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As more details around the death of George Floyd are revealed, other developments, including that the ex-officer charged with murder in the case was married to a Hmong American woman, have prompted discussion. It's also led to a spate of hateful online remarks in the Asian American community around interracial relationships.
The ex-officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired the day after Floyd's death and now faces murder and manslaughter charges. The day after his arrest last month, his wife, Kellie, filed for divorceciting "an irretrievable breakdown" in the marriage. She also indicated her intention to change her name.
Many experts feel the reaction is symptomatic of attitudes that many in the community, especially certain men, have held toward women in interracial relationships, particularly with white men. Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the nonprofit National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, told NBC Asian America that by passing judgment on Asian women's interracial relationships without context or details essentially removes their independence.
Kellie, who came to the U. She explained she had ly been in an arranged marriage in which she endured domestic abuse. Kellie Chauvin is hardly the only Asian woman who has been the target of these comments. But sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, a scholar focused on Asian American media representation, pointed out that the origins of such anger have some validity.
That time period marked some of the first waves of immigration from Asia to the U. While Asian men made their way stateside, women largely remained in Asia. Moreover, antimiscegenation laws, or bans on interracial unions, kept Asian men from marrying other races, Yuen noted. Virginia, that such legislation was declared unconstitutional.
Because of immigration laws, there was a whole bachelor society … and so you have all these different kinds of Asian men in the United States who did not have partners. As the image of Asian men was once, in part, the architecture of racist legislation, the sexless, undesirable trope was further confirmed by Hollywood depictions of the race.
Even heartthrob Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa, who did experience appeal from white women, was used to show Asian men as sexual threats during a period of rising anti-Japanese sentiment. Often, these portrayals of both men and women evolved with war, Yuen added. For example, the sexualization of Asian women on screen was heightened after the Vietnam War due to prostitution and sex trafficking that American military men often took part in.
Yuen is quick to point out that Asian women, who possessed very little decision-making power throughout U. The historical emasculation of Asian men stings to this day. A study from OkCupid found that Asian men were ranked least desirable among all demographics. Another study found that the majority of its Asian American female respondents reported their attraction, from a young age, was overwhelmingly to European American boys.
However, directing anger toward Asian women for their interracial relationships uncovers a host of problematic underlying beliefs, experts said. Some of the vitriol stems from erroneous assumptions that because women are seen as more sexually desirable, they are therefore more privileged. In what world do you see Asian women getting frontrunners for public office, being tapped to be CEOs of companies, to be considered for le in Hollywood movies?
Moreover, Choimorrow said the idea that Asian women are more privileged ignores the dangerous byproducts of their fetishization. This includes not only the dehumanization of these women, but also the susceptibility to harassment and violence due to the submissive stereotype.
From "21 to 55 percent of Asian women in the U. The range is based on a compilation of studies of disaggregated samples of Asian ethnicities in local communities. Dude, you don't walk out every day worrying about your physical safety.
Dhingra also acknowledged that there lies a double standard when it comes to Asian women, leading the group to be judged more harshly than their male peers. He explained that it comes down to a uniquely racialized brand of sexism. Additionally, because of the existing stereotype of Asian women as submissive, particularly to white men, the sight of an Asian woman in an interracial relationship can trigger the idea that she is perpetuating existing stereotypes.
The burden placed on Asian American women to date within their own race also presents another problematic idea: that women are still thought of as property, Choimorrow noted. Little has changed, Choimorrow believes. Even as many Asian Americans continue to fight for racial justice, some ideas have been slow to evolve. That's just f lame. But he also emphasized that people need to push back on the perpetuation of the problematic ideas in society that devalue Asian Americans while upholding whiteness.
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