Created By: KingZeal on March 6, 2012 Last Edited By: lexicon on July 26, 2014
Nuked

China Doll

The submissive and expendable objects of beauty that western fiction portrays Asians as

Name Space:
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Page Type:
Trope
This is the Western portrayal of an Asian Proper Lady—similar to the Yamato Nadeshiko in that they're both traditionally demure and gentle Asian beauties—but the China Doll lacks the Yamato Nadeshiko's inner strength. The Yamato Nadeshiko ideal is all about what makes a "perfect" domestic partner or close companion. The China Doll is more disposable, and more breakable, like the porcelain doll she's named after. She is often used as one half of the Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow pair as the subdued East Asian female who can be cast aside. She is silent and submissive, and strictly there for exotic appeal, making her into more of an Extreme Doormat.

Her value lies more in her beauty and extreme purity than anything else, and someone who can be easily taken advantage of. Often paired with the Mighty Whitey as an exotic trophy or conquest, and not a person to be faithful to. In some cases, she overlaps with the Geisha or Asian Hooker Stereotype as an object of sexual pleasure and/or Distressed Damsel to be rescued from her own No Woman's Land society.

Despite the name, the stereotype isn't strictly Chinese. The trope name was coined in reference to Asian women of any nationality; as long as she's of Asian decent, probably born and raised in the Far East, she fits.

When she is Chinese, she's often dressed in a qipao, with optional Odango Hair.

Contrast the aggressive Dragon Lady. Compare the Geisha. Also contrast Silk Hiding Steel and Iron Lady.

Examples:

Film—Animated
  • At the beginning of Disney's Mulan, the title character is given a makeover to be presented to the town matchmaker. The women helping her sing about the ideal Chinese bride: a poised, obedient "perfect porcelain doll." It's not wonder that didn't work for her so she ran off and joined the army.

Film—Live Action
  • Knives Chau counts in Scott Pilgrim. Though Knives is an Action Girl, she otherwise fits the trope. Falls in love with white male? Check. White male casually discards her? Check. She remains loyal to the white male despite being ultimately powerless to influence his feelings? Check. He chooses a white Love Interest to replace her? Check. The two places where it differentiates is that he eventually puts a stop to it before she completely breaks, and the reason for his disinterest is stated to be her age, not her race. Unfortunate Implications still abound, though.
  • In Return To Paradise, Malaysian women take pride in sexually serving white American men because they are white and rich.
  • In LAX, a Filipina woman immigrates to America and he uses the trope's exact name to refer to her. Her personality is the subservient, demure stereotype the trope is named for.

Light Novel
  • Set in Imperial China The Twelve Kingdoms has Rangyoku. An orphan who works as the housekeeper and cook for an old man named Enho and takes care of her brother Keikei, she's the most polite and sweet girl in the kingdom of Kei. She meets a tragic end when some soldiers assault the house, kidnap Enho, injure Keikei and stab her to death.

Music
  • Ricky Nelson's song "Travelling Man" talks about all the women the narrator has around the world. His Eastern woman is one of his most patient. He specifically says:
    "And my China doll, down in old Hong Kong, waits for my return."

Theater
  • Madame Butterfly, where a white man marries a Japanese maiden, gets her pregnant and leaves. He ends up marrying an American woman because he had not considered himself bound by his Japanese marriage to a Japanese woman. When she finds out what he did she's so heartbroken she kills herself.
  • Miss Saigon, the remake of Madame Butterfly, which trades Japan for Vietnam, was protested for continuing the stereotypical portrayal.
  • David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly plays with this trope, in that the submissive woman the protagonist has a 20-year affair with is not at all the China Doll she pretends to be in fact, she's a man, which leads him to, too late, consider the racist/sexist implications of their relationship. Based on a True Story and the lead is inspired in-universe by the story of Madame Butterfly.
Community Feedback Replies: 96
  • July 14, 2012
    KingZeal
    Bumping.
  • July 16, 2012
    peccantis
    Isn't this more like an occidental fantasy of a "perfect Chinese woman" who's Asian (=exotic), fun-sized (unlike most modern women in the west), and acts like a servile doormat / willing sex doll (like women "used to be in the good old times")? :/

