In the Anglosphere, and particularly the USA, one classic stereotype - complete with uncomfortable overtones of sexism and racialism - of pan-Asian women is the Asiatic prostitute ('Hooker' being US slang for '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
. 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-Asiatic 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 Asiatic women were also portrayed as being prostitutes within American society. While this had some basis in reality, its worth noting that this was virtually the only
role in which Asian women were seen for many years, Dragon Lady
role aside. This lead to an interesting dichotomy wherein ethnic-European women could play almost any role, and African-ethnics likewise, whereas all Asian women were either conniving kung-fu/wushu temptresses
This isn't as true these days, as portrayals of Indian/Subcontinental and Oriental women tend to show them in more varied roles, even within European society, 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 European tourists and 'sex tourists' to Asia during and since America's heavy involvement in the region.
In any case, these characters are often mere sex-objects
or objects for pity - as per the whole 'tragic prostitute'
thing, continuing implications that Oriental people are weak and effeminate to the point of needing European people to actively and constantly care for and nurture them aside.
When the stereotype comes from a character, the details of his prejudice or bigotry usually depends upon their ethnicity (usually in the context of the USA's 70% ethnically pan-European society). If the person doing the stereotyping is...
- ...some sort of non-Asiatic male, then they may believe the trope and think badly of Asiatic 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 Asiatic male, then he may be out to preserve Neo-Confucian/'traditional'* gender roles. He may pressure or even 'bully' fellow Asiatic females into dating within their ethnicity.
- ...a non-Asiatic woman. Possessed of belief in the stereotype or not, a non-Asiatic female might well make use of the trope to discredit her romantic rival if she and an Asiatic are pursuing a non-Asiatic. If lesbian, a non-Asiatic female may well behave as the non-Asiatic male (see above). Likewise, expect instances of watchful non-Asiatic mothers "not being racist", but just wanting their son/daughter to marry someone who isn't a prostitute.
- ...an Asiatic woman, then things are a little complicated. Suffice it to say, she has to deal with the fallout from all three other categories, and maybe some Internalized Categorism.
Contrast Yamato Nadeshiko
and Ethical Slut
. Compare Dragon Lady
, Asian Babymama
and Happy Ending Massage
- Full Metal Jacket, with its infamous line "Me love you long time" (see the page pic). The second half of the movie takes place in Vietnam, yet the hooker saying this and a few more lines still constitute the majority of Vietnamese characters' dialogue.
- Note that the soundtrack just happen to be about a woman breaking up and getting revenge. The movie end with most of the squad getting gunned down by a Vietnamese sniper - who is then revealed to be young and female.
- In Jägarna ("The Hunters"), the villains are a gang of (Swedish redneck) petty criminals. Their lifestyle is to feign sickness to get welfare money from the state, while making a lot of money by killing reindeer belonging to the local Sami ethnic minority. Early in the movie, the narrative establish these hunters as being the scum of the earth, by having them sexually harassing a waitress and insist that it's okay because she is Asian and thus a whore. After escalating to murdering some random innocent people, they escalate further to raping the waitress while their leader use "Chinese hooker" as some kind of mantra. Oh, and he does know that she's not Chinese, the incorrect use of nationality is a part of establishing him as ignorant racist scum.
- In the 1960s movie The World of Suzie Wong, Suzie is depicted as a prostitute who falls hopelessly in love with Caucasian man who refuses to return her feelings.
- Exploited in The Fighter, as Dicky Ecklund's girlfriend readily poses as a hooker for a scam they are running.
- At one point in Ong Bak, an Australian fighter taunts the Thai fighters claiming Thai women come to his country to become hookers because Thai men are wimps.
- In Mammoth, a major plotline starts with Leo visiting a place where sex-workers and clients hook up, just to have a look. He obviously expected the local prostitute to be a living stereotype: Finding out that she's a regular normal person makes him shocked and confused. He awkwardly tried to take up the role of Mighty Whitey Knight in Shining Armor instead, but it doesn't work. After that, he spends the rest of the story trying to convince himself that he's a heroic lover and that paying a sex-worker "for not having sex" and then have sex with her after all does not make him a John. This also fails miserably, and he end up leaving her without even saying good-bye... Thus after all treating her as a lowly whore to be used and discarded..
- As for the racist "all Asian women are sex-workers" stereotype version of this trope, the movie limits this to Thailand by having Gloria as a central character, Gloria's mother as an important side character, and loads of minor female Asian characters who have nothing to do with the sex industry. In Thailand, however, every single female character who gets any actual dialogue just happens to be prostitute.
- In The Big Hit, Keiko's initial boyfriend is Caucasian. While attempting to rape her, the jerk quotes two phrases from Full Metal Jacket: "Me sucky-sucky" and "Me love you long time". By implication calling his "girlfriend" an Asian whore.
- Final Destination 5. When company sleazeball Isaac enters an Asian massage parlor, it's blatantly obvious that he tries to invoke this in the douchebaggiest way possible by harassing the receptionist, complete with inquiring if there will be a "happy ending". When the girl makes it clear that the place isn't a brothel, he still doesn't take the hint. He gets duly rewarded when the girl sets him up for an exceptionally rough massage performed by her much older mother.
- Michael Holbeq'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 mankind.
- In Law & Order: SVU, female Asian characters are almost always prostitutes, mail-order brides, or similar. Oh, and has the show ever featured an Asian female character who is law enforcement, an expert, or a witness from a safe distance, rather than a victim of one kind or another?
- Similarly, for all the Asian culture in Firefly, the only Asian character with a speaking role is a whore.
- In Least I Could Do, we have the silent sex-worker with the "I suck for a buck" sign.