Asian stereotypes are a product of prevailing myths propagated by various media, from books, plays, movies, television, to even historical propaganda. Generally speaking, the stereotyping of Asian women often swing to extreme types: the docile, subservient sexual object, or the dragon lady. Asian Americans only make up a small percentage of the United States population and live mostly on the west and east coasts of mainland United States and Hawaii. Consequently, the rest of the American population will most likely get their exposures to Asian Americans through television and movies.
Popular media exposure to Asian Americans lacks one-on-one acquaintance with Asian Americans. It hinders the process that could help Americans from other racial backgrounds realize that the stereotypical characters in Hollywood movie productions are unjust and biased. Furthermore, these popular movies do not reflect the true individuality of the typical Asian American living in America. Hollywood has a tradition of portraying Asian women as exotic, subservient, compliant, industrious, and more than often, eager to please.
These race and class stereotypes of Asian American women give the impression of what Asian American women are really like to other Americans as well as to Asian Americans themselves. This perpetuates race and class inequalities of Asian Americans by allowing these belittling Asian characteristics to appear repeatedly in society. The beliefs that Asian American women are weak or passive and allow themselves to be sexually and emotionally abused by men also prevail in common media.
These stereotypes of a submissive, obedient Asian woman made up of sexual desires waiting to be rescued by a man were formed by mesmerized, ignorant Westerners who were not viewing Asians as people, rather as objects for their enjoyment. These Hollywood images of “easy women” have spilled over into mainstream images of Asian women. In result, Asian women are viewed for their sexual desire and hyper-femininity As mysterious and sexual, Asian women cannot be taken seriously by society. Ideally, these women are depicted as geisha girls, Oriental massagers, comfort women and prostitutes.
With their main objective being to submit to their dominator’s every desire, Asian women are seen as sexually desirable. The stereotype remains that all of their sexual fantasies lie in pleasing the man. Asian women also supposedly set the hegemonic female standards that attract a man. “Implicitly, these films warn white women to embrace the socially constructed passive Asian beauty as the feminine ideal if they want to attract and keep a man” (Espiritu). What Hollywood may have failed to portray about these Asian women is that they are prostitutes merely trying to support their families by offering sexual services to men whom they see rich.
Because they come from poor families and lack education, some Asian women earn their living by these means, and preferring to sleep with a man due to his skin color has nothing to do with it. Their financial situation takes precedence over the act which they are partaking in. The media is often the only form of culture that many Americans are subjected to. Consequently, many stereotypes are formed from that medium. These stereotypes include the interfering Asian American woman that cannot keep her nose out of other people’s business.
The Asian woman is also supposedly sexually active, exotic, overly feminine and eager to please. This character is termed the “China Doll,” and appears countless times in popular movies. Hollywood tends to characterize Asian women as prostitutes, yet fails to portray the hardships these women face such as trying to support their families. Asian American women are also depicted as passive and indecisive, and often times are treated as though they want to have sex with white men, even when they are verbally not agreeing. Dragon Lady” refers to an Asian woman who is perceived as seductive, desirable but at the time she is untrustworthy.
This type of Asian woman is inherently scheming, untrustworthy, and backstabbing. Dragon Lady is the female version of the Asian bad guy, only with a slightly different approach to defeat her enemies. Unrealistically, she will go to any lengths to defeat her enemy, even in that means involving herself in a torrid sex-based affair with him. Research Raised amongst these stereotypes, many young Asian American men are faced with their own contrasting views of the Asian American female.
Though many were brought up in an environment surrounded by Asian females (mothers, sisters, friends) our research questions whether or not media stereotypes prevail within their minds. This research paper plans to analyze how Asian American men at UCI view Vietnamese American women and where they established their views. The general concept is to understand if Asian males view Asian females with the same stereotypes as most American culture does. The survey was administered within three UCI Asian-based organizations to a select group of Asian males from a diverse range of ethnicity, age group, and educational background.
The research was found through administering a survey to thirty random Asian American males at UCI. Of the student population of 20,954 at UCI, 9,847 are Asian with a total male population at the University of 10,371. Of these males, fifteen were Vietnamese American, seven were Japanese American, and eight were Chinese American and all were found among three UCI organizations: Chinese Association, Tomo No Kai, and Vietnamese American Coalition. All thirty participants, ages 18-25, were natives to California, with hometowns flowing up and down the state.
