As a half-Asian American woman, I spend much of my half-wondering whether I’m doing the whole Asian thing right. Am I too Asian? Am I not Asian enough? Thankfully, comedy duo SJ & Ginny have created this helpful video guide to being an Asian woman in America.
There are a lot of roles Asian women are expected to fill. We need to be your sidekick and your fetish and also somehow Emma Stone. Weirdly, though, despite the diversity in roles we’re expected to play, I’ve found (in my half-Asian experience) that people assume Asians in America come from just four countries: China, Japan, India, and Kore— wait, no, Vietna— What’s the one with all the islands? Indeed, telling people where I’m “really from” is just one of my presumed duties as an Asian woman.
That's where Quiet Tiny Asian comes in. In this web series, SJ teaches her niece about all the questions and comments she will be expected to field when Existing While Asian. SJ touches on the many assumptions people have about Asian women, from how they look and speak to who they are dating and related to.
It’s a lot to remember! Luckily, now I can just refer to these handy lessons anytime I wonder things like, “Do I really have to explain that two Asian people can happen to be in the same place at the same time, and no, the Asian woman I am standing near is not my sister?” (The answer is yes, I do have to explain that! And I honestly can't believe it, but apparently that is still the world we live in!)
Each of the "lessons" highlighted by Quiet Tiny Asian are, of course, based in stereotypes and microaggressions. In this context, they're funny, yes — but good comedy always makes a point, and here, that point is not only about how ridiculous these stereotypes are, but how harmful they are as well. When your life is a daily minefield of microaggressions — even ones people say or do without deliberately malicious intent — it has a habit of wearing you down. It's a reminder of how much our words and actions — and being mindful of those words and actions — matter.
Check out a few key "lessons" below, and make sure to watch the full series for more.
All Asian people are together!
As an Asian woman, if you are standing near another Asian woman, she's your sister! If you're standing near an Asian man, he's your dad or boyfriend! If you're standing near an old takeout container of rice, omg, I didn't know your cousin was in town!! In this video, SJ walks through the assumption that all Asian people know each other. (Fun fact: They don't.)
All Asian women’s problems are as tiny as they are!
Asian women, rejoice! We never need to complain about our hair or feeling bloated ever again. SJ shows us in this video how the stereotypes people have about Asian women's bodies are used to negate our feelings.
If your boyfriend is white, he’s only with you because you’re Asian!
The objectification of Asian women is often seen as beneficial instead of harmful. How lucky for me that someone would only want to date me because of racially charged assumptions they have about my body, my sexual preferences, my presumed submissiveness, etc.! SJ makes this point subtly, but it didn't going unnoticed for me. I guess that might just be an Asian thing.
If you're an Asian women, and you're worried you won't be able to keep track of all the things you need to do to successfully be Asian in America, have no fear. Like the description for the video points out, "Even if if you mess up, don't worry, people will be sure to correct you!"