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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 2 billion 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? 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!

Sexy Indian guy

 

Asian smile

Asian bodybuilder type

 

Asian guy with chain

Thai guy in the water

 

Asian guy b&w

 

Indian guy pink

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with my webmaster, Alla. {photo credits: Alessandro Bologna}