How Big Is My C**K?!: What My Holiday in Asia Has Taught Me About Racism
Those weren’t the words I had been expecting to come out of the young lady’s mouth as I maneuvered my way through the Saturday night crowd in the Silom district of Bangkok. But there, she’d said it, and I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Greek myths have been passed around for centuries, and those stale myths about black men in bed have been in circulation for as long as I’ve known what a penis is. I’ve heard it just about everywhere, on the dance floor, in the middle of foreplay, on an episode of “The Golden Girls.” I’ve been asked variations of the same question on every continent I’ve visited, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Melbourne, Australia, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where days after my awkward encounter in Bangkok, the subject was broached once again by a straight guy from Sweden. He got so close when he brought it up that I thought he might reach over and find out for himself!
There’s no escaping it. I used to get angry, but now I get even by getting cheeky. “How big is my cock, you want to know? Well, if you’re asking, it’s probably bigger than yours.” Oh, snap! (Do people still say that? I’ve been out of the U.S. for a while, so pardon my English idioms.)
Yes, it’s old news, but in Asia, I was hoping they’d know better, considering all the rumors and myths swirling around about them. Of course, there’s the one about slutty Asian women whose only desire is to fulfill the wildest sexual fantasies of horndog Western guys. I must admit, I’ve thought about this one every time I’ve seen a white guy attached to a female local in all of the cities I’ve visited, but never once did I think it might be true, and it certainly never occurred to me to ask.
Then there’s the one about the, um, manhood, or lack thereof, of Asian men. This is the one that’s weighed on my mind most. Not because I wanted to know if it’s true — I’ve always been an equal opportunity scorer, so I know the answer to that question — but because of all of the anti-Asian sentiment I’ve encountered on the gay scene in the U.S. and in Australia.
“No Asians!” I can no longer count the number of times I’ve read those words on Manhunt. They always make me cringe, but it wasn’t until I travelled through Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia that I realized just how ridiculous they are. I met a 30-year-old guy of Indian descent in Bangkok who was born in New Zealand, spent most of his life in Australia and is now living and working in Fiji. He leaned in to tell me a secret: “I’m not attracted to Asian guys,” he said. I didn’t point out the fact that he’d just insulted himself. Instead I pointed out five gorgeous Asian men within a several-meter radius of us. He must have stood corrected because after I turned him down gently, I think he ended up going home with one of them.
At another club in Kuala Lumpur, I met a black guy from Washington D.C. who confided in me, “I’m not really into Chinese-Malaysian guys.” Yes he should know better, but besides that, I couldn’t believe that he’d narrowed down his racism so precisely. After he left, I repeated what he’d told me to the friend I was with, a Chinese-Malaysian who’s as good-looking as any guy I’ve seen in any bar or club anywhere in the last five years, and he said he gets that a lot.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand people who think like that. I’m not even sure what a Chinese-Malaysian is supposed to look like, and saying that there is a specific “look” would be a lot like saying that all “African-Americans” look alike. It’s as if they’ve clumped everyone with a genetic link to the Asian continent into a box — if you’ve got slanted eyes, you fit in, never mind that not all Asians have slanted eyes — but that would be like saying “No Europeans” and thinking that there’s no physical difference between the French, the Spanish, Germans, Italians, people from Scandinavia and people from Eastern Europe.
The truth is that there’s as much variety among the people in the various countries in Asia as there is among people anywhere in the world. They’re tall. They’re short. They’re thin. They’re fat (well, a few of them are). So the phrase “No Asians” is not only racist and cruel, it’s meaningless, too. To use it shows that not only are you bigoted, but if you’re well-travelled enough to have actually visited more than one Asian country, you’re blind, too. Open your eyes, and your mind will (hopefully) follow.
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