How to engage with NAAF?

SuzieWong

We all liked the idea of going to a few interviews, discussions, questions/ planning/ photos

After we decided on going to a few sites, we also wanted to figure out a way to reflect on our learning and engage with the NAAF discourses. We thought about using music, because Brendan was a musician, in some sort of street performance as a way to draw in passers by to conversations about themes discussed in class, particularly representations (or the lack there of) NA Asian’s in history, stereotypes in movies (Hypersecuality—Shimizu, 2007; and stereotypes and Asian male sexuality; Nyuyen & Tu, 2007, Eng, 2001). However, we realised there probably would not be enough time for Brendan to learn New genres of music, and that a performance such as that would take a long time to organize and it might require permits, and just be too large of a task for the day. So, inspired by Tetsuro’s Youtube clips and comedy we decided to do street style interviews. We all thought of questions to ask people and images to print off. We also looked up images and videos about Anna May Wong, Nancy Kwan, Lucy Liu, and comedy by Margaret Cho and Kristina Wong-to explore the hypersexualization of Asian femininity, as as well as media representations. One of our favorite videos was Kristina Wong’s “Reparations for Yellow Fever.

Alicia: I was interested in old movies and asking people if they had ever thought about how limited the stereotypes of Asian females was in the movies, how they had not changed over time. I thought about the double bind again, and the perverse pleasure of seeing “yourself” (as a self identified Asian) and wanted to ask what people thought about how having access to limited role models in the media (tv and movies) might affect NAA girls. (Being part Latina, I could identify with this question, as I found having a lack of role models that I “identified” with to be a challenge growing up.)

The images I was going to use portrayed the “ultra-Asian” hypersexual representation of Anna May Wong, and the “Dragon Lady” stereotypes, these were to be juxtaposed with her in her regular clothes. Than, I wanted to ask people if they knew about her, and that she moved to Europe where her roles would not be the same stereotypes. I was interested to see if people thought about how Lucy Liu played the same sort of roles as Anna May Wong years later (except for Sherlock). My personal learning was also focused on how the hypersexualization of women in general was a serious problem for me, not just the hypersexualization of Asian women. I  did see however that Asian women in particular lack the opposing representations in pop culture. As well as the colonial contexts of how this stereotype was formed. The fact that the exotic Asian, and hypersexual concubine images are still very much alive in pop culture as well as how they are reinforced through immigration policies (such as mail-order-brides, and the exploitation of Asian nannies). We talked about in class discourses such as yellow fever, and the passive, docile, hyper sexual stereotypes of Asian Women and these thought process lead me to link the Ong (1991), Mann (2004), and Shimizu (2007) (and many other readings), how the construction of asian women perpetuate the stereotypes and then the oppression of many NAA women is ignored or minimized For example when Chinese women come to Canada and are deskilled it is not seen as an issue because if they are home raising children it reinforces the stereotype that Asian women are docile and complaisant housewives, therefore the racist and sexist immigration are not exposed or critically reviewed.

 AMY&LU

Kate: Since we talked a lot about location throughout the course I wanted to ask people whether they identified as feminists and/ or as North American Asian feminists. We definitely wanted to create questions that let the conversation flow in a somewhat natural way, so we could have a dialogue not just a yes and no situation.

Like Alicia I looked a lot a hypersexualisation and other damaging representations in media for my questions. I felt like the media was a good way to engage with the public since we cannot really avoid consuming it to a degree and it ends up having a big influence on the way we dress, talk, and act. No one including Asian North Americans exists outside pop culture (Nyugen, 12), so it is important to understand its impacts. I will not delve too much in hyper-sexualisation since Alicia covers that above, but the photos I gathered certainly demonstrate that the media’s treatment of Asian women was a big issue for me.

One thing about the media’s treatment of Asian people is because the  stereotypes include good things like intelligence and success sometimes they are ignored or deemed okay. The stereotyped characters like brilliant inventor Data from the goonies seem harmless because at least they are included and doing good things, but these characters still homogenize and desexualize Asian men. Asian people’s status as the model minority often makes people believe racism is not occurring or is some how acceptable or even deserved. “The in-between is a precarious and dangerous position to occupy if we are no fully cognizant of where we are and what our position means in the larger picture” (Kim, 5).

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