Richards, who teaches Sociology 119 — Race and Ethnic Relations at Penn State, delved on the issue during a short segment from his introductory class on race and culture back in September.
In the clip, taken from Richards’ fifth class on September 4 titled “Asian Cool,” the renowned sociologist pointed out how the perception of Asian masculinity has affected Asian men’s success in dating.
After asking his students to look at one Asian and one White student of relatively equal “handsomeness,” Richards revealed that an Asian man would have to earn an additional $247,000 to compete in the dating scene with his white counterpart.
The figure was based from a study at Columbia University that tried to estimate how much men of different ethnic groups would need to earn to become as desirable to a woman as a man of her own race. The research also posited that to match up with an African American suitor, an Asian man needs to earn $220,000 more.
“For Andy (Asian guy) to compete with Chris (White guy) on all the dating apps, in the dating market, he has to make $247,000 more per year,” he noted.
Addressing the female students in the lecture hall, Richards noted that while some of them might say that they actually like both of the men equally, the reality is that Andy still “has to make nearly quarter of a million dollars more than that guy to be equal in your eyes” on average of all the people in the class.
“Because Asian men aren’t seen as sexualized (in media), they’re just not seen in that way. They tend to be seen in a very different way,” he explained.
“That’s the place of Asians in the United States. It’s that’s worth thinking about and that’s profound and if you’re not seeing it as profound it’s because you’re not thinking about it,” Richards further pointed out.
“No matter what he does in the dating market, on average. it’s (he’s going to need) a quarter million dollars more.”
Asked what she thought about such double standards, one female student exclaimed that basing the attractiveness of a man on money is “pretty shallow.”
“I don’t really care how much more he makes,” she noted.
“Yeah, that’s not what it is though,” the professor explained. “It’s not about even conscious. It’s subconscious. You may not do that in your mind up here but somewhere in your subconsciousness you’re gonna look at them and you’re still gonna be like, ‘Nah, for some reason I just like Chris more. I just think he’s cuter. I just think he’s this, I just think he’s that.”
“But if the Andy made a quarter million dollars, you wouldn’t even know it and you’d be like I okay I’ll talk to him. Like if he’s one of the Asian dudes driving around in the Ferrari or something.”
He then added: “It’s not about just being shallow, it’s about really understanding ourselves.”
Attracting 725 students each semester, Richards’ course is currently the largest race relations course in the United States. Richards has been live-streaming his lectures every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon via YouTube and hosted at the course’s dedicated website.