Let’s get RAW with API Sexuality #GetIt?

In the recent readings by Celine Parrenas Shimizu, a deeper explanation of the sexuality is explained. From the beginnings of Stag Porn in the early 20s, the representation of Asian Americans has also been iconized. However, at its very roots of early API representation is the same recurring issue of “Yellowface”. In Hypersexuality of Race, for example, donning accentuated API features such as “more chinky” eyes, kimono dresses, and a tight bun fastened by chopsticks, API women in particular remain the subject of extreme objectification and exotification despite the fact that the women portraying them were usually white.

And because these early films were also soundless, there seemed to be an emphasis on showing the trinkets and accessories that these yellowfaced white women wore. Instead of showing the genitalia of the men and women (called the “money shot” or “come shot”) Parrenas-Shimizu explains how they focused instead on what the woman was wearing, to emphasize how “orient” she was through her clothing. This asserts the racialization of sexuality: through these films, sex organs cannot be racialized because they’re simply sex organs, but Asian caricatures can definitely be manifested through the medium. Within the book, stills from Stag films underline this trend, where instead of a couple having sex, they would do close-ups of the woman’s eyeliner or the jade-encrusted sandals that she was wearing.

This, once again, demonstrates how Asian women came to possess the stereotypes and generalizations that they have today. Seeping into the mainstream as a sexual object, Asian women were portrayed as an attainable “prize” for these men; encouraging miscegenation at a time of “sexual experimentation and liberation”.

Shifting to API men, on the other hand, they were very well represented in the media either. Through war films that emphasize and mold the ideals of masculinity, imperialist notions depict white, buff men to be the unattainable status quo. Earlier this year, we also learned that API men were demonized during the war to embody and fit the caricatures of Fu Manchu. In addition to being heavily “othered”, API men were deemed to be subservient and inferior to white military men. Bouncing back to this notion, porn also validates that notion. In gay porn, API men are often the “bottoms”, the ones that are receiving. In Shimizu’s analysis, this role that they are often cast as without discretion demonstrates the reinforcing notion that API men are the passive individuals and often subvert to the white male.

As for both, there seems to be a huge emphasis on the idea that APIs are the fetish of the dominant culture. Seen both as clean-shaven, bare, raw, etc. only proves demonstrates that ALL mediums of the screen perpetuate this inferiority complex pertaining to Asian Americans.


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