Addressing the China Doll Sterotype
Stereotypes are a thing. Surprise! I'm gonna get real serious with you guys today. Every individual on the face of the planet will be subject to stereotypes, and it will most likely happen more than once. I've pretty much heard every one under the sun. Most people assume, that as an Asian American, I am a bad driver; I'm amazing at math; I play more than one musical instrument like an expert; I have never gotten a grade below an A-. Those are only a few common stereotypes that have been thrown at me in my 21 years of life. Now that I am older, and admittedly much more attractive than I used to be when I was in high school, a stereotype that I've encountered more has been the "China Doll" Stereotype-also known as the "Lotus Blossom" or "Geisha" stereotype. The National Technical Assistance Center in Hawaii, which focuses on providing aide to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for jobs, published a paper outlining many of the stereotypes Asian Americans encounter. The paper also offers counter examples to these stereotypes. The NTAC Hawaii describes the China Doll Stereotype as when "Asian women are often portrayed as exotic, subservient, compliant, industrious, eager to please." Other words associated with the China Doll Stereotype include: shy, submissive, subdued, pliant, etc. It wasn't until dating, and the internet, that I focused less on whether or not people asked me if I could do their homework, and focused more on the way I was seen in collective view of the opposite gender.
"Cut those people off or educate them. Do something, but don't perpetuate ignorance by choosing not to act."
I have come to the conclusion, that if heterosexual men-that do not know me-see me, they immediately place me in a cardboard box, demurely made up, with a cultural barrier made of pure cellophane, and disappointment in the education system. Obviously there are never absolutes. Every rule/guideline/standard has exceptions. So, I in no way apply this to every male; however, I get this more often than not from males. I don't entertain it, because I find the China Doll stereotype to be essentially mysoginistic. So here's an open letter to every person who believes this stereotype, and then impresses it on the Asian women who unfortunately are subject to their acquaintance. To those women-or really anyone who reads this-cut those people off or educate them. Do something, but don't perpetuate ignorance by choosing not to act.
Dear Someone Who Doesn't Know Better,
You 'bout to learn.
I am not docile. I am not someone you can push around, because I was born a push over. If I do not know you, and you send me tons and tons of messages, don't send me more telling me "it's okay if you're shy." I am not scared to talk to you because I am shy. Frankly you're freaking creepy, and don't get the hint-and if you can't figure out "you're" vs "your", then trying to woo me is the least of your problems. I am not exotic. Do not exotify my appearance just because my features are not what you see on a regular basis. That speaks to your culture, not to mine. Stop telling me I look like a porcelain doll, or that you love the way my eyes are shaped. Don't call me a quiet oriental beauty. I refuse to be seen as a fragile China Doll, or an easily ruined flower. I am a vocal, strong, brash, and fierce woman. I will not be defined by the stereotypes impressed upon my appearance by the ignorance of society. Never assume anything about any one person based on the way they appear. Placing me in the China Doll box is telling me that I am not allowed to have an opinion; I am meant to be seen, and not heard. Unfortunately for you, I demand to be seen and heard.
Those who continue to assume that I am the submissive, ill spoken, and underwhelming China Doll, will be in for a big surprise, because that ain't me.
A Boss Ass Asian Bitch