Hard Men for hardboiled

by denise wong

One of the most prevalent criticisms of the often hyperglorified Asian American movement is the degree of dominance Asian American men had—more specifically, heterosexual Asian American men. Nestled between its historical accounts are feminist criticisms that argue that Asian American men’s unchecked male privilege marginalized the contributions of women within the movement. Fast forward to the present day, and the gendered tensions within the progressive API movement still exist—although, some may argue that unchecked male privilege plays a different role, and heterosexual men are conspicuously absent from rallies, protests, and the very spaces that are intended for the community to fight for progress.

This is an indubitably reductive judgment, but not one that is entirely dismissible; a quick look at the past few hardboiled staff rosters indicates a growing gender imbalance in activist spaces. So, to what extent is it valid that “only API women and queer men organize?” What is it that makes heterosexual API men so uncomfortable—or, is it that they are too comfortable, and thus unwilling to fight for anything? In this feature, we endeavor to answer these questions and explore the curious intersectionality of straight-identified, male-identified, and API in truehardboiled fashion—with a facetious beefcake spread.

Without further ado, hardboiled magazine proudly presents our inaugural class of hard men for hardboiled. (Disclaimer: We assume no liability for any readers burning their fingers, because these pages are way too hot. You have been warned.)

JU HONG
4th year • Political Science Major • Alameda, CA

Why we love him: Aside from being a CalSERVE senator, Ju is actively involved with Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE) and Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE).

Why do you do what you do?: As an undocumented student, I am passionate about fighting for immigrant rights issues and advocating for the underprivileged immigrant community at large.

What gets you hard?: As a first-generation AB540 transfer student, I understand the sacrifice one has to make in order to pursuit of a higher education. Thus, I am passionate about providing equal access to higher education to all students regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status.

What is your ideal girl like?: Anyone who has the U.S. citizenship status. :]

BRYAN MAEKAWA
4th year • Asian Studies Major •
Los Angeles, CA

Why we love him: Bryan organizes with the Nikkei Student Union, Asian Pacific American Student Development Office, and Asian Pacific American Coalition.

Why do you do what you do?: Though I have been fortunate enough to have been born with many privileges, I too have felt the pain and indignity of discrimination in my life, and I want to confront all forms of this injustice in order to see a more equitable society.

Do you think a gender imbalance exists within API progressive spaces?: I have never really felt that there was a gender imbalance. I understand the logic behind such a belief being that men, benefiting from male privilege, have more life advantages and are thus less inclined to be motivated to fight for anything. Fortunately however, I have met and been inspired by many heterosexual men who are passionate about social justice. Perhaps this is due to the positive influence of API womyn? Or maybe it’s thanks to having such role models like Richard Aoki, Mike Honda, and Jere Takahashi?

What’s one thing someone can do to win your heart?: Make me laugh. People with a good sense of humor are always fun to be around.

MICHAEL MURATA
3rd year • Bioengineering Major • Asian American Studies Minor • Los Angeles, CA

Why we love him: Michael is an officer in the Nikkei Student Union and serves on the board of directors for the Japanese American Citizen’s League. He also is one of the student coordinators for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Health Research Group. Shameless plug: if you are interested in API’s and health, check outwww.aapihrg.berkeley.edu.

What gets you hard?: I am very passionate about eliminating disparities in health, particularly those due to racial issues.  Health and medicine have been interests of mine for many years and so I combined them with my passion for the community by focusing on community health whether it be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or something that cannot be categorized!

Do you think a gender imbalance exists within API progressive spaces?: To be honest, I did not stop to think about whether there was a gender imbalance in API spaces or not.  I have felt comfortable with and supported by the people I have worked with and most of the focus has been directed towards the issues at hand.

What’s one thing someone can do to win your heart?:
I’m not really sure what someone could do to win my heart, but one girl figured it out and I have been ridiculously happy being with her ever since.

NHAN VU
3rd Year • Environmental Economics and Policy Major • Reseda, CA

Why we love him:
Nhan is involved with SASC, the Southeast Asian Student Coalition, as an Internal Relations co-chair and a Summer Institute co-chair. Previously he has been a REACH! Coordinator. and has also been involved with VSA and PAA.

Why do you do what you do?: This is my passion. I do this because I never had a mentor growing up, so I had a void within me. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized how important a mentor was. For me, there are few things greater than a smile on a mentee’s face when they realize they can  believe  in
themselves.

What gets you hard?: Access to higher education is an API issue that I am really passionate about. API youth have so much potential, but there are many distractions that could deter them from staying on the path. The best thing you can do for a mentee is to make them believe in themselves. Once they have that self-confidence they can begin to challenge the inequalities and injustices that they face in order to transcend the expectations placed on them.

What is your ideal girl like?: My ideal girl is someone who is confident about herself. She could be the most awkward human being, but as long as she is comfortable with who she is as a person, I think that is the sexiest thing ever.

JEFFREY PU 
4th year • Asian American Studies Major • Political Science Major • Monterey Park, CA

Why we love him: Jeffrey is a hard man actually FROM hardboiled, and while we love men in suits, what we love are men who are always in bold. (Check his feature on {M}agenda Magazine’s Invisible Runway out on page 5!)

Do you think a gender imbalance exists in API progressive spaces?: I would agree that there exists a gender imbalance within API progressive spaces. I mean, that’s part of the reason why this feature exists right? While I’m sure there are a number of reasons why this is the case, some of which are beyond my analysis, I definitely believe there are many elements of our socio-historical context that play into the privileges and attitudes that lead to our own political apathy. This apathy stems from a combination of many different factors with race, gender and class fulfilling just part of the list.

What gets you hard?: As a college student, API in higher education remains an issue that is very salient to me, including issues related to access, the model minority and stereotyping. One simple manifestation of all of these is the simple question of why so many members of our communities are involved in majors that are supposed to lead to middle-class, white collar professional jobs and what are the implications of that for the rest of our community?

What’s one thing a girl can do to win your heart? I suppose what a girl could do to win my heart is to just spend time with me. But dinner at a nice restaurant and a love of Star Wars couldn’t hurt. ;P

KENNY KIM HOANG
2nd year • Rhetoric Major • Social Welfare Major • Lawndale, CA

Why we love him: Kenny is REACH’s Outreach Co-Coordinator and SASC’s Anthology Co-Chair, working to recruit underrepresented APIs into higher education and document the stories of families impacted by the Khmer Rouge, Vietnam War, and Secret War in Laos.

Why do you do what you do?: Love.

Do you think there is a gender imbalance in API progressive spaces?:  I would agree that a gender imbalance in API progressive spaces does exist. I think that API straight men do not get involved in community organizing spaces as much as women and queer individuals because there are a lot of straight API men out there who are not knowledgeable about the disparities, disservice, and injustices that target them. Perhaps the experience of a straight man differs largely from a women and the experience of queer men where a straight man does not see the immediacy and importance of progressive spaces. This kind-of nuance of male privilege plays off unrecorded and indirectly perpetuates the representation as it keeps stagnant. Therefore most straight API men are never even given the chance to consider community organizing yet alone work in progressive spaces.

What gets you hard?: One API issue that I’m passionate about is the lack of an API narrative in the the K-12 education system. The realization of how the API community has been disenfranchised in history, in struggle, in voice is what drives my passion to diminish these inequalities.

Would you rather give flowers or chocolate?: Flowers. My mom looked overwhelmed the last time I snuck a bouquet on the living room table.