Review: Straitjacket Sexualities

The topic of masculinity in the Asian American community has always been discussed through the framework of hegemonic masculinity as defined by the heteronormative mainstream media. In so doing, this discussion severely limits itself into a straitjacketed binary of macho vs. lack of macho. In this framework, representation of Asian American masculinity in media is thus limited to constantly depicting the macho, as a means of fighting against the sexual victimization and the representation of its lack that have so permeated Asian American manhood. Macho here is problematically defined as having patriarchal power and conquest over women and others via the conflation of the penis and the phallus; lack is defined solely as everything that is not the macho and as a result, this binary disregards any forms of masculinity that works out of the straitjacket and disregards any power that comes with asexuality, effeminacy, queerness, which are all viable and powerful forms of masculinity that work outside the straitjacket. Celine Parreñas Shimizu’s book, Straitjacket Sexualities: Unbinding Asian American Manhoods In The Movies, breaks up this binary of macho vs. lack of and applies her own framework into this discussion of Asian American masculinity that works outside the straitjacket, thus creating new forms of ethical manhoods. Rather then vilifying asexuality, effeminacy, and queerness, her book focuses on the ethical manhoods Asian American men create through gender and sexuality in the movies where ethical moments in movies create new forms of masculinity that challenge and transcend straitjacket assessments.

By Kevin Wang, PO ’13


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