Amy Schumer has a running joke
about Asian women: "It doesn't matter what you do, ladies, every guy is going to leave you for an Asian woman,” she says, listing off cultural stereotypes that make my demographic "more attractive" before adding, "And how do they bring it on home for the win? Oh, the smallest vaginas in the game
Sure, the bit may be tone-deaf, particularly for a woman who’s made a career out of highlighting everyday sexism, but there’s a reason Schumer felt comfortable making such a reductive, blanket statement: Asian women are constantly sexualized and objectified by society.
As a sex worker, this is something I’ve managed to profit from. For the past few years, I’ve worked on and off as a dominatrix
, and my Asian heritage has been a very lucrative selling point. When I worked at an all-Asian dungeon, there was never a single day that we didn’t have an influx of clients coming to see us, preferring a dominant Asian woman to any other type of dominatrix. But as much as I enjoy commanding a premium rate, I’ve struggled to come to terms with allowing myself to be fetishized so blatantly. It may seem simple — why can’t you just enjoy your money?
— but I’ve felt the oppressive weight of Asian stereotypes my entire life, and profiting from them brings up a lot of conflicting emotions.
Growing up, I was constantly reduced to my ethnicity. People always assumed, among other things, that I was great at math, and that I was shy and submissive. But it wasn’t until my twenties that I felt just how much society sexualises Asian women. Men didn’t seem to want me for me — they wanted what I represented: some sort of oriental mystique. I was "exotic" and could’ve been swapped out for any other Asian girl — I just happened to be the one that was available. My individuality was completely dismissed. (To be clear, Asian women don’t all look alike, nor do we all behave alike.)
It didn’t help that, unlike other races who have platforms for voicing their narratives, Asians rarely do. (Take, for example, this year’s Oscars controversy: Asians were almost completely omitted from the discussion
even while we were the butt of host Chris Rock’s insensitive joke
.) In many Asian cultures, individuals are raised to be docile because it’s a prized attribute in a collectivist culture. When that quality is displayed in a vocal American culture, however, it can hold us back immensely. I can’t even speak for Asian men, as they also share a distinct set of disadvantages that are exploited in mainstream American media. While Asian women are objectified, Asian men are stripped of their sexuality and masculinity