Orientalism and the Legacy of Racialized Sexism: Disparate Representational Images of Asian and Eurasian Women in American Culture

  • Kendall Matsumoto Stanford University

Abstract

The representation of Asian women in popular media and cultural artifacts has historically underscored reductive and damaging stereotypes of hypersexualization and objectification. For Eurasian women (half white, half Asian), however, whose racial difference is only partial, media representation takes a starkly contrasting form that leads to entirely different popular perceptions. This article explores how forces of misogynistic objectification have disparate impacts on Eurasian and fully Asian women in contemporary American culture and society. Using contemporary media analysis, prominent celebrity case studies, and personal interviews, I argue that contemporary entertainment media objectify and sexualize both Asian and Eurasian women to generate public allure; however, these media use Otherness as a medium for the sexualization of fully-Asian women, whereas the ambiguous Eurasian racial appearance leads to a deracialized sexualization that allows both agency beyond race lines as well as cultural and racial erasure. This deracialization, however, comes with double-edged implications for Eurasian belonging: while it may seem that Eurasians have greater access to hegemonic American media and audiences, they lack a sense of belonging within pre-established racial paradigms. Their biracial identity thus has highly-nuanced implications for professional mobility, individual erasure, and community belonging.

Author Biography

Kendall Matsumoto, Stanford University

Kendall Matsumoto is dual major in environmental science and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. She is fascinated by the politics of race in contemporary society, and how they impact all fields of study—especially the environmental field and the climate movement. 

Published
2020-01-31
Section
Spotlight on First-Year Writing