    I don't know Chinese culture nearly well enough to say anything about their femininity ideals...
  • July 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^I agree, or at least that's how the term is often used. If you want something about Chinese perceptions, you probably want a Chinese term, or maybe its literal translation. That's assuming you can find it enough in works.
  • July 24, 2012
    Arivne
    We need some actual examples or this is going nowhere.
  • July 24, 2012
    animeg3282
    Yea, also the fantasy is called 'china doll' but I don't know what Chinese people think.
  • October 13, 2012
    lexicon
    Is this the "China doll" stereotype of 6.2 in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_East_and_Southeast_Asians_in_the_United_States#.22China_doll.22_stereotype about the "dominant white male over the subdued East Asian female who can be cast aside?"
  • October 14, 2012
    Jallen
    Does the name only make me think of dolls made out of china? That is to say porcelain.
  • October 14, 2012
    Xtifr
    Shares a name with at least two works: a song by David Bowie that refers to the occidental fantasy that peccantis mentioned, and a song by The Grateful Dead that refers to the literal dolls that Jallen mentioned. Frankly, I think we have too many tropes about "Japanese Version Of A Universal Thing", and don't think Yamato Whatsit should be a separate trope, but that's a debate for another day and a different forum. :)
  • October 14, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^I agree with your larger point. I actually think the Western "China Doll" image is more of a trope than what this is trying to be based on the description, the Chinese version of Yamato Nadeshiko, but at any rate, we need to change either the name or the description. And yeah, a single example either way would be nice.
  • October 14, 2012
    lexicon
    The Other Wiki says, on the page I listed, that there is an opera, Madama Butterfly where a white man marries an Asian, gets her pregnant and leaves. He ends up marrying an American woman because he had not considered himself bound by his Japanese marriage to a Japanese woman. I'd like to get King Zeal's input but I think this is what he meant.
  • October 14, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Yeah, I guess it shows that the Westerner had an attitude that the Asian woman was more like a thing than a Western one.
  • October 15, 2012
    KingZeal
    ^^ Yeah, that's pretty much it.

    And yes, the description is lacking. As I said, I'm not as familiar with the nuances of this trope as I am with Yamato Nadeshiko or Sassy Black Woman.
  • October 15, 2012
    McKathlin
    Contrast the aggressive Dragon Lady.
  • October 15, 2012
    McKathlin
    At the beginning of Disney's Mulan, the title character is given a makeover to be presented to the town matchmaker. The women helping her sing about the ideal Chinese bride: a poised, obedient "perfect porcelain doll."
  • October 15, 2012
    JonnyB
    I think the name of "Yamato Nadeshiko" should be renamed to this and all of these folded into it. Unless you're Japanese or an Anime buff you're not likely to know what this Japanese phrase means but the "China doll" trope might be more familiar to Westerners.
  • October 15, 2012
    lexicon
    I have to disagree Jonny B. The Yamato Nadeshiko is about being a calm and capible wife, not being beautiful and expendable. She has a touch of iron to her so if her husband abondons her she probably won't be hartbroken and kill herself like the woman in Madama Butterfly does.
  • October 15, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Agreed, and Yamato Nadeshiko has nothing to do with how Westerners see Asian women. But we still haven't determined which trope this is yet, apparently.
  • October 16, 2012
    lexicon
    I like the Mulan example and I think there is a connection between a porcelain doll and this. May I grab this?
  • October 16, 2012
    KingZeal
    Sure. It still needs a lot of help. I'm just glad something's finally happening with it. I was stuck for quite a while.
  • October 18, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Ok, so this is squarely about Western perceptions of Eastern women, right? In that case the contrast with Yamato Nadeshiko should be made much more clear; the latter is about Japanese perceptions and standards about their *own* women, with no element of exoticness or foreignness involved, unlike this trope.
  • October 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Much better. But I still think that comparing it so closely to Yamato Nadeshiko dignifies it too much.
  • October 19, 2012
    Waterlily
    Ricky Nelson's song "Travelling Man" talks about all the women the narrator has around the world. At one point he says:
    "And my China doll down in old Hong Kong, waits for my return."

  • October 19, 2012
    lexicon
    Thank you for the song! I had forgotten about that. @Nimmer Still - If you have suggestion on what to change or add in relation to the Yamato Nadeshiko that would help.
  • October 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^I would just leave out mention of Yamato Nadeshiko altogether.
  • October 21, 2012
    lexicon
    Looks like that would cut out the whole description paragraph.
  • October 21, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Fair enough. Ok, how about something that mentions that historically, this trope arose as a corruption or misunderstanding of the Chinese (or general East Asian) version of Yamato Nadeshiko, combined with the fact that this was through the eyes, after all, of men from a dominant foreign force observing the behavior of women of the dominated culture, who would inevitably, in any setting, be intimidated by the men who wield the power.
  • October 22, 2012
    KingZeal
    Citation Needed on the "intimidated by the men who wield the power" part.

