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Stressful Experiences of Masculinity Among U.S.-Born and Immigrant Asian American Men


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Explaining how stereotypes and norms influence role-identities during reflected appraisal processes, we develop a theory about diverse groups of minority men—the "minority masculinity stress theory"—and apply it to Asian American men. We conceptually integrate hegemonic masculinity, stereotypes, and mental health to examine how Asian American men experience masculinity and how their experiences are uniquely stressful. We analyze elicited text from an open-ended questionnaire to explain two experiences of masculinity-related stress: trying to live up to the masculine ideal and enacting work-related role-identities. Regarding the former, we discuss four illustrations—toughness, body image, restrictive emotionality, and heterosexuality—and two involving the latter—achiever and provider. We found that Asian American men receive stereotypical reflected appraisals that contradict potentially positive self-concepts and emphasize achievement beyond typical standards of hegemonic masculinity. Moreover, Asian American men's role-identities contradict hegemonic masculinity, resulting in reflected appraisals that predispose them toward stress.
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Indiana University, USA
Indiana University, USA
Explaining how stereotypes and norms influence role-identities during reflected appraisal
processes, we develop a theory about diverse groups of minority men—the “minority mas-
culinity stress theory”—and apply it to Asian American men. We conceptually integrate
hegemonic masculinity, stereotypes, and mental health to examine how Asian American
men experience masculinity and how their experiences are uniquely stressful. We analyze
elicited text from an open-ended questionnaire to explain two experiences of masculinity-
related stress: trying to live up to the masculine ideal and enacting work-related role-
identities. Regarding the former, we discuss four illustrations—toughness, body image,
restrictive emotionality, and heterosexuality—and two involving the latter—achiever and
provider. We found that Asian American men receive stereotypical reflected appraisals that
contradict potentially positive self-concepts and emphasize achievement beyond typical
standards of hegemonic masculinity. Moreover, Asian American men’s role-identities con-
tradict hegemonic masculinity, resulting in reflected appraisals that predispose them
toward stress.
Keywords: masculinity; Asian American; stress; model minority; symbolic interaction
Given their racial stereotypes, Asian American men’s experiences of a
racialized self are likely to differ from those of other men and conse-
quently induce stress. Thus, how do Asian American men experience their
AUTHORS’ NOTE: We thank Stephen Bernard, Bill Corsaro, Pamela Braboy Jackson,
Jennifer C. Lee, Sheldon Stryker, and Peggy A. Thoits for their feedback. We presented an
earlier version of this paper at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Sociological
Association in Las Vegas, NV. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed
to Alexander Lu, Indiana University, Department of Sociology, 747 Ballantine Hall, 1020
E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA; e-mail:
GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 27 No. 3, June 2013 345-371
DOI: 10.1177/0891243213479446
© 2013 by The Author(s)
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346 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
masculinity and how is masculinity stressful? Relative to other men,
Asian American men are uniquely marginalized within the hierarchy of
hegemonic masculinity (Chen 1999). Conforming to hegemonic mascu-
line norms while overcoming racial stereotypes depresses their self-
concepts and mental health (Iwamoto, Liao, and Liu 2010). The U.S.
Census Bureau estimated 6,769,000 Asian American men in the U.S.
population in 2009 (U.S. Census Bureau 2011), but scholars typically
studied others perceptions. Research centering on Asian American men
used measures that inadequately capture their uniqueness (e.g., Liu and
Iwamoto 2007) or do not explicitly examine stressful experiences (e.g.,
Chen 1999). By studying stressful outcomes, we show how minority
men’s oppressive experiences manifest as negative mental health.
Recognizing Asian American men’s distinctive stressors and expectations
that they meet both American and Asian standards, we focus on their
experiences of manhood and what is most stressful about them.
We analyzed elicited text from a dataset on men’s experiences of mas-
culinity. Our literature review and analytical coding revealed two over-
arching stressors for Asian American men: conformity to hegemonic
masculine norms, and racial stereotypes. We investigate (1) how stereo-
types undermine positive self-concepts, (2) why participants emphasize
specific work-related role-identities to compensate, and (3) which sub-
groups are predisposed toward stress. We develop a Symbolic Interactionist
model, which is broadly applicable to diverse groups of minority men, the
minority masculinity stress theory. We integrate research on masculinity,
race, identity, and mental health to explain how minority men experience
stress by applying our theory to Asian American men.
Hegemonic masculinity refers to practices that signify the dominant
and most endorsed forms of masculinity (Connell and Messerschmidt
2005), including heterosexual, white norms (e.g., competitiveness and
self-reliance). Hegemonic masculinity allows men to dominate others
through privileged and advantageous positions (Connell 2005). As context-
specific positions rather than fixed characteristics, successfully perform-
ing conventions signify the man identity during interaction (Schrock and
Schwalbe 2009). Exemplars (e.g., professional athletes) maintain sym-
bolic authority despite most men’s inability to meet them (Messner 1989).
Subordinate masculinities (e.g., gay, working-class, and Asian American)
bolster hegemonic masculinity as devalued categories that contrast ideals
(Connell 2005).
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American society demands that Asian American men, like men more
generally, endorse a hegemonic masculinity. However, they also experi-
ence a complex intersectional status that harbors manifestations of unique
racial stereotypes. First, Asian American men who strongly adhered to
hegemonic masculine gender roles reported increased distress, substance
use, and depression (Iwamoto, Liao, and Liu 2010; Liu and Iwamoto
2007). Second, Asian American men’s awareness of their inability to
exude hegemonic masculinity can cause distress. To overcome stereo-
types, Chen’s (1999) participants employed hegemonic bargains to
“achieve” masculinity. Some Asian American men might feel emasculated
when Asian American women date white men (Chan 1998, 96; Chua and
Fujino 1999). Third, their stronger endorsement of work might be stress-
ful. Owen (2010) showed Asian Americans’ greater conformity to pri-
macy of work masculine norms. The model minority stereotype and
prioritizing work imply asexuality because success means sacrificing
personal relationships (Sue and Zane 1985). Fourth, unlike overly mascu-
line stereotypes associated with African American (e.g., having large
penises, violent; Schwing and Wong, forthcoming) and Latino American
(e.g., promiscuous, aggressive; Falicov 2010) men, stereotypes of Asian
American men usually characterize them as lacking masculinity.
Compounding the detriment of endorsing masculine norms, racial ste-
reotypes produce stress. The pan-ethnic term “Asian American” partially
contributes to stereotyping because of its ambiguity, political malleability,
and aggregation of diverse peoples (Lee and Lu 2011; Espiritu 1992).
Despite significant group heterogeneity, depictions are rigidly stereotypi-
cal and harmful (Espiritu 2008). Outcomes include internalization of
stress (Yoo, Burrola, and Steger 2010) and negative attitudes toward
Asian Americans (Lin et al. 2005).
Legacies of white hostility, race riots, and anti-Asian sentiment
prompted discriminatory immigration policies (Lu 2010), gendered labor
practices (Espiritu 2008), and degrading media images (Fong-Torres
1995) that shaped, regulated, and continue to influence Asian American
masculinities; for example, President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066
interned Japanese Americans. These policies, practices, and images
defined Asian American men as criminals, vermin, and sexual contami-
nants (Shek 2006). Simultaneously, American society emasculated Asian
American men by limiting them to perform “women’s work” (e.g., laun-
derers, cooks) and prohibiting marriage with whites (Espiritu 2008). This
historical context situates Asian American men against unattainable
hegemonic ideals and racial stereotypes.
One pervasive stereotype, the “model minority,” mischaracterizes
Asian Americans as intelligent, academically/professionally successful,
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348 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
hardworking, compliant, and problem-free (Chou and Feagin 2008; Lee,
Wong, and Alvarez 2009). “Model minority” exaggerates perceptions of
“success,” misleading others to assume it operates advantageously.
Cheng’s (1996) study on perceived attributions of “good managers” indi-
cated that assessors ascribed the term “nerd” to Asian American men
rather than “manager.” Combined with other model minority attributes
(e.g., shy, passive), “nerd” signifies a weak, subservient, and pejoratively
feminine masculinity (Cheng 1996). Empirically, model minority mani-
fests as glass ceilings and occupational discrimination (Woo 2000).
