February 20, 2012
Jeremy Lin. Everywhere you turn people are talking about Jeremy Lin. You know the story; undrafted, unwanted, Harvard Graduate becomes overnight sensation leading the New York Knicks back from the brink of irrelevance with displays of skill, heart and athleticism. Oh, and he’s Asian American. Given the ethnic/racial makeup of the modern NBA this final point just might be the most interesting part of the story. But again, that depends on who you ask.
Anyway, I’m not writing about Mr. Lin right now because I’m a sports fan (though I am) or because I dig his story (though I do) or because I don’t want Linsanity to end (though I don’t). No, I’m writing about Mr. Lin because of the nonsense I’ve heard from female friends since his rise to prominence.
JEREMY LIN AS SEX SYMBOL?
Picture me getting busy eating my burrito with GP. GP is Italian, as cute as a button and a lady I’ve known for years; we use to work together, dated briefly during our early 20s and now our relationship has found its level. We are friends for life. It goes without saying that we can talk to each other about anything without fear of judgment or recrimination. So, in between bites of her chicken burrito GP starts musing on Jeremy Lin’s exploits.
But she quickly moved past his on-court exploits to ponder whether his sexual prowess would match his athletic prowess:
“I think he’s sexy. He must be good in bed”, she said. “Don’t you think?”
“No, I don’t think…Why would you say that?”
“Well, he’s able to throw down on court; he must be able to throw down in the bedroom too”
“Well, if he can hang with the brothers, he must be able to…y’know…hang with the brothers”
Let’s stop right there for a second. If I’m following my friend’s logic, because an Asian American man is able to excel in a sport dominated by African-American men, he must be good in bed because African-American men are apparently some form of sexual gold standard. And just by Lin’s ability to hoop with the best of ‘em he must be able to f*** with the best of ‘em.
My thought(s): Wow, racial coding is so powerful that an otherwise intelligent woman can believe the most ignorant sh** for no good reason as far as I can tell. But the sad thing is I wasn’t surprised. Not because GP has a history of spewing ignorant shit but because I recognize that these ideas die hard. I recognize that as a black man people make all kinds of assumptions about me because I’m melanin rich but I also recognize that Asian men deal with a their own set of bullsh**. All I can do is shake my head and shrug my shoulders.
SPEAKING OF HARD
In the aftermath of Jeremy Lin’s particularly good display against the Los Angeles Lakers, sportswriter Jason Whitlock tweeted the following:
“Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight”
I follow Whitlock on Twitter. When I saw that tweet on my stream I was sure there would be some sort of backlash. A suspension perhaps, maybe a public reprimand. Something, anything. But as far as I can tell he faced few repercussions.
Are any of you surprised?
The day after lunch with GP, I went for dinner and drinks with Tara and Tanya, two young ladies I used to work with. They were musing on Linsanity when Tara said:
“I’ve always wanted to get with an Asian guy but I’m kinda worried about the whole small dick thing.”
Nope. This couldn't be an Asian guy. Could it?
Seriously people, I’m no expert in this area (actually, maybe I am) and I’m certainly not some advocate for the sexual prowess and ability of the Asian man but…I don’t even know what to say. Am I the only one exhausted by the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes, particularly as they apply to sexuality, mating and dating? Are we that okay with black man as stud and emasculated, undesirable Asian man stereotypes that we don’t even blink an eye at this sh**? Are we?
Based on what I’ve heard and seen this past week I think I know the answer.