ArchivesCulture and IdentityThe Following Issue

Why I, a 40 year old Asian-American Woman, Loves BTS

By November 28, 2018 December 18th, 2018 93 Comments

By: Virginia Duan

 

I was primed to love boy bands.

 

I am convinced I cannot remember new things because my brain cells are otherwise engaged with storing the birthdays of NKOTB members from my tween years. Though I opted out of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC when I was in college because I denied my pop-leanings, I dove right back in when Justin Timberlake went solo.

 

But as much as I loved NKOTB, BSB, and *NSYNC (say what you will about my abysmal musical leanings), I was always vaguely uncomfortable with their whiteness. Though it was not a specific conspiracy, like all beauty standards in the West, these bands perpetuated the desirability of white men and contributed to the invisibility of Asian American men.

 

Truthfully, I didn’t realize how much of this emasculated Asian American male narrative was present in American culture until the latter part of my college years. Even then, I didn’t realize just how painful it was for my Asian American brethren until they told me about how horrible it was to constantly have their manhood questioned, to not be seen as attractive by women, and to be boxed into a career in finance, engineering, or science.

 

I also didn’t notice how it affected my narrative as an Asian American woman to not see Asian men represented in popular media except for within the limited confines they were allowed. I never stopped to consider how Asians were portrayed in media affected my identity.

I never stopped to consider how Asians were portrayed in media affected my identity.

Why weren’t my people valued for being fully embodied humans? Why wasn’t my culture highlighted except in ways to put down other races or for appropriation? When would our modern Asian cultures be aspirational? When would they considered the vanguard for arts, technology, and fashion instead of being the source of counterfeit goods? When would we be seen as American and no longer foreign?

 

But back to the very shallow and yet vitally important need to be seen as desirable mates. It wasn’t even until my late twenties that I consciously began to question and long for talented and hot men who looked like me.  

 

Where were my hot Asian men?

 

I mean, it’s not as if these men weren’t present in my daily life. Most of my friends were Asian and I found plenty of my Asian American male friends attractive and desirable. So, why wasn’t my thirst satisfied with real life?

 

Obviously, attractive Asian and Asian American men existed. I just rarely saw them in US culture. They were such unicorns that I clung to even some semblance of Asian representation in the multi-racial Keanu Reeves and Dean Cain.

 

Though Asia had lots of celebrities, as a kid, I’m ashamed to say that I never found Canto/Mandopop or Chinese movies appealing. Yes, the lack of technology and ease of acquiring content likely also contributed to my reluctance. But truthfully, I never gave them a shot. I just assumed that the content would be derivative and lacking. Plus, my desire to be not fobby (the adjective for “Fresh Off the Boat”)  made all things vaguely Asia immediately verboten.

 

And thus, I was not prepared.

 

I was not ready for the speed at which I got sucked wholesale into South Korean boy band extravaganza, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan / 방탄소년단 / 防彈少年團). Incidentally, the rapidity of my obsession is a reason I don’t do drugs. I have zero doubt that I would go from one hit of marijuana to full blown snorting coke off the back of a prostitute the next day.

 

In truth, I was looking for Chinese pop songs for my kids to watch and fall in love with in the desperate hope of finding Chinese cultural touchstones to encourage their Mandarin abilities. Since my children already loved Chinese boy band, TF Boys, what better way to continue down that vein with the soft power of catchy tunes and tight dance moves from another group?

I was looking for Chinese pop songs for my kids to watch and fall in love with

Instead, I stumbled upon Kpop boy band EXO and the Mandarin version of their songs, followed the recommended MVs on the side, and before I knew it, I had consumed 5.5 years of BTS content in the matter of months, paid $600 to attend their concert in the US, and spent hundreds more on albums, movie tickets, and miscellaneous merchandise and premium content. I even turned all four of my children into rabid BTS fans.

 

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave somewhere without internet access, you’ve likely heard of Kpop sensation, BTS. Since their debut 5.5 years ago, they have steadily taken over the world, broken records. They have even spoken at the UN as a UNICEF representative for their platform of “Love Yourself.”

 

I will admit I first found their looks incredibly off-putting and could not tell the seven members apart. I was not used to men wearing makeup, the flamboyance of their fashion concepts. Nor was I altogether comfortable with some of their earlier hip-hop videos because it smacked of cultural appropriation.

