Dude Bros vs. Asian Men

By Jae-Ha Kim
September 4, 2017

I wrote a brief post the other day that attracted considerable attention. I wrote it more as a reminder to myself that one of my duties as a parent is to teach my son that words are powerful. Anything he says on the internet — whether on a “private” setting or not — is out there for the world to read, dissect and judge.

This includes the university he wants to attend, the job he’d like to get and the partner he’d like to date. His past will be available to anyone with access to a search engine.

When I wrote my piece about Logan Paul‘s racist tweets coming to light, I illustrated it with photos of him, his Asian-American girlfriend, Chloe Bennet, and a group photo of him looking very happy with the K-Pop group, BTS.

Some BTS fans suggested that I inserted the band’s photo to gain more followers; and that there was no reason to include them. I didn’t respond, because it didn’t seem like a big deal. But then I started getting more tweets about it, as well as direct messages and emails.

I’ll address this briefly.

First, it doesn’t impact my life personally or professionally, whether I have one follower or a million. I don’t get paid more or get assigned better stories if my followers count goes up. (Frankly, I think some of ya’ll are spambots.😂 JUST KIDDING!) Similarly, my employers aren’t going to fire me or pay me less if I delete my social media accounts all together. (I deleted my Tumblr account last year for various reasons and — surprise! — I still have a job!😛)

Second, and more importantly, the piece I wrote was less about Paul (or BTS) than illustrating how a subset of men take glee in emasculating men of Asian descent. The jabs almost always revolve around penis size. All this says to me is that the dude bros in question may not have large genitalia themselves, but they definitely are big dicks.

Third, the photo of Paul with BTS was used because it is the most current photo of him with any Asian men. If there was a recent photo of him standing next to Steven Yeun or high-fiving G-Dragon, I would’ve used that.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. I won’t go into the historical aspect here, but the emasculation of Asian men usually goes something like this: Dude bros will be discussing Asian men and then take the opportunity to denigrate their looks. Below, you can see that “handsome” John describes K-pop singers as “lady-boys.”


This isn’t just internet trolls saying ridiculous things like this. I had a long conversation with a well known and highly respected film critic. We were discussing Asian cinema and he opined that the reason Bruce Lee hadn’t become a bigger movie star was because he was … wait for it … ugly.

There are many words you can use to describe Lee. Ugly isn’t one of them. Meanwhile, this same white, male critic went on to praise the looks of actors such as Bruce Willis. I have nothing against Willis. I loved him in “Moonlighting” and “Pulp Fiction.” But he doesn’t hold a candle to Lee when it comes to looks.

I do believe that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But it’s clear that for many people, who say these offensive things, they refuse to see beauty in men who they view as inferior.

More than a decade ago, I wrote a piece about Asian-American actors. And the response from women was overwhelmingly positive. But several men felt compelled to e-mail the newspaper to inform us that Asian men are ugly and that no one in their right mind would find them sexy.

One particular troll was relentless. He e-mailed me dozens of time within the span of a few hours to let me know his opinions about Asian men: they’re short, they’re ugly, they’re stupid, they’re bucktoothed etc. I politely replied to him a couple of times. When the editor-in-chief saw what was going on, he told me to tell the guy to “fuck off” and he would back me up.

Clearly, I didn’t do that.

But, I did tell the brave, anonymous e-mailer to send me a photo of himself and I would have it published with his e-mails in our OpEd section. And for extra fun, we would take a poll to see how he measured up.

Crickets. Never heard from the guy again. Because…coward.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

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