Asian Hooker Stereotype
In the Anglosphere, and particularly the USA, one classic stereotype — complete with uncomfortable overtones of sexism and racism — of pan-Asian women is the Asiatic prostitute. This trope is just a stereotype, mind, and it doesn't require someone actually being — or 'believing' that someone is — a prostitute for it to be brought up.
The trope would appear to have its origins in the 1960s and '70s, in the wake of the height of the USA's military-political intervention in Asia
. Or possibly earlier, with the forced enslavement of Korean, Chinese, and Filipina "comfort women"
during the Japanese occupation of World War II.
Much of the exposure that US servicemen did have with the locals in Indochina was
with prostitutes, as it had been during the Korean War. That films about the war should depict this, along with the endemic black-market trading and drug use, is no surprise. But films of the time also began to include ethnic-Asian characters in stories set in the USA itself, the influx of Vietnamese refugees perhaps serving to highlight the existence of the USA's Asians where before they had been largely ignored.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this trope really came into its own when Asian women were also portrayed as being prostitutes within American society. While this had some basis in reality, it's worth noting that this was virtually the only
role in which Asian women were seen for many years, Dragon Lady
role aside. This led to an interesting situation where all Asian women were either conniving kung-fu/wushu temptresses
This isn't as true these days, as portrayals of Indian/Subcontinental and East Asian women tend to show them in more varied roles, even within European societies, but there's still a strong baseline of light-brown-skinned call-girl and streetwalker characters. That south-east Asia and its peoples should continue to be associated with Prostitution in European media is however unsurprising, given the influx of first-world tourists and 'sex tourists' to Indochina during and since America's heavy involvement in the region.
If the person doing the stereotyping is...
- ...some sort of non-Asian male, then he may believe the trope and think badly of Asian women — which can get tricky, in a 'bad' way, if they're courting one. Or maybe they just exploit the trope to justify their natural cruelty to their fellow woman.
- ...an Asian male. Indochinese tend to be cool with whatever, but if he's East Asian then he may be out to preserve Neo-Confucian/traditionalnote gender roles. He may pressure or even 'bully' fellow Asian females into dating within their race.
- ...a non-Asian woman. Possessed of belief in the stereotype or not, a non-Asian female might well make use of the trope to discredit her romantic rival if she and an Asian are pursuing a non-Asian. If pursuing an Asian female herself, a non-Asian female may well behave as the non-Asian male (see above). Likewise, expect instances of watchful non-Asian mothers "not being racist", but just wanting their son/daughter to marry someone who isn't a prostitute.
- ...an Asian woman, then things are probably a bit complicated. She has to deal with the hangups of the other categories and maybe some Internalized Categorism.
Contrast Yamato Nadeshiko
and Ethical Slut
. Compare Dragon Lady
, Asian Babymama
and Happy Ending Massage
- Michel Houellebecq's Platform initially play this straight, objectifying Asian women with a cold detached cynicism. Eventually deconstructed, as this perspective is gradually expanded to encompass all of humanity.
- In Law & Order: SVU, female Asian characters are almost always prostitutes, mail order brides, or similar.
- Similarly, for all the Asian culture in Firefly, the only Asian character with a speaking role is a whore.
- Dr Kelso in Scrubs frequently cheats on his wife with various prostitutes. All of them are Asian.
- There were few Asian women in Barney Miller aside from Perlita, Frank Luger's Mail-Order Bride. Dorothy Murakami came in to report a purse snatching; she is elegant and personable, and Nick Yemana is smitten, before he knows she is a streetwalker. When he finds out, he takes her out anyway.
Nick. I can't stay out too late. I'm tired.
Dorothy. Me too.
Nick. I gotta work tomorrow.
Dorothy. Me too.
Nick. As of now, I'm officially off duty.
Dorothy. As of now, me too.
- M*A*S*H had several episodes dealing with Korean "business girls".
- The Sopranos: In the Film-Within-the-Show Cleaver, Michael's Asian-American fiancée is due to marry him in two days and is initially worried when he goes missing, but all it needs to convince her to forget about him and bang his boss is two tacky come-on lines from Sal. Notable primarily for being a Race Lift, since Adriana was white.
- Visiting Lower Hensha in Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the first time dumps you right onto the roof of a Chinese brothel. From there on, you can count on getting a bunch of jobs in the city involving hookers. On the other hand, getting them to work for you is impossible, since Adam already has a girlfriend.
- In C'est la Vie, Vietnamese-American Tiffany Nguyen is seen as this by her rival for the affections of Louis, Mona Montrois. It doesn't help that Mona is going through a psychotic episode for which she is later hospitalised after attempting to kill Tiffany.
- One episode of South Park has Cartman suffer a head injury that makes him forget who he is. When he wakes up after the injury, he thinks he's a female Vietnamese hooker and starts to act like the trope.