    Like all other stereotypes, I want to avoid doing this one an injustice by not pinpointing exact causes or examples.
  • October 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    You need a citation for the fact that people (not just women) who are a member of a subjugated population are generally intimidated by members of the dominant one? Or a citation for the fact that white people historically subjugated Asian people? In any case, I thought both were common knowledge. But yes, although never fully conquered, all throughout the colonial age European imperialists dominated China economically, forcing them into business practices that favored their imperial efforts.
  • October 22, 2012
    lexicon
    Two hats. Nice. Can we come up with a way to say it that sounds more like tvtropes and less like wikipedia? I had written, "The China Doll looks like a poorly done Yamato Nadeshiko because it's Western fiction she's found it." Did you delete that King Zeal?
  • October 22, 2012
    KingZeal
    ^^ Both. Citation please.

    ^ Yeah, I did, because the words "poorly written" are just begging to become complaint bait.
  • October 22, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^ That's terrible grammar and contains pointless bashing in direct opposition to our style. Whoever deleted it was making it sound more like TV Tropes.
  • October 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperialism_in_Asia#European_intrusions_into_China

    Somewhat more controversial, but:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/3047849/Colonizer-and-Colonized-

    Last sentence, first paragraph.

    I might add that in this site, citations are generally not viewed as necessary, and really, at least for the purposes of this wiki, it's common sense. If you part of the subjugated population, of course you are going to be intimiated by those of the subjugators. Now, you might not always respond with submissiveness, but it's inevitable that some people would.

    Also that the discription as it is makes an unfortunate implication that I was trying to temper: that the China Doll stereotype is causally connected to culture-internal norms. The association given in the discription with Yamato Nadeshiko suggests that China Doll is really just how Westerners perceieve Yamato Nadeshiko, and that's very controversial and in my opinion not true at all. Yamato Nadeshiko is a culture-internal norm, while China Doll is a colonial legacy. Even if I can't prove that, we don't want to leave that off the table in the description.
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    The second link goes into what is touted as an educated opinion on the subject, not corroborated fact. It even goes on to say that it's debated. It also does not go into specific detail, but sweeping generalizations about colonialization as a whole. The Wikpedia link goes into more detail about European incursion into China, but it doesn't say much about how any form of "intimidation" led to China Doll stereotypes.

    That is insufficient here, as we're supposed to be talking about the origins of a very institutionalized stereotype. For example, Africans were also enslaved and colonialized by Europeans, but the stereotypes surrounding them are much, much different with or without intimidation as a factor. If intimidation is the cause, what variables led to the completely different cultural stereotypes?

    Citations are important when defining a trope, though, because the job of the Wiki is not to make up our own theories about why a particular trope started. Common sense is also dangerous to rely upon because "Everybody knows that" is one of the worst offenders of misinformation. We do know, however, that the China Doll is often seen as interchangeable with the Yamato Nadeshiko in Western culture--we've seen it happen within our own medium. So whether or not it started as a cultural misunderstanding may not be as important as the fact that it has become a cultural misunderstanding. I originally wrote this trope as "The Chinese version of the Yamato Nadeshiko", and had little to do the current write-up. But I agree that it's an accurate improvement.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Considering that citations in general are viewed as unnecessary here, I would think that any publisehd work would be adequate. But again, I think this is common sense, and again, more importantly, the current description leads by omission. There should at least by a concession that the origins of China Doll and Yamato Nadeshiko may be very different. Again, the current description legitimizes the China Doll stereotype by implying that it has origins in a culture-internal norm.

    I still don't see how you can say that "China doll is often seen as interchangeable with the Yamato Nadeshiko" in Western culture", considering that most people in Western culture have never heard of Yamato Nadeshiko (please don't tell me you need a citation for *that*), not to mention that Yamato Nadeshiko is Japanese and China Doll is mainly Chinese.

    Another source, this one saying even more exactly what I said.
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    Not really, it doesn't. It says that this is how Americans came to see Chinese women, not that Chinese women were "intimidated by men who hold the power", which is the part I questioned.

    And really, that link only further exemplifies the point about misunderstanding. Americans don't have to know what a Yamato Nadeshiko is to stereotype it; in fact, that's the whole point. To them, it's just "delicate, demure Asian woman" without any of the context.

    And you'll have to explain how the description "legitimizes" the trope. I'm not following on that one.

    The reason I questioned how much European domination is responsible for this trope is because it's appeared for longer than Europeans have invaded those countries. For example this source says that extremist Confucianism is largely to blame for first introducing the "proper place" of the woman and that most modern Asian woman stereotypes are derivatives of that.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^"Stereotypes of Asian American women as sexual and exotic objects can be traced back through European and Western colonization of Asian countries. The colonization of the Philippines by Spain is one of the earliest examples. Colonization means ownership so Asian women were seen as commodities to be possessed."

