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Western Stereotypes Regarding Asian Women, Simply Misplaced Arrogance

Updated on March 29, 2012

There seems to be a common misconception amongst people in the west, many of whom truly believe the stereotypes that Asian women are somehow more submissive, less independent than Western women. Asian women are stereotypically portrayed in Hollywood films as China Dolls, Geisha Girls and prostitutes, cunning temptresses that are set on luring men into their grasp. One such character was played by the Asian actress Lucy Liu, on the hit television series Ally McBeal. Darrel Hamamoto, Professor of Asia Studies at the University of California, Davis, described this stereotype character as "a neo-Orientalist masturbatory fantasy figure concocted by a white man whose job it is to satisfy the blocked needs of other white men who seek temporary escape from their banal and deadening lives by indulging themselves in a bit of visual cunnilingus while relaxing on the sofa."

It is safe to say that Professor Hamamoto doesn't think much of the typical Western stereotypes surrounding Asians, and in my experience the women of Thailand have no time for these stereotypes either. Having spent my entire adult life in Thailand, I have to say that I don't believe there is any merit to the idea that Thai women are any less independent, any less empowered than women in the West. I find the idea to be part of a Western arrogance, an idea that Christianity and Western culture is superior to any other.

Thailand is a country with a female Prime Minister, and Thai women are every bit as active in politics and business as the country's men are. More than one third of the country's doctors are female, and women in Thailand have the freedom to pursue any career they choose. Despite all this, many foreigners from the West still believe in the stereotypes that portray Thai women as being inferior to Western women.

I have seen this on display several times over the years, listening to tourists talk down to Thai women, treating them as if they are lost souls stuck in a backward culture. Western women often treat the Thai women as inferior, assuming that Thai women somehow want to be more like white women, and require coaching on how to be more independent. Foreigners traveling to Asia would be better off leaving their stereotypes at home, don't come to Asia to teach people how to live, how to be more like you. You should come to Asia to learn something about another culture, and you might find that there are many aspects of Asian cultures that open your eyes to new ideas.


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    • LadyLola profile image

      Lanie Robinson 5 years ago from Canada

      I must protest as a western woman. I do not nor have I ever viewed Asian women as being weak. On the contrary, I have many lady friends who are from Vietnam, China and the Philippines and I must say that many of them are hardworking, independent and strong...but no more than my white friends, or black friends. People are people wherever you go. You speak about stereotypes, yet I feel typecast by this article.

    • profile image

      The Asian 5 years ago

      I totally agree.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      What an interesting hub. It is so easy for Westerners to point fingers and impose their ideas about "equality" onto foreign women. I am working on a hub about stereotypes about Middle Eastern women.

    • profile image

      Eric 6 years ago

      Thank you for letting others know what a ridiculous stereotype this can be;'submissive' is a word that should never be used in conjunction with Asian spouses.

      While some men might take advantage of an Asian woman's apparently passive nature, the man in question will pay for it in one way or another.

      That being said, the claim, "Thai women are every bit as active in politics and business as the country's men are" is a truly ridiculous statement, as is the notion that they're just as empowered as the Thai men. Women might play a big role behind the scenes but in front of Thailand's main stage, Thailand is a man's world. Period.