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Negative Stereotypes Of Asian American Women Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5647 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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I decided to research on “how unconsciously activated negative stereotypes of Asian American women express in media and proportionally influence the American society in treating them unequally and negatively, the goal of this research is to allure readers to be educated and inspired so such enigma could be eliminated in a pro-equality society.” Negative representation has been dwelling in the popular culture’s perception which hinder the Asian American women to have the political and social privileges they should have according to the Constitution. Recognizing what need to be altered is the first step in making a difference for obtaining a pro-equal society; secondly is to make a difference in how to be proud of whichever race or ethnicity one is and educate others about their misperception or negative generalization about Asian American women. It is possible that while one awaits the new representation of Asian American women stereotype to triumph coherently could aggravate the less-privileged positions the Asian Americans situate.

The subject of my research is Chinese American women from the era where many of them were seized from their homeland to “pollute/deviate” America society and Asian American women of the modern days where many, if not all, of them struggling to duality of identity of Asian and American in the shadow of model minority stereotype.

First, before focusing on the impact mass media has on perception of image of Asian American women, and scrutinize how these perceptions affect the society politically and socially, I will lay down Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream”, as the foundation for the path of this research and reason why I choose this topic for research. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leading nonviolent activist for equality movement in the era of Jim Crow law. Because his movement inspired many others to turn the Jim Crow law, if not, educated the ones about how untrue the way they thought of the African American race and the colored ones. His ideal and speech moved many people of that era, thus they, people of both white and colored, strived to make a difference in contributing any ways they could. The history shows that the triumph of the pro-equal privileges for colored ones movement has been a long and painful feat which still persist now, however much less severe. This correlate to my field of research for it displays as a living proof of how to over turn the negative nonviolently which can educate and inspire the rest of the society.

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The reason why I have chosen to study this social negative phenomenon is because the ways women are represented in media reflect and influence expectations of a particular society. Especially in America, such an affluent country, media such as magazine advertisements and television shows and advertisements are conventional and influential media sources for women. As technology advances, these influential forces unconsciously portray women of all race and ethnicity in an increasingly pervasive stereotypical way. Not only is the image pervasive and negative, media also engraves these messages into each member of the society of all gender. As a negative feedback, people often act out on their generalization about others, thus create an unequal treatment toward women especially of the minority.

After laying down the successful feat of overcoming the unequal treatment the African Americans experienced in the American history, I will beginning scrutinizing the “deviant” stereotype origin. According to the history various stereotypes were associated with historical events when the “East Meets the West”. After briefly summarizing how the stereotype came about, then I will examine interpretations of model minority stereotypes of Asian American women in popular culture with the documentary and autobiographic essays, for the model minority stereotype greatly differ from the era where the Asian American women were heavily neglected and discriminated due to their “deviant” stereotype. According to various sources, such as the movie, King of Chinatown, this model minority stereotype portrays Asian American women as well-educated, intelligent, diligent, competitive, and successful career-women. With this more positive representation of Asian American women, perhaps Asian American women could stride forward toward an equal society that Martin Luther King, Jr. had envisioned for America.

Striving for the goal is one matter toward success in equality in a society, acceptance from the others is the other matter. The research shows the Asian American women as well as other minority are striving for more political and social privileges that America promises to its citizens. Biannual statistics shows that more Asian American women are enrolled in higher education comparing to years ago. The term “citizenship” must be re-examined in order obtain better understanding of why such inequality is occurring. Various sources mentioned that the American Judicial system defined citizenship differently from time to time in the recent past. “Citizenship” is vaguely defined for American minority, especially different race and ethnicity, physical characteristics is one of the ways to differentiate the minority, however in many of the unequal judicial cases bloodline determines citizenship.

