Not just side-kicks! Asian Men debunk stereotypes

From Voices, 3:30 pm on 21 August 2017

WARNING: Content contains some explicit sexual references. May not be suitable for young audiences.

“A lot of the guys never had the chance to say what was on their minds and be truthful. A lot of stuff had to do with internalised racism – those horrible experiences that we just don’t want to admit are happening to us.” – Chye-Ling Huang, Director, Asian Men Talk About Sex

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Eight Asian men are challenging stereotypes and baring all as they speak candidly about sex, love and dating in new Loading Docs documentary by Auckland director Chye-Ling Huang

Sick of being discriminated against in matters sexual, Chye-Ling and documentary participant, actor/script writer Nathan Joe explained what drove them to make their outspoken, three minute documentary, simply titled “Asian Men Talk About Sex”

“The nerdy best friend, silent kung-fu master, tech wiz in the office” ... unshakable stereotypes in film and television continue to desexualise and emasculate Asian men. If sex is a universal human experience, where is the real talk when it comes to Asian men on our screens?”  - From Asian Men Talk About Sex

Not only have the eight male participants experienced first-hand overt racism from the wider public as Asian men, but they’ve also felt the burn of internalised racism.

“It’s being racist towards your own race – or believing that the race that you are is not as good as everyone else. It’s unconscious as well” Chye-Ling said.

She acknowledged that even with her dual-ethnicity as a Chinese and Pakeha woman, she found herself only dating white guys. She had to ask herself why.

“In terms of internalised racism it becomes really problematic in a dating and in a sexual way. You’re perpetrating it without realising it.”

One gay participant, Lawrence Ju-Nan was confronted by “No Asians or Indians” on some Tinder sites.

Nathan Joe, who is also gay, thinks it’s a systemic problem.

 “It’s almost expected that some people will be like that” he said.

“Some people will have the gall to be overtly racist and think that they can get away with it. And they do, and I guess that’s part of the problem.”

But while the documentary confronts serious issues, Nathan said it was celebratory and those issues were served up with a lot of humour.

“What’s so cool about this documentary is that it’s not just a purging of angst and pain, but it’s also about the joy of sex” he said.

“Absence isn’t the solution. Getting rid of the kung-fu masters doesn’t solve anything. It’s filling the absence with positive portrayals and positive representations that makes progress.

"Honestly how often do you get eight guys talking about sex that’s in an honest and candid way that’s not crude, let alone Asian guys?”

Chye-Ling agrees, “We don’t have healthy dialogues about sex in New Zealand” she said.

“We wanted to make something that was not only illuminating to these massive ideas of racism, sex and dating but something that was universal and would be really empowering for the participants themselves.”

“You’re not going to change people’s ideas if you’re always showing the negative. You’re pointing out the problems but you’re also presenting the solutions in the way that we’re portraying these dudes in that they have interesting ways of talking.”

When asked if she had any plans to make a full-length documentary with the subject matter, she said “We always knew we wanted to make more, so we over-shot by about seven hours." 

"I definitely see like a longer version or a series on the horizon.”

“By making content like this we can show a different side to Asian men. We want to diversify the characters that are shown on our screens. We want to show the reality now. Auckland is overwhelmingly Asian now and we need accept that and to reflect that. These people are valuable parts of our society. And they’re sexy!”