    So yeah, it does. It's about Western perception in general, as a result of both the circumstances of the women involved and the reaction of some such women (that some became prostitutes, as described earlier in the passage).

    I don't see anything in your source about the native ideal being responsible for Western perceptions of women. It just says that internal to culture, there was an idea of a proper place for women, which is certainly not a foreign concept to Westerners. It does not in any way suggest that that's what's responsible for Western perceptions of the *difference* between Western women and Eastern ones, or in how they're perceieved.

    The reason why the description legitimizes the trope is because it implies that China Doll is a perception by Westerners of a concept native to Eastern culture. The details may be slightly off, but it's implied that the Western idea that Eastern women are submissive has a root in the fact that Eastern women strive to be submissive because their own culture says so. It would mean that Westerners are accurately perceiving some aspect of Eastern culture, and how it differs from their own.

    Now, if I'm right, then that's supremely offensive. Because if I'm right, then the very reason that Westerners perceive Eastern women as being *more submissive* than Western women is of circumstances in which Westerners *forced them to be*. To then turn around and say "apparently in their culture, they're submissive" is the height of colonial hypocrisy.

    And one more thing: you haven't dealt with the fact that Yamato Nadeshiko is specifically Japanese. No one's come up with a parallel native Chinese trope yet. Yes, your source hinted that all heavily Confucian countries should have similar ideals, but again, these are norms for the "ideal woman" common to many cultures, including Western ones, so they don't automatically account for real or perceived differences.
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    so yeah, it does. It's about Western perception in general, as a result of both the circumstances of the women involved and the reaction of some such women (that some became prostitutes, as described earlier in the passage).

    No it doesn't. Again, it says that this is how the invaders saw the women, not how women saw the men. It says nothing about them being "intimidated".

    I don't see anything in your source about the native ideal being responsible for Western perceptions of women. It just says that internal to culture, there was an idea of a proper place for women, which is certainly not a foreign concept to Westerners. It does not in any way suggest that that's what's responsible for Western perceptions of the *difference* between Western women and Eastern ones, or in how they're perceieved.

    That isn't what I said. I used that source as an example of why this trope has elements exclusive to Western domination of Asian culture. "China Doll" as a trope exists partly because of alien gender roles on the part of Westerns. Even if Westerners had gender roles, their portrayals seemed different to them than in the East. It's important for defining the trope to pin down exactly what this trope is both from its Eastern origins and Western perceptions.

    The reason why the description legitimizes the trope is because it implies that China Doll is a perception by Westerners of a concept native to Eastern culture. The details may be slightly off, but it's implied that the Western idea that Eastern women are submissive has a root in the fact that Eastern women strive to be submissive because their own culture says so. It would mean that Westerners are accurately perceiving some aspect of Eastern culture, and how it differs from their own.

    That's not legitimizing it. That's like claiming that mentioning "Thug Life" is sometimes heralded in parts of black culture automatically legitimizes Scary Black Man. It does no such thing. However, it does show how stereotypes can be dangerous because they self-perpetuate.

    And one more thing: you haven't dealt with the fact that Yamato Nadeshiko is specifically Japanese. No one's come up with a parallel native Chinese trope yet. Yes, your source hinted that all heavily Confucian countries should have similar ideals, but again, these are norms for the "ideal woman" common to many cultures, including Western ones, so they don't automatically account for real or perceived differences.

    This was originally supposed to be that trope, but it's evolving into something different. I might take a look at a few sources and propose another trope.
  • October 23, 2012
    shimaspawn
    As we do not have any tropers who deeply study Chinese culture, it's really not surprising we don't have a lot of Chinese cultural tropes. That said, just because we do not have a trope for how Chinese view women doesn't mean we can not trope how westerners see Asian women.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^No, it also says that women *were behaving that way* in part *because of their circumstances* in a colonial setting. (And immigration because of jobs as per the railroads is a flip side to the same coin.) Now, perhaps psychological intimidation isn't the point (although that was suggested by the other article), but the fact remains that the colonial situation may have affected their behavior as well as the Westerners' perceptions.

    And even if that weren't the case, the fact remains that my source establishes that Western perceptions of Asian women were colored by the colonial circumstance. That immediately calls into question whether their perception has anything to do with Yamato Nadeshiko or any similar native trope among the Chinese or other East Asians.

    You say you used your source as an example of why this trope has elements exclusive to Western domination of Asian culture? Did you miss a negative there? I thought that was my point. In any case, I didn't see where your source said that, but mine did.