Another insidious denigration, “perpetual foreigner,” stereotypes
Asian Americans as “un-American” aliens incapable of assimilation (Kim
2008; Lee 2002). During economic hardship and times of threatened
security, the term “perpetual foreigner” portrays Asian Americans, and
immigrants specifically, as liars, traitors, and spies. For example, the U.S.
Department of Energy misconstrued the activities of Taiwanese American
scientist Wen Ho Lee and accused him of espionage (Lee 2002).
Considered perpetual foreigners, Asian Americans occupy intersectional
statuses by race and foreignness (Espiritu 2008; Mahalingam, Balan, and
Haritatos 2008). Additionally, the media caricature Asian American
men—Fu Manchu effeminately manifesting as the Yellow Peril, “yellow-
faced” Mickey Rooney as Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, sex-starved
nerd Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles (Fong-Torres 1995; Shek 2006),
and more recently—awkward, shy, and mute Raj Koothrappali in The Big
Bang Theory and flamboyant Chinese gangster Leslie Chow in The
Stereotypes about body image are also distressful. Chua and Fujino
(1999) found that whites viewed themselves as more attractive than U.S.-
born Asian men, followed by immigrant Asian men. Given media portray-
als as short, small-penised, hairless-bodied wimps (Wilson et al. 2009)
lacking Euro-centric aesthetics (Fong-Torres 1995), Asian American men
receive minimal positive body imagery.
One limitation of previous research is its focus on ways non-Asians
stereotype Asian American men rather than Asian American men’s per-
ceptions of stereotypes. Their pervasiveness suggests that Asian American
men are aware of and actively attempt to understand these stereotypes
(Larson 2006). For example, Asian American male college students who
perceived stereotypes of intense diligence, perpetual foreigner, and
sexual/romantic inadequacies reported more depressive symptoms (Wong
et al. 2012). Chen (1999) identified gender strategies employed to over-
come stereotypes by trading group-based privileges (e.g., embracing
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Extant literatures have not fully examined Asian American masculini-
ty’s complexity. Because quantitative studies have employed measures
based on dominant white norms (e.g., Mahalik et al. 2003), they might
inaccurately capture Asian American men’s unique experiences.
Conversely, qualitative research has not explicitly focused on unique
stressors associated with Asian American masculinity (e.g., Chen 1999).
Symbolic Interaction serves as our framework conceptually linking
hegemonic masculine norms and stereotypes to analyze the relationships
among Asian American men’s sense of self, role performances, identities,
and stressful experiences. Symbolic Interaction focuses on people inter-
nalizing how others view them (Blumer 1969). This premise conceptual-
izes “society” as an interactional web whereby relationships exist as
reciprocal influences of persons accounting for each other as they act. As
a dynamic process, interaction is “symbolic,” such that society and per-
sons mutually create and acquire meanings that emerge in and through
social interaction.
To emphasize how meanings (e.g., stereotypes, roles) are embedded in
and reflective of existing cultural contexts, we incorporate Snow’s (2001,
371-72) orienting principle—“symbolization.” Symbolization under-
scores how objects acquire specific meanings that orient, focus, and elicit
certain feelings and actions. During interaction, individuals perform roles,
evaluate self, control behavior, and experience emotion. As a continuous
process, perceived meanings accumulate and solidify into a more sus-
tained self-concept. Verifying one’s self-concept is especially important
because emotional reactions usually center on (dis)confirmation of situa-
tional identities (Turner and Stets 2005, 101). As a social hierarchy,
hegemonic masculinity structures the context in which Asian American
men and others interact and create meaning. These interactions produce
stereotypes about Asian American men and the behaviors based on their
meanings. Thus, hegemonic masculinity as a social structure and mean-
ings of stereotypes shape processes between self and society that Asian
American men enact. Having established the broader theoretical frame-
work, we now draw from two theories within the Symbolic Interactionist
tradition: Identity Control Theory and Role-Identity Theory.
Identity Control Theory focuses on the relationship between internal-
ized identity meanings and perceptions of interactional situations (Burke
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350 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
1991). Rather than understanding identity merely as individuals’ charac-
teristics, Identity Control Theory conceptualizes identity as an ongoing
process of affirmation in social situations. “An identity process is a con-
tinuously operating, self-adjusting, feedback loop: individuals continually
adjust behavior to keep their reflected appraisals congruent with their
identity standards or references” (Burke and Reitzes 1991, 840 [emphasis
in original]). Disrupting the otherwise continuous identity process com-
bined with the inability to reconcile inconsistencies between disconfirm-
ing reflected appraisals and an identity standard causes distress (Burke
1991). Given their unique position within hegemonic masculinity and
stereotypes, Asian American men’s affirmation of masculine identity
deserves further study.
Role-Identity Theory defines role-identity as the character individuals
devise for themselves when occupying particular social positions (McCall
and Simmons 1966). Role-identities (e.g., man, Asian American) serve as
one’s primary source for planning action. One organizes all occupied role-
identities into a prominence hierarchy that reflects the relative value of the
overall conception of one’s ideal self. Depending on how one’s promi-
nence and success at performing role-identities coincide, one can experi-
ence stress in several ways (Thoits 1999). Unsuccessfully activating
highly committed role-identities proportionally decreases self-esteem.
Individuals base their success on how they fulfill their ideal selves and
how others appraise their performance. Oatley and Bolton linked depres-
sion’s etiology to disruption in roles “primary in providing the basis for a
person’s sense of self” (Oatley and Bolton 1985, 372), particularly if few
alternatives existed. Given their unique social position, stress involving
Asian American men’s role-identities warrants examination.
Advancing Symbolic Interaction, we develop an explanatory model of
minority men’s stressful experiences of masculinity. Applied to Asian
American men, we incorporate structural components of hegemonic mas-
culinity, stereotypes, constructions of self/identity, and mental health.
Through symbolization (Snow 2001, 371-72), stereotypes reinforce
minority men’s marginal position, prompting disconfirmation of self as
masculine and difficulties performing certain role-identities. Consequently,
participants experience stress. The ways in which stereotypes influence
identity processes structured by hegemonic masculinity arise from several
factors. First, as minority men, participants receive stereotypical reflected
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appraisals that contradict potentially positive self-concepts. Second, par-
ticipants strongly emphasize achievement beyond typical hegemonic
masculine norms. Third, the combination of these experiences indicate
that the subgroups of men whose role-identities conflict with hegemonic
masculinity are predisposed toward stress because they are likely to con-
front stereotypical reflected appraisals. We develop the minority mascu-
linity stress theory to explain how (1) stereotypes and norms devalue
identities and undermine self-concepts through disconfirming reflected
appraisals, and (2) marginalized men emphasize role-identities that coin-
cide with stereotypes but perceptually ameliorate stress. To illustrate,
Asian American men might concurrently experience stereotypes as physi-
cally weak and norms equating masculinity as physically strong.
Collectively, these stereotypes and norms may contradict their role-
identities as men, resulting in stress-engendering reflected appraisals
(e.g., persistent fears about physical inadequacy). By explaining the role
of stereotypes and norms in the conceptual linkage of hegemonic mascu-
linity, reflected appraisals, and stress, we contribute to theories of role-
identity, identity control, and masculinity.
As part of a larger project on men’s experiences of masculinity, we
recruited participants from professional organizations (e.g., the Asian
American Psychological Association), public online groups (e.g., men’s
health Yahoo groups), and four public universities (not limited to stu-
dents), one in the South, two in the Midwest, and one in the West. Of
the Western university’s students, Latino Americans comprised the
majority and almost one-fifth were Asian Americans. The remaining
three were predominantly white institutions in which Asian American
students constituted less than 10 percent. Most participants were from
educational settings and several responses contained sociological termi-
nology. Although not generalizable, educated participants’ sociological
cognizance produced sensitizing concepts and reinforced interpreta-
tions. We conducted the study through an Internet survey. Compared to
traditional survey data, Internet participants are equally diverse, psy-
chologically stable, and serious about providing accurate information
(Gosling et al. 2004).
Of the original sample (220 men), we focused on only 76 self-identified
Asian American men. Immigrant men were significantly older than U.S.-
born men. Immigrant men were more likely to have college degrees, but
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352 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
did not differ significantly from U.S.-born men regarding relationship
status (we met Pearson’s chi-square assumption requiring a minimum
frequency of 5 in all cells of a 2 × 2 contingency table). Our sample was
mostly East Asian American and Chinese American men, specifically
(Table 1).