With the necessary terms defined, representation, stereotype, citizenship, deviant and model minority, while this research recall perceptions of both positive and negative images of Asian American women, we can further explore the modern era where the model minority stereotypes in prime-time television express potentially effect among women of varied racial-ethnic backgrounds. Shirley Jennifer Lim’s along with various writers’ and editors’ implications indicate that the model minority media stereotype has both positive and negative influences on Asian American women and other racial-ethnic groups. Some argue the effect of model minority stereotype is more beneficial to Asian American women. Such optimistic spirit is great, however documentary and autographic essays show this battle for overturning these two stereotypes generalization would be an arduous one knowing this stereotype often mentally and psychologically damages the Asian American women whom pressured to be successful just like the others.

I need to obtain more interactive research on how much more of positive difference that model minority stereotyping is making. For an example, since when did such stereotyping start to make the difference in the society politically and socially? According to the essays and documents written and documented in the sources chosen, most of the Asian American women from the “deviant” stereotype era encountered a “bitter” moment in America. The correlation of how does this bitter moment of theirs contribute in turning their negative image to the positive one requires more educated Asian American women of the “deviant” stereotype era to express. However resources are scarce, Asian American women from the “deviant” stereotype era tend to be less educated in American standards, so less likely they were able to express their need and yearning for equality in a patriarchal and fear-of-pollutant country.

This research could enlighten the ignorant that Asian Americans women have different race and ethnicity and assist those who wish to contribute in making a positive difference in representation of Asian American women in American media. My research suggests that American media can increase the diversity of Asian American women’s media representation to possibly reduce the negative societal influence of one-dimensional media stereotypes.

Annotated bibliography

Topic: Unconsciously activated negative stereotypes of Asian American women continues to express in media and society, such enigma should be eliminated in a pro-equality society. With such misconception in the popular culture, Asian American women filmmakers could recreate new representation of Asian American women stereotype in media. Research paper will interrogate the American fashion industry as a unconsciously discriminatory factor to Asian American women, so that it may bring attention to the need to more involvement of Asian American women in the fashion industry to promote equality for Asian American women. If new positive representation of Asian American women is present, then Asian American women can triumph over the persistent negative representations which were risen from the historical events, thus the American society would proceed to live up to the dream Martin Luther King, Jr.’s had envision for America.

Annotated Bibliography

Bottero, Wendy. “A Woman’s Place.” Stratification: Social Division and Inequality. London:

Routledge, 2005. 106-25. Print.

Bottero, the senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Southampton who specialize her research in social reproduction of inequality and hierarchy, claims the inequality in social division occur in general due to hierarchy pre-settled in the society. She relates class inequalities, race, ethnicity and gender, to broader processes of social division and differentiation in terms of classical theories and contemporary theories; so that others can use her research to support their debate about how the theoretical concept affect the society in social division. In this chapter, Bottero specifically scrutinizes on “common-sense” developed as early as the nineteenth century for women’s “unequal place in society”- “exclusion from citizenship rights and public life”, due to representation of “women’s physical and mental inferiority”(106-107). Bottero further examines the economic and social relations that produce differences or inequalities to women (109). Lastly Bottero interrogates the true reason behind the “transformation” of women’s inequality when the gendered employment patterns showed increasing female labor sector in various workplaces in recent decades.

By examining women’s exclusion and women’s transformation of society into a more participating role in both economic and social sense, I can correlate the transformation of women’s inequality to a more specific category, Asian race women dwelling in the American society who experiences positive and negative impacts of two cultures, the East and the West. Bottero’s analysis first grounds my foundation of why the patriarchal society perceive women as a “lower being”, the relationship of women’s lower status in a patriarchal society is similar to how the American society especially American fashion trend ignores the Asian American women’s needs, such ignorance implies the Asian American women’s status is the ones who are gender and racially inferior in comparison to the American women or to the norm. In fashion sense Asian American women is only an extra-small or extra-extra-small, when most of the Asian American women are similar in size. Asian American women can’t fit in the norm, but the norm in America for Asian American women is petite. The norm of Victoria’s Secret’s undergarment only fits the Caucasian and African Americans, the Asian American women’s sizes are under-norm, perhaps in a sense of abnormality. This unconsciously pressures and humiliates the Asian race in terms of body figure, thus Asian American women have harder time to feel beautiful in American society and thus cause psychological imparities when they participate or contribute to the popular culture.

