www.sfmuseum.org)" src="http://thenetworkhub.ca/minna/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/bfoot.jpg" height="447" alt="Chinese Girl with Bound Feet (courtesy of www.sfmuseum.org)" width="346" />
Chinese girl with bound feet (courtesy of SF Museum)
After a great weekend spent at Dragon Boat Festival and Car-Free Day – events that celebrated Vancouver’s multicultural fabric, promoted unity and embraced the richness of Vancouver’s ethnic diversities, I was extremely disappointed to read an article that tried to chip away what these events tried to build – tolerance.
Controversially titled “Vancouver’s Asian men fear women prefer white guys,” (I understand they are going for the loaded title) but this reads more like a tabloid or a headline from a Jerry Springer episode than an article in the Vancouver Sun. The journalist, Douglas Todd, hides behind the voice of his naive interviewee, Ronald Lee, who is more than pleased to offer all sorts of stereotypes because he (and his dating company for Asians) profit from the reinforcement of these stereotypes.
The stark contradictions in the article made it confusing, with the voice of the interviewee dominating the article; it seemed more like an opinion piece than a supposedly researched article by a professional journalist. Todd claims to guide us to believe that Asian men should not buy into false stereotypes (such as the title of the article), yet liberally litters throughout the article stereotypes such as East Asian men need to “overcome their chronic social ineptitude” and they “lack firm identity and are ‘emotionally stunted’.” Women aren’t spared either because “Asian and other women looking for ‘someone to take care of them’ are up against Asian men’s “unhelpful expectations of meeting either ‘mother figures’ or ‘beauties’.”
As an East Asian immigrant woman and an entrepreneur reading this article, it again reminds me why it is so challenging to be heard and taken seriously in both personal and professional settings. It is exactly this kind of perpetuation of dubious, irresponsible, sweeping generalizations that continue to create barriers between all of us. I cannot speak for Asian men (nor should I commit the same fallacy with sweeping generalizations like the journalist has done) but I can surely speak about my experience.
Every day I fight against stereotypes of the Asian woman perpetuated by TV shows, movies, magazines, videos and ads about what I am supposed to be like. These things are almost expected from companies who are trying to sell you something, but I expected a lot more from journalists bound to their profession’s ethics and standards. I see and experience these stereotypes in action all the time and I frequently hear, “Oh I didn’t realize you are not that kind of Asian.”
I am an Asian woman raised in a traditional family, yet I have chosen to be true to myself – a geek and a business woman – dedicated to my entrepreneurial path. This has not rendered me as socially inept. My self-confidence and social skills did not suffer, in fact, they flourished because I chose to focus on my dreams. I am not sure what mold of “Asian woman” Todd and Lee are expecting me to fit into, because I surely do not fit any of the types mentioned in their article. If they think I am soft-spoken, subservient and obedient just because I am an “Asian woman” – they have another thing coming.
The interviewee might have gained a few business leads from this article and the journalist might have gotten a pat on the back from his editor for generating more traffic for the Vancouver Sun, but the small holes they poked in the social fabric of Vancouver will be felt by me every single day.