We analyzed elicited text and closed-ended responses. As common
sources of elicited text, open-ended questions in Internet surveys share
some advantages with conventional surveys and interviews (Charmaz
TABLE 1: Descriptive Statistics (N = 76)
% Mean SD Range
Age 25.37 6.05 18-45
Immigrant 77.63 26.10a
U.S.-born 22.37 22.82a
Chinese 57.89
Filipino 5.26
Indian 13.15
Korean 11.84
Malay 1.31
Taiwanese 2.63
Thai 1.31
Uzbek 1.31
Vietnamese 1.31
No Response 5.00
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual 90.78
Gay 3.94
Bisexual 3.94
No Response 1.31
High school/GED 13.33
Some college 25.00
Bachelor’s 21.05
Graduate/professional 47.37
College student 85.52
College degree 68.42
Immigrant 35.29b
U.S.-born 72.88b
Relationship status
Single 46.84
Dating 27.85
Married 24.05
Years in United States 6.30 8.29
Note: General Educational Development test.
a. t(74) = 2.01, p = .048.
b. χ2(1) = 8.14, p = .008.
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2006). Elicited texts involve participants in producing written data, thus
generating and representing what authors assumed were objective facts
(Prior 2003). People purposely construct texts within social contexts and
draw on particular discourses to provide accounts. Akin to autobiogra-
phies, elicited texts may educe structural and cultural influences. Like
questionnaires, anonymous elicited texts can foster candid disclosures that
participants might hesitate to discuss but might willingly write. Elicited
text empowers participants to reveal as much or as little as they want and
resemble interview data if questions are similar. Elicited texts work best
when participants have a vested topical interest and experience. Flaherty
(2011) and Grazian (2008) have similarly collected and analyzed data
addressing the subtleties of identity management and performance.
To capture self-attitudes (Kuhn 1960; Kuhn and McPartland 1954)
about experiences of masculinity, participants followed these instructions:
The following questions are about gender issues. Please describe your
personal experience of what it means to be a man by completing the
following sentence: “As a man . . . ” 10 times. Just give 10 different
responses. Respond as if you were giving the answers to yourself, not to
somebody else. There are no right or wrong responses. Don’t worry about
logic or importance, and don’t over-analyze your responses. Simply write
down the first thoughts that come to your mind.
After completing “As a man . . . ” 10 times, participants identified which
experience was most stressful. We then asked, “What about this experience
is stressful for you? Please elaborate.” We analyzed participants’ most
stressful “As a man . . . ” response and corresponding explanation. We
based these questions on the Subjective Masculinity Stress Scale, which
has demonstrated strong validity and reliability (Wong et al. forthcoming).
We analyzed elicited text using constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz
2006). To develop core conceptual categories, we performed line-by-line
initial coding. For example, we coded each response with labels such as
“achieving” and “providing.” We conducted focused coding by using the
most significant and frequent codes to determine their adequacy and cat-
egorize our data incisively. For instance, the previously mentioned codes
became “enacting work-related role-identities.” Within this code emerged
two illustrations, “achiever” and “provider.” Lastly, we theoretically
coded by specifying relationships between our focused codes. To demon-
strate, our theoretical codes described the relationship between “enacting
work-related role-identities” and “trying to live up to the masculine ideal
to explain stressful experiences of manhood.” Throughout this process,
we wrote analytic memos about our codes and data.
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354 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
Table 2 shows each code’s definition and endorsement percentage. We
classified data as “trying to live up to the masculine ideal” if participants
stated a desire for congruence between their identity standard and socially
expected ideals. We focused on four illustrations— “toughness,” “body
image,” “restrictive emotionality,” and “heterosexuality.” Data subsumed
under “enacting work-related role-identities” emphasized “work” as an
important identity and/or role behavior. Participants considered two issues
important: success/career advancement and providing/caregiving. Two
respective illustrations emerged: “achiever” and “provider.”
Codes were not mutually exclusive (i.e., some participants endorsed
multiple codes). Authors independently coded responses (1 = satisfied
criteria, 0 = otherwise), with the first as initial coder and the second per-
forming reliability coding. We resolved discrepancies through discussion
and consensus. Table 3 presents the content and experience of these stress-
ors. We denoted immigrant status in the appendix.
Trying to Live Up to the Masculine Ideal
Participants attempted to portray an ideal man who is tough, attractive,
unemotional, and heterosexual. However, others do not necessarily attribute
TABLE 2: Denitions and Frequencies of Codes
Code Illustration Definition n%κ
Trying to live up to
the masculine ideal
Desired congruence
between identity
standard and socially
expected ideals
31 41 .84
Toughness Emphasized toughness 18 26
Body image Emphasized body image 3 4
Emphasized restrictive
5 7
Heterosexuality Emphasized
6 8
Enacting work-related
Work was important identity
and/or role for men
36 47 .92
Achiever Role-identity based on
success or career
20 26
Provider Role-identity based on
providing or caregiving
18 24
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these traits to them. Disadvantaged by stereotypes and Euro-centric ide-
als, participants experienced stress from failing to embody these charac-
teristics because they lacked whiteness. Perceiving cultural bias,
Seong-Hyeon felt others judged him according to their standards:
I have to be cool and open to people. There are many mistakes I make
which are regarded as weakness. People don’t seem to accept me the way I
am, but judge me based on . . . their own Asian or American method of
being a man.
Because others evaluated Seong-Hyeon according to “Asian” and
“American” masculine norms, he struggled to meet both. As an Asian
American, he felt mistreated because others imposed different and more
demanding expectations. Seong-Hyeon’s stress emerges from others
imposing ambiguity on his racialized self, causing inconsistencies
between his identity standard and others’ appraisals.
Participants necessitated embodying “tough” characteristics: courage,
confidence, dominance. Exuding toughness imposed a stressful burden,
especially when others hold stereotypical views and withhold affirmation.
Like Hanwei, who declared, “I need to be tough,” participants acknowl-
edged needing to exhibit “masculine” characteristics, but they found
themselves feigning these qualities. Ken stated, “I try to display courage
and strength,” but “I am not very courageous by nature. I tend to shy away
from awkward or difficult situations that require me to confront others.”
Ken preferred to avoid conflict, but following this tendency undermines
masculinity. Guang confessed, “I should not fear anything. . . . Sometimes
I do fear something terrible, but I pretend to be strong.” Although Guang
had trepidations like everyone else, others expected him to be a man—
fearless. He had to feign toughness to maintain his masculinity regardless
TABLE 3: Content and Experience of Stress
Experiences of Masculinity
What is
Trying to live up to the
masculine ideal
Enacting work-related
How it is
Failure to meet expectations
vis-à-vis reected appraisals
Role strain and possibility
of unsuccessful
Theory Identity control theory Role-identity theory
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356 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
of tragedy. Linhui acknowledged that a “man has to act brave . . . all the
time” but admitted, “Sometimes, we have to do something we don’t want
in front of female.” To maintain toughness with women, Linhui felt com-
pelled to perform bravery despite his reluctance. Acting bravely is a
behavioral adjustment that reconciles distress from the mismatch between
his identity standard and others’ expectations. Demonstrating courage and
strength might also lead to inhibited or undesirable acts.
Gendered expectations for civil obligations, specifically selective ser-
vice, distressed Keith: “While people say both genders are equal, there is
a clear ideology that, because men are ‘tough’ only they have to sign up
for [selective service]. Women are given the same rights as men, without
having to do as much for those rights.” Keith was uncomfortable that
society assumes men’s toughness, thereby justifying selective service. He
also perceived greater demands on men because of “people having differ-
ent expectations and yet comparing people as equals.” Keith might not
feel tough, but others expect behavioral conformity.
The ideal man is assertive. John admitted, “I need to be confident,” but
“it’s something hard to gain if you don’t already have it.” Part of the dif-
ficulty is lacking the actual trait, or, sometimes, the vehicle to convey it.
