This past week we were required to read a part of Celine Shimizu’s book titled, “Straightjacket Sexualities”. In the portion that we read, Shimizu comments on how the sexuality, or lack thereof, of Asian American men was portrayed back in earlier times. Asian American men were depicted as individuals that had no sex drive and ones that suffered socially when it came to interacting with females. Therefore, Asian American actors could only play villains or nerdy, skinny businessmen (neither roles involved them getting the girls) in American movies. White actors on the other hand, were commonly the hero and were arguably, seen as more heroic depending on the number of girls they had sex with. This perspective came to be widely accepted by the public and eventually, a man’s manhood was defined by the number of girls that he had entertained in bed. Thus when it came to Asian men, they were seen as having no manhood due to the stereotype that they had no interaction with women. However, Shimizu argues in her book that manliness should be judged by a man’s honor and other admirable qualities. Using the actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee as an example, Shimizu shows that a man can be manly without having excessive amounts of sex. She points out how Bruce Lee, while showing emotions of love and longing, focuses on his duty and always honors his relationship with his significant other.
Compared to the stereotypes of manliness today, a man’s manhood is judged on more than just a man’s sex life. However, the stereotype still is very much alive and still remains a big part of the conversation regarding manliness. Hopefully this changes in the near future and a man can be valued for his traits rather than for his physical attributes.