There’s something you may or may not have noticed about Asian characters in most mainstream film and television productions.
That is, they’re not really there. There aren’t that many roles for Asian women.
And when there are roles, Asian women are frequently relegated to supporting character status. The quirky best friend of Katherine Heigl. The overachieving (surgeon) colleague of Reese Witherspoon. The bad-ass martial arts master in… pretty much any action movie with a hunky, white male lead.
Unfortunately, the same could be said for, well, life.
Women of colour – whether Indigenous, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or otherwise – are not represented as vocally in contemporary feminist debate as white women. And the concerns of white women are more likely to get media attention.
This is what Suey Park, a freelance writer, wanted to get people talking about when she started the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick on Twitter.
First she tweeted:
Be warned. Tomorrow morning we will be have a convo about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!
— Suey Park (@suey_park) December 15, 2013
And then, within a matter of only hours, Asian women from around the world were sharing their frustrations regarding a feminist movement that is predominantly concerned with the issues of white women – and a world that stereotypes, patronises, belittles and disregards Asian women.