Yuxiang explained, “My small stature and minority/foreign status almost
always deter me from being the dominant guy in most situations, which is
expected of me.” Regardless of fortitude, stereotypes about stature and
race can undermine the assertiveness necessary for masculinity. Because
society associates dominance with whiteness, Yuxiang cannot meet these
ideals. By emphasizing his minority and foreign statuses, Yuxiang embod-
ies and internalizes the ambiguity of his racialized self. Yuxiang’s mention
of “minority/foreign” as components of conveying a “tough” self reflects
the unique and complex intersectional status of Asian American men.
Participants shared an inability to embody toughness. They should be
tough, but they were not.
Rather than seeing a lack of toughness as a deficiency, others experi-
enced stress from constantly performing and potentially failing toughness.
Wang-Zhen said, “My authority is always challenged by someone. I have
to keep asserting myself.” This constant assertion was strenuous and dan-
gerous. Wang-Zhen also risked emasculation by losing his authority.
Performing toughness can indirectly cause stress. Tony stated, “I need to
make decisions,” but “these decisions can have many serious conse-
quences.” Although decisive, Tony might hastily dismiss valid reserva-
tions and discretion.
Several men cited sports and alcohol as masculine necessities. Thomas
stated, “I am socially expected to watch sports and to have encyclopedic
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knowledge of them, even though I don’t.” This expectation caused several
stressful instances. “I have been in several awkward situations where I
feel my masculinity may be in question because I’d rather read a book or
watch a documentary than watch baseball, football, basketball, or any
sport.” Shunned for his disinterest, peers refused to validate Thomas’s
masculinity because he devalued sports. Indicating the value of binge
drinking, Pengfei said, “I need to be able to drink well [alcohol],” but
confessed, “friends always laugh at me when I can’t hold my alcohol.”
Pengfei’s friends ridiculed and pressured him to endanger himself by
drinking excessively to prove his masculinity. To socialize with masculine
men, tough guys must excel at sports and drinking (Kimmel 2011).
These men experienced stress from not exhibiting the toughness neces-
sary for masculine recreation. Difficulties performing toughness reflect
how stereotypical attributes such as small, nerdy, passive, and unathletic
impose formidable obstacles. Even if participants feel tough, they are
unlikely to receive unadulterated reflected appraisals.
Body Image
Participants perceived a body image inconsistent with American aes-
thetics. Guoli said that men “should be handsome,” but “I do not think I
am handsome.” Feeling unattractive is disheartening, especially if one
equates it with masculinity. Philip explained, “I don’t feel I have a sexy
enough/strong enough/masculine enough body.” One’s body can exude
toughness, but Philip felt his body and self were inadequate. Irritated by
inconsistent reflected appraisals, Harold said, “I just see my body differ-
ently compared to others, and it frustrates me that they see a different
body size.” Harold liked his body, but others defined it as inadequate.
Thus, he was unable to see himself as he wanted. Media images of Asian
American men as scrawny, small-penised, and hairless-bodied undermine
positive body image. Yuxiang’s “small stature and minority/foreign sta-
tus” highlight how Euro-centric norms disadvantage participants. Like
toughness, concerns with body image reflect the influence of stereotypes.
Regardless of how Asian American men see their bodies, others might
consider them unattractive. Those who cited body image failed to portray
ideals of masculine beauty. “Asian” bodies are insufficiently masculine.
Restricting Emotionality
Participants cited restricting emotions as masculine but stressful.
Xunze stated, “I must not show my emotions,” but “it’s hard to go by a
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358 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
social norm where being male means controlling your emotions without
the help of others.” Men must suppress emotions but cannot request emo-
tional support. Xiaojun confessed, “Men also have low times in their life,
but you cannot say. When terrible things happen, you have to pretend to
be strong and behave as if nothing happened. You never cry.” Restricting
emotionality prevented men from acknowledging tragedies and insecuri-
ties. Several men experienced stress adhering to Asian cultural norms.
Dick stated, “In my culture the males usually do not express emotion to
others, so learning from example, I have a hard time expressing my
emotions as well.” To signify masculinity, Dick must effectively demon-
strate restrictive emotionality as a gendered feeling rule (Hochschild
2003). Dick has mastered this type of emotional communication, but he
was distressed by his inability to express emotion because of his cultural
upbringing. Kaiyong acknowledged,
I often feel uncomfortable in positions where I need to provide leadership,
either at work or at home [because] the need to speak up and be vociferous
goes against my personality, which is introverted, and also against my
Asian cultural upbringing, where people are not encouraged to express
themselves or show any emotion.
Attempts at conforming to stoic emotional norms of both Asian and
American masculinity caused communicative and behavioral limitations.
Exhibiting Heteronormative Sexuality
Several participants experienced frustrations in meeting expectations
of masculine sexuality, including dating, being gay, and overt sexuality.
Aaron expressed his disappointment:
Given the extent of male privilege and power over women, I think dating
women should be much easier. I find my lack of dating stressful because I
do not feel I am meeting the expectations of what it means to be an ideal
man. I often question if there is something wrong with myself as a person
generally, and as a man specifically, because of my ineffectiveness in
dating compared to other men. Men who I consider unattractive because of
physical appearance, abusiveness, lack of intelligence/education, low
income, selfishness seem to be dating and having more sex than me. This
observation forces me to question what is wrong with me given the fact that
I do not share those same traits.
Aaron doubted his masculinity because he did not compare commensu-
rately with other men to whom he considered himself superior. As one
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indicator of women’s interest, dating can validate masculinity and self-
Involvement with women reflects status because, as Myung-bak said, it
“makes you have pride.” Without a woman, pride seems unattainable.
Participants experienced stress because they lacked a woman partner as
society expects. This expectation might compel other men to expropriate
committed women. Jingchen stated that a man “should protect the woman
you really love,” anxiously explaining, “I have a beautiful wife, so I am
worried about other males envying me.” Although he had an attractive part-
ner, Jingchen worried about losing her if others succumbed to their envy.
How does this definition of masculinity affect gay men? George
answered, “I need to be sexually attracted to women,” but “as a gay man,
many heteronormative assumptions are made of me and how I am supposed
to act, who I am supposed to be attracted to.” George suffered distress
because he violated heterosexist norms of masculinity. Regardless of sexual
orientation, masculine men should display overt sexuality. Tiande noted, “I
am expected to be well-versed in sexually crude conversations,” but “it is
not character [sic] to be involved in sexually crude conversations. This
expectation is placed more by other guys.” Sexual crudeness demonstrates
heteronormative masculinity. Participants defined masculinity in terms of
engaging women romantically and sexually. Men should have a female
partner, but stereotypical perceptions such as “unattractive” hinder Asian
American men’s performance of heteronormativity. More specifically, per-
ceptions of Asian American men as asexual, effeminate, and small-penised
shape reflected appraisals and greatly exacerbate relations with women.
Because Asian American men do not perceive racial stereotypes posi-
tively or self-descriptively, “Asian American man” is an imposed identity.
Although participants might have a positive identity standard, discrimina-
tion and devaluation continuously disconfirm self. This inconsistency and
inability to alter circumstances cause stress. Failing ideals, participants
suffered psychologically, socially, and physiologically.
Enacting Work-Related Role-Identities
Participants identified strongly with two work-related roles: “achiever”
and “provider.” These roles underscore work’s salience in defining
The Achiever
Participants viewed themselves as workers and emphasized success.
They explicitly expressed distress engendered from expectations that men
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360 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
focus on career. Zhicheng explained, “Society places more emphasis on
career (status, financial power) on men than women. As a result I have to
find a career that fits my own preference as well as other people’s expec-
tation.” Zhicheng felt compelled to acquire status and financial power, but
the incompatibility with his choice caused distress. Similarly, Varun expe-
rienced a “conflict with what I want and what society expects.” Constant
pressures to pursue specific types of success can weather men if they do
not desire that career.
Exemplifying the achiever, Jianming stated, “I have to work hard”
because “it’s a moral issue.” For Jianming, achieving was a moral imper-
ative for masculinity. Dae-Young explained that succeeding profession-
ally validates masculinity to other men:
I don’t feel competitive against women, but I do feel pressured to stay
ahead of other men in my profession. That’s not to say I need to be better
or prove my intelligence—rather it’s about getting respect and being
recognized for my contribution to the field I’m in.
