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September 11, 2013

Where Are All The Asians?

Asian six packAlong with my fellow Lady Smut bloggers, I’m thrilled that the talented writer Alexa Day will soon be joining our regular weekly line-up. Not only does Alexa bring a new voice to our blog, but she also brings something else – diversity to her books through her interracial romances.

Diversity in romance novels has been expanding over recent years. Alexa and other writers are putting African-American/Caucasion relationships on the map, and gay and lesbian romances have found places as well. Once in awhile I’ll see a romance involving a Latino or Latina character, and back in the day I remember a steady release of Cassie Edwards’ romances which always included a Native American hero (or sometimes heroine). So with this welcome influx of heroes and heroines beyond the heterosexual WASP and Western European demographic, I ask myself: where the hell are all the Asians?

China and India alone account for over 2Β billionΒ members of the world’s population, so it’s not exactly a stretch to say that those people are having sex. Lots of it. (’cause babies, it turns out, don’t come from storks!) Furthermore, a good many of those shags between the sheets were presumably preceded by romance and dating and courtship. So what gives? With all of the Asians populating this earth, why aren’t they featured in romance novels?

Perhaps the demographic of the readers accounts for some of it. A 2009 RWA survey revealed that the majority of romance readers in the U.S. come from the South (37.1%) followed by the Midwest (25.6%). A review of the dispersion of ethnic backgrounds across the country shows that the South has a strong mix of African American and white – with the Latino population increasing in the Southwest – while the Midwest is predominantly white. So do we make the leap that predominantly white readers want their heroes and heroines to look like they do?

Not sure if that’s the answer, but let’s not beat around the bush. I’m putting the question out there and welcome your input: do we not see more Asian heroes in romance novels because – for many readers – Asian guys just aren’t that hot? If someone were to say to you, “Quick! Think of a sexy Asian guy in the next five seconds,” how many images spring to mind? One? None?Β Bruce Lee, maybe? (who’s been dead for 40 years). Have the stereotypes about Asian guys tarnished their image to the point where we just don’t see them as heroes? They’re math and computer geeks – so the stereotypes go – or perhaps scientists or engineers. They suck at sports, are socially awkward, can’t drive, and are simply not masculine. Be honest – do any of those images spring to mind?

Something else that I considered while writing this piece, specifically as it pertains to American romance readers, is that the majority of them haven’t been to Asia. It’s a statistical fact that the majority of Americans don’t have passports – only about one-third – so it goes that the majority of them haven’t been to Asia. Could it be that Asia seems so exotic, so mysterious, so darn far away that readers can’t identify with the countries there and, ergo, can’t identify with the guys? One could argue that if the majority don’t have passports then they haven’t been to Europe, either. This is true. However, since many Americans’ ancestors come from Europe, I’m guessing that many would say that they “understand” Europe better than Asia. Even if they haven’t actually been there. Speculation on my part, yes. But I’m sticking by it.

True or not, the sad fact remains that if I want to read a sexy romance with Asian heroes and heroines, the pickings are slim. I don’t have a solution to offer, but I think it’s worthwhile to consider the question. In the meantime, however, and in the spirit of inclusion, I’ve put together a gallery of Asian hotties for your review below. Enjoy! And remember to please follow us. Button’s on the right.Sexy Indian guy

Asian smile

Asian bodybuilder type

Asian guy with chainThai guy in the water

Asian guy black and whiteIndian guy pink

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25 comments

  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    Where are they?! I take it you’re not an Asian film fan? Films rom Japan, Hong Kong and in recent years Korea have been huge business and I’ve been an addict fron back when you had to special order them. Love wu xia, the traditional historical adventures, but also martial arts and gangster. Koreans are making some of the best horror films now, too.

    Who’s sexy? Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung, Chow Yun Fat, Michele Yeo, Brigitte Lin — on and on!

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      I agree that we’ve got good access to Asian artists through films, but I’m specifically wondering where they are in romance novels. I’m just not seeing enough of them.

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    Lots of American cities have huge Asian populations. When I lived in Los Angeles my boss would let me go out and get the office dim sum from the drive thru dim sum place. Miss that!

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorLiz Everly

    There’s a very hot Indian man in CRAVINGS! Watch out for that. πŸ˜‰ But when I first started writing romances, I wanted to write a bi-racial romance and was told that would not be as marketable. I think it’s changing–too slowly. Great post Elizabeth!

    Reply to Liz Everly
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      Hot Indian guy in Cravings? Fabulous, Liz! Definitely something to look forward to.

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorAuthor Charmaine Gordon

    Good post and the responses are terrific as are the pics. Yum. One of my best friends is a doctor in Singapore, chief of staff at a hospital. He’s a beauty.

