LIVING THE FANTASY: EAST ASIAN WOMEN IN POPULAR MEDIA

Open Access
Author:
Orankoy, Ilayda Jinjee
Area of Honors:
Women's Studies
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Laura Tracy Spielvogel, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jennifer Ann Wagner Lawlor, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • asian women
  • east asian women
  • feminism
  • pop culture
  • media representation
  • asian american
Abstract:
As immigration from East Asia burgeoned during the late 19th and early 20th century, Orientalist attitudes and beliefs perpetuated in popular literature like Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu grew to shape the Western notion of yellow peril—and later, the model minority myth. Likewise, Orientalism remains influential in even contemporary depictions of Asian and Asian American identity. In portrayals of Asian women, Orientalist stereotype is compounded by fetish and misogyny, thereby creating the Western fantasy of Asian womanhood. In order to examine the symbiotic relationship between media and public perception, this paper traces the implications of Orientalist stereotype through representations of East Asian women in works like Memoirs of a Geisha and the aforementioned Fu Manchu and juxtaposes them with the lived experiences of East Asian women like Ah Fong Moy and Yoko Ono. This paper argues for Asian women’s reclamation of Orientalist fantasy; though historically a tool for white patriarchy, reclaimed fantasy can also function as a mechanism for reexamining the past, deconstructing myth, reconciling trauma, and reimagining the future.