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She doesn’t go to assertiveness-training classes, insist on being treated like a person, fret about career moves…” —Tony Rivers, “Oriental Girls”, Gentleman’s Quarterly, 1990 Growing up, Lucy Liu was one of the only East Asian women I saw on TV and in movies.It was her, the Yellow Power Ranger (Thuy Trang), and Mulan.
(Netflix’s recent series retells this “White-guy-in-Asia” story.) As seemingly faraway cultures and places begin being defined by objects and artifacts, these so-called exotic aesthetics end up getting imposed onto people and their physical appearance.The fetishization of Asian women even has a name, “yellow fever” – as if the obsession with Asian women were also a disease.When my identity as an “Asian woman” becomes the only thing that’s important to someone in an interaction, that’s a problem.There’s a scene in where Vince Vaughn screams, “That was my first Asian! Like many other Asian women who have tried online dating, when I was on OKCupid, I received messages such as, “I’ve never been with an Asian before. During the 1800s, most of Chinese people in the US were immigrant men working as low-cost laborers.