With career success, Dae-Young garnered respect and recognition as
forms of masculinity. However, pressures to stay ahead pose constant
risks because the “competition is so fierce” (Shengyi). The ruthlessness of
competition can push men beyond their abilities. Najib sacrificed to com-
plete his agenda: “I always want to sleep but somehow other things need
to be accomplished first and require me to stay awake . . . usually past my
bedtime.” Najib’s demands forced him to prioritize obligations and forego
sleep. Pressures to achieve force participants to surrender things not nec-
essarily expendable, yet they considered sacrifice masculine.
Stress arising from pressures to succeed also stems from insufficient
self-application, risking disappointment and financial security. Guo-Liang
worried, “I tend to be impulsive and do things that are not beneficial for
me in the long run and hamper my ability to fulfill responsibilities. I pro-
crastinate a lot.” Guo-Liang recognized that his inattention hinders
achievement. Hongchao worried because
I dream to be a successful businessman. I try my best to pursue this
ambition. But sometimes I wouldn’t push myself too much. However, this
situation really makes me stressful. I am afraid that I can’t maintain the
great GPA.
Participants felt that inadequate self-application stymied achievement.
Refusing to disappoint himself and others, Devang experienced stress
from “the possibility of not being successful in life and not living up to
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my own expectations as well as those of my parents, given the large
investments of time, money and love and affection over the years.”
Achieving extends beyond capital and status. Men feared disappointing
their supporters by not returning their investment.
Several participants strongly desired money as a representation of mas-
culinity. Not yet an achiever, Faisal explained, “I am a student, and not
rich, so want to earn a lot of money.” Achieving wealth means achieving
masculinity. Achieving financial security worried Fuhan because “owing
money and not being able to pay debts is ‘very stressful when people
come and ask you to pay.’”
The Provider
Participants saw themselves as providers—caregivers and supporters
of family. Without work, men cannot provide. “I need a good job to be a
provider” (Zhewei). Anxious about dependents, the “pressure to provide
for others in the family” (Dong-Sun) underscores the importance of work.
Jintao described why providing was stressful: “I have to earn enough
money to afford a family, living expenses, car, house, tuition of children,
and medical [expenses] of parents. Furthermore, I even have to save
money just in case.” Participants worried about earning sufficient money
to provide and endure unforeseen emergencies. Murali emphasized the
importance of responsibility: “I need to be more responsible because I
want to and society expects me to. I want to take care of my family, par-
ents and all my close ones. While doing all this, responsibility is always a
high concern.” Murali defined masculinity through providing and pres-
sured himself accordingly. Predicting “I will probably be the breadwin-
ner,” Xuanting anguished, “The future is obscure, and it’s so hard to
succeed in life. I’m just hoping things will turn out well.” Contemplating
the uncertainties of providing, Xuanting could only hope. The inability to
provide renders a man impotent; consequently, participants experienced
stress trying to maintain the role of provider. As providers, peace of mind
was tenuous because work was not necessarily secure.
Labor arrangements often confound work and family (Hochschild
1997). Experiencing tension as both achiever and provider, Zhongjun
said, “I want to do well in my career but I also want to spend more time
with my kids.” Conversely, Wenyong stated, “The need to provide for my
family . . . means to excel in work, yet not compromising on family/per-
sonal time.” Regardless of focus, the dilemma remained—succeeding in
one required sacrificing the other. Given the demands of both role-identities,
failure is likely.
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362 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
We argue that inadequately performing achiever and provider can
degrade one’s self-concept. Prejudice and discrimination might encourage
Asian American men to reinvest in identities less vulnerable to stereo-
types. They might compensate unresolved masculine ideals by deliber-
ately engaging in more rewarding role-identities. Participants might enact
achiever and provider to purposely counterbalance the distress of failing
in domains like toughness, body, and sexuality. Given stereotypes such as
hard-working and diligent, conformity to model minority traits might
favor Asian American men. Success in work-related domains is more
available because fewer negative stereotypes exist compared to other
areas (e.g., sports, mating). As sources of self-esteem, these role-identities
help one cope with discrimination. Immigrants’ endorsement of work
might reflect beliefs that embodying an intense work ethic counteracts
their marginality in America. Given their position in Asian American
men’s prominence hierarchy, potentially failing to perform as achiever
and provider is particularly stressful.
We explained how Asian American men’s marginality and stereotypes
adversely affect self and mental health. By conceptualizing hegemonic
masculinity as social structure and stereotypes as self-meanings, we
advance our understanding of Asian American men’s interactions, self-
concepts, and experiences of masculinity. We grounded our study in
Symbolic Interaction. As derivative theories, we specifically used identity
control theory to interpret the stress of failing masculine ideals and role-
identity theory to examine work-related roles as bases for self-esteem and
We acknowledge several limitations. We relied on convenience sampling
from universities, professional organizations, and online groups, biasing our
sample toward Internet-savvy and relatively educated participants. By
recruiting from professional listservers (e.g., the Asian American
Psychological Association), we enlisted participants who may be university
affiliated (e.g., professors). Although our findings are not generalizable to
all Asian American men, our highly educated sample’s sociological cogni-
zance and experiential articulation provide sensitizing concepts and inter-
pretive validation. Likewise, our sample was mostly East Asian and too
small for us to examine variability among different ethnicities. Stereotypes
might vary considerably because of perceived differences in phenotypical
features. For example, smallness/weakness (Wilson et al. 2009) may apply
more to East Asian rather than South Asian American men.
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Future research should examine whether Asian American men from
diverse backgrounds (e.g., ethnic, socioeconomic, sexual, and English-
proficient) differ in their stressful experiences of masculinity. Less than
1/10th reported unequal treatment (e.g., racism). However, our data reflect
a primarily immigrant sample’s perspective (77.6 percent). Kuo (1995)
found that U.S.-born Asian American men typically perceive more dis-
crimination than immigrants. Accordingly, future research should examine
the extent to which perceived racism associates with U.S.-born Asian
American men’s masculinity experiences. Subject to political malleability
and aggregation (Espiritu 1992), our concept of the Asian American man
does not fully reflect the ambiguity and complexity of racialized-selves.
Additionally, our data consisted exclusively of written survey responses,
which foster less open dialogue. Participants might have superficially listed
their most frequent, socially acceptable, or concisely describable responses.
However, given gender’s embeddedness within individuals, interactions,
and institutions, our data could capture sufficiently robust understandings
of gendered experiences. We did not ascertain levels of stress or differenti-
ate minor and major stressors; however, open-ended questions empowered
participants to personally conceptualize stress. We could strengthen find-
ings with in-depth interviews and participants’ commentary.
Stressful experiences can manifest as negative mental health generally
(e.g., Lu 2011, 2012; Lu and Singelmann 2009) and among Asians spe-
cifically (e.g., Noh and Avison 1996). Given the detriment of stereotypes,
researchers should examine the effects of promoting more positive and
realistic media images. Such depictions can instill more accepting percep-
tions of minority men and promote healthier self-concepts. Additionally,
we encourage research examining clinical practices. Scholars can study
clinicians who help minority men clients explore how our codes relate to
their experiences. To analyze idiosyncracies, researchers can invite clients
to complete our “As a man . . . ” questionnaire and discuss how their state-
ments reflect stress.
We make several noteworthy contributions. Analyzing elicited text, we
address insufficiencies of previous research about deleterious conse-
quences of Asian American men’s marginality. Quantitative studies
employed measures based on white norms, and qualitative studies have
not focused explicitly on stressful experiences, but we have captured more
fully and focused specifically on unique racial and cultural stressors.
Restricting emotionality inhibited expressive communication and inti-
macy, thus increasing participants’ vulnerability to stress. Perhaps our
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364 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
findings reflect media preferences for Euro-centric aesthetics and rejec-
tions of Asian American men as asexual undesirables. Racialized images
maintain marginality and promote inferior body consciousness. Collectively,
these factors may hinder romantic and sexual relationships. Asexual
imagery might also relate to work. The model minority stereotype implies
academic and occupational success as an absence or rejection of personal
and sexual relationships (Sue and Zane 1985). The enacting work-related
role-identities attribute may indicate that participants internalized the
model minority stereotype (Yoo, Burrola, and Steger 2010) by equating
work performance with masculine self-concepts. Internalization may
reflect the racialization and distress of work-related masculinity and be
particularly salient among immigrants who tended to be older and college
educated. Specifically, we reveal that such men struggled with the stresses
of career success and providing for family. Alternatively, work’s impor-
tance might reflect our largely immigrant sample’s belief that, as immi-
grants, they needed to embody a strong work ethic to address their
marginality in America (Mahalingam, Balan, and Haritatos 2008). Our
sample’s majority are embedded in educational contexts, which raises key
questions about who is or is perceived to be challenging participants’ mas-
culinity—society generally, women, other men, or Asian Americans.
