Are Chinese women submissive to their husbands?

Submissive, available, willing

Last week, eight Asian women were shot dead in massage parlors in the state of Georgia. While the US authorities were still cautious about expressing their motive for the attacker, there was also fear in Asian communities in Germany: Was that a racist terrorist attack against us? Is that the culmination of Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric about the "China virus"?

The suspect denies this. During his interrogation, he gave "sex addiction" as the motive for the crime. He viewed the salons he attacked as a "temptation" that he wanted to eliminate. Why did the perpetrator even have the feeling that massage parlors with mostly Asian employees were a “temptation” for him? For many women who read Asian women in Germany, these words bring back traumatic memories. Even with me. To suggestive, joking questions from classmates to my first friend, from which catalog he had ordered me. To older men who, when I was barely 20 at the time, asked me with lustful eyes while doing my part-time job in room service in a luxury hotel, where I was from? Of the terrible online dating experiences I had as a young woman - with men who wrote me how beautiful they found my black, silky hair and my almond eyes. And conversations with friends who had similar experiences and received messages asking whether they were "as narrow down below" as their eyes.

This sexualizing view of women who read Asian women, especially white men, has a long history that has been shaped by colonialism, wars, migration and the establishment of mass sex tourism, among other things. Tenor: Asian women are willing, submissive and submissive, but monsters in bed. This narrative was manifested in white perception primarily through the participation of the USA in several wars in Asia: During the Vietnam War, a large sex industry emerged - not only in Vietnam, but also in the US bases in Thailand and the Philippines.

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After the end of the war and the withdrawal of the US troops, the prerequisites for today's sex tourism were created, the establishment of mass tourism made sex tourism affordable for the masses. Since the end of the 1970s, thousands of men from Germany have also flown to Thailand, driven by the promise of willing, beautiful, sexually adventurous women in Asia who will do everything for their men. Banter They were called disparaging - because such trips were often organized by the Neckermann company. Many Germans opened marriage agencies in Pattaya and Patpong, with advertising slogans such as “cuddly Thai woman or Philippina”, with “right of return if you don't like it”.

The attitudes of many German men towards Asian women were already revealed in 1979 by the cabaret artist Gerhard Polt in his bitterly angry sketch about the catalog wife "Mai Ling". In it, Polt plays the husband who sits next to his submissive Asian wife and talks about his marriage: "2785 marks from Bangkok Airport" cost Mai Ling, "for 500 marks more I could have got a Vietnamese girl. They are a bit more robust, but of course opinions now differ «. He ponders her sexual abilities: “She is also very flexible and cuddly. In general - the bedroom. Well, that's where they are famous, the Asians. "

Polt's satire can still be understood as social criticism. Depictions of Asian women in the recent past in the German entertainment industry tend not to be. Clichés were not questioned, but often adopted and romanticized. Examples: Anke Engelke, who slipped into the role of catalog wife “Mae Ying” for the series “Ladykracher”, complete with yellowface and an “Asian accent” (Engelke apologized and distanced himself two years ago). Or films such as the WDR production “Year of the Dragon” from 2012, which tells the story of the 50-year-old father, Thomas, who falls in love with the pretty young barmaid Huong in Vietnam.

The fetishization and hypersexualization of Asian women are not only US-specific phenomena, but also widespread here in Germany. This is also due to the lack of diversity in the German entertainment industry. Non-white actors are underrepresented in German film and are often put in clichéd, one-dimensional roles. Asian-looking actresses are often members of the Chinese mafia in police series, employees in massage studios, the Thai woman with the older husband. Men read Asian, on the other hand, tend to be nerds, as emasculated weirdos who don't get a wife, rather than romantic heroes. In the #meinerolleimdeutschenfilm campaign, for example, the Vietnamese actress Mai Duong Kieu (known from "Bad Banks") points out the problem that she no longer wants to play stereotypical roles.

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The difference is that these stereotypes have long been problematized and criticized by feminists and Asian women in the USA, while there is still little awareness of them here in Germany. Racism experienced by Asian readers is often downplayed or even dismissed: Asians are hardworking, good at school, the women are pretty, the men hardly cause any problems, otherwise calm, invisible, a so-called model minority. The problem: racism leads to violence. And because racism against Asian communities is not taken seriously, racist violence that people from these communities experience is also made invisible. Who else knows, for example, that in the Rostock-Lichtenhagen pogroms, the majority of the victims were former Vietnamese contract workers? Does the white majority remember that the first documented racist murder in the Federal Republic of Germany was carried out in 1980 on two boat people from Vietnam by the right-wing terrorist group "German Action Group", which are regarded as role models for the later NSU?

The attack in Atlanta struck women like me, who are perceived as Asian, because we know it all too well. Racism and sexism against Asian women has a long, global history - in which one has to consider several levels of discrimination, not separately from one another. Sexism and racism work together here, they discharge on us in the form of disgusting, lewd comments, in the form of sexual violence, and in the case of the Georgia attack, in murders. Here too, in Germany, we have seen violent attacks, especially since the pandemic: Asian-looking people were spat at, attacked, and attacked by their neighbors with disinfectants in the subway. Racism against Asian people is real, it must finally be recognized: by the authorities, by the media, by the entertainment industry, by civil society at large. Because that we, our shops, the flower shops, snack bars, restaurants or massage parlors of our parents and friends are also considered as possible targets for attacks, is fearful.