Crosby, Faye J., and Cheryl VanDeVeer. “Title VII — Equal Employment Opportunity.” Sex,

Race, and Merit: Debating Affirmative Action in Education and Employment. Ann Arbor:

University of Michigan, 2000. 202-18. Print.

Laws are divided into sections called titles in America. This complete reprinted text of Title VII from the 1964 Civil Right Act thoroughly explains what is “equal” in employment opportunity sense. This title also defines “discrimination of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” as unlawful (205). It also created a Commission which could protect the people with equality in purchasing power (208). This title claims to create a guideline for equal employment opportunity.

This is important to my research because it is one of the proofs of equality that the American society has promised since 1964. This title grounds the reason why I want to bring the class of Asian American women to pursue the equality that were promised and have to right to obtain in terms of employment. Because I will be using demographics of race and ethnicity distribution in the Flight Attendance work field, to contrasts the promise to the real deal.

Gabriel, Yiannis, “Discrimination,” “Stereotype and Stereotyping,” “Women Studies,”

Organizing Words: a Critical Thesaurus for Social and Organization Studies Organizing

Words, Great Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. 79-81,281-282,322-324. Print

Gabriel, the chair of organization studies at University of Bath, organizes the popular culture’s concept of various controversial words into a dictionary-like book. He tailors the word by noting when the popular culture uses such time, and how the word is important for readers, and furthermore what get involved which such word. He introduces the readers saying that “they [the words] help us think, communicate, analyze, and create,” by saying such he claims when readers are informed with such organized study of the word, that readers then can be on the same page when discussing one matter relating to the word. It is also important that Gabriel quotes Raymond Williams, an influential figure who wrote a book on “keywords”, that words “[perform] a useful binding function linking ideas together” (xiii) and that they change meaning with time, thus I can conclude that the identity of the words are constantly reshaping.

I choose three words from Gabriel’s “Organizing Words”, “discrimination”, “stereotype and stereotyping”, and “women studies”. These three words are part of the key terms I will be analyzing in my research paper regarding how the stereotype of Asian American women originated, I imply that the stereotype originate by discrimination through race, ethnicity, language and gender. I utilize Gabriel’s definition in his organized studies on these three words in the introduction of my research paper to demonstrate the current issue that I am concern of – why I choose the topic of “the inequality the Asian American women still facing”.

Hall, Stuart. “Introduction.” Representation: Cultural Representations & Signifying Practices.

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2007. 28. Print.

In Stuart’s Representation: Cultural Representation & Signifying Practices, the author analyzes the definition of “representation” in various aspects. He, one of the influential cultural theorists since the 1970s to the 1990s, suggests “representation” differs in different cultures due to different expressions over perception for the materialistic world. He also suggests that people can only understand the representation if they are in the same system of representation. He clarifies the presence of “representation is the production of meaning through language [and codes]. In representation, … we use signs, organized into languages of different kinds, to communicate meaningfully with others” (28). His influential analysis of the “representation” from 1997 still lingers now. Because his research of “representation” instead of leading to more precise definitions, his use across the cultural sphere causes the identity of “culture” to grow fuzzy as a concept.

The definitions of “representation” from Stuart’s essay allows me to create a backbone or linkage for the how the origin and definition of “stereotype” which is also defined by Yiannis Gabriel, Chair in Organization Studies at University of Bath, is formed in a culture or society, and furthermore the popular culture. With the term “representation”, stereotype can be defined less negatively. Along with term “representation”, “stereotype” of Asian American women can be expressed in the research in a more inspiring way instead of impressing people down with the negatively connotated term “stereotype”. When the audience is placed to read a less judgmental, the sense of equality can be implied through the language use. I can also obtain a different insight with the view of “representation” when reading through the primary sources, such as diaries of the Asian American women. Asian American women represent themselves differently depending on how they adapt the culture and how the culture perceive and treat them.

