When it comes to online dating, Asians might appear to be the most "popular" singles. A survey by AYI.com revealed that, among all races and genders, Asian women receive the most online dating messages. OkCupid famously plumbed its data and found that Asian women get the most favorable attraction scores from single men of all races.
Yet if you take a closer look, a gender imbalance emerges. OkCupid also found that Asian men got some of the worst ratings from women. Why are they seemingly less attractive prospects?
It's because a many non-Asian women see Asian men as anything but hot dates. Weak, effeminate, geeky, unsexy — Asian men are subject to a litany of unflattering stereotypes that run counter to society's masculine ideals. Given these dehumanizing labels, Asian men often feel that they have to take the extra step to prove to potential partners, straight and gay, that they are anything but the stereotypical Asian male.
Here are six myths that we need to let go of.
Myth 1: Asian men are socially awkward geeks.
Asian males have long been depicted as math- or science-loving nerds who would rather spend their time studying than socializing with women. "We're pretty much seen on the nerdy side," Andrew Fung of the Fung Bros, a Chinese-American duo best known for discussing Asian-American issues on YouTube, told Mic. "Nerds run the world, but it's kind of unfortunate because they're seen [in a bad light] by women."
Let's be clear. Although some studies show that Asian students excel in math and science, clearly not all Asians ace both subjects. And even if they did, would that render them incapable of interacting with females? Any person who's ever dated knows that intelligence and sexiness aren't mutually exclusive — just ask stylish Korean actor Steven Yeun, who graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in psychology and a concentration in neuroscience.
Myth 2: Asian men are weak and effeminate.
The cliche of Asian men as scrawny, submissive weaklings is prominently visible in pop culture, from bumbling Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's to Han from 2 Broke Girls, a character "regularly made fun of for his lack of sex appeal, broken English and general uncoolness." To counter such images, Asian-Americans have needed the likes of Bruce Lee, a Chinese-American and legendary onscreen badass who was later credited as the father of modern mixed martial arts.
Not all Asian men know martial arts, but plenty are as assertive and confident as Lee famously was. "I think if people could just get past that initial hang-up, they'll see that Asian-American men are just like any other men," C.N. Le, a sociology professor at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told Mic. "There are [those] that are very charismatic, athletic and have very strong leadership capabilities."
Myth 3: Asian men aren't well-endowed.
Some women dismiss Asian men based on the assumption that Asian males don't "measure up" to white, black or Hispanic men. "When waves of people believe that a penis is relative to your height, foot size or how big your monster truck is, it's easy to see a five-foot-five Asian dude and think, 'He's not tall, therefore, his penis isn't that big,'" relationship blogger Ranier Maningding told Mic.
Researchers recently put that assumption to rest when they surveyed 15,521 penises from around the world and revealed that most are within the "normal" size range, noting no significant distinctions between nationalities or ethnicities. In fact, only 2.28% of the world's population has an "abnormally small" penis size. In short, ladies need not worry or jump to conclusions, big or small.
Myth 4: Asian men just aren't sexy.
The most commonly uttered reservation about Asian men might be this: "I'm just not into Asian guys." But what we find personally attractive is influenced heavily by societal definitions of beauty, which have long been rooted in limiting Western standards. "When whiteness is considered superior, white people are considered more attractive by definition and, insofar as the appearance of people of other races deviates from that standard, they are considered ugly," Lisa Wade wrote for the Society Pages.
The truth is that when it comes to classic sex appeal, there are few traits Asian men can't embody like any other men — something Brooklyn-based fashion photography duo Idris + Tony showed in their series for Models.com last year. From six-pack abs to rugged good looks, their Asian models checked every "sexy" box.
Myth 5: Asian males treat women poorly.
Studies on Asian patriarchy, along with media characterizations like the misogynistic villain Dr. Fu Manchu, have given the impression that Asian males possess a "deviant masculinity" that leads them to treat women worse than non-Asian males. It's a stereotype that still has sway, even among some Asian women.
In reality, every ethnic group has wannabe alpha males who debase women.
"It's really weird to me how we're always seen as these people that are oppressing our women," Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, told Mic. "There are chauvinistic people in every race. It's just that the proportion in which we're portrayed as chauvinistic is just way out of whack."
Myth 6: Asian men only date Asian women.
"It becomes a vortex of misunderstanding," JT Tran, who founded ABCs of Attraction, a dating boot camp for Asian men, told Mic. "Asian guys presume that white women or black women aren't interested in them because they don't try. And white women and black women only see Asian men associating with other Asians and say, 'Oh, you only date Asians, so I'm not going to try.'"
Sure, there are plenty of Asian men who bond with Asian women over shared cultural similarities. But many date and marry beyond their cultural confines; 28% of all Asian-American newlyweds in 2010 "married out," according to a Pew Research report.
As the myths persist, it's important that daters, straight and gay, look beyond the surface and make their own judgments. Asian males, like all men, have a lot to offer. Who knows? The next Asian man you come across might be the one you've been looking for your whole life.
Correction: April 28, 2015
A earlier version of this article misattributed a quote. It was from Andrew Fung of the Fung Brothers, not David. Additionally, this article has been updated to clarify language about average penis size.