    And again, yes, portrayal of the role of Asian women in Western works seems to be different than their natively Western counterparts, and that calls for explanation. Again, the current description suggests that we can safely say that the difference has its origins in the difference between the native cultures of the East vs. West, viz, that Yamato Nadeshiko and Proper Lady are importantly different, or perhaps that Westerners abandoned Proper Lady earlier, and more completely, than Easterns (if they did at all) abandoned Yamato Nadeshiko.

    I say no; that is not certain at all. It could be that the two standards are inherently much more similar than works give them credit for, way too similar to account for their different portrayals. I say a much more viable explanation is that the colonial situation implanted in Westerners' minds an image of Asian women much *more* submissive either than (a) they really are, or (b) Western women are perceived to be.

    And the incorrect perception of the origin does legitimize the trope, and you have to look at each case in turn. My point is that to claim that China Doll owes its existence to that of Yamato Nadeshiko is offensive unless it's true, so we have to be careful before we say that.

    In the case of Scary Black Man, we'd want to similarly ask if it has its origins in some real cultural "Thug Life" standard. Now as far as I can see, the description doesn't claim that anyway, but if it did, you'd want to check if that was true. Another point about "Thug Life" is that that cultural norm emerged in an already cultural situation: a minority group descended from a population forced into its circumstances by colonialism. So therefore it can be argued that the dominant culture is responsible for the entire existence of "Thug Life", and the Scary Black Man trope is that culture's response to the circumstance that they themselves created. As long as this is all mentioned, there is no problem in such a description.

    And for your last point, I remember that. I think it would be nice to get a page specifically for that trope, which I'm sure has some name in Chinese. I guess its main exponents would be media produced and consumed mainly in China itself.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Hehe, This YKTTW is the only Google result for "Chinese version of Yamato Nadeshiko" (in quotes).
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    No, it also says that women *were behaving that way* in part *because of their circumstances* in a colonial setting. (And immigration because of jobs as per the railroads is a flip side to the same coin.) Now, perhaps psychological intimidation isn't the point (although that was suggested by the other article), but the fact remains that the colonial situation may have affected their behavior as well as the Westerners' perceptions.

    No one has argued against this point.

    And even if that weren't the case, the fact remains that my source establishes that Western perceptions of Asian women were colored by the colonial circumstance. That immediately calls into question whether their perception has anything to do with Yamato Nadeshiko or any similar native trope among the Chinese or other East Asians.

    No one has argued that they weren't "colored" by the experience. My problem was with the word "intimidated". That's specific and loaded language.

    You say you used your source as an example of why this trope has elements exclusive to Western domination of Asian culture? Did you miss a negative there? I thought that was my point. In any case, I didn't see where your source said that, but mine did.

    No, my point is that the source demonstrates that there are TWO exclusive tropes here: one is the Asian perception of the proper lady (which has some cross-fertilization between China and Japan). The second is the Western sexualizaton of the Asian woman. The two tropes have exclusive origins but merge to form THIS trope.

    And again, yes, portrayal of the role of Asian women in Western works seems to be different than their natively Western counterparts, and that calls for explanation. Again, the current description suggests that we can safely say that the difference has its origins in the difference between the native cultures of the East vs. West, viz, that Yamato Nadeshiko and Proper Lady are importantly different, or perhaps that Westerners abandoned Proper Lady earlier, and more completely, than Easterns (if they did at all) abandoned Yamato Nadeshiko.

    It doesn't imply that at all. Where do you get that idea from?

    And the incorrect perception of the origin does legitimize the trope, and you have to look at each case in turn. My point is that to claim that China Doll owes its existence to that of Yamato Nadeshiko is offensive unless it's true, so we have to be careful before we say that.

    Show me where the current description says it owes its existence to that trope. Where does it say that?

    The entire reason I created this trope is because that isn't true.

    In the case of Scary Black Man, we'd want to similarly ask if it has its origins in some real cultural "Thug Life" standard. Now as far as I can see, the description doesn't claim that anyway, but if it did, you'd want to check if that was true. Another point about "Thug Life" is that that cultural norm emerged in an already cultural situation: a minority group descended from a population forced into its circumstances by colonialism. So therefore it can be argued that the dominant culture is responsible for the entire existence of "Thug Life", and the Scary Black Man trope is that culture's response to the circumstance that they themselves created. As long as this is all mentioned, there is no problem in such a description.

    But that interpretation of it is wrong. But I don't have time to explain why. Just suffice it to say that you're half-right about the fact that it was invented by the dominant culture and integrated into the dominated culture. But let me say once again that I never argued that China Doll wasn't an invention of the West and integrated into the East.

  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^You're right, you didn't. And you're right, the description doesn't *directly* say that the origins of the China Doll stereotype lie in the native Yamato Nadeshiko equivalent. But it is *implied* that China Doll is a misunderstanding of Yamato Nadeshiko, since it says a) they're similar, b) China Doll lacks a detail that Yamato Nadeshiko has, c) they're both about Asian women, and d) it doesn't mention that they may have completely different origins.

