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Asian Women in the Popular Culture Essay

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Updated: May 20th, 2021


The time has come to lift a veil over one of the most mysterious cultures in the world. Despite the fact that there has always been a standard for Asian women to behave and to structure their relationships with the male counterparts, with the advent of the feminist movement, which reached even patriarchal Asia, with its strict regulations concerning the specific code of conduct that the Asian women must adhere to; merging with the traditional submissive style of behavior, the newly acquired manners create quite a conflict, which resolves in developing a completely new type of identity which is likely to become a completely new type of Asian female identity. In the given paper, the following points are going to be addressed, and the following issue is going to be researched: 1) the traditional patriarchal role of women in the Asian culture and society, which is considered the prior and the most widespread role at present; 2) a more “feministic” role which is currently being enhanced by all sorts of mass-media, especially various TV shows, movies, and TV-series; 3) the impact which the newer social role has on the traditional one and the way the two coexist, merging into a completely new type of female behavior in the Asian countries.

It is worth mentioning that specific researches have been carried out to define the new type of Asian women in the popular culture – the sphere which literally promotes certain behavioral patterns and, therefore, is worth considering as the most typical source of role models for women. Among the most notable works that deserve being mentioned, the paper by Alizou Zalipour takes an important place, for it outlines not only two major types of Asian women identities but also mentions the most typical identities for Asian women in general. Despite the fact that the author splits women’s behavioral patterns into four types, there is a distinct split between the women of the new era and the women of the patriarchal type in his work, which makes the paper altogether a truly all-embracing study on Asian female identities. The second work which has portrayed Asian women in a very specific manner and allowed to outline a basic type of Asian women is the paper by Anju Sohal, who describes the traditional type of Asian women – the ones who were born to mind the business which was typically considered as completely “female,” e.g., household chores.

When considering the traditional image of an Asian woman in the moder4n mass media, namely, in the Asian cinema, the image of Ruby Lin is what instantly comes to one’s mind. Indeed, there is hardly a single actress that can be called a better image of a soft, gentle, and caring, and at the same time coquettish and charming girl that Ruby Lin in the modern Asian culture. With her manners and looks, she serves as a perfect specimen of what can be called the traditional perspective of an Asian woman, with not a single tint of feminism about her and with the specific charming, almost childish manner of communication, quite shy and timid. The latter can be seen clearly in the TV show conducted by Alex Su (127cutegirl), in which the actress answers in a concise and polite way.

It must be mentioned that in the course of the game, the aim of which is to make the actress say “I love you” to one of the participants, Ruby replies: “But that sort of thing can’t be said lightly” (127cutegirl), which defines the standard of the given Asian woman image quite well. In addition, in Ruby Lin. Sophie’s Revenge, the actress displays the image of a soft, innocent girl, which is quite typical for the traditional Asian vision of a woman, which adds to the identity of the actress (Ruby Lin. Sophie’s Revenge Movie Poster). Conservative and at the same time gentle, Ruby Lin is a perfect specimen of the “feminine” standard in the Asian pop-culture. Depicted by Sohal as a good Indian girl (Sohal 11), the given role model is obviously a call for the patriarchal traditions to return. However, the message in the recent movie Blood Stained Shoes (Ruby Lin. Blood Stained Shoes Movie Poster) conveys the idea of a completely different image, a woman who can take matters into her own hands and be cold and vengeful. Thus, Sohal’s idea that the tendency to be active and even dominate is completely natural for Asian women and that it has all the rights to be encouraged.

When Two Identities Merge

As for the example of a more recently developed standard of an Asian woman’s behavior, the actress Lucy Liu embodies the idea of a woman with a feminist attitude quite well. Even taking a closer look at a poster with one of her movie characters, the Blood Hunter, one can see distinctly that the idea of harmony and beauty, which makes the backbone of the Asian vision of a woman, is slowly transformed into the idea of a woman being merely a human being, with her fears, her pain and even the right to look unattractive (Lucy Liu. Rise: Blood Hunter). In addition, the interview with Lucy Lui (TTnr01) is quite different from the one with Ruby Lin, mainly because it presupposes Liu’s active participation, while Lin played rather a passive role in the scenario offered by the TV game.

