It’s Our Time To Dismantle Harmful Stereotypes About Asian Women

By Sheena Yap Chan

For centuries, Asian women have been seen as quiet, submissive and obedient. These stereotypes have hurt us as a whole because we end up being treated as objects and we rarely get promoted to management and leadership roles. A recent study from Catalyst mentioned that in 2021, Asian women represented 2.7% of management roles in the US.  

I recently saw an article that was posted by The Austin Chronicle and the headline was: 

Asian Mail Order Brides: Your Guide To Asian Women For Marriage

Of course, seeing this type of content in 2022 is appalling. The headline alone was just a slap in the face for Asian women. The article had a detailed guideline on how to find your Asian soulmate through mail order brides and even categorized it by the top 5 countries in Asia to look for them like it was a horoscope profile. The opening line of the article alone was mind boggling:

“Have you ever pictured yourself with an Asian girl by your side, walking proudly into a room as everyone admires your couple? But have you ever thought that it’s more real than you ever imagined?”

Asian girl? We are actually referred to as “Asian girl”? Is that even appropriate?

My emotions were running high. Not only was this inappropriate to publish in 2022, it was also a “sponsored ad” that was published on the day when Roe vs. Wade was overturned. Can this day get even worse?

People don’t understand the dangers of what Asian women go through when they become mail order brides. Most of these women become sex slaves to their husbands and are even being prostituted to pay off their debts. The women are treated as objects that you can buy off from a catalog. These women are abused physically and mentally even though they were promised a “better life.”

I started sharing my frustrations on social media calling the media for even thinking this was okay to publish. I shared my sentiments on Twitter and everyone had the same reactions as I did. People were sharing it out and calling out The Austin Chronicle for even thinking it was okay to publish such an atrocious article.

What was even worse was some people started replying back comments such as:

“It’s sponsored content, which makes more sense than as a news article. But, still yikes!”

“Look for the sponsored content label, it’s advertising.”

“It’s a “sponsored article” = paid for ad.”

Just because this was a “sponsored ad” it doesn’t mean it was okay to publish. I responded back to them with:

“So if there’s sponsored content for child porn that makes it okay too? Let’s not make any excuses for them. It’s degrading Asian women!”

“Again if someone had a sponsored article for child brides does that mean it’s okay to publish????? What happened to morals and integrity?”

How is this even getting approved by the staff?

A copywriter on Twitter mentioned that there is an editorial process that media companies go through to publish content whether it’s sponsored or not:

“Hi, copywriter here. Sponsored content articles, while ads, still have to go through an editorial process between partners since they agree on the topic and how it’s distributed.”

In fact, this “Sponsored Content” has been published by The Austin Chronicle on a monthly basis since September 2021. This wasn’t their first time publishing this kind of article, this has been going on for almost a year and yet, not one person at The Austin Chronicle questioned it?   

Eventually, The Austin Chronicle did take down all the articles that were related to Asian Mail Order Brides and wrote an apology on Twitter after being called out by the audience.

While I am glad that The Austin Chronicle took down the articles, I am still in disbelief that content like this still gets published till this day. This is not the type of content our sisters need to see in 2022 and yes this not only affects Asian women but all women who become mail order brides. 

This is why it is so important to speak up and call out the injustices we see. I know it’s not always easy especially since we have been told to never make any noise and stay in the background. We cannot stay silent anymore.

This year alone we have seen a huge increase of violence against Asian women in the United States. You see videos of Asian women in New York City lining up for hours just to buy pepper spray to protect themselves. We’ve seen senseless deaths due to the negative stereotypes we still face today.

I hope reading this will help you take small steps to speak up. I want Asian women to be seen as powerful, strong and brave because we are. It’s been my whole mission to create a stronger representation of Asian women so that we can build more leaders and show our current and future generations what is possible for themselves. 

It is why I started my podcast called The Tao Of Self Confidence where I have interviewed over 700  Asian women about their journey to self confidence. I am also part of the book called Asian Women Who Boss Up where we highlight the stories of 18 Asian women who have been able to forge their own path, overcome obstacles and thrive. This book is part of a book series called Women Who Boss Up where we are committed to creating voices for the underrepresented groups and inspire women of the world to be everything they want to be despite any circumstances they find themselves in. 

I will continue to speak up for us until you are ready to speak up for yourself.

Sheena Yap Chan is a keynote speaker, coach, podcaster, consultant, and author on building self-confidence. She currently inspires women through her award-winning podcast called The Tao of Self Confidence where she interviews Asian women about their inner journey to self-confidence. Her mission is to help Asian Women boost their confidence to live their authentic selves, help Asian Women create a voice in the world, and create a stronger representation for Asian women. Sheena has been featured on MindValley, slice.ca, Marketing in Asia, Manila Times and more. She is also the TOP 100 Filipinos to follow on LinkedIn for inspiration and learning in 2020. She is also the co-author of the International bestselling book Asian Women Who Boss Up. 

Follow Sheena on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, and see more of her work via her website.

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