Not your Subservient Stereotype

How does this Enable Violence?

When considering the hyper-sexualization of Asian women in the media, it is important to note the audience for whom such content is enjoyable. In America, the answer is unsurprisingly the alt-right. Many are open about their preference for Asian women yet the targets of the recent attacks against Asian immigrants have been led by white alt-right men. 

The alt-right white men in this context can be referred to as White supremacists. They are a group in society who believes that the race they belong to is superior and due to this, they hold power over other racial groups that are derived through the oppression of any perceived “other”. Such oppression can be exercised through the means of soft power or hard power. Soft power is about the implicit superiority that white supremacists believe is displayed in their culture, political ideals, and institutions. Rather than force, soft power is understood through attraction or more specifically, how the world is attracted to and aims to cater to American culture. Why does everyone know when it’s America’s Independence Day? Why are Hollywood actors considered the golden standard in acting?

Hard power on the other, comes from more physical or exertive forms whereby one believes that they have the right to injure or harm the life of someone from a different race.

Under Covid-19 lockdowns, the opportunities for white supremacists to exercise their soft power are limited. Their valuable political ideal of “freedom” is restricted and cultural tokens such as sporting events and concerts can no longer allow for entry. These Americans don’t have the opportunity to celebrate their culture and the rest of the world is no longer interested in America as they are on domestic matters under the pandemic. Bound to the confines of their home and seeking to regain their self-identity, it becomes convenient to revisit media that is produced for Americans that inflate their self-image in contrast to other races who play subservient roles.

This, coupled with the media’s history of showing Asian women and their sexuality craftily manufactured for male pleasure and domination, it becomes convenient for one particularly numbed individual to act out violently, when young and sexually frustrated as a means to exercise their hard power when they see Asian women as direct descendants from the origin of their problems when they are meant to the people who alleviate their issues and re-affirm their manhood. 

We Must do Better

This article presents my personal view of the damaging stereotypes that are perpetuated by the media towards a specific community. I don’t aim to draw a causal inference between the detrimental representation of Asian women in the media that is created to be enjoyed by a white male audience and the rise in violent acts against Asian women. All that I aim to offer is some food for thought to be more mindful about the media that we intake.

Relying on media that is either produced in America or keeping an American audience in mind can be quite reductive to the experiences of other cultures. This is why I urge our readers to diversify the sources of media that they consume, something that is as easy as reaching out to a peer from the Asian community and asking them for some recommendations on the movies, music, and shows that personally reflect on their culture authentically.  

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