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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Asian American issues.

One of the reasons why I'm blogging on Cambridge Common is because there are issues I care about that are often left out of the Crimson because there isn't a Harvard angle. For example, AAWA (the Asian American Women's Association) brought to the attention of the news board last spring a very serious case of Asian fetish at Princeton where a graduate student in math (married to an Asian woman) was found to have been pouring bodily fluids such as urine and semen into Asian women's drinks and watching them, as well as cutting hair from Asian women. When raided, his apartment was full of bottles of bodily fluids, women's underwear and collections of Asian hair. We felt it was important to cover this story to show that the objectification/fetishization of Asian women is a serious issue that is found even at institutions of higher learning (and supposedly greater enlightenment) similar to Harvard.

Recently, at UMich, there was an incident of anti-Asian hate where two Asian students said two Caucasian students urinated on them and used racial slurs. It was covered in The Michigan Daily among other news sources. In reaction to this, students started a blog called Stop the Hate, which I wanted to share with all of you.


At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed that the fetishization of Asian women is disturbing and does not to have many outspoken supporters.

Your post leaves me wondering why it is, though, that these sort of incidents don't get covered in the Crimson. My personal instinct chalks this up to this idea:

That, with the possible exception of the Jews, Asians and Asian-Americans are the most vastly overrepresented ethnic group on campus. As such, it's harder to construe these incidents of fetishization and harassment as part of a systematic repression that is somehow constraining the Asian-American and Asian communities.

Now, that's not to say that such oppression is or is not happening; I think the case can be made strongly that Asians and Asian-Americans are strongly pigeonholed into certain social roles. The oppression and discrimination may just be harder to construe as being newsworthy when it does not appear particularly systematic or oppressive as much as just isolated cases of assholes and creeps.

In fact, I'll even hide behind my anonymity and ask a more provocative question: Because Asian-Americans have been among the most successful minority groups to reach the upper echelons of American society, should we give their claims of oppression less weight?

And finally, from a tactical edge, how do you make clear that there is a systematic oppression of Asian-Americans on campus?

Just some thoughts.

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what "these sorts of incidents"?!?!? that was one really, really weird incident at another school. the actions of someone with serious psychological problems says nothing about Harvard or American society more generally. what happened at Princeton was a freak, isolated incident. to suggest otherwise is to be incredibly disingenuous.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger deborah ho said...

To Anonymous 2: Yes, it's a very weird and gross and unusual situation, and it's covered by news sources particularly because it is such a dramatic example. However, it's a very dramatic example of something that is prevalent, that does occur on campus, and I think that awareness is an important one: this is an exaggerated example of a phenomenon (fetishization of Asian women) that occurs here and in American society in general. The vast majority of pornographic sites on the web, for example, feature Asian women targeted to a non-Asian demographic (i.e. sites in English). I never said that what happened is standard practice anywhere, but bringing knowledge of this incident to campus I felt would have at least sparked thoughts and discussions on the issue of Asian fetish; to pretend that this phenomenon does not exist would be disingenuous.

To Anonymous 1: I think your questions require a more thorough reply, and I'll post my thoughts on those soon.

At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anony #1 - Careful with vocabulary. I don't think most Jews would agree to their classification as an "ethnic" group...

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

Where is the separation between what an individual does and society's effects on that individual's actions drawn? People, like all animals and even plants, are a product of their environment. The influence that your environment has on you doesn't necessarily have to take you over but it does form a significant part of who you are, how you conduct yourself, and how you see the world. I have a number of thoughts on where the Asian fetish that Deb has highlighted comes from. Among these are the fact that many Whites that attend more prestigious U.S. high schools and colleges (esp. on the East and West Coast whether public or private) are socialized to Asians regularly so the interactive interracial comfort level is built over time. For example, the prestigious and public Boston Latin School is 29% Asian while Boston Public Schools (and the city itself) in general are only 8% Asian. Additionally, dating Asians may be deemed as "exotic" and a bit risque though it is not as socially extreme as dating a Black person. All one needs to do is a simple Google search for "Asian dating" and then one for "Black dating". Notice how a search for "Asian dating" usually turns up sites that market Asian women to White men (strangers at that). Conversely, note that the search for "Black dating" returns intraracial results almost exclusively.

At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, how do you know any of this? what study shows that the "vast majority" of pornographic sites on the web feature Asian women? there are lots of pornographic sites featuring all sorts of women (and men). Doing is a simple google search for two keywords is not all you have to do. it's way more complicated. and what is being meant by "Asian fetish" anyway? that some guys like Asian women? some guys like blond women, or have a thing for black women too. does it change anything if a black man likes white women vs a white man liking white women? or an Asian man who has a thing for Asian women vs a white man who has a thing for Asian women? why does it have to be a "fetish" as opposed to just attraction?

At 2:23 AM, Blogger deborah ho said...

I'm quoting someone else's source, and I can't find it at the moment, so I'll retract that statement. Instead, try this: there are MANY pornographic sites that market Asian women to a western demographic. This is an unusual phenomenon that is particularly pronounced as it has its bases in historical discrimination (look at "The Commodification of Asian Women's Sexuality and Bodies".

And very simply, why is it "fetish" as opposed to attraction? I use fetish in reference to the phenomenon where all asian women are seen as erotic objects (hence objectification), as opposed to a healthy "attraction" which I would hope would have bases in things like personality and individuality.


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