The wide range of their majors (Political Science, Biology, History, Economics, Information and Computer Science, Psychology, Social Ecology, English, Asian American Studies, Environmental Engineering, and Social Science) illustrates these stereotypes of Asian American women crossing all educational borders. To understand the personal connection, if any, between these males and Vietnamese American women we found that eighteen of the thirty males had dated a Vietnamese American woman in the past, and twenty-four would consider marrying one. Twenty-two of the males felt that Vietnamese American women are faithful wives or girlfriends.
Some of the more interesting data filtered when the males were asked what most attracted them to Vietnamese American women. While one male could not pinpoint what attracted him to Vietnamese American women, fourteen answered that it was the facial features and physique of the women, eight said it was their education or intellect, two said it was their cultural values, and the remaining two believed it was their attitude and personality. However attracted to Vietnamese American women these men are, they also disclosed what dissuades them from relations with those women.
While three men, just did not find Vietnamese women attractive or refused to date them, seven did not find their personalities and attitudes appealing, eight were dealing with their own self esteem issues fearing they would not be seen as attractive, and the remaining twelve would rather not deal with the disapproval of the Vietnamese family. The majority of the men reported consistent interaction with Vietnamese American women, whereas only six said that they have very little interaction with Vietnamese American Women. The thirty males participating in the survey confirmed most of the stereotypes society holds for Asian American Women.
Amongst their views of Vietnamese American Women, they saw them as passive and quiet, good housewives, very beautiful, submissive, “Dragon Ladies,” superficial and materialistic, and unfaithful. The men directly pinpointed the root of the stereotypes in movies and video games, the Internet, their surroundings and environment [where they were raised], amongst friends and within their own personal experience. When analyzed further, it can be noted that the origin of the stereotypes heard in their surroundings or from friends, can be further placed within the media.
Media teaches the American public everything, from world history to the way to pick up a date. Included in this wide range of knowledge lies stereotypes of all people regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, from the turban wearing taxi driver, to the obedient Asian female. It is not easy trying to persuade young students at UCI to take a survey. They have places to go and people to see, and are not as willing to help out fellow students and some may think. Because of this, we were forced to limit our survey to very quickly answerable questions.
We also had to take into account that we were administering these surveys only to male sample, which also affected the production of the survey. We did not want to give a survey that our subjects would be easily distracted away from. In the end, this was not the best choice we could have made. These alterations provided us with a very The research was flawed in a couple of ways. Due to time constraints, it was distributed to a very limited amount of the population at UCI. Ideally, we would want this survey to reach a greater audience, resulting in more conclusive evidence on how Asian American men view Vietnamese American women.
Ideally, we would also want to administer this survey to a less precise group of the population. Also, rather than just Asian American males at UCI, possibly finding participants of any nationality, race, gender, etc. would provide a better understanding of varying view points. By doing this, we can examine what stereotypes the larger group of young adults hold for Vietnamese American women. It would also be interesting to see how young adults who were not raised around any Asian Americans, view these minorities.
In an undocumented poll amongst friends, we found that many non-Asian students at UCI had not even heard of terms such as “Dragon Lady” or “China Doll. ” Though they did know the connotations behind the stereotypes, they were not familiar with the actual label. The Asian men in our study already knew those terms, most likely because they were raised within the Asian culture, which provides a biased viewpoint. In conclusion, it is very obvious that the stereotypes that Hollywood creates about certain nationalities, ethnicities, races, and gender that are ingrained and prevail in the minds of many Americans.
Though some can be as comical or entertaining, they should not be tolerated or continued. By allowing media to feed us with knowledge of the unknown only perpetuates the ignorance behind such atrocities like racism and hate related violence. The research conducted for this paper shows that these false stereotypes about Asian Americans cross all borders. Young Asian American males at UCI can identify the same false perceptions of Vietnamese American women that we find in the media, because that is where those ideas are taught. Until the media eliminates these negative stereotypes of all people, ignorance will prevail.