Thursday, January 24, 2008

Asian American Feminism

Historically, Asian American Feminism was first evident in the 1960's along side the civil rights movement. Asian American activists believed that women's issues were the same as men, however Asian American men did not feel the same way. Based on Confucian beliefs in Asian communities, the familial heirarchy (in which females are inferior to males) has been very important and considered status quo. Simply put, Asian Feminists were interested in social justice, equality and human rights; however, for many of the Asian American women, there was money to be made.

The more advantaged Asian immigrants who came to the U.S. were excited to be part of the American economy and commericialism. Most of these women devoted their time to education rather than to fight social injustices. These 'model minorities' were considered good compared to the other minorities of African Americans and Latinos who were considered by the U.S. citizens (not all of course) to be bad. Clearly, the Asian American women were able to assimilate into the American academia arena and excelled and put their hard earned efforts into mainstream American life. This was and still is problematic due to white feminists who advanced this 'feel-good' fantasy of Asian American people and their culture. That direct and indirect correlation put extra pressure on Asian women to conform to the typical stereotype that liberals and conservative and their own community members all wanted to promote and inspire to be.

The new and/or most recent Asian American activism holds tight to the hope of improving the non-educated and working poor. Many Asian American women hold service jobs, are prostitutes and work in the worst-paying jobs in many industries, especially in the garment business. The Asian American activists are organizing for health and battered women groups along side Asian Immigrant Women Advocates groups to fight poor working conditions and low wages.

I certainly agree with both of these Asian American movements, however the most recent efforts to fight low paying jobs and combat male and/or female batterers of women certainly seems to be the most that I identify with. I think without question that there should be equal pay for equal day's work and men who abuse women through physical violence or mental anguish should be caught and punished as they use their physical strength to dominate women and/or other weaker men.

I cannot consider myself an Asian American feminist because I am not Asian in any way that I know of except my name is 'Kim.' However, I feel for their struggles just because I am a woman and we are centralized with many of our issues. The common idea that Asian women are more docile and submissive makes it harder for them to pursue and conquer the patriarchal society in which they and myself live. It's a fight to continue and I support them all the way.

The following resources were used to get the above information:
Asian Nation: Asian American History, Demographics and Issues (
Asian American Empowerment - Race and Gender: The Co-Option of Asian Americans (
Main Street: APIA Women and Domestic Violence (
The following activists can be researched in libaries or online: May Chen, Miya Iwataki, Alan Nishio and Evelyn Yoshimura or by visiting the Asian American Women's Movement Activists VOAHA (The Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive)

Kim Seder
Women's Studies 200 class

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