Asian Woman in Popular Culture


When I first came to U.S I went to a Catholic high school in a small town. In my school 95% of the students are white and all the teachers are white too. The first day of school was hard for me, because at that time I can’t speak English very well and many people in my class were never talk to an international student before. It was not easy for me to fit in and a lot people look at me with the Asian women stereotype. They can’t understand me because I’m not good at speaking English. A lot of my classmate thought that I’m shy and submissive, but after a few weeks, after they really knowing me my friends all think that I’m outgoing and crazy. So When we talk about Asian what stereotype comes in your mind? When we talk about Asian woman what’s your first thought? A lot people thinks that Asian woman is demure, feminine, passive, submissive and subservient. Asian woman have been portrayed in a similar manner throughout most of recent history. Slowly, little by little, things are changed right now. Asian woman are different than what we were bring portrayed in last few decade. The new generation, we are liberate and have more education than before.

Section 1

A TV show called Elementary. Elementary is a very interesting show to watch. It takes on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic charater has Sherlock Holmes run away from London for present-day Manhattan. When Sherlock arrives he find that his father assigned a a person to live with him, which is Dr. Joan Watson, a former surgeon who gave up medicine three years earlier after she lost a patient. Dr. Joan Watson’s life now centers around helping Sherlock stay clean on addiction. However, Sherlock became a police consultant in New York City. Joan and Sherlock find that they make a good team together and soon are detected some of th NYPD’s most-difficult cases. The Watson in this TV show is twisted, it catches everyone’s curiosity. It is because that the Watson in this TV show is a Asian woman. The character Dr. Joan Watson who is cast by Lucy Liu which is an Asian celebrity. This is a big steps for Asian woman being on the American media. According to No’s (2014) article, movie/ T.V entertainment is lack of people of color- most notably is characters of Asian. In another word, Asian woman aren’t very active in American media. This is also why so many people is lack of the knowing the new generation of Asian woman. In the past, many Asian woman were being portrayed in media as having strong accent. The fact is that in this TV show the woman Watson have nothing that is common with the old stereotype. The Asian Watson is smart, strong and speaking with no accent. Joan and Sherlock can solves difficult problems. In this TV show that Asian woman is being portrayed in a new way, which is strong, smart and liberal. On the other hand, Asian woman are still being portrayed in the old stereotype. Such as the next artifact that I will be showing to you.


Section 2

In the opposite of the Asian woman Watson, media have been portrayed Asian woman in a negative way, which they kept the old thoughts about Asian woman. The person who is antisocial, nerdy and only hang out with the people who have the same race. The movie Pitch Perfect, it shows that extremes of Asian woman stereotypes with no redeeming qualities. The Asian woman character Kimmy-Jin, is the “Dragon Lady”. She refuse to make friends with the main character. She only social with the students who have the some ethnicity as her. She is strict and nerdy. And here voice is super low, that no one can here what she says. Kimmy-Jin is the perfect and classic example for Asian stereotypes. It is sad to see that Asian in other people’s eye are being portrayed like this. It made me think why Asian woman are being portrayed like this in the media? There must be a reason. Most of the stereotypes were translated from history. In many Asian country Asian woman were powerless and don’t have the right to vote. In the tradition that Asian woman should stay home, clean the house and take care the child. But I think in the whole world women were being treated in the same way. In U.S women did not have the power to vote until 1920, in 1919 the congress passed that American woman have the right to vote( In china woman also have their right to vote in 1947. This is a sign that Asian women is full of power, they are able to control their own life. In the movie there is another Asian character, but she only had few lines in the movie. Maybe most people can’t remember her. She also portrayed in a negative way. As we can see that most of the time Asian woman are being portrayed in the negative way in the media. Sometimes I feel that is not fare for us. Because people sees one person’s action will assume that the whole ethnic is the same. This is also why sometimes stereotype is harmful to people.