Summarily, stressful experiences of Asian American masculinity derive from
marginality and fulfilling both American and Asian cultural expectations.
Participants contend with similar qualms as non-Asians, but their struc-
tural position requires conformity to American and Asian standards of
masculinity. Vacillating between cultures, participants experience a feed-
back loop that requires responses to both ideals. Rather than categorically
essentializing participants by assuming a uniquely Asian American mas-
culinity, we reveal racial distinctions and common gendered experiences
with other men. Some stressful issues are not unique to, but are more
salient among, Asian American men. Consistent with quantitative research
(Owen 2010), our participants conformed more strongly to primacy of
work norms than do whites. Asian American men experience trying to live
up to the masculine ideal, as do African American (Ray 2012; Wade 1996)
and Latino American men (Falicov 2010). Like men more generally, par-
ticipants experience stress associated with restrictive emotionality, com-
petitiveness, and success (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009). Consequently,
researchers should consider Asian American men’s interactions with spe-
cific institutions and individuals.
Most importantly, we develop the minority masculinity stress theory.
Discussing research on self, identity, stress, and mental health, Thoits
(1999, 361-62) suggested two topics to pursue. She first recommended
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connecting devalued identities to negative experiences and specifying con-
ditions under which those experiences lead to poor mental health. The Asian
American man identity is imbued with negative stereotypes, which others
then impose as reflected appraisals and reinforce through prejudice and
discrimination. Asian American men might initially possess positive iden-
tity standards, but others project stereotyped appraisals, resulting in distress.
Thoits (1999) also suggested examining compensations as another
method to ameliorate stress from unresolved troubles. Stereotypes stymie
Asian American men’s success within domains such as sports and dating.
Counterbalancing the resulting stress, Asian American men might focus
on more satisfying role-identities. Unlike other negative stereotypes, the
model minority coincides with work related role-identities. Rather than
overtly hindering role performances, stereotypes such as “nerd” and
“diligent” might give the impression that work leads to relative success.
This perception of success elevates work related role-identities in partici-
pants’ prominence hierarchy.
Extending our grounded theory on Asian American masculinity, we
develop minority masculinity stress theory to broadly explain the stress of
minority masculinity. We argue that stereotypes inform the prejudice and
discrimination reinforcing minority men’s position through symbolization
(Snow 2001, 371-72) within hegemonic masculinity. Because of stereo-
types, minority men struggle with masculinity in two ways. First, others
disconfirm views of self as masculine. Second, participants cannot suc-
cessfully perform role-identities in certain domains. Stress results from
disconfirming reflected appraisals and unsuccessfully performing impor-
tant role-identities. Minority masculinity stress theory explains how
hegemonic masculinity defines the norms and stereotypes by which role-
identities acquire meaning. The durability of hegemonic masculine norms
and stereotypes sustain disconfirming reflected appraisals for minority
men. Although applied to Asian American men in our study, our theory
has broader applicability to other minority men (e.g., working-class, gay,
Latino) facing stereotypes.
Several studies implicitly illustrate our theory’s applicability. Ray
(2012) explained how, in order to engage women while under greater
accountability, Black fraternity men must become “sophisticated practi-
tioners” to overcome racial stereotypes as being sexually aggressive, yet
conform to hegemonic masculine norms of sexual conquest. Green (2008)
showed that gay men aesthetically value muscularity as normatively mas-
culine. Gay men experienced stress when they were not muscular or were
stereotyped as effeminate. In another study (Cerezo et al. 2012), Latino
male college students described how they were perceived by teachers as
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366 GENDER & SOCIETY / June 2013
being incapable of succeeding in college because of their race and gender.
Additionally, the normative messages they received from their neighbor-
hood communities suggested that joining a gang was more desirable than
attending college. Such experiences undermined their academic self-effi-
cacy, thereby hindering the performance of their role-identities as college
students. Combined, stereotypes and norms shape reflected appraisals that
induce stress by contradicting minority males’ role-identity as men (e.g.,
anxiety about athleticism). Our theory bridges hegemonic masculinity,
reflected appraisals, and stress. Overall, we underscore the importance of
the minority masculinity stress theory for understanding stressful experi-
ences of Asian American minority men.
Participants’ Demographic Information (N = 76)
Name Ethnicity Age Immigrant Years
in U.S.
Highest Level of
In College
Aaron Chinese 27 No 27 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Abhisit Thai 25 Ye s <1 Heterosexual Dating Bachelor s Ye s
Alvin Filipino 34 Ye s Heterosexual Married Bachelor’s
Basil Chinese 29 No 29 Heterosexual Dating Bachelor’s Ye s
Changshan Chinese 22 Ye s 3 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Yes
Chien-Ming Taiwanese 26 Ye s 2Gay Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Chin-Hui Taiwanese 31 Ye s 5 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Chuming Chinese 38 Ye s 38 Heterosexual Divorced Bachelor’s Ye s
Congyi Chinese 32 Yes 5 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Dae-Young Korean 36 Ye s 22 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Deng Chinese 32 Ye s 5 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Devang Indian 23 Ye s <1 Heterosexual Dating Bachelor’s Ye s
Dick Chinese 18 Ye s 18 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Yes
Dong-Sun Korean 23 Yes 1 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Erwin Korean 27 No 27 Heterosexual Single Some college Ye s
Faisal Indian 25 Yes 4 Heterosexual Married Bachelor’s Ye s
Farhad Indian 26 Ye s 4 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Fuhan Chinese 32 Ye s 5 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
George Filipino 30 No 30 Gay Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Guang Chinese 23 Ye s 23 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Guo Liang Chinese 28 Yes 7 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s No
Guoli Chinese 21 Ye s 2 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Hanwei Chinese 35 Yes 3 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof No
Harold 19 No 19 Heterosexual Single Some college Ye s
Hongchao Chinese 21 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Dating High school/GED Yes
Hongyu Chinese 24 Ye s 3 Heterosexual Single Some College Ye s
Jejomar Filipino 19 Yes 12 Heterosexual Single Some College Ye s
Jianming Chinese 26 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Jingchen Chinese 43 Ye s 3 Bisexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Jingguo Chinese 32 Ye s 5 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Jintao Chinese 23 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Yes
John Filipino 18 No 18 Heterosexual Dating Some college Ye s
Joren Chinese 29 Yes 29 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Kaiyong Chinese 28 Ye s 10 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof No
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Name Ethnicity Age Immigrant Years
in U.S.
