HomeWayne's WorldWayne's World: My dad is a walking stereotype, or is he?

Wayne’s World: My dad is a walking stereotype, or is he?

By Wayne Chan, AsAmNews Humorist

So, I’ve been thinking about dating apps…

Let’s back that up a bit. I’ve been happily married for 30 years. I’ve never been on a dating app. I’ve never downloaded one to my phone. I don’t even know which apps are popular to use.

Let me just re-emphasize this (in case my wife happens to read this column). I don’t have a dating app on my phone. Don’t need one, have never even considered using one. If there was a, “This is NOT a dating app” app, I probably WOULD use that one. Are we clear?

OK, I think we can get back on topic now.

I’ve been thinking about dating apps lately because my son Tyler (who does happen to use them) mentioned an interesting factoid to me. He told me that studies have shown that Asian men have the least amount of success in getting dates on dating apps.

Since it piqued my interest, I did a quick online search for the topic, and ran into a number of articles detailing some of the reasons for this particular occurrence. It turns out (as I am sure many of you have already ascertained), that this is primarily due to various stereotypes associated with Asian men.

Before we go any further, let’s first define what is a stereotype:

ster·e·o·type [ˈsterēəˌtīp], noun

a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing:

In my way of thinking, a stereotype is an opinion or perception of someone based off of nothing more than a preconceived notion of the nature of that person. So what are these stereotypes of Asian men?

Well, apparently Asian men are all engineers or accountants. Except for their innate abilities as master martial arts specialists, they don’t exercise at all. They are undesirable as suitable partners because they seem completely desexualized.

Speaking as a father of three kids, that last one was hard to take.

In fact, my whole life is the antithesis of the Asian male stereotype. I’m not an engineer. My math skills still require the use of fingers for even the simplest calculations. As far as my martial arts abilities, the last time I broke a wood beam in two was when I accidentally fell on one.

I really didn’t even need to look up these stereotypes. I’ve known about them all my life.

My dad was my hero. He took care of the family and he lived his life as an honorable, decent, hard-working man. But back when I was young, at least on the surface, he seemed to encapsulate all the Asian stereotypes that existed.

Yes, he was an engineer. He also owned and operated a laundry. And somewhere in between, he opened a Chinese restaurant.

When he told me the name he came up for the restaurant, I was aghast. He named the restaurant “Charlie Chan’s Kitchen.”

“Dad!” I exclaimed. “Please don’t name it that!” I pleaded. “You’re going to own a Chinese restaurant AND a laundry?!? Please, no!”, I said.

But as I grew up, and particularly when I had to take care of a family all on my own, I realized that I fell prey to the convenience of the same stereotypes I despised.

Yes, my dad was an engineer, but it wasn’t as simple as that. My father was the son to a general of the Nationalist party in China, fighting against the communists. The general had sent his son to the states to become an engineer in the hopes that if the Communists were eliminated, his son could go back to China and help rebuild the country. In fact, Dad said he never wanted to be an engineer. His real passion was to be a businessman.

And even though he was pushed into becoming an engineer, he wasn’t just an average engineer. He made the best of it by becoming the Chair of the electrical engineering department of San Diego State University and also the acting dean of the university for a time. He also authored a textbook that was widely used around the country as part of the electrical engineering curriculum of many universities throughout the country.

When it became clear that he wouldn’t be going back to China to rebuild, he decided to live his passion. He became a businessman.

That laundry? Yes, he owned a laundry, but it was the largest commercial laundry in town at the time.

Even Charlie Chan’s Kitchen – no, I never did like the name, but he started this restaurant and for a time it was a fixture in the neighborhood and helped employ college students and some family members who had moved into town. He created jobs.

Looking at that definition of “Stereotype” – I think the operative term is “oversimplified”.

In the end, he lived his dreams. He became a businessman. Yes, he was an engineer, but he also owned a laundry and a Chinese restaurant. He also ended up owning a hotel, as well as a portfolio of rental homes and apartments in town. He also happened to marry a beautiful and accomplished woman as his wife.

My suggestion for Tyler, in your dating profile – tell them all about your Grandpa, how he lived his life and how much you’d like to be like him. If they have any sense in them at all, they’ll get it.

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  1. Great article, and so glad to hear of your dad and you! Congrats and kudos for being married for 30 years – that’s an accomplishment! You and your family must have a pretttttty good idea about what works lol 🙂 And it sounds like humor and paying attention to reality against the distortions of the culture is one of your strong suits. I wrote a long essay on this topic, which you and readers might find interesting – The Three Body Problem in Asian American Romance https://link.medium.com/EInCwX1hMqb – it links to more work. There’s so much pain and anguish in gender relations and identity in the Asian American community. We don’t always get the healthiest messages about relationships with partners from our families, and often have complicated and even traumatized relationships between genders. Social media can make it harder to understand each other and communicate, and sometimes the worst stereotypes prevail both in our imaginations and in the dominant cultures imagination. I think it’s important to stay true to identity and the principles of relationship, recognize the harms that have occurred, but also open to our mutual needs for love, safety, affection and belonging. Warmly, Dr. Ravi Chandra


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