The Racist Underbelly Behind Hypersexualizing Asian Women
“Me love you long time, me sucky sucky.” — Full Metal Jacket, 1987
There’s a grotesque myth circulating out there. It’s been around for quite a while, from since before I was born, and it will be around until long after I die. It’s one of many stereotypical myths. It aims to hypersexualize who I am while dehumanizing what I am, eventually reducing me to an object of every man’s fantasy purely for his sexual gain and pleasure: An expectation that Asian women have tight vaginas.
When he asked me repeatedly if I had ever been pregnant, I didn’t know why he was asking or what he was implying. However, I soon figured it out. He was assessing my sexual prowess for his own gain and wanted to know if I was “sexually tight.” It may well be that I refused to acknowledge the scrawlings on the wall and the massive red flags being waved in my face, or my innate naïveté, all of which I chose to ignore because I liked him and wanted him to reciprocate. In full denial but with both eyes wide open, I became another notch on his belt buckle and was well on my way to spiking his “yellow fever,” a term ascribed to Caucasian men who solely date Asian women.
Hypersexualizing Asian women is not a new occurrence, nevertheless pervasive. It is, however, a complicated paradigm. Some say it has partial historical roots in the military establishing its presence in Asia during World War II, the Vietnam, Korean and Sino-Japanese proxy wars.
In war torn, politically and socio-economically crippled countries, inserting and establishing foreign military power and occupancy only exacerbates the inequality of the power infrastructure. Infusing high levels of pent-up testosterone, aggression, and sexual domination into an environment of culturally submissive women, generally seen as proprietary in a patriarchal society (often trafficked into prostitution and exploited), sets up an unhealthy dynamic whereby the power structure is cruel to women and only presents a lose-lose ending for us.
Through the decades, the media has indubitably played a significant role in portraying exaggerated stereotypes and myths of the sexually alluring Asian woman. From print to big screen to radio, it has all played a part in negatively reinforcing this prejudiced attitude of Asian women being labeled as “exotic.” Movies such as “Casualties Of War” (1989), “Platoon” (1986), “Miss Saigon” (1989), “Full Metal Jacket” (1987), “Good Morning Vietnam” (1987), “Madame Butterfly” (1903), “The World of Suzy Wong” (1960), “South Pacific” (1949), to books like “Memoirs Of A Geisha” (2005) and “The Rape of Nanking” (1998), as well as historical radio personalities, “Tokyo Rose,” “Hanoi Hannah,” and “Seoul City Sue,” (nicknames given to female English-speaking broadcasters of wartime Asian propaganda), have solidified the preservation of racism, sexism, and misogyny.
Because Asians are seen as a model minority, juxtaposing that alongside the established uneven balance of power of Caucasians, this lopsided dynamic has facilitated the ability for one race to dehumanize and overpower the other.
As an Asian American woman, I have been slut-shamed and subjected to dehumanizing and invasive questions about my anatomy—more specifically, my female genitalia. I have been objectified to where my traits were itemized on a checklist, from being “neat and clean,” “having (Chinese) porcelain, doll-like and flawless skin and hairless legs,” to “having small and perky breasts.” For the record, let it show that I am sick and tired of hearing, “Oh God, you’re tight.” I have also been on the receiving end of, as well as the butt of, crude jokes, from both men and women alike, revolving around having a sideways vagina to being a novelty in bed and a fetish to be sampled and lusted after.
In this past year of the Coronavirus and the massacre at the massage spa shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, I have experienced people being emboldened enough to hurl racial slurs at me in broad daylight, not to mention the glares of disgust and acts of physical violence. I know that I am not alone in this experience, which makes it all the more excruciatingly disheartening. Many have encountered worse and several have lost their lives. All of this because of a rapidly increasing animus against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with egregiously heinous acts.
So please, understand when we cringe and die a little in our hearts and souls when you refer to us as “Those Asians.” We are not second class citizens nor an afterthought. No race should be made to feel as such.
Mankind was created to not be exclusive, just as human nature is innately inclusive.
All forms of hate, fear, and racism are extrinsic and fostered. These traits are taught and cultivated as learned behaviors.
Whether you lust after me in bed because I’m a novelty or punch me while calling me a “filthy Asian,” these too are prejudiced behaviors and hate speech.
Humanity is at a crossroads in 2021.
At what point did the color of my skin dictate how I should be treated?
Equality and dignity is not for the select few. It is for everyone.
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