Highest Level of
In College
Keith Korean 19 No 19 Heterosexual Dating Some college Ye s
Ken Chinese 24 No 24 Heterosexual Dating Some college Ye s
Kimin Korean 45 Ye s 35 Heterosexual Married Some college No
Ki-moon Korean 19 Ye s 4 Single Some College Ye s
Kunal Indian 26 Ye s 2 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Larry Vietnamese 19 No 19 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Yes
Li Dong Chinese 30 Ye s 4 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Liangyuan Chinese 23 Yes 23 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Yes
Lingzhou Chinese 22 Ye s 22 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Linhui Chinese 20 Ye s 4 Heterosexual Single Some College Yes
Murali Indian 24 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Myung-bak Korean 20 Ye s 4 Heterosexual Dating High school/GED Ye s
Najib Malay 21 Yes 3 Heterosexual Dating Some College Ye s
Nanxing Chinese 29 Ye s 11 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof No
Neer Indian 22 Ye s <1 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Pengfei Chinese 23 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Ye s
Philip 26 No 26 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Rui Chinese 21 Ye s 3 Heterosexual Dating Some College Ye s
Sameer Indian 21 Yes 2 Bisexual Single Some College Ye s
Sandeep Indian 23 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Sean Chinese 19 No 19 Heterosexual Single Some college Ye s
Seok-Hwan Korean 39 Ye s 7 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Korean 22 Ye s 6 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Shavkat Uzbek 29 Ye s 5 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Shengyi Chinese 19 Ye s 2 Heterosexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Thomas Indian 21 No 21 Heterosexual Single Some College Yes
Tiande Chinese 27 Yes 6 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Timothy Chinese 19 No 19 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Yes
Ton y Chinese 25 No 25 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof No
Un-chan Korean 18 Ye s <1 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Ye s
Varun Indian 26 Yes 2 Heterosexual Dating Grad/Prof Ye s
Vincent Chinese 26 No 26 Heterosexual Married Some College No
Wang Zhen Chinese 18 Ye s 17 Heterosexual Single Some college Ye s
Wenyong Chinese 31 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Xiadong Chinese 20 Ye s 2 Bisexual Single Bachelor’s Ye s
Xiangnan Chinese 19 Ye s 3 Heterosexual Dating Bachelor’s Ye s
Xiaojun Chinese 23 Yes 23 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof Ye s
Xuanting Chinese 22 Ye s 2 Heterosexual Dating Some College Ye s
Xunze Chinese 18 Ye s 1 Heterosexual Single High school/GED Ye s
Yue 33 Ye s 10 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof Ye s
Yuxiang Chinese 29 Ye s 10 Gay Single Grad/Prof Yes
Zack Chinese 22 No 22 Heterosexual Dating Bachelor’s Ye s
Zhewei Chinese 22 Ye s Heterosexual Single Some College Ye s
Zhicheng Chinese 34 Ye s22 Heterosexual Single Grad/Prof No
Zhongjun Chinese 32 Ye s 7 Heterosexual Married Grad/Prof No
Note: We substituted all participants’ names with pseudonyms. All participants were residents in the United States. GED =
General Educational Development test; Grad/Prof = graduate or professional degree; — = not reported by participant.
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Alexander Lu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at
Indiana University Bloomington. His research interests include social psy-
chology, race/ethnicity, emotions, and law. His dissertation examines how
advocates use emotions and organizations to define victimhood in the pro-
cess of transforming personal tragedies into community tragedies.
Y. Joel Wong, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at
Indiana University Bloomington. He received his PhD in counseling psy-
chology from the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests are
in the psychology of men and masculinities and Asian American mental
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... Such male norm socialization can be a source of psychological distress and pressure in relation to masculine identity (Fouad et al., 2016). Psychological distress among men from Asian cultural backgrounds is often related to their internalized gendered notions including that men should achieve career success to be a provider (Lu & Wong, 2013;Ng, Tan, & Low, 2008). Other examples that reflected the most important masculinity attributes reported in a study included "having a good job," "being seen as a man of honor," and "being in control of his own life" (Ng et al., 2008). ...
... Additionally, the ambiguity fearful group tended to emphasize winning and heterosexual self-presentation more than the ambiguity accepting and the ambiguity curious groups. Attaining career success is a critical part of masculine identities among many Asian American men (Lu & Wong, 2013). When information is ambiguous or not available at the time of career decision-making, the Asian men who are highly ambitious to win may think their goal achievement is likely to be delayed, feeling reluctant to face career ambiguity. ...
... When information is ambiguous or not available at the time of career decision-making, the Asian men who are highly ambitious to win may think their goal achievement is likely to be delayed, feeling reluctant to face career ambiguity. In addition, given that one's fear to be perceived as being gay is one of the hegemonic masculine norms (Lu & Wong, 2013), individuals who conform to this norm may feel reluctant to accept new, complex information in general, including information about career decision-making. ...
Asian men in the United States often face race-based occupational segregation and gender-role pressure. Career decision ambiguity tolerance (CDAT) can be a source of psychological adaptation in these individuals’ complex contexts. We conducted a cluster analysis to investigate the CDAT profiles among the sample of Asian men and their associations with adherence to Asian cultural values and masculine norms, racial occupational barriers, and subjective well-being. Results showed that the participants who were more tolerant of career decision ambiguity tended to engage more in career behaviors and show higher psychological well-being. Participants who were more anxious about career decision ambiguity showed higher adherence to Asian cultural values and some traditional masculine norms. The results may indicate higher career intervention needs of Asian men with stronger adherence to traditional cultural and gender norms at the face of unpredictable career decision-making.
... Aside from affecting men's intimate relationships, hegemonic masculinity ideals also impact Asian American men's psychological well-being. They often struggle with their selfimage and their body satisfaction (Lu & Wong, 2013). Whereas White men indicate that they match their ideal body, Asian men indicate that they are smaller than their ideal (Barnett et al., 2001). ...
... Although many Asian American men attempt to conform to hegemonic ideals, others may renegotiate their masculine identities. Lu and Wong (2013) found that some Asian American men focused on aspects of masculinity consistent with model minority stereotypes, such as having a good career and providing for one's family. Another study similarly found that Asian American men connected masculinity the most with a good career and wealth (Chua & Fujino, 1999). ...
... White men are expected to be aggressive, highly muscular, and tough (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). Asian men, tend to have a smaller build and are less muscular, and have been discriminated against because of their race and gender expression (e.g., asexual, effeminate, and undesirable romantic partners) (Lu & Wong, 2013;Liang, Rivera, Nathwani, Dang, & Douroux, 2010). Similarly, Latino and African American men showcase different attitudes in asserting their gender (Pompper, 2010). ...
Because masculinity is socially constructed, images of men in the media influence perceptions of what a normal man should look and act. In advertising, attractive male models are used to catch consumers’ attention, influence product evaluations, and drive purchase intentions. Although the body composition of the average American male is endomorphic (Gerrard et al., 2020), such models rarely are featured in U.S. ads regardless of product category (Slater & Tiggemann, 2006). Thus, advertising practices tend to set an ideal standard that promotes a narrow conception of male attractiveness, which research has shown can lead to negative self-evaluations, eating disorders, depression, and other unintended effects. Although advertising researchers have studied these effects, little is known about industry choices and priorities when it comes to casting men for ads and evaluations of consumers’ attitudes toward the different body types portrayed in ads. Reflecting on 10 interviews conducted with advertising professionals, this chapter expands our understanding of industry and consumer attitudes regarding representations of masculinity in U.S. advertising by looking behind the scenes. Findings contribute to theory used to understand the construct of masculinity. Theoretical, practical, and policy implications are discussed.
... We con tend there is no part-Asian his tor ical fig ure com pa ra ble to the (tragic) "mulatta" in the U.S. cul tural imag i nary, and the mes tiza of yes ter year is not iden ti cal to the half-Latina of today (Bost 2003;Joseph 2013;Zackodnik 2004). To be sure, Asian and His panic Amer i cans were not spared anti-mis ce ge na tion laws (Karthikeyan and Chin 2002;Menchaca 2008) and con tinue to con front racial ste reo types that are gen dered and weighted with sex ual infer ences (Balistreri et al. 2015;Chou et al. 2015;Kim and Chung 2005;Lu and Wong 2013;Prasso 2005;Rodríguez 2008). However, those ste reo types do not invoke mixedrace peo ple spe cifi cally, unlike images that cir cu lated in French and Dutch Southeast Asian col o nies (Saada 2011;Stoler 1989). ...
Multiracial self-identification is frequently portrayed as a disproportionately female tendency, but previous research has not probed the conditions under which this relationship might occur. Using the 2015 Pew Survey of Multiracial Adults, we offer a more comprehensive analysis that considers gender differences at two distinct stages: reporting multiple races in one's ancestry and selecting multiple races to describe oneself. We also examine self-identification patterns by the generational locus of multiracial ancestry. We find that females are more likely to be aware of multiracial ancestry overall, but only first-generation females are more likely than their male counterparts to self-identify as multiracial. Finally, we explore the role of racial ancestry combination, finding that multiracial awareness and self-identification are likely gendered differently for different segments of the mixed-race population. This offers a more nuanced picture of how gender interacts with other social processes to shape racial identification in the United States.
... In globalizing Chinese societies, traditional ideals of Chinese masculinity have become stigmatized as nerdy, compliant, and physically weak vis-à-vis globally dominant WEIRD masculinity. The stigmatized dichotomization of Chinese versus western masculinity has not eased despite increasing intercultural contacts and exchanges since Mainland China's reintegration into the global society (Hird & Song, 2018;Kao et al., 2018;Lu & Wong, 2013). ...
