As some of you know, Mr. Hyphen is tomorrow. Check it out if you’re in Oakland. It’s a male pageant, something which I wrote about before. I’m not crazy about the idea of male pageants for Asian American men. It’s in a feminine context, and I’ve felt that men must make a hard impact in order to find their power. But I’m not going to oppose it either. They raise lots of money for causes, and you can’t fault them for that. If I were in town, I might go myself.
Anyway, Mic on the Hyphen blog addressed some of the points in my last post:
Here was the response that I posted:
Great post! Thanks so much for the dialogue. I really appreciate it. As some people may know, I was involved with the creation of Miss Asian Oregon last month, and so I am into the pageant scene too. All this dialogue helps me to make sense of what we’re doing.
I will post more on this later, but what I would say is this: I question whether this is a Western vs. Eastern thing. More likely it’s a MostPeople vs. SomePeople thing. I actually applaud what you’re doing. You guys are raising money for a good cause, and you’re having fun at the same time. More power to you.
My question is whether or not it challenges the status of Asian mens’ masculinity and attractiveness, as you mention above. Will this get more Asian American men and women dating? When we ask difficult questions of ourselves, this is really what it’s about–what can Asian American men do to be respected as men within our own Asian American society?
I brought up the money and performance art because of the observations by Lester Thurow and my own observations of performance artists–and we all live in a Western world. But would things be all that different if we were still in China? Do they have male pageants in China? The traditional Chinese male models have been figures such as Kwan Gung, the God of War, or the Monkey King, whose cleverness guided him through life. Even in the Three Kingdoms, we see qualities like loyalty and power and sacrifice as something to be practiced, not necessarily something to be seen.
I don’t feel pressure to be more “manly,” but if “manly” means a focus on achievement, then that is something that I would teach my kids. I don’t think that decision comes only from the Western mainstream way of seeing life
As for the money thing, perhaps we should encourage people to give it, and to use their money/power to create change. I’m just as annoyed by hoarders as everyone else. But things could change. I had people on my blog who decided to give money to Sam Yoon in order to advance the cause of Asian American men in politics. I think that’s pretty darn cool. I think that’s pretty darn proactive and militant.
Again, I’m not against what they’re doing. But for something like Asian male masculinity, something that more than half the comments on this blog concern, it seems evident to me that we need to do something more. We really want change.
My questions are as follows: Why are we trying to redefine masculinity in a less masculine setting? What is so wrong about the masculinity in traditional Asian culture: the inner drive of Musashi Miyamoto, the cunning of the Monkey King, the power of Kwan Gung?