This piece was inspired by recently by revisiting my favorite YouTube comedian David So: In his v-log 113 (“Asian Women Are Submissive!”), he tackles the common Western stereotype that Asian women are...well...submissive. While this is a trope that has been talked to death and back again, he adds a layer to the conversation by contributing his experience as a(n Asian) male with Asian women. “My mother ran a business, made that guap, fed me kimchi, and still had time to whup my motherf*cking *ss, and if that’s not the definition of strength then I don’t know what is.” And this is why I love David So, ladies and gentlemen. Not only is he genuinely and effortlessly hilarious, he makes incredibly valid points in a way that makes an impression. One such observation is the following: “If you are going to base your perception of Asian women from a film, why not Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon? Asian women kick ass!” But we’re not here to talk about how great David So is. We’re here to talk about the real Asian woman--the one who fed and coddled you, who pushed and scolded you, who, throughout it all, never stopped giving you her love. So in a great comedian’s words...1 2 3, son, let’s get it, leggo!
The real Asian woman is a daughter, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a best friend, a classmate, a girlfriend. Like every other woman, she holds grace and poise, is full to the brim with strength and resolve, is unrelenting and ambitious in her endeavors. Like David So, I can only share my personal experiences, and here goes--my own experiences with the women from my own family, my own inner circle.
My mother, from my first conscious memory, has been the strongest person I know. Leaving behind security in China for myriad possibilities in the States, she then proceeded to make the biggest sacrifice she could--her career for our (her children’s) cohesive family life. Over the years, she’s been nothing but supportive, and nothing short of incredibly inspiring.
My grandmother, in one word, is resilient. Coming to a foreign country at her age, speaking little of the language, with the rest of her kin back in China, was horribly daunting. Yet she faced it with the determination and stubbornness that runs in all the women in my family--and all the Asian women I’ve met in my life.
My aunt embodies the concept of inner drive. Despite all the setbacks in her life, she charges forward, her personality and passion blazing paths before her. She takes no one’s bullsh*t and knows exactly what she wants from life--and takes it.
My best friend has a heart of gold. She will be everyone’s pillar of support, selflessly giving so that she may be another’s strength. She has been there for me through thick and thin, without skipping a beat in her career and academic goals. I could not be prouder of or more grateful for her.
As for me? I’ve learned from the women in my life all the qualities above. I am happy to say that I am independent but not averse to collaboration, persistent and stubborn but willing to compromise, focused and determined but still multi-faceted as an individual. I am inspired daily by the strength and ambition of the Asian women in my life, from Juliet Shen to Lucy Liu, to my flatmate and even to everyday strangers encounters.
Reflect on the Asian women you know and consider again whether there is any truth to the stereotype set forth by Hollywood and Western netizen culture. It’s easy to see that, when compared to real life, the tropes simply hold no water.
pc: Peter Ou