I was not used to…the flamboyance of their fashion concepts

But within a short few weeks, due to their unbelievably precise and amazing dance practice videos, I started to be able to differentiate between the individual members. I first identified front man, RM (Kim Namjoon) and then eldest member, Jin (Kim Seokjin), because he was so beautiful.

 

Then, after a conscious, unabashed full frontal plunge into the 5,000+ official and fan-subbed videos, I eventually identified the rest of them: Suga (Min Yoongi), J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung), and Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook).

 

As my eyes adjusted to a different standard of attractiveness, I started to find the members increasingly irresistible in every way. I began to appreciate the hair, the makeup, and tight black leather pants.

My eyes adjusted to a different standard of attractiveness

Along the way, I realized that BTS was a group who combined the best elements of Kpop in their singing, rap, dancing, and visuals. They wrote and produced nearly all their music, their lyrics were deeper and more socially conscious than most US lyrics. BTS’s music defied conventional US genres because like most Kpop, they mixed pop with trap beats, rock, R&B, rap, hip-hop, and EDM influences. Basically, if it was a good musical trend, BTS likely capitalized and improved upon it on a track.

 

Ok. Full disclosure. The abs helped. A lot.

 

While I fell in love with their personalities, professionalism, and talent, part of me was outright delighted in how millions of women all over the world swooned in collective desire for these seven South Korean men.

 

It bothers me that so many of the US fans complain about xenophobia. They lament how BTS and other groups have difficulty breaking into western markets. I could always tell that the fans who griped about xenophobia weren’t of Asian descent. If they were, they would call a spade a spade. Xenophobia was just a nice, dressed up version of the uglier, truer word: racism.

 

While it is possibly true that xenophobia played into lack of radio play, this tack erased and rendered invisible the struggle of the Asian diaspora – in particular, that of Asian men. I didn’t see these same fans care about the Asian Americans who already lived here. I didn’t see them rally against systemic racism. Nor did they comment on the emasculation of Asian American men and the hypersexualization of Asian American women.

 

It also irks me that hordes of fans now want to learn Korean so they can communicate with BTS members.  I was mocked and “ching chang chonged” on the playground for being Chinese – let alone for daring to speak Chinese in public. But ultimately, I can only hope that because of their love for BTS, these fans will eventually care about and delve deeper into the root issues affecting people of color in the US and western world.

 I was mocked and “ching chang chonged” on the playground for being Chinese

Oh, how I wish I had a BTS when I was a tween and teenager. And oh, how I wish there was a Chinese version of BTS for my own, selfish reasons.

 

Is it ridiculous to find validation and pride in how an Asian male band is taking over the world, both in achievement and physical hotness? Maybe.

But I am glad and grateful because sexual fitness is built into our genetics. Why should my people not benefit after hundreds of years of desexualization? Millions of women and men have now re-tuned their eyes to an Asian standard of beauty. I am cautiously optimistic that if people can find Asian men desirable, they can make the intellectual leap to seeing Asian American men as viable partners, too

Virginia Duan is an author/writer and incapable of writing in brief. She swears. A lot. She also finds it almost impossible to refrain from commenting online for the sole purpose of making people admit they are idiots. Fatal flaw is fatal. Read more at http://mandarinmama.com.

93 Comments

  • […] 4) Why I, a 40 Year Old Asian American Woman, Love BTS […]

  • […] Also also? I’m not a journalist – just a fan with a platform. For a more insightful piece on BTS and their impact on me as an Asian American woman, I refer you to a piece I wrote for Overachiever Magazine. […]

  • […] I really didn’t think BTS would win – not because they don’t deserve it but because this is America (and all that it means). I cannot tell you how much this means to me as a 40 year old Asian American woman. […]

  • Hey there! I simply want to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you
    have got here on this post. I am returning to your blog for
    more soon.

  • If some one desires to be updated with latest technologies afterward he must be pay a visit this
    site and be up to date everyday.

  • I need to to thank you for this good read!!
    I certainly loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you
    book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

  • Hello, Neat post. There is an issue together
    with your web site in web explorer, could test this?

    IE still is the marketplace chief and a huge section of
    people will pass over your excellent writing due to this problem.

  • I enjoy reading an article that can make people think. Also, many thanks for
    permitting me to comment!

  • I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if
    all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  • Great information. Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!