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The fatherhood scholarship has made much theoretical progress over the past decades, yet existing models and concepts continue to draw primarily on WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic societies)-centric assumptions. This review uses demographically sizeable, culturally significant, yet understudied and under-theorized Chinese fathers as an example to reveal the limitations of applying WEIRD-centric perspectives in studying fathering and fatherhood. Specifically, existing models and concepts of fathering and fatherhood, with an emphasis on father involvement, especially in rough-and-tumble play, are predicated on the assumptions of nuclear family and western hegemonic masculinity. The Chinese cultural tradition, in contrast, endorses a literatus masculinity and emphasizes the family lineage, thereby encouraging fathers’ educational involvement and inviting grandparental care. These cultural traditions intersect with unfolding social developments in contemporary Chinese societies to shape fathering ideals and practices. A full, routine inclusion of non-WEIRD fathers, such as Chinese fathers, promises to benefit the scholarship on fathering and fatherhood as a whole.
... Specifically, male students with more disadvantaged characteristics were more likely to have lower level of mindfulness, whereas such association was not significant among female students. As indicated aforehand, one potential explanation is the higher parental expectations and stress on male students, which impair their self-regulation and mindfulness (Lu & Wong, 2013). For male students, furthermore, the reduced mindfulness impeded resilience. ...
This study assessed the association between disadvantaged characteristics and resilience and the role of mindfulness among Chinese vocational school students. We hypothesized that disadvantaged characteristics negatively associated with mindfulness, which subsequently inhibited resilience. The data was collected from 875 senior students from a vocational school in China. The results from the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) were aligned with our hypotheses that disadvantaged characteristics were negatively associated with mindfulness, and the lowered mindfulness reduced individual resilience. Furthermore, disadvantaged characteristics had negative associations with both mindfulness and resilience for males; whereas, the associations were not significant for females. Although the study has certain limitations, the findings shed light on implications for research and practice.
... studies (Berthoû, 2013;Fleming, Dowd, Gaillard, Park, and Howden, 2015;Hargreaves, 2011), software development , criminal justice (Garot, 2009;Lopez-Aguado, 2012), social work (Bryson, 2017;Pérez, 2017), race and ethnicity (Hordge-Freeman, 2013Philbin and Ayón, 2016), gender studies (Ayón, et al. 2017;Lu and Wong, 2013), kinesiology (Wilson, 2009), construction management (Rahmani and Leifels, 2018), engineering education (Khiat, 2010;Simmons and Martin, 2017), and travel and touristy (Everett, 2012;Yang, Khoo-Lattimore, and Arcodia, 2018;Zhang, Tucker, Morrison, and Wu, 2017). Researchers have often used constructivist grounded theory along with situational analysis (Clarke, 2005;Washburn, 2015, 2018), as its developers recommend in larger projects. ...
This paper is about the development of constructivist grounded theory. It shows how the method has been advanced, has spread across disciplines and professions, and indicates its growing reception as a major qualitative method. I discuss its epistemological roots and compare them with earlier versions of grounded theory.
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While media studies have frequently assessed the importance of representation, research in this area has often been siloed by institutional and methodological norms that define academics as “gender”, “race”, or “class” scholars, rather than inclusive scholars of all these and more. This paper thus responds to recent calls for more intersectional work by simultaneously addressing the overlapping representations of race, gender, and gamer identity, and their relation to Lorde’s concept of the mythical norm, in the popular webseries, The Guild (YouTube, 2007-2013). Via a detailed, inductive thematic analysis of the show’s two characters of color, Zaboo and Tinkerballa, we find a doubly problematic intersection between standard “gamer identity” tropes and gendered Asian/American stereotypes. The show forecloses on its potential to be truly diverse and reinforces the oppressive, marginalizing practices it tries to mock, suggesting that gaming culture will not change until we address its intersecting axes of power and exclusion. This research also demonstrates how the constructed identity of media audiences-- in this case, stereotypical “gamer” identity-- can exacerbate and reaffirm existing power disparities in representation. We suggest that media scholars remain attentive to the intersecting articulations of media consumer and individual identities in considering how representation can influence systems of inclusion and exclusion, as well as viewers’ lived outcomes.
American stereotypes depict the pan-Asian culture as monolithically traditional in matters of gender and sexual politics. Most national surveys include too few Asian respondents to assess the validity of these claims, much less to interrogate differences across Asian-ancestry groups. Using data from the 2016 National Asian American Survey, this study examines racial and ethnic variability in support for policies that would extend rights and protections to women and to sexual and gender minorities. Results provide no evidence of pan-Asian gender traditionalism, and they show much more attitudinal heterogeneity across Asian ethnic groups than is popularly recognized. Some of this heterogeneity is linked to ethnic differences in sociocultural traits, including religion, politics, nativity, education, and gender-identity salience. Substantial variability across Asian American groups remains unexplained, however. Future research should explore how this variability maps onto distinctive gender regimes in ancestral countries and different histories of immigrant reception within the United States.
Although previous research has examined associations among masculinity, sexual orientation, minority stress, and mental health, these studies focused exclusively on individuals as units of analysis. This study investigates how men in same-sex relationships uniquely experience minority stress associated with their perceptions and performances of masculinity, as individuals and as couples. Qualitative, dyadic data are drawn from in-depth interviews with 24 male couples (48 partners), discussing two main stress themes—Threatened by Others’ Gender Performances and Straight-acting Masculinity as Individual-level Insulation with Couple-level Challenges. Primary findings are (1) men in same-sex relationships are vulnerable to new forms of minority stress because their relationships increase visibility via others’ masculinity, and (2) being in a same-sex relationship influences partners’ self-perceptions of masculinity and their relationship dynamics. Findings improve insights regarding gender performance in minority stress processes affecting sexual minority men and their intimate relationships with one another. By virtue of their sexual minority and relationship statuses, men in same-sex relationships experience unique, masculinity-related stressors.
This handbook describes the ways in which society shapes the mental health of its members and further shapes the lives of those who have been identified as mentally ill. With regards to the social origins of mental health, this handbook covers both the social conditions that lead to the behavior defined as mental illness and the way in which the concept of mental illness is socially constructed around those behaviors. This handbook also covers a third body of work that examines socially conditioned responses to mental illness on the part of individuals and institutions along with the ways in which these responses affect the lives of persons with mental illness. Sections include: I: Introduction: Alternative Understandings of Mental Health. II: Observing Mental Health in the Community. III: The Social Distribution of Mental Illness. IV: Social Antecedents of Mental Illness. V: Social Consequences of Mental Illness. V I: Institutional Contexts of Mental Illness. VII: Social Continuities. Each of these viewpoints survey the field in a critical manner, evaluating theoretical models in light of the best available empirical evidence. Distinctively sociological approaches are highlighted by means of explicit comparison to perspectives characterizing related disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, and anthropology. This volume seeks to record where the field has been, to identify its current location and to plot its course for the future.
In this brief research note, the author uses a sociohistoric lens to examine selected films that have employed the cholo, or Chicano gang member, stereotype. He finds that the cholo is a prevalent archetype of Mexican and Mexican American youth. The author argues that the depiction of the cholo as a hypermasculine, abject personage threatening the social order converges with how actual Latino youth are constructed in sociopolitical and media discourses—as both marginalized young men and migrants unworthy of membership in U.S. society.
Purpose – The author examines how perceived risk, criminal victimization, and community integration affect the mental health of hurricane evacuees. His objectives are (1) to examine how perceived risk and victimization influence mental health in post-disaster contexts, (2) to analyze how social support and community integration mediate the effects of perceived risk and victimization, and (3) to expand the theoretical applicability of the stress process model by analyzing perceived risk and victimization as stressors under disaster conditions. Design/methodology/approach – The author uses survey data collected from 303 evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita residing in FEMA trailer park communities in Louisiana. He estimates four nested regression models predicting depression and anxiety. Findings – As a personal judgment of perceived risk, feeling unsafe consistently harms mental health net of residential instability and victimization. Social support and social integration buffer the stress related to personal judgments of perceived risk and residential instability. Originality/value of paper – Findings necessitate attention to residential stability, social integration, and community involvement in mitigating perceived risk, victimization, and poor mental health in post-disaster communities.