacy

A few months ago, I talked with one of my good friends L about a disturbing phenomenon we observe in the Asian American community: Asian Americans who prefer to date white people. While texting her about this issue, I encountered this video about Asian American women who talk about their preference for dating white men. I felt so disturbed watching this video because it reminded me of queer Asian men I know who prefer dating white guys over Black, Indigenous, and other men of color (BIMOC). While this whole video reeked of internalized racism and anti-Black racism, one comment that annoyed me in particular: the notion that white men are “more confident” than Asian men.

I despise the notion of white men being “more confident” than Asian men because that idea so often fails to take into account the effects of white privilege and racism. White men do not exit their birth parent’s womb drenched in some confidence sauce that enhances their perceived self-worth. White men literally benefit from white male privilege engineered and maintained across several generations, which manifests in increased notions of self-competence and psychological safety. Before anyone tries to lampoon me with the “white men suffer too” argument, yes, I recognize white men suffer. I have met many white men with depression, anxiety, intense self-defeating tendencies, etc. At the same time, these white men still have not encountered the intergenerational racial trauma and present-day racism that BIMOC do and therefore have way more resources to increase their confidence and overall position in society.

This tweet reminded me of when I’ve seen queer men of color feel bad about not being pursued by white men when it’s like, no, being pursued by white men is not a worthy goal, let’s fight and dismantle the queer white male gaze instead.

I also want to acknowledge the racism encountered by Asian men which may affect their confidence (I focus on Asian men here just because the initial video often compared white men to Asian men specifically.) Please don’t get me wrong, I have met many Asian men who are emotionally unavailable or immature, poor communicators, and/or abusive though sadly I’m still craving to meet an attractive, kind, emotionally intelligent and radical queer Asian man so I can have a new crush to slightly obsess over, lol. A lot of us Asian men have shit to work through and I’m all for acknowledging that. At the same time, Asian men experience racism that white men do not, which often is associated with poor mental health outcomes, increased conformity to masculine norms to regain a sense of self-worth, and other negative repercussions. Instead of obsessing over white men’s “confidence” perhaps we should work to dismantle the white supremacist structures that imbue them with that confidence – as well as their increased access to material resources – in the first place.

I find it so frustrating when fellow Asian Americans view Asian Americans’ preference to date white people as harmless or innocent. As feminists have declared since the 1960’s the personal is political and who we want in our lives, romantic or otherwise, is deeply political. Colorism, or prejudice or discrimination against people with a dark skin tone, is real. Hypergamy, or the desire to marry someone of a superior caste or class, is real. When Asian American people state that they prefer to date white people, they are also complicit in anti-Black racism and the racist glorification of whiteness. Again: instead of trying to assimilate into whiteness and the power imbued within whiteness, why don’t we aim to destroy the systems that give whiteness its power to begin with?

Some people may feel attacked by the contents of this post which feels fine by me. My good friend L and I have talked about how when we question fellow Asian Americans’ preferences to date white people, they often respond with something about how it’s their “choice” to do so. Well, yes, it is your choice, and no one is saying it isn’t your choice – rather, I’m arguing that it’s important to interrogate your choices and what motivates them, whether that be internalized racism, anti-Black racism, the pressure to adhere to heteronormative dating norms or to assimilate into whiteness, or something else. As feminist writers have stated, making a choice that feels empowering in and of itself does not lend to political power. Even if dating a white person feels good, we should interrogate where that feeling of goodness stems from.

The point of this post is not to be mean or petty. In some ways, this podcast about an Asian American woman unlearning her internalized racist dating preferences motivated me to write this post. I too once had a crush on a kinda mediocre white guy in undergrad before I got politicized, a Justin Trudeau look alike. He then posted a snap of a beer can in a pie at 2am one night, which motivated me to read The Will to Change by bell hooks and recognize that having crushes on men is ultimately pointless. Anyway, the point of this post is to encourage us to consider the systemic factors that may incentivize dating white people over BIPOC – as well as to consider the systemic factors that incentivize dating at all, though you can read the rest of my blog for that. I also hope that we can invest the energy we dedicate to finding romantic love to tearing apart racism, promoting healing and non-abusive power for BIMOC, and loving ourselves regardless of whether a man or any romantic partner loves us.