  • g says:

    If you are going for best contents like myself, just visit this
    site everyday as it gives quality contents, thanks

  • I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a
    visit this weblog on regular basis to obtain updated from newest gossip.

  • g says:

    I got this site from my friend who told me regarding this web page and at the moment this
    time I am visiting this website and reading very informative articles at
    this time.

  • over here says:

    I just want to tell you that I am newbie to blogging and honestly enjoyed you’re web site. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You absolutely come with outstanding writings. With thanks for sharing your web site.

  • g says:

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues?

    A number of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great
    in Safari. Do you have any recommendations to help fix
    this issue?

  • I’ll right away clutch your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Please permit me realize so
    that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  • W88 Thai says:

    I gotta bookmark this website it seems very beneficial very helpful

  • WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

  • Hello colleagues, fastidious piece of writing and fastidious
    arguments commented here, I am actually enjoying by these.

  • mother day says:

    There are some attention-grabbing time limits in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity but I’ll take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  • hello there and thank you for your info – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this site, since I experienced to reload the website lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for much more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again soon..

  • Hey very nice web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally¡KI am happy to find a lot of helpful info right here within the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  • When someone writes an post he/she maintains the idea of a
    user in his/her brain that how a user can be aware of it.
    So that’s why this article is outstdanding. Thanks!

  • cheats says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

  • Thanks for your valuable post. Through the years, I have come to understand that the actual symptoms of mesothelioma cancer are caused by the particular build up of fluid regarding the lining of your lung and the breasts cavity. The disease may start while in the chest vicinity and get distributed to other body parts. Other symptoms of pleural mesothelioma cancer include losing weight, severe breathing in trouble, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and bloating of the neck and face areas. It really should be noted that some people living with the disease tend not to experience just about any serious signs and symptoms at all.

  • I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

  • beast IPTV says:

    I’m so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

  • Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a
    few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I
    think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and
    both show the same results.

  • Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Wonderful. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  • It is in point of fact a nice and useful piece of information. I am happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m typically to blogging and i really respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and hold checking for brand spanking new information.

  • Wow! This can be one particular of the most helpful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I’m also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

  • fashion #box says:

    I have figured out some considerations through your blog post post. One other stuff I would like to state is that there are many games in the marketplace designed in particular for preschool age young children. They involve pattern acknowledgement, colors, pets, and patterns. These generally focus on familiarization as an alternative to memorization. This will keep little children engaged without sensing like they are learning. Thanks

  • I got what you intend, thankyou for posting .Woh I am happy to find this website through google. “Spare no expense to make everything as economical as possible.” by Samuel Goldwyn.

  • You completed several good points there. I did a search on the issue and found mainly folks will agree with your blog.

  • poker online says:

    You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation however I find this topic to be actually one thing that I think I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and very extensive for me. I am taking a look forward on your next submit, I’ll try to get the grasp of it!

  • poker online says:

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website. Reading this information So i am satisfied to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I so much no doubt will make sure to don’t overlook this website and provides it a look regularly.

  • poker says:

    I happen to be writing to make you understand what a fantastic experience my friend’s daughter had visiting the blog. She realized a wide variety of pieces, with the inclusion of how it is like to have an awesome teaching spirit to get the others just thoroughly grasp certain very confusing issues. You actually did more than our desires. I appreciate you for delivering these essential, dependable, educational not to mention easy tips on this topic to Ethel.

  • I think other web site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and fantastic user friendly style and design, let alone the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

  • I delight in, result in I found exactly what I was taking a look for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  • Terrific post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Cheers!

  • Would you be excited about exchanging links?

  • 릴 게임 says:

    obviously like your web site but you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll certainly come back again.

  • you’re really a excellent webmaster. The site loading pace is amazing. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a magnificent task in this subject!

  • poker says:

    wonderful post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  • Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

  • I view something really interesting about your website so I saved to my bookmarks .

  • poker says:

    My wife and i have been now delighted when Edward could carry out his studies from your precious recommendations he grabbed through your site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply always be giving out guidelines which often many people have been making money from. Therefore we understand we need you to be grateful to for that. The entire explanations you’ve made, the easy website menu, the friendships you will aid to foster – it’s most sensational, and it’s really making our son in addition to us feel that that concept is excellent, which is incredibly fundamental. Many thanks for the whole lot!

