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A further stereotype about Asians that cannot be ignored is that regarding the sexuality of the Asian female. "Asian Pacific women have generally been perceived by Hollywood with a mixture of fascination, fear, and contempt....If we are 'good' we are childlike, submissive, silent, and eager for sex or else we are tragic victim types. And if we are not silent, suffering doormats, we are demonized dragon ladies -- cunning, deceitful, sexual provocateurs." (Hagedorn) the pornography industry is highly populated with Asian women fulfilling the male desire for sexual stereotypes. Japanese school girls in short skirts with lollipops and repressed sexual needs are a popular fetish. The subservient Geisha wife in kimonos, pale make-up, and most importantly donning a subservient, unthreatening, submissive sexual attitude is another. Look again and one is certain to find the "dragon lady" as mentioned above: the over-sexed, wild, uninhibited Asian girl looking to please as many White men as possible because she is uncontrollably lustful. An even wilder Asian stereotype puts her in the role of the dominatrix or submissive partner in extreme sadomasochistic sexual acts, for the "ancient art of Asian bondage" is prevalent as well. Books, movies, and the Internet are jam-packed with Asian girls for every American stereotyped fetish possible. The Asian whore is particularly prevalent and appealing in many popular fiction appearances. "The World of Suzie Wong" is one American film example of the sexy and sassy prostitute of the Orient that is so desired by the American public. She enjoys pleasing men, lives in wonderful conditions despite poverty being her reason for keeping the job, she is cute and giggly, and she falls in love with her White male customers. The White patrons of the Oriental prostitute are even portrayed as upright moral citizens. Other media representations of the Asian female, from sitcoms like "Seinfeld" to countless websites devoted to "Oriental Love," the Karma Sutra is responsible for the sexual superiority of the Asian woman. Psudo-Karma Sutra books are extremely popular bestsellers, however once again the Orientalism trends are inescapable. The modern self-proclaimed Karma Sutras rarely have anything to do with the content of this ancient book, and the majority of Asian women have certainly not studied and trained in ancient sexual rites and rituals. When social taboos regarding the "place" of the Oriental woman are broken, Hollywood inevitably uses a form of psychological conditioning to prevent untraditional ideals from entering the public subconscious. "Contrived tragic resolutions were the only way Hollywood got past the censors in those days. With one or two exceptions, somebody in these movies always had to die to pay for breaking racial and sexual taboos." (Hagedorn) Breaking a Sexual-Social taboo might range from not being sexualized to being overly sexualized. Some may wonder what the harm is in portraying all Asian women as better lovers, and may consider it to even be a compliment to the race as a whole. However, those who perceive this to be the case do not understand the deep-rooted social implications of such a burden. Consider the example of the "Comfort Women" of World War II. Comfort Women was the euphemism used for enslaved Asian sex workers kept prisoner by soldiers. "Most comfort women were from Korea, with a significant fraction from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Japanese-occupied nations. Surviving comfort women reported being raped as frequently as thirty times in a given day....Many women reported having their uteruses rot off due to the disease acquired from servicing thousands of men over the course of several years." (Yazashi 2005) Young girls were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery, and yet this tragedy is reenacted upon the pixelated pages of Orientalism-inspired pornographic websites. Asian women are not taken seriously as intelligent, moral individuals in Western culture because of this series of over-sexed stereotypes.
The fate of the Asian man in Western perception is related to that of the Asian woman. While the Asian woman is oversexualized, the Oriental male is in many ways metaphorically castrated and stripped of sexuality. "Asian-American men are the eunichs of America," says one Japanese-American actor. (Mura) the oversexualization of women of the Orient reinforce a stereotype that the East is feminine, as are Eastern men. Movies such as "M. Butterfly" have portrayed this stereotype blatantly, presenting a cross-dressing dancer as the masculine ideal for Asian men. In the movie "Showdown in Little Tokyo," as another example, the Japanese villain is shown as impotent, the female lead is interested only in the white men as possible sexual partners, and the male Asian "hero" of the film reveals that white men have much larger penises than do Asian men through a comment made between himself and a naked white man. White and Asian women alike are never shown as being attracted to Asian men, but instead going after the white men and allowing the Asian men to only be platonic friends, comic relief, or impotent villains.
It is important to realize, however, that this is also a form of sexualization. The male powers-that-be regarding socio-sexual desire wish to have sexual power over all Asians, not just the females. The White men must be as feminine and appealing to White men as possible. In pornography, Asian males are far from being absent, but rather they have an extremely high appeal to the Gay pornography audience. Advertised often as "twinks," Asian men make the perfect companion as the ideal homosexual. "Asian and Asian-American men are simply not seen as attractive or sexual beings by the mainstream culture. What could be attractive about the horny, thick glassed nerdy Asian guy?" (Mura) This assumption, however, is forgetting the prevalence of "alternative" sexual preferences of many kinds in America. The nerdy, slender, boyish Asian has a vast amount of appeal to men and women alike. Take for example the prevalence of YAOI stories and artwork online. These Asian-inspired pieces couple together boys in romantic and highly erotic situations. The horny nerd Asian is popular, as is the effeminate Asian, and the metaphorically castrated, as well as the impotent villain; every possibly negative sexual stereotype about Asian males also has an audience that finds these traits incredibly appealing. However, sexual stereotypes for males continue to have unpleasant consequences, whether they make them sexless or oversexed.
The Oriental individual is dehumanized in American culture. Over-sexed and castrated, under- and misrepresented in the media, the concern about the treatment of Asians and Oriental culture goes far beyond the desire to have a nice, politically-correct world. There are real social implications, and very real consequences for dangerous lines of thought. The Comfort Women sex slaves are one example of these consequences. Another is the case of Vincent Chin, who was brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat, yet the White killer got off with a slap on the wrist. (Tomoyuki) Equal and fair treatment of all ethnicities is the ideal of the American way. Unfortunately, the reality is far from reaching that ideal.
Hagedorn, Jessica. "Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck."
Mura, David. "Fargo and the Asian-American Male."
Shah, Sonia. "Race and Representation: Asian-Americans." 1999.
Gilliam, Frank. "The Local Television News Media's Picture of Children - 2001." Study on Race, Ethnicity and the News. October 2001.
Children Now. Complete Study Findings Available for Download at http://www.childrennow.org/newsroom/news-01/pr-10-23-01.cfm.
Tomoyuki, Tanaka. 'Who Killed Vincent Chin? http://www.mindspring.com/~louve/vinchin.html
Yazashi. 2005. Comfort Women. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia [online]. [cited 4 May 2005]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women)[continue]
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