Asians, Exoticism, and Questions

Asian women have been hypersexualized for a long time now in American media with exotic appeal being one of the biggest draws for them. As both Slaying the Dragon and Shimizu’s The Hypersexuality of Race note, the idea of an exotic, sexually experienced (yet somehow innocent), and subservient woman became the norm in depicting Asian American women which led a surprisingly large number of people to be sexually inclined towards Asian women. This is where I find myself disconnecting.

Since my mom, my grandparents, my aunts, and so, so many of my cousins are all Asian women, it’s a little hard for me to see Asian women as anything vaguely resembling these 2D stereotypes. I can’t really see them as anything other than people and I think that’s largely due to my understanding that they’re all complex and flawed human beings just like everyone else. To be completely honest, I find the very idea of this perceived exotic-ness to be completely ridiculous, and that applies to everyone, not just Asian women. I’m stunned that there are still people who believe that someone’s race or ethnicity or cultural background somehow makes them an exotic or otherworldly trophy instead of a living, breathing person with emotions, dreams, and life stories. I just can’t wrap my head around it!

At best I can rationalize it as simple lack of exposure to the ethnic group(s) in question yet I still have trouble swallowing that pill because of the accessibility of information today. Just open up your preferred browser and type in the name of the ethnic group and voila! You just learned everything you needed to about someone’s ethnic background! They’re now about as exotic as your friend from the other side of town! So what then is the reasoning behind this? Media depictions? Again, the internet can easily counter this as a semi-accurate source of information about other cultures and ethnic groups. On the other hand, I know that not everyone takes the time to do some research when they find something new, and that’s being generous. I’ve met some people who just believe what they’re first told and if an old movie shows them that Asian women are demure and passive or prostitutes with a heart of gold and they never met an Asian woman then maybe, maybe that’s how they’d view Asian women. I might be expecting too much from people but is it really too much to ask that they just do a little research before making preconceptions?

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