Week 3 – Margaret

Asians can be objects of desire. We had a screening of Arthur Dong’s documentary Forbidden City, U.S.A. Forbidden City was the first Chinese nightclub in San Francisco. It opened in December 1938, and was located about two blocks outside of Chinatown. The documentary illustrates how Asians were objects of desire. In particular, Chinese girls were considered different, exotic, mythical beings. Many questioned whether Chinese girls were sexually active, or if sex was different for them. Asians, in general, were perceived as wholly different from “white” or “black” people.

The Asian Americans interviewed in the documentary briefly discussed the topic of race and racial segregation between white and black people. Racial segregation was more prominent in the south, where public goods and services (restrooms, buses, etc.) were labeled either “white” or “black.” For instance, Toy Yat Mar, nicknamed the “Chinese Sophie Tucker,” traveled to southern states for a tour. She discussed how the bus was strictly segregated, with white people sitting at the front of the bus, and black people sitting at the back of the bus. Since she was neither white nor black, she sat in the middle of the bus. Fortunately (or unfortunately), no one else joined her. A possible reason may be because she was Asian, so neither white nor black people wanted to associate with her. Regardless of the reason, Asians were a different race, separate from white and black. Hence, this raises the issue of what Asians are – if Asians are not white or black, then what are they? How are Asians categorized? How should Asians be categorized?

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Celine Shimizu’s Straitjacket Sexualities (introduction and chapter 1) discusses Asian masculinity and the lack thereof. Bruce Lee represented, and to an extent, still represents an ideal manhood. He redefined sexuality and masculinity: Lee possessed a macho-ness unlike most other Asian men; he also had “an unbridled libido,” as shown through many of his films. Lee’s martial arts skills also contributed to his masculinity. Overall, Lee illustrated masculinity and femininity, macho and feminism, and strength and vulnerability (80).

However, Asian men in pop culture today are often emasculated. Asian men are ridiculed and stereotyped, and deemed unworthy of sexuality and masculinity. This is mainly a result of “a definition of sexuality that centers sexual domination and prowess by men in the penis/phallus conflation” (80). Asian men, as shown in media, are usually more timid and shy, the person behind the scenes, the nice guy who cannot get the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, media continues to portray Asian men as lacking sexuality and masculinity, even though these stereotypes are far from the truth.

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One thought on “Week 3 – Margaret

  1. shawnlu March 11, 2015 / 6:16 am

    I agree that the media continues to display stereotypes attacking Asian masculinity even though they are far from the truth. It sucks that even though some people claim to not believe every stereotype, they still heard of it. Once it becomes known and spread in the media, the idea is planted in the audience’s brain for good. For example, even if people claim that they don’t believe all Asian men have small penises, they still might hang on to that idea subconsciously. I feel like they don’t have to believe it but they still link the ideas “Asian” and “small penis” instantly. Although we have some men such as Jeremy Long, an Asian American porn star, there is a long way to go before we eliminate that stereotype.

    Also the comic is hilarious! It reminds me of a skit from Family guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb9vGwIOvBk) where the main character Peter mistakes every Asian man for Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan then mistakes Peter and Chris for Ethan Hawke. The joke is that people always associate strangers from another race with an actor from that race. This was also seen in “Fresh Off The Boat” when the grandmas saw “OJ Simpson”.

    Liked by 1 person

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