By Kendell Yan
VANCOUVER — So there I was lying on his bed, naked as the day I came; and this time we both did. The heat of that midsummer afternoon lent his bedroom the delicate aroma of spunk and Old Spice. Before I even had time to towel down or grab my briefs he launched into a psychological assessment of my sexual tactics, and pegged me as a lovelorn faux slut. All of this culminating in the poignant slut shaming of the outfit I wore to his house. “Don’t sleep with the next guy on the first date and wear something less slutty, you’ll land him,” he said. Eugh. Worst.
I’d never done the proper Grindr hook-up thing before, mostly I’d slogged through an onslaught of lousy pickup lines, racist assumptions, and hypermasculinist prejudices. Being a half-Asian, gender-nonconforming, vers-bttm on Grindr demands exclusion from the hypermasculinist, cis-white dudes who plaster #masc4masc and/or “sorry, no Asians, no femmes” all over their profiles. On the other hand, it demands an inclusion into the world of being a hyperfetishizedfeminasian (patent pending).
The fucked up thing about #masc4masc and the rejection of femininity in gay hook-up culture is that it’s really just misogynistic internalized homophobia. The premium that is placed on being “masculine” and therefore “manly” creates a hierarchy that dismisses femininity as undesirable and weak. This sham “preference” constrains masculinity and suffocates the possibilities of a more nuanced sexuality.
With race things get a bit more intersectional for bodies like mine, bodies that must brace themselves under the weight of a monolithic colonial history. The stereotype of the “China doll” has its roots in Marco Polo’s thirteenth century white-nonsense portrayals of the East: passive Asian women, weak men, lots of opium. This douchenozzle produced feminized images of “the Orient” served to bolster the masculine, and subsequently powerful image of the West. This is what Edward Said calls Orientalism, and Grindr is a breeding ground for orientalist bullshit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called exotic, you know, like an animal or a rug.
What #masc4masc reveals is a trembling masculine fragility preceded by self loathing. It associates “gay acting” with being femme, and in turn, with weakness, and so rejects itself and opts for “straight passing sex.”
“No Asians, no femmes” conflates being Asian with being feminine and denies the infinite depths of the sexual/personal identities of all gay Asian men. It’s the idea perpetuating a West vs. East mentality, or white vs. yellow, or strong vs. weak. The assumption remains that Asian men and women are wholly submissive, and while I am, I am not necessarily. This is key.
So after this guy got all his mansplaining out, I towelled off and put my slutfit on. If I was white, or more masculine, I doubt he’d have the audacity to act the way he did, but then again being the stereotypically smart Asian, I know the math: if Asian then Femme, Femme being < Masc, Masc is =/> straightacting, straightacting = privilege, privilege remains constant while all others remain unequal.BC, British Columbia, hyperfetishizedfeminasian, LGBT, queer