    Reply to Author Charmaine Gordon
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    Myself, I’m a Korean drama addict. Korean dramas are like an Asian version of Telenovellas–they run for one season usually.

    I recognize the Korean hotties from the pictures that you have. The men are to die for in Korean drama. They also cry. Normally I hate men crying, but they cry in this way that just kills me — one slow tear down the beautiful face. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

    Anyone who wants to get started with this distinctive television form that is full of all kinds of cultural difference to chew on should check out My Lovely Samsoon.

    Why do they eat sea weed soup on their birthday? Why are people always carrying someone on their back to indicate a bond of closeness?

    It’s great stuff to ponder and explore.

    If you’re interested in Korean Drama try starting with My Lovely Samsoon. You can google it and watch it on DramaFever or on Hulu. Sam Soon is unmarried, older than the hero, and she’s ‘fat’ for a Korean. Yet somehow they wind up together and in love. The hero is actually some kind of pop star—and he’s great.

    I actually DID write a rough draft of a korean-american drama. Maybe I’ll show it to you Liz and see what you think.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      “One slow tear down the beautiful face.” Love it!! πŸ™‚

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorMisty Dietz

    O_O

    OH F*CK. I’ll take one of each – wait, maybe two of the guy in the black skivvies. THANK YOU FOR THAT! πŸ™‚

    Reply to Misty Dietz
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      Ha ha! Yeah, I’m kinda partial to the black skivvies guy myself.

      You’re welcome, Misty. πŸ™‚

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorNikka Michaels

    Reblogged this on Nikka Michaels and commented:
    ::waves hand:: What? You asked. Half filipina, half whitebread. All smutty snark. πŸ™‚ I do agree though. There needs to be more diversity in books today.

    Reply to Nikka Michaels
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      Right there with you, Nikka! And by the way, I *love* your “I like Big Books” gravatar. It’s great.

      Thanks for stopping by and for the re-blog!

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorAlexa Day

    Aw, you guys are so good to give me a shout-out! I have been in Vegas recovery mode lately, so this is a nice little hit of reality to come home to.

    My mind went immediately to John Cho, who has been in People magazine’s Sexiest Men issue a couple of times. Daniel Dae Kim has been on the Sexiest Men list a couple of times, too. And then there’s half-Japanese Lyoto Machida (who brightened up my post on http://www.passionatereads.com this past Monday).

    But you’re talking about books.

    I think — I hope — that we’ll start to see more Asian characters in romances soon. It feels like Asian characters are now where black characters were not so long ago … you know, when all we could find were “Creole” heroines. Asian heroes are out there, though. I’ve seen them paired with black heroines in Western historicals (I just LOVE an interracial historical), and I saw one called The Good, the Bad, and the Naughty by Lena Matthews, which is a contemporary. And isn’t the hero in Mallory Rush’s Love Play an Asian man?

    I think things are starting to swing around, and I think they’ll keep changing as long as we keep asking the hard questions!

    Reply to Alexa Day
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      Very happily giving you a shout out, Alexa! So excited that you’re joining us!

      It would be great to see more Asians in romance novels. I can’t figure out why they’re not there already – which is why I wrote the post and posed the questions. But I’m all for getting people talking and thinking, and I believe you’re right, that things are starting to change. Fingers crossed!

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorLizEverly

    Thanks for stopping by, Alexa. So thrilled you’re joining us.

    Reply to LizEverly
  • Post authorSydney

    Front Porch Romance just published my my romance novel ” My Heart In Seoul. The lead male is Asian.The character was modeled after one of my favorite actors Won Bin.

    Reply to Sydney
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Won Bin is divine!!! How exciting, Sydney, your book sounds wonderful. πŸ™‚

      Reply to Madeline Iva
      • Post authorSydney

        Thanks! He certainly is divine. It’s nice to have a little diversity in romance novels.

        Reply to Sydney
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  • Post authorami granada

    Asians are divine. I’m a Filipina and I write romance (NA) and extra steamy stuff, and we have a group called #romanceclass. Millions of Filipinos read Western stuff.The thing is, English is the medium of instruction in the Philippines (from elementary to college) but we seldom read Filipino authors,.
    Thanks to indie publishing, a lot of Filipinos have started writing and publishing. I hope to write not only about Asian heroes and heroines and cross cultural romance.
    Korean telenovelas are a hit in the Philippines. I find Japanese and Indians sexy. Nice ph
    Nice reading stuff, Liz.

    Reply to ami granada
      • Post authorami granada

        Thanks so much for the heads up … πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        Reply to ami granada
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      Thanks for stopping by, Ami! Your Asian heroes are going to fill a void in romance that needs to be filled.

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
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