This week’s reading brought me to direct contact with what it means to be an Asian American woman, however through the lenses of those who see them as hypersexualized beings. It never occurred to me how obvious the stereotypes truly are for Asian American women. But more so, seeing it through the lens of race and gender definitely has brought about some realizations for me. For instance, how Asian American women are seen as mere accessories to scores of men or to how they are deemed as being “innocent on the streets and a freak in the sheets.” Rather than look at these through the lens of systemic racism, Shimizu focuses on another lens where sexuality is the focal point.
In The Hypersexuality of Race Celine Parrenas Shimizu states that we must study the “Asian/American women’s representation by centering sexuality as their own” regardless if that sexuality deviates from what is considered “normal and acceptable.” Shimizu’s “productive perversity” is establishing “a different identity” along with historically established sexual images to “expand racial agendas beyond the need to establish normalcy and standardization.” She basically asserts to not see sex within the same old rhetoric of it being not good and rather we should it as “not entirely bad either.” Thus, seeing sex and power as synonymous entities can “expand our understanding of power and ethics.”
Moreover, what is always interesting to me is the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to how Asian and Asian American women are seen as—the lotus flower and the dragon lady. There really is no in between when it comes to these two archetypes. It is either, you are soft, passive, quiet or you are powerful, seductive, and alluring. As a result, these images limit the roles in which Asian and Asian American women can play. Reading about Lucy Liu and the slew of roles she’s played has made me aware of the significance of what it truly means when she is playing a dominatrix or a masseuse. With that, the importance though, I believe, is how sexuality is almost at the forefront of both of these archetypes. They are hypersexualized beyond belief and the politics within that is truly fascinating. But what I find vital is how the taking of control of these hypersexualized images and taking control of them will be essential in the reshaping of sexuality for Asian and Asian American women.