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Sorry I lied about posting George Takei's story on his conversation with his dad on being complicit in the Japanese American internment camps, but I swear I will do it once I'm done with all these papers. (Please tell me why I can come up with a rough draft of a policy research paper on fall prevention and home modifications due at the end of the month but not a paper on Gandhi due this Thursday.)

Before I get back to work, I'm quickly reposting this entry I wrote a while back for The Asian Women Blog Carnival. This was originally published in a past issue of the Asian American campus magazine for which I write.


Although it’s estimated that only 1% of the population at large is asexual, the Facebook group Asians Against Asexuality wants you to “band together to [e]rectify this grave epidemic of asexuality” that apparently afflicts the APA community. The group’s leaders lament that “the sad, sad truth of the matter is that many Asians are asexual. It's sort of pathetic, really. Even though all humans are sexual beings, some of us (especially Asians!) insist on taking our sexuality, locking it up in a safe, and dumping it overboard into an ocean of taboo.”

As an Asian American asexual who has yet to meet another APA asexual, I am delighted to have random strangers label me as pathetic and tragic. Don’t get me wrong - I have nothing against people becoming more in touch with their sexuality and have always been against abstinence-only sex education. What disturbs me, though, is this largely male group’s denial of the oversexualized image of Asian American women. The dragon lady and lotus flower stereotypes so prevalent in popular culture perpetuate the exploitation of women at a physical and psychological level. I understand that the social emasculation of Asian American men has very real repercussions in the dating scene, but this Facebook group marginalizes those of us who don’t identify with traditional notions of sexuality.

Across cultures, we’ve become accustomed to thinking about sexuality within two limited dimensions. One is either attracted to the opposite gender, the same gender or both. The transgendered and the genderqueer, whose gender identity isn’t necessarily same as their biological sex, are acknowledged by the more liberal as exceptions, but even their sexual preferences are assumed to fall within this categorical construction of sexual attraction.

Discussions about sexuality rarely include the possibility of a fourth alternative, that some people don’t experience sexual attraction to either gender. Our debates about evolution vs. intelligent design, gay marriage and stem cell research assume that human beings are inherently sexual beings. Regardless of where one stands on the issues, it’s widely recognized that the drive to procreate and perpetuate our genes is biologically imperative to the survival of any species. The lack of a sex drive and thus the lack of desire to procreate is so contrary to our fundamental self-interest that it’s difficult for us to imagine that people exist with such a “handicap.” The negative sexual stereotypes about Asian Americans of all genders put even more pressure on us to resist these social classifications by others outside our community. These stereotypes can even provoke a defensive show of sexual bravado as demonstrated by Facebook’s Asians Against Asexuality.

Most of all, I am offended that asexuality is equated with sexual dysfunction and repression as well as social ineptitude. “Denial” of sexuality for non-religious reasons is all too often the kiss of death for one’s dating prospects.

Although some asexuals have no desire for romantic relationships, there are many asexuals who are looking for love with people of the same, other or any gender; I happen to be a straight asexual. Many of my most liberal and sexually open friends, who happen to be of non-Asian descent, assure me that someday I’ll be turned on to the wonders of sex when I’m old enough. It’s all too convenient to subvert the “sexuality is fluid, so why can’t you be more like everyone else?” argument on sexual minorities. They tell me that it’s great that I’m fighting against Yellow Fever, but think that I’ll change my ways when I finally find a nice Asian boy who’ll really appreciate me and then “ravish” me (their words, not mine).

I find it fascinating how they all assume my future partner’s race to be Asian, as if non-Asian guys are hopelessly brainwashed by the sexual stereotypes and that Asian Americans don’t buy into them as well, however unconsciously. I genuinely appreciate their good intentions, but asexuality is a facet of my identity that I cannot and would not change even if I could.

Increasingly, I find myself trading one Asian American stereotype for another – China doll for model minority classmate. Not that I’m a perfect student by any means, but I’ve found it much easier to establish relationships of any sort with males if they see me in totally desexualized (and correspondingly de-romanticized) terms, as a strictly platonic, pseudo-sisterly confidante who’s willing to edit their papers. I’ve asked out Asian American, hapa and non-Asian American guys, and funnily enough the Asian American guys, who know that I’m asexual, were the only ones who politely turned me down. Granted, my sample size isn’t that large, but it’s frustrating to often feel like I’m pigeonholed by my Asian American peers who know I’m asexual.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s such a pressure for my high-achieving Asian American guy friends to prove their masculinity that subconsciously they couldn’t imagine having a romantic relationship with an asexual even if they aren’t having sex.

I might be terribly naïve in making this plea, but surely we’re progressive enough to accept our Asian American peers of all sexualities?
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theladyrose

June 2010

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