It is worth mentioning that the host asks questions not just for fun but also tries to show more of the actress’s personality: “How many languages do you speak?” “I speak a few…” (TTnr01). Thus, Lucy Liu demonstrates the Asian woman of the new century, with a slight feminist touch and trying to play an active part in the spheres which are traditionally considered “male” in the Asian culture. However, Lucy Liu also displays the traditional feminine attitude as well; for instance, in The Year of Getting to Know Us Movie Poster, the actress fits the traditional image of an Asian woman perfectly well, with a smile on her face and with a husband by her side. Considering the given examples of communication type closer, one can recognize both the famous “dragon lady,” a rather dangerous femme fatale with dangerous fighting skills and a “lotus blossom,” a fragile Asian beauty who is completely dependable on her husband and the patriarchal traditions (Cho 534).

Another important example worth mentioning is Vera Wang, a woman who has had a tremendous impact on world fashion and, yet, according to her own words, still finds the relationships with her family members of utter importance and the highest priority (VVHTV). Therefore, Vera Wang also falls under the category of the Asian women who comprise both the elements of a “woman warrior” and the traditional image of a humble Chinese female, which corresponds to Cho’s idea that it is natural for a woman to display both facets of her personality (Cho 532).


Therefore, it is doubtless that in modern Asian society, the mixture of cultures can be observed, which leads to creating a completely new type of Asian women identity and encourages forming a different manner of women’s social behavior (Merchant). The latter, in its turn, is highly likely to lead to the development of a different type of attitude towards women and a new status of a woman in the Asian culture. The given representations of communication in the Asian culture show clearly that live communication often proves not the expected pattern of socializing but a completely new manner of socializing. It is obvious that the given representations of communication break the traditional Asian norms and shape the behavioral patterns of women in Asia.

However, even with the changes which these women are trying to make to the social standards of an Asian woman’s communication, it is obvious that the traditional pattern of socializing still prevails, which is quite an expected phenomenon. According to the evidence offered above and the results of the research, it is obvious that a new idea of a women’s identity is starting to emerge currently in some of the Asian countries (Zalipour). Reinventing the Asians’ perception of what a woman’s role in social life is, the new tendencies may turn out even more than simply a change of attitudes. Because of the symbiosis of the two types, the common submissive one and the modern one, which is slightly rebellious, the identity of an Asian female is currently shaping into a flexible mix of the two, which is likely to become a new stage in the Asian women development. Comprising the elements of the Asian and Eastern cultures, the new identity is a step for the Asian women into the brave new world, and this step is likely to draw to the most unexpected results, finally leading to Asian women being treated in a less patriarchal and more reasonable and humane way, thus, heralding a new era for the Asian women.

Works Cited

127cutegirl. [Eng-sub] YouTube, 2008, Web.

Cho, S. K. “Converging Stereotypes in Racialized Sexual Harassment: Where the Model Minority Meets Suzie Wong.” Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Ed. Richard Delago and Jean Stefancic. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2000: 532-540. Print.

Lucy Liu. Rise: Blood Hunter. 2007. Web.

Merchant, Tanya. Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative, 11 (2011): n. pag. Web.

Ruby Lin. Blood Stained Shoes Movie Poster, n.d. Web.

Ruby Lin. Sophie’s Revenge Movie Poster. 2009. Web.

Sohal, Anju. Negotiating Identities: Second Generation South Asian Women’s Endogamous Martial Relationships. B. S. W., AU: University of British Columbia, 2004. Print.

2009. Web.

TTnr01. YouTube, 2011. Web.

VVHTV. YouTube, 2012. Web.

Zalipour, Arezou. “Fragmented Women: Female Identity Constructs in Asian Popular Songs.” International Journal of Arts and Sciences 4.1 (2011): 80 -87. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Asian Women in the Popular Culture." May 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/asian-women-in-the-popular-culture/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Asian Women in the Popular Culture'. 20 May.

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