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The Media as a Mirror of the Asian-American Women Essay

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Imagine a distant post-apocalyptic future in which a group of researchers discovers a stack of DVDs of 20th and 21st century Hollywood movies of Asian American actresses. After watching those movies, what might the researchers conclude about the characteristics of Asian American women in the movies? Certainly, they will view Asian American women as sexual and erotic objects of the society that white men can score with ease. Why do I assume they will think that way? The answer is a simple, yet controversial one: mostly, the media, as the history proves, portrays Asian American women either as erotic sex slaves of white men or as insidious personalities who lure their prey into a trap with their sex appeal. If we look into the history, we will find mainly two different types of Asian Women in the media: “Dragon Lady,” and “China Doll” – the two characteristics that altogether represent sexual and erotic nature of Asian women. Today, such stereotypical representations of Asian American women still exist in the movies even though the media claims that such stereotypes belong only to the past of American media. This paper will compare the typical roles of Lucy Liu, a modern Asian American actress, and Nancy Kwan, an Asian American actress who began her career in 1960s, in American films to show that representation of Asian American female characters as sexual and erotic objects has hardly changed over time.
History of Asian Women as sexually enticing objects:
Connie Chan, in her article, “Asian American women: The psychological responses to sexual exploitation and cultural stereotypes,” stresses that Western colonization of many Asian countries marks the beginning of cultural stereotype of Asian American women as “sexual and e...


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...one outlining characteristic: both are Asian American women that are full of sexuality and eroticism. The only difference that Lucy Liu is less feminine than Suzy Wong is a vague media-trick used to build up the already shattered respect in the world of feminists. Seriously, how does the mass media think that it can portray Asian-American women as sexual and erotic objects that seduce men and call their characters less womanly in order to, perhaps, balance out the overly sexual nature of such characters? Simply, they cannot do so because making women less womanly is like adding more fuel to the fire and claiming that it will the extinguish fire. After all, the portrayal of sexuality and eroticism is what psychologically affects the Asian American women in the society; adding more the “deceiving” part just makes it harder for them to walk around without stress.



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