Helen, Wong. “Shop.” Allenina.com. May 2006. Web. 01 May 2011.


Helen Wong, an Asian American trans-woman, works as a Los Angeles-based model and actress. It is rare for Asian Americans to be in the model realm in America. Going through her blog, I can see that she has been through many hardships such as gender change, such as the “easy” and “dirty” money she made. She posts updates about her life onto the blog, they may be provocative pictures of her exposing to whosoever lay their eyes upon her or promotional sale for her fashion products. On Friday, August 20, 2010, she posted a video of her appearance at the Jerry Springer’s new dating game show, Baggage. This show demonstrates how she lives with her “baggage” in the reality. There were three types of responses the guys left her when she rejected them or they rejected her, the first “I don’t like flat-chested girls anyways”, the second “You’re beautiful baby, good luck.” The last guy just couldn’t accept her baggage of being an Asian American trans-woman. These three guys from the reality show simulates how the reality would perceive and treat such class of women.

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This primary source is important because this shows her respect in being an Asian American woman. I am planning to use her life as an example for one of the subclaim of my research paper. Because in my perspective, she demonstrate part of the discrimination she receives as an Asian American women, and yet she still thrives to work by promoting her own fashion which disintegrates her being. Going through her shop, the designs of her items is limited even with the promotional sale; such phenomenon shows this “easy” money, showing skins of herself and/or degrading her own race or ethnicity to become fully American, is not as easy as it should be.

King, Martin Luther Jr. “I Have a Dream.” A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and

Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1986. Print

In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, he clearly delivers his message to the nation how his race is thriving for freedom in the supposedly free nation. American constitution grounds the nation with equality in freedom politically and socially. His delivers his main message to educate and inspire people in the era where people of color and white people couldn’t coexist harmoniously so that one day the communities of color, in his case the African Americans, and the white ones can coexist harmoniously.

The main purpose of my research is possibly inspiring people from popular culture by King’s successful non-violent exemplar in the 1960s. To expand on King’s dream of equality to Asian American women, I juxtapose the biblical references King uses to my yearning for equality for the Asian American women. However in biblical period, human existed in a male chauvinistic culture, thus I will need to surpass that sexist-oriented language to counter-argue my message of why Asian American women of this era need to obtain the equality, the happiness we need to pursue which is not obtain naturally.

Kurashige, Lon, and Alice Yang. Murray. Major Problems in Asian American History:

Documents and Essays. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. Print.

In Kurashige and Murray’s preface, the authors, Kurashige as the associate professor of history and American studies and ethnicity at USC and Murray as the associate professor of history in UCSC, express the problem of inequality in rights and privileges in political and social grew with race integrating in the society. They compile documents and essays to examine the issues the Asian American encountered since their encounter with America. Their motive of their compilation of these sources is to empower others to draw their own conclusions depending on their own interpretation of the Asian American History. They compile these secondary and primary sources which I will use in a way to show the dramatic growth as time passes on the rich and diverse Asian American history. Such as the romance of Japanese women and White soldiers in Sayonara (meaning farewell in Japanese) which is portrayed by a Hollywood Poster in the 1950s “selling” something exotic to the American by the Asian race (325). They correlate the different stereotypes of the Oriental with the historical events happened in the American history in terms of race, aliens and foreign in relation to popular culture perception. There were several stereotypes as the authors compile these opinions that various Asian Americans have upon these negative images, the alien, the coolie, the deviant, the yellow peril, the model minority which is introduced by Robert G. Lee in his book “Oriental”.

