Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China DollsS

{Clarifications (including the acknowledgement of a lack of Indian representation and other major movies) can be found here.}

When I first decided I wanted to write a post about the stereotype of Asian women, I thought I'd wait until something interesting came along. Then, it occurred to me, that I'd probably have to wait very long because, be serious, how often do we see Asian women in the media?

The stereotypical Asian woman is riddled with intricacies and contradictions. (But also flat and static!) On one hand, we are the nerds who face social segregation, because we all are good at Math. On the other hand, Asian women are the trophies of Asian fetishists, because apparently, we are submissive, accommodating, and have magic vaginas. I would like to point out that it's interesting that the stereotypes that Asian women are the polar opposites of the stereotypes that black women face. Black women are seen as angry, Asian women are said to be quiet, submissive. Black women supposedly possess excessive amounts of sexuality, whereas Asian women are sexualized in a different way. In a modest way. They are supposed to be slim, flat, and they aren't outright sexual. This to some white men, makes Asian women ideal.

Why am I grumbling over all this supposed white male attention? Am I not supposed to revel in it? Otherwise, I wouldn't get any romantic attention at all, would I?

The main problem with the stereotype is that they are extremely damaging to self-esteem. When white women became opinionated and loud and sexual (because feminism lolol amirite?) Asian women became the epitome of a feminine woman who bows down to the patriarchy. An Asian fetishist isn't going to be happy when his Thai/ Vietnamese/ Indonesian/ Fillipino (Remember! We are all not Chinese!) wife turns out to have strong opinions about women's rights and her "place" in the house. An Asian fetishist is only going to be interested in his wife conforming to this stereotype, and any deviation from the standard would be frowned upon. Your objecitifying husband isn't going to care that you want to be a scientist, or that you don't actually want to have kids. And, may I add, that if anyone wants a wife like this, you probably have some serious issues yourself! Guys are probably compensating for their insecurities by getting a woman who idolizes them and takes care of their every need. But, I shouldn't complain, right? Because this gives me the chance, as an Asian woman, to marry "up"!

One of the contributing factors to this stereotype is the way the media portrays Asian women. Simultaneously, the lack of Asian female representation plays a part in this. It shows that Asian female voices are ignored, silent, passive. Asian men have far more roles when they embrace their limited Asian vocabulary and martial arts abilities. Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Jacky Chan showing off his awesome moves- but it'd be damaging to only see Asian men practise kung-fu in movies.

Wait, there can't be a shortage of Asian female roles, right? So many movies are based in exotic Asia! Right, like that would mean we'd see Asian women onscreen. (See: Skyfall, where the only female character in Shanghai was an imported prostitute) Fine, we'll look at a couple of movies based in Asia.

Memoirs of a Geisha, what else, is about the story of a geisha in Japan. By itself, it's a good story, about an interesting career, but as a movie, it is marketable because it plays on the Asian Prostitute and the Dragon Lady stereotype that caters to white men. The main character (played by Zhang Ziyi, who is Chinese, not Japanese) is a docile, meekly flirtatious, modest Chinese lady. Then there's Pumpkin, who dances around in a bra and an undone kimono for white soldiers who came during World War II.

Also somewhat related, Zhang Ziyi's eyes are not blue:

Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China Dolls

(If you're thinking about how they were blue in the book, click here.)


Well, there's Looper right? Which is set in Shanghai and actually features a Chinese woman? Yes, an Asian woman finally plays a pivotal character in the film.

She becomes the nice, accommodating wife who magically transforms the white male character into a Better Person. The Domestic Wife who does chores while her white husband lounges around. She never speaks in the movie. And, of course, she was one of the first to die.

Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China DollsS


Well, what about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Surely a feminist movie will fare better?

Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China DollsS

The portrayal of Mimi (Miriam Wu, played by Elodie Yung) was a promising character in the book, who is a strong lesbian, fearless with regards to her sexuality. Yet, she is relegated to an (almost) non-speaking role in the movie. The only two scenes she had were making out with Lisbeth in a nightclub, and waking up in bed with her the next morning. Seems like the Big White Hollywood Dudes couldn't find any use for her other than Hot Asian Lesbian Sex Object.

Her last scene was when she was topless in bed with Lisbeth, when Blomkvist barges in on them and tells Miriam to "put her shirt on". She obliges, and leaves. She is the Asian Slut who offers the movie a silent exoticism and sexy lesbian action.


A main excuse as to why Asian women aren't really heard in America is because they compose of a smaller minority. EVEN SO, the number of roles Asian women get cannot compare to the proportion of Asian women in America. California, where Hollywood is at, comprises of many Asians. 13.9%, to be exact. Furthermore, the influence of America extends far and white (typo, but I will keep it because funny), and many Asian audiences regularly consume American products, not just American movies. Indonesia, Phillipines, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, Thailand, they all show American movies, sometimes more so than local movies. It's damaging to have such a large Asian female audience when movies portrays them so badly.

But even if, even if this was not the case, there is no excuse for this monstrosity:

Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China Dolls


The culture of Japanese girls became a money-making business for Gwen Stefani, when she launched her song "Harajuku Girls", as well as various other products with Japanese faces on them.

Asian Women Aren't Your Oriental, Submissive, China DollsS


Harajuku Girls is all about Japanese girls dancing silently behind Gwen Stefani, who took in a whole diverse Japanese culture, and barfed up submissive Japanese women who never speak. The frustrating thing about it is that it's not only inherently racist, but other people are racist towards it because Asians were on stage, which makes it hard to get to the real issue. The reason I bring this up is because Gwen Stefani is still not tired of trying to make money from this stereotype. A Harajuku Girls clothing line has just hit Target.

The Japanese girls were named Love, Angel, Music and Baby. How cute! You have widdle docile, tame Japanese pets that follow you everywhere!

Margaret Cho, an Asian American comedian, said that it was a "minstrel show", but overall, she was just glad that Asians got a small share of the spotlight.

”She didn’t do her research!” spits Stefani, who says she’s been a fan of Japan and its mix-and-match fashion sense since first visiting the country with No Doubt in the mid-’90s. ”The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” (Cho told EW via e-mail, ”I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be one… I dance really good!!!”)

hahahhahahahahahahahahFUCK YOU

What I would like, is to finally see some proper female Asian representation in Hollywood, instead of Asian women as an exotic, Oriental feature in the background. I would also like proper female Asian representation everywhere else, to counteract racism. This is my contribution.

I am an Asian woman, and I will not be silenced.