    Couple that with the obvious assumption that since Yamato Nadeshiko is native, it's likely to be older, and you have the idea that China Doll is a perception of that. So all I really want is a mention that they may have different origins. And if you're not disputing that it was an invention of the West, why not say that?

    I'm not even sold on the idea that the two stereotypes are meaningfully similar, except that they are both about submissive(-ish) Asian women. Because Western culture has its own stereotypes about submissive women; all China Doll adds is that Asian women are more so. And Yamato Nadeshiko never said that Asian women are *more* submissive than those of other cultures, since it's not *about* other cultures after all.
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    Because it is a misunderstanding of Yamato Nadeshiko, and of Asian women and culture in general. It's an invention of the West, but it's an invention based on the bastardized misunderstanding of a dominant culture that sexualized the latter. Madame Butterfly, in particular, is the Trope Codifier and is clearly an example of how China Doll was misinterpreted from Yamato Nadeshiko.

    What I don't understand is what your goal is. From the start of this YKTTW, you've been trying to get mention of Yamato Nadeshiko completely removed.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Well, that's where our fundamental disagreement is. I don't believe there's clear evidence that it has anything to do with Yamato Nadeshiko at all, misunderstanding or otherwise. I think it's a completely unrelated misguided view that Asian women are submissive, with no causal connection to the Asian idea that women are *supposed* to be "submissive" (if that's even a fair way to characterize it).

    Since the West has its own submissive-woman standard, the existence of such a standard in Asian culture just wouldn't be enough to bring about a perception of Eastern women as being *especially* submissive. If I'm wrong about this, evidence is required to show that, at least as much as I would be required to show evidence of my counter-claim: that the stereotype comes completely from colonial legacy and not at all from anything true about Asian culture.
  • October 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    But the two cultures do not have the same "submissive woman" standard. It doesn't matter if Westerners thought their own women were submissive or not; the entire point is that they exaggerated the culture of Asians. You have things like Chinese foot-binding, which was still in practice by the time the west was occupying China. In fact, it was Western Christians who were instrumental in getting it abolished. And again, there's the Geishas, who are a clear example of Westerners misunderstanding Japanese culture. There's also the fact that "Yamato Nadeshiko" in itself was meant to mean "flower", and later became associated with shy young women--something else which was misunderstood by Westerners.
  • October 23, 2012
    lexicon
    Paragraph four of Yamato Nadeshiko currently makes reference to the poorly done YM being a china doll. Dragonmouth added it. King Zeal and I agree. They are both lady like Asians but very different from each other. Reference to each other is necessary to understand them.
  • October 23, 2012
    NimmerStill
    It's possible. I'm sure the standards weren't exactly the same, but if you read the descriptions in This Very Wiki of Proper Lady and Yamato Nadeshiko, I for one can't detect any substantive differences. And to claim that whatever subtle differences there are are what is responsible for the fact that Westerns (mis)interpreted it as an *especially* submissive version is no small one; it requires evidence.

    And yes, it is clear that Westerners were likely to exaggerate the differences they see in Asian culture from their own, and think it means more than it does; this would not be unique to the treatment of women. So yes, it's possible that these differences are partly responsible for the resulting stereotype.

    But I hope you'll admit that when it comes specifically to the submissiveness of women, the colonial circumstance is at least just as likely to have played a role. That it's at least possible that part of the reason why Westerners perceived Asian women as submissive was because the whole culture was submissive *to them*.

    This could have been at least part of the origin of the stereotype; perhaps perceptions of actual Asian culture was the other. But I think that the colonial situation deserves at least as much mention as the existence of the native Yamato Nadeshiko in the descrption; right now the colonial situation doesn't have any.
  • October 24, 2012
    KingZeal
    It's possible. I'm sure the standards weren't exactly the same, but if you read the descriptions in This Very Wiki of Proper Lady and Yamato Nadeshiko, I for one can't detect any substantive differences. And to claim that whatever subtle differences there are are what is responsible for the fact that Westerns (mis)interpreted it as an *especially* submissive version is no small one; it requires evidence.

    The first problem with that logic is that Yamato Nadeshiko is clearly listed as a Subtrope of Proper Lady. You can't treat the two things as if because they have a very close description that they're exactly the same thing. That's like assuming that English Rose is the same thing as Southern Belle. Same principle, mind you, but not the same thing.

    You also didn't mention that the very page of Yamato Nadeshiko says that Westerners confuse the trope for an Extreme Doormat. That's kind of important.

