The Sexual Harassment of Asian Men.
Shaming of others through mockery, taunting or any other method will always be ugly and will often carry with it painful consequences. The suicide last week of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi is a tragic reminder of this. As readers may know, his decision to commit suicide is alleged to be the result of a "prank" by his roommate and an accomplice that exposed Clementi's apparently hidden homosexuality in a live online broadcast of the boy engaging in a sexual encounter with another male student. No doubt, defendants Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei may have thought that shaming a young man about his sexuality would be a great laugh! Both students now face charges of invasion of privacy with some gay rights activists calling the incident a hate crime which, if proven, would carry with it a harsher sentence.
Sadly, Clementi was the target of the mean-spirited spite with which Asian men may be familiar. Sexual shaming of Asian men is now such a common phenomenon in American culture that sexual inadequacy has become the normal mode of reference for Asian men. Sexual myths about Asian men are broadcast so routinely by many major institutions of popular culture that they have become commonly accepted truths. From big-budget movie productions to home-made YouTube videos the personal and private particulars of Asian men's sexuality are the subject of much public discourse - often carried out with the apparent intent to humiliate.
This is why the incident and subsequent reactions to it are so fascinating. When public sexual humiliation is directed at Asian men society sees no problem with it. If society were consistent then it should find reason to be outraged at the pervasive sexual denigration of Asian men. Yet, as we all appreciate, this is not the case. Perhaps it could be argued that Asian men don't commit suicide as a result of cultural shaming. This may be true (or not - who knows?) but that line of argument also legitimizes social sexual shaming of homosexuality as long as it remains directed at the entire community and not at individuals. This would make homophobia acceptable as long as it isn't directed at any particular individual. As most would agree, this is incoherent and of course unacceptable.
As I've outlined before, Asian male sexuality is feared. The sexual denigration of Asian men serves to uphold the myth of white male sexual prowess. This is why society is so heavily invested in this phenomenon - Asian male sexual empowerment is the final straw that will break the back of western patriarchal self-confidence hence the vehement propaganda war to prevent this occurring.
Edit: Minor Word Edits For Clarity.