Knowing how the popular culture misperceives the Asian American can act as a powerful source in closer examination of Asian American women. I can use these examples of how previous historical events such as slave-trade of the Oriental affected the popular culture perception. Because I will be arguing about how these historical precursors and present day pressures from

“Tiger Mothers” as introduced by Amy Chua, a professor of law at Yale, pressure some of the Asian American now falls to be a prey in the pornography industry.

Lim, Shirley Jennifer. “I Protest.” A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women’s Public

Culture, 1930-1960, New York: New York University Press, 2006. 47-86 Print

Lim , the assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York, analyzes transitions Anna May Wong’s characters in “talkie” movies from negative stereotype to positive stereotype. Lim mainly focus on the positive remark that Wong had delivered to rest of American audience. She admits that Wong had made a career in, in a business that mined the subconscious of its patrons, a subconscious full of fear. “Dragon Lady” stereotype held that the Asian presence in the U.S. should be feared, if not eliminated (58). Wong embodied the Caucasian ideal of a foreign exotic beauty, an alien presence despite her American citizenship. Impersonating physician character in “King of Chinatown”, Lim perceives Wong’s character with heroine characteristics (48).

Lim pinpoints the concept that rises in Wong’s era. Many Chinese-Americans considered themselves “Chinese in America,” an attitude bolstered by the anti-Chinese, anti-Asian attitude of the U.S. Government and the American culture. In her memoir, Wong referred to herself as “Chinese” or “Americanized Chinese,” but not as an “American” or “Chinese American.” It is important to note Wong and her fellow Asian American women were feeling different, discriminated, and no belonging.

Knowing stereotypes are constructed from a long history of patriarchy within Hollywood film. Lim’s book provides me with stereotypical character that negatively influences Asian American women. These negative representations grounds the need of why I insist on motivating the reader in obtaining a new image that can promote equality between Asian American women and Caucasian and African American women. Because of the reoccurring images of Asian American females hiding or repressing their Asian identities is a sign of fear of racial differences in the era of fear to be alien.

Nguyen, Mimi, and Thuy Linh N. Tu. “Introduction”, “Asian American Auto/Biographies: The

Gendered Limits of Consumer Citizenship in Import Subcultures:  Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. 4-15, 261-67. Print

Nguyen and Tu analyze Asian Americans’ interaction with the popular culture as both creators and consumers in realms such as multimedia art. They explore and examine the issues of culture authenticity raised by Asian American in America, such as issues of sexuality and race. Their essays demonstrate the importance of scholarly engagement with Asian American and the popular cultures. In the introduction, Nguyen and Tu recognize “Asian American” is “an ever-changing and intrinsically relational term” which means this term is a “racial formation” and that it “derives various historical effects as a racial category from institutional apparatuses, discursive practices, and political mobilization” (4). In-all-these, they mean to deliver that American society and popular culture has categorized heterogeneous Asian populations under one entity. Using “representation” lens, I conclude such term “Asian American” is belittling the Asian American as a race because judging from the term there is no difference among the different Asian ethnicities in the “representation” of American society. Other sources will discuss a similar matter of unconsciously or perhaps innate discriminative “representation” of women, gender role in society. They claim that it is not as important to scrutinize what the term “popular culture” contributes, whereas, how the Asian Americans contribute to the popular culture is influential on how the popular culture perceives them. They also analyze “popular culture” as a “source of tension” (7). In yellow pages of University of Virginia, “popular culture” defines as “totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred through an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given society.” The latter chapter focuses on gender limits of the sub-cultural trans-nationalism which further pinpoint the problem of how the logic of nationalism is becoming “highly sexualized” (264).

Using their view on these two controversial key terms, which is how they analyze various Asian American contribute in fashion, in my research paper can motivate the readers to pursue my insistence on more apparent equality for Asian American women in workplace and fashion industries.

Tong, Benson. “Gender, Family and Community: Cultural Reconstruction Among Teenage

Laotian Girls in Northern California.” Asian American Children: a Historical Handbook

and Guide. Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 2004. 108-10. Print.