    But I hope you'll admit that when it comes specifically to the submissiveness of women, the colonial circumstance is at least just as likely to have played a role. That it's at least possible that part of the reason why Westerners perceived Asian women as submissive was because the whole culture was submissive *to them*.

    No one has disputed this.

    This could have been at least part of the origin of the stereotype; perhaps perceptions of actual Asian culture was the other. But I think that the colonial situation deserves at least as much mention as the existence of the native Yamato Nadeshiko in the descrption; right now the colonial situation doesn't have any.

    Could have been, yes. The more important thing is that Westerners always viewed themselves as the superior Mighty Whitey coming to "rescue" Asian women from life from either a highly "emasculated" or "misogynistic" population of Asian men. It was always either one extreme or the other. Asian men were either extremely misogynistic or extremely submissive and emasculated. They were either a Worthy Opponent or a non-threat to white protagonists. By the same token, the women were the same way: either hyperaggressive and hostile but waiting to be redeemed by the white man's penis (Dragon Lady) or docile, shy and in need of rescue with a white man's penis (this trope).
  • October 24, 2012
    lexicon
    Does anyone have anything that we can add to the page it's self to better understand the description? If we're going to argue about anything can it be what we might actually put on the page?
  • October 24, 2012
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat> The description is fine. Stop arguing about it. It's not going anywhere productive. Focus on examples and fleshing out the rest of the page.
  • October 24, 2012
    KingZeal
    Shima, how are we supposed to flesh out the page without nailing down what the trope is stereotyping?

    We don't want it getting back to Me Love You Long Time proportions, do we?
  • October 24, 2012
    shimaspawn
    We don't need an essay on all the cultural implications of the trope. That ends badly. That always ends badly. It doesn't help anything and it leads to natter and trope decay. We have how the trope is portrayed in media. We don't need to document every single bit of it's history.
  • October 24, 2012
    Fighteer
    <Mod Hat> This is ridiculous. Tropes are about a definition and examples. You have occupied 53 replies in noodling around with cultural context and other stuff that properly belongs in Analysis, if it's even relevant, and you have a mere three examples to show for it?

    Either it's much simpler than you're making it out to be, or it's not really a trope. Maybe a Useful Notes or something. Make up your minds or discard it.
  • October 24, 2012
    KingZeal
    ^^ Shima, but that wasn't what the debate was even about. We need to know what the stereotype IS before we trope it. You yourself even said that we don't exactly have Chinese cultural professors here.

    ^ No, this is a trope. The whole point to it is that there had to be the Asian counterpart to Mighty Whitey in the Asian Gal With White Guy trope.
  • October 24, 2012
    lexicon
    How should we mention the Mighty Whitey in this? It does sound relevant.
  • October 24, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^^ Which is fine because we're not troping anything about Chinese culture. This trope shows up in works where people barely know anything about Asians. It's a Western trope.
  • October 24, 2012
    KingZeal
    I still have a reason to disagree. But nevermind. I don't want to be banned, and I don't want to start another argument.

    ^^ It's tangentially related. The China Doll is basically a simplified and often fetishized version of an Asian woman. Mighty Whitey need not be involved, but in the earliest incarnations, he certainly was.
  • October 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    No argument here, just want to mention that the sexual or fetishized aspect is currently not in the description.
  • October 25, 2012
    KingZeal
    Made a few changes. Didn't really agree with the "status symbol" stuff.
  • October 25, 2012
    lexicon
    The wording sounds fine to me except I'm not sure that she ever overlaps with the Geisha or Asian Hooker Stereotype. The Geisha does have a touch of iron, unlike the China Doll, and the Asian Hooker wouldn't have the extreme purity that the China Doll has. There might be similarity or confusion but I don't think they can overlap.
  • October 26, 2012
    KingZeal
    From The Other Wiki:

    "This includes the "Geisha Girl/Lotus Flower/Servant/China Doll: Submissive, docile, obedient, reverential; the Vixen/Sex Nymph: Sexy, coquettish, manipulative; tendency toward disloyalty or opportunism; the Prostitute/Victim of Sex Trade/War/Oppression: Helpless, in need of assistance or rescue; good-natured at heart."

    Sexual purity isn't the only definition of the term. It can also mean good-natured purity.
  • October 26, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Cheerios have a touch of iron too, but it's pretty easy to crush them.
  • October 26, 2012
    KingZeal
    ...What?
  • October 26, 2012
    NimmerStill
    That's the reaction I was hoping for.
  • October 27, 2012
    lexicon
    I think what Nimmer Still is trying to say is that it's not clear enough to say "has a touch of iron." Touch of iron means that a Yamato Nadeshiko and a Geisha will stand up for themselves and be assertive when bad things happen where as the China Doll is completely submissive.
  • October 27, 2012
    KingZeal
    We have tropes called Silk Hiding Steel and Iron Lady. I'm pretty sure we can get away with the term "iron" here.