Hello friends! It has been a few weeks since I have posted. I spent a week with one of my best friends, got a fair amount of research done, and have gone on many jogs to Itzy’s wonderful new propulsive song “Not Shy.” This is my first post written using WordPress’s new block editor mode which annoyed the heck out of me, so if anyone has any tips on putting borders around images or adjusting to the new editor overall please let me know. Of course, please also feel free to leave a comment about your reactions to this post and if any of the content resonates with you in any way. I have a few ideas for future posts so even though the fall academic semester starts next week I feel hopeful that another post will emerge soon.

Also, take action to demand justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times in the back by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Black Lives Matter.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Are White Men More Confident and Dateable than Asian Men? AKA, I Hate White Supremacy

  1. I’m ashamed to be white, or even broader, a human.
    We’re such fu*cked up, making others live in hell. It’s a pity that people trying to solve problems created by other people are so rare…

    • Thank you for sharing your honest reaction! Reminds me a lot of the concept of white guilt, these are a couple of readings that came to mind (no pressure to read, just in case anyone who sees this comment thread may be interested):

      Click to access anatomy_white_guilt.pdf

      • Will read for sure, thanks!

        Is there anything about homo sapiens guilt?
        I know, my actions matter, when it comes to my conscience, but i don’t agree with how world looks like… The only way i see is activism, but maybe you have more ideas and/or research around that 🙂

  2. This is so interesting. I’ve managed to get myself feeling guilty about never having dated anyone outside my racial group; I don’t really know why and it certainly wasn’t conscious and obviously there’s nothing I can really do about it now, given I’m married. I don’t find non-white people unattractive physically but I’ve just always been drawn to a psychological type. Maybe something to work on when I read Me and White Supremacy, although not in a practical manner, but to have a think about!

  3. Hmm…. I’ve been exposed to mix marriages since I was a child. My dad’s siblings were mostly in mix marriages. Quite a few of my cousins are also in mix marriages. My brother is married to a white person (his first wife was also white). I don’t know if this was a preference or perhaps a product of the environment.

    I think where it is an issue if someone believes they date white folks because they perceive the race to be better. Marrying outside your race to move up as in a marriage of convenience … hmmm; I don’t know. I guess if there is true love and both parties mutually benefit – would that be ok?

    It’s a complex issue with so many different dimensions.

    p.s. I am very annoyed at this new WordPress editor too.

    Take care.

    • Ooooh that’s so interesting! Did the mixed marriages include marriages that didn’t have a white person? And yep totally agree that there’s an issue if someone thinks the white race is better, dating them or not. I feel like in regard to marrying outside of your race to move up, we should work to dismantle the systems and structures that make it so that anyone would have to do that to move up – like how people who are married get tax breaks whereas people who are not romantically entangled in that way do not.

      Thanks for your solidarity re: the new WordPress editor!

      • Hmm… for non white marriages. Let’s see… one of my cousin is married to a African American. Another is married (and I think now divorced) to an Italian guy. One of my cousins (gay) was partnered with someone who was part Native American (they broke up last year though). On my dad’s generation, one of my uncles married someone with I think Spanish, Filipino and Japanese background. An aunt married was married to a Hawaiian Chinese. I don’t really know if he’s 100% Chinese. Another uncle married someone that I know isn’t 100% Chinese. I think she was part Filipino with some Spanish genes too.

        Have a great week.

  4. priya

    Thanks so much for writing this Thomas! Desiring white men (and women, in my case) is definitely a case of internalised racism and anti-Black racism. think you wrote this post in a really clear way and didn’t attack mixed race relationships. When it’s between a white person and a BIPOC white privileged definitely plays a role and it can’t be ignored like fetishising or anything. What did you think of the BP and Selena Gomez colab??

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Priya, I appreciate your solidarity so much! Yep, I definitely agree that race and privilege can’t be ignored. Haha ugh my feelings about the collab are complex – on one hand part of me feels sad that they collabed with Selena Gomez in the first place because of how Selena Gomez disparaged Black Lives Matter a few years ago, though perhaps she’s changed. I could probably write a lot about the song but overall it’s cute and I like elements of it (e.g., Rose’s lines in the chorus) but it’s not my fav from them by far. Would be curious on your thoughts/feels about it!

      • priya

        Yeah I wasn’t very keen on BP collabing with Selena Gomez either,,, but then BP themselves are pretty bad with appropriating Black American hip hop culture (especially in How you like that). It’s a fun song and yes rose’s chorus is definitely the best part. I agree that it’s not that great compared to their previous songs and the music video was boring ugh

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