Rice Queens, the colonization of the Asian body, and self-orientalizing, Part 1
February 27, 2012
(Originally posted at Womanist Musings. Posting here for archival purposes.)
So... This post will probably be a mess. I've been trying to write it for a week and this is the 5th (or so) iteration of it. However, after this post on WM last week, it seems extra appropriate and timely.
But this post has convinced me that (crappy/disjointed/incoherent or not) this post is necessary (I also just read another post about this in a paper). Renee has had occasion to point out the anti-Black racism of the gay community. Interestingly, the post I linked to is one of the most popular on this site. I think that the gay community isn’t called out enough for its racism (and its misogyny, for that matter). But I want to talk about gay racism.
One of the (numerous) problems with stereotypes is that they don’t really do any good for anybody. Not even the ‘positive’ stereotypes like the model minority myth for Asians. The Western emasculation of the Asian man (or those perceived as men) creates two major problems if those Asian men are gay/queer. First, it means that gay Asians become the gay equivalent to Asian women (i.e., China Dolls/Lotus Flowers – whatever) and, second, that they are constructed as the (arguably) least attractive men within the gay community.
It is not uncommon to join a gay dating/hook up site and see profile, after profile saying, ‘no Asians.’ The only other groups of people awarded this distinction are fat men and femmes. But the singling out of Asian men cannot be separated from sexism and a rejection of anything femme in the gay community. It is also based on a white supremacist and cis-supremacist notion of what it means to be ‘masculine.’ (this also generates the stereotype of the gay, Black man as the stud. I had a fairly queeny Black friend who always, *always* had to act super butch if he wanted dates. But this is based on the more, general white supremacist construction of the Black man as being more ‘animalistic’ or, in more plain words, less human.)
In any case, the unchecked sexism in the gay community feeds and supports its unchecked racism and allows it to construct Asian men as uniquely unattractive because of their inability to ever be masculine by white standards (of course, I’d be remiss to not mention the stereotype about Asian men all having small dicks).
So, this creates an environment where Asian men become ripe for the advances of sexual predators who fetishize Asian queers. They are called rice queens. The fetish is common enough and recognizable enough to have been named. A name that exemplifies and illustrates the phenomenon: ‘rice’ queens. Because we all know that all Asians eat rice. All the time.
And what many white gay men appear to not realize is that finding Asian men unattractive and fetishizing them are two sides of the same racist coin. They both mobilize and use the same stereotypes to construct either the desire for or disgust with the male Asian body. But it is a perception of the body filtered through and viewed with the white lens. This construction of the Asian body is a product of the colonialization of Asia (and, at turns, the justification for colonizing in a process that creates a feedback loop).
The production of the Asian body as justification for colonization will be discussed in greater detail in part 2.