    Let's not get carried away.
  • October 28, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Actually, aside from being deliberately unproductive, I was pointing out that "touch of iron" is a strange way to describe Yamato Nadeshiko in the first place, but it's probably a result of something lost in translation from Japanese.
  • October 28, 2012
    lexicon
    Nimmer Still - Is the page good as it's written or do you see anything that needs changing?
  • October 28, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Well I've made my thoughts known. I think there should be mention of its colonial origins, or at least something to distance it from the culture-internal nature of Yamato Nadeshiko. But I seem to have been overruled. But I am pleased that the sexual fetish aspect is now in there.
  • October 29, 2012
    lexicon
    The pages does start by saying it's, "The Western idea of an Asian Proper Lady."

    Are we ready to launch this now?
  • November 4, 2012
    KingZeal
    I'd say wait for more examples.

    The problem with this trope is that most of the straight examples are from extremely old sources and Most Tropers Are Young Teens. Small Reference Pools is a problem.
  • November 4, 2012
    KingZeal
    Also, do we need the "Rebellious Princess" Sink Hole here? It has virtually nothing to do with this trope.
  • November 4, 2012
    lexicon
    We don't need it but I was thinking that she is princess-like and since it's a bad thing to be a china doll she can rebel against it.

    The recommended number of examples is three, so there's no good reason to wait for more.

    If there's a fundamental problem with the tropes we can just discard it but Mulan is from 1998 and Miss Saigon is from 1989. Not all examples are extremely old.
  • November 5, 2012
    KingZeal
    1) That's kind of stretching it.

    2) It's a good idea to let the trope be as healthy as possible before launching.

    3) Well, firstly, I said MOST STRAIGHT examples. Secondly, I don't even think Mulan fits this trope at all, now that it's been rewritten. Thirdly, Miss Saigon is a remake of Madame Butterfly, so it only barely counts and still may be older than most tropers know about.
  • July 30, 2013
    XFllo
    YKTTW Bump. This looks like a very good trope to me, but it needs more examples before launching.
  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
    Does Taka (whose husband is killed by the protagonist and then the latter married her) from The Last Samurai count?
  • July 30, 2013
    Duncan
    David Henry Hwang's play M Butterfly plays with this trope, in that the submissive woman the protagonist has a 20-year affair with is not at all the China Doll she pretends to be in fact, she's a man, which leads him to, too late, consider the racist/sexist implications of their relationship. Based On A True Story and the lead is inspired in-universe by the story of Madame Butterfly.
  • July 30, 2013
    Duncan
  • July 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    ^^^ More context is needed. I've never seen the movie.
  • July 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Eh, nevermind.
  • July 30, 2013
    lexicon
    Mighty Whitey And Mellow Yellow is already mentioned in the first paragraph. Is someone planning on launching this?
  • July 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    I added it to the paragraph. Also, I can launch it, but don't you think it needs more examples and hats first?
  • July 30, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Yes. It wouldn't hurt to sort the examples according to media. It's reader-friendlier that way.
  • July 31, 2013
    lexicon
    It has plenty of examples. The launch recommendation is three.
  • July 31, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ I know that is the minimum that is required, but tropes generally do not thrive when they are launched with very few examples. But it should have more hats anyway.
  • November 7, 2013
    XFllo
    YKTTW Bump as it got stalled again. But I think it would be a good trope.
  • January 12, 2014
    XFllo
  • January 12, 2014
    Larkmarn
    • Played with in Pacific Rim. Mako Mori seems to fit this stereotype to a T at first, being the deferential and submissive-seeming underling to Marshall Pentecost through her way of speaking, and the fact she obeys Pentecost's orders completely. However, it eventually becomes apparent that she's more capable than she seems at first as it turns out she has very good reasons for being so respectful of Pentecost.
  • July 3, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    Live Action TV
  • July 4, 2014
    KingZeal
    I've learned more about Asian culture in the last two years since I first created this; thus I need to overhaul this trope significantly.
  • July 4, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Done yet?
  • July 5, 2014
    lexicon
    Having a toy china doll as a character has nothing to so with this character type. Is she submissive and seen as beautiful by the other characters?
  • July 26, 2014
    lexicon
    I found an example in Yamato Nadeshiko from China that fits this better.
  • July 26, 2014
    bejjinks
    Is this supposed to be a subtrope to National Stereotyping Tropes?
  • July 26, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ yuppie.
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