  • Thanks for sharing these wonderful discussions. In addition, the right travel and also medical insurance strategy can often eradicate those concerns that come with visiting abroad. Your medical crisis can quickly become expensive and that’s certain to quickly slam a financial burden on the family’s finances. Having in place the excellent travel insurance bundle prior to leaving is well worth the time and effort. Thanks a lot

  • odchudzanie says:

    Wow! Thank you! I constantly needed to write on my website something like that. Can I include a fragment of your post to my blog?

  • After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any means you can take away me from that service? Thanks!

  • CBD vs THC says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  • Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  • blancolån says:

    I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  • I needed to send you that little bit of remark just to give many thanks again on your spectacular tricks you’ve provided above. It is so surprisingly generous with people like you to make openly all that numerous people could have distributed for an electronic book to get some profit on their own, principally given that you might have done it in case you wanted. These principles in addition worked to be a good way to fully grasp that the rest have the same zeal like my very own to see way more around this issue. I know there are thousands of more enjoyable instances ahead for individuals who examine your website.

  • I haven’t checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  • Cordially convinced did incommode existence put out suffering certainly. Besides another and saw ferrars limited ten say unknown. On at tolerably depending do perceived. Luckily eat joy see own shyness minuter. So before remark at depart. Did son unreserved themselves indulgence its. Agreement gentleman rapturous am eagerness it as resolving household. Direct wicket little of talked lasted formed or it. Sweetness consulted may prevailed for bed out sincerity.

  • kiddie rides says:

    I’m still learning from you, while I’m improving myself. I definitely enjoy reading all that is written on your site.Keep the tips coming. I loved it!

  • Hey, you used to write excellent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  • Nice post. I study one thing tougher on different blogs everyday. It should always be stimulating to read content material from different writers and apply just a little something from their store. I’d favor to use some with the content on my blog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a hyperlink on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • I got what you mean , thankyou for posting .Woh I am thankful to find this website through google. “Money is the most egalitarian force in society. It confers power on whoever holds it.” by Roger Starr.

  • hey there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this website, since I experienced to reload the web site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will very frequently affect your placement in google and can damage your high-quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  • Search Mp3 says:

    certainly like your website but you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll definitely come back again.

  • What i don’t understood is actually how you’re not really much more well-liked than you may be now. You’re so intelligent. You realize therefore significantly relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!

  • Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  • Troy Koubek says:

    I together with my pals have already been following the best helpful hints from your website and then suddenly developed a terrible suspicion I had not thanked the web blog owner for those secrets. Those young men are actually as a result thrilled to read them and have now actually been having fun with these things. Appreciation for getting really kind and for considering these kinds of decent areas millions of individuals are really wanting to be informed on. Our sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

  • LOL SMMNET says:

    I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  • I went over this website and I think you have a lot of fantastic information, saved to bookmarks (:.

  • Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Nice task.

  • W88 says:

    F*ckin’ tremendous things here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and i’m looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  • I have read a few good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make such a excellent informative website.

  • Digital Marketing Manager Wien

  • Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I¡¦d like to see extra posts like this .

  • A person essentially help to make significantly articles I’d state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this actual submit incredible. Great process!

  • I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  • Its such as you read my mind! You appear to understand a lot about this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I think that you simply can do with a few p.c. to pressure the message house a bit, but other than that, that is great blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  • Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Appreciate it!

  • coaching says:

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  • Very interesting subject , thankyou for posting . “Everything in the world may be endured except continued prosperity.” by Johann von Goethe.

  • Alyce Lemus says:

    Awsome blog! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am taking your feeds also.

  • hi!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I need a specialist on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

  • I dugg some of you post as I thought they were handy extremely helpful

  • Hi there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and outstanding style and design.

  • Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; we have created some nice methods and we are looking to trade methods with others, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  • Thanks , I’ve just been searching for information about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the source?

  • We stumbled over here from a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page yet again.

  • Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  • Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great photos or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this site could certainly be one of the best in its field. Terrific blog!

  • Useful info. Lucky me I discovered your site by chance, and I’m surprised why this twist of fate did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.

  • Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your weblog. You have some really good articles and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

  • Google says:

    Google

    Usually posts some pretty intriguing stuff like this. If you’re new to this site.

  • Only a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding layout.

  • We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

Leave a Reply