Tong, a professor of history at Wichita State University, compiles and edits various analytical research essays from different people’s insights on Asian American children. In this chapter, the representation lens is focused on Laotian girls in northern California. Bindi Shah, the writer, engages the reader to the nature of Laotian cultural practices that embody gender division. Shah delivers the pressure of how much responsibilities the Laotian American girls are expected to carry (108). Shah also expands on the way how the Laotian American girls are expected to dress and behave (109). Shah implies the there is a need to change or put away such unseen burden off these girls’ shoulders, because of the inequality the girls face.

It is important to include this source in my research paper, because it signifies how the oriental culture runs in the lives of the Asian American women. These cultural practices create an offside yet influential representation to the Asian American women since they were at young age along with the representation by the popular culture.

My Draft

Will the “Shanghai Express” Bring Us to the American Dream Land with “Chalie’s Angel”‘s Help? Change, Change, Change, Recognition Must Be Made.


Media such as the popular movies since the silent film era to high-definition DVD/blue-ray era along with television casts and the fashion industry depict various race and class stereotypes of Asian American women which give the impression of what Asian American women are really like comparing to other American women as well as to Asian American women themselves. From the exaggerated representations of exotic and sex-hungry, perhaps money-craving Asian American women create a deleterious effect upon Asian American women in relation to body image and self-esteem. These media unconsciously deliver the cultural and racial and gender-based messages about what is beauty and what is attractiveness in the eyes of American. We, the Americans, are aware of our nation being the one with the Constitution which grants its citizen freedom and equality thus we may pursue happiness; however, when closely examined this society in the media perspective, these representation promotes or suggests inequality in a pro-equal society. We, American as consumers, need to acknowledge these negative representations and educate our dear ones around us not to fall in the trap of these negatively projected representations of this class of people – Asian American women; for we, the Americans, strive to be inclusive in the “melting pot” – the diverse cultural, racial and gender-based society.

It is necessary to define our keywords before we further analyze this specific phenomenon. According to Stuart Hall, one of the most influential modern cultural theorists, representation differs from cultures to cultures due to their different priority and expressions over perception for the materialistic world. He clarifies the presence of “representation is the production of meaning through language [and codes]. In representation, … we use signs, organized into languages of different kinds, to communicate meaningfully with others” (Hall 28). According to Hall’s theory, representation is where ones or societies create for their audiences so they may communicate without hindrance, and utilizing words is one of the organizations of representation they use to convey their messages to their audiences. With this term, “representation”, we the Americans as consumers and/or avant-garde activists can educate our dear ones about Asian American women in a more neutrally connotated term in contrast to the term “stereotype”.

As the chair in Organization Studies at University of Bath -Yiannis Gabriel quoted an influential figure in organization studies, Raymond Williams, “[words perform] a useful binding function linking ideas together” (Gabriel xiii). As concerned, linkage of controversial words and popular culture concept of these words empowers “us [to] think, communicate, analyze, and create” (Gabriel xiii); however according to Gabriel, the identity of the words are constantly reshaping with time. That is why his organization studies aid my research paper, he tailors the word by noting when the popular culture uses such time, and how the word is important for readers, and furthermore what get involved which such word; we, the American consumers and avant-garde activists in promoting educating the community, need to be on the same term for me to carry on in explaining my concerns.

According to Gabriel’s research, “stereotype” is associated with “discrimination”, which implies that stereotype is typically associated with negative connotation. He notes that “as crude negative generalizations about groups of people, stereotypes are part of the stock in trade of comics. They can then become the basis of prejudice and discrimination” (Gabriel 281). Sources of the unconsciously activated negative images arise from stereotypes, and thus create a bias which allows one to discriminate the other and furthermore impede the group of the people who are being generalized from treated equally in businesses, and social activities. Gabriel notes the power of the stereotypes that unconsciously enable people to make sense of the complex world would be overwhelming for one to escape, however, he and I believe in the wishful thinking that “we can maintain a crit


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