Jimmy Jin–Pitch Perfect


It is very often that an Asian face presented as nerdy, socially awkward and knows KongFu. But that’s not truth. Most of this stereotypes were created by the mistranslated information from social media. Many time when we pass information to one person by another by the end the last persona might here the thing that is totally different than what the first person said. It is common to see this in the real world. It started at the early Hollywood movies, such as “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, the movie which created a very good image of Chinese. But at the same time people also had the stereotype that Chinese are good at KongFu and all Chinese knows KongFu. Unfortunately that majority of the audiences thinks that one movie represent the whole population. A lot time people will use their understanding and plus some imagination to look at Asians. It is common to see people have the old stereotype of Asian woman. But believe or not, Asian woman have been changing now. We are the new generation. We are strong, liberal, social and fashion. I hope that people will not judge the whole ethnicity by just looking at one person’s action.

Work cited:

America’s Historical Documents. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2015, from  Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote

No, S. (2014). The Dangers of Asian Stereotypes. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015, from otypes.pdf

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5 thoughts on “Asian Woman in Popular Culture

  1. Angel,
    Good choice beginning your essay with anecdotes of your own experiences as an Asian woman! Detailing your experiences with classmate’s stereotyping gave me insight as to why you’d choose to explore this particular identity for your blog post. Personally, I haven’t watched either of the artifacts you examined. Still, though, I’m very familiar with the trope you’re pointing out, and have seen the same stereotypically quiet and submissive Asian female character in television and films since I was little. Elementary looks like an interesting series, though, and now I want to check it out! I’ve found Lucy Liu to be a strong example of an Asian actor who breaks the mold. Like you point out, it’s easy for people to assume that single characters represent whole communities. For that reason, I agree with you that it’s important for strong Asian female characters (like Dr. Joan Watson) to become more mainstream.

  2. Hey!
    I really enjoyed reading your essay because we have a somewhat similar experience. I too went to a primarily white high school and it was also a Catholic school. Most students made their assumptions of me and assumed I was very quiet and submissive, as you mentioned you experienced as well. Also, we both used examples from Pitch Perfect, which I think is awesome.
    Great job!

  3. Hi Angel Gao,

    Like you I grew up in a very non diverse school. My school consisted of 90% Whites. Unlike you, I was born here so I have fluent english. The reason I am saying this is because I wanted to let you know from an Asian that grew up in the American society compared to yours moving here. For me, I never had the struggles you have but every time our school had a kid that moved here from Asia, I feel their struggle deep down. I would see people making assumptions about them and bullying them and yet, I always feel bad and eventually becoming good friends with them. This is why although I was born here, I do not think Asians across the sea and Asians here are much different. Society just makes it seem like we are different. My question to you is do you think that will ever change? What would it take for this misconception to change?

  4. Hi, Angel

    I really like your post and it was very interesting. I had the same experience like you and many people think the characters that portrayed in media was real. There were many negative aspects about Asian portrayed in media and definitely change people’s view and making assumptions on them. I agree with you that now Asian people are different from the past. Many new generation image didn’t portray in media. It will be a good idea if the media can portray the new generation Asian. All in all your post was interesting and I got very engage with it. Thank you!

  5. Hello Angel,

    I have to admit, due to the media I have stereotyped Asian woman is what you have said, “ demure, feminine, passive, submissive and subservient.” To substantiate this, I looked at the main character in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I believed them to play the traditional nuclear female role in a family. This means that they are the caregivers. They do as they are told from their husband and they are at home taking care of their children. Nonetheless, I am happy that the as time progresses, their stereotypical view is no longer as prevalent as it was in the past. Lucy Liu, also in Charlie’s Angels, is the perfect example of the new generation of Asian women. She speaks her mind, as she is an empowered, strong, and smart woman. Although Asian women are not in the media as the ever so dominant white people, Lucy Liu and Kimmy-Jin in the media is better than nothing. Thank you for sharing your post, it was very interesting to read!

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