As An Asian Feminist I Don't Support BBC's CHINESE BURN Show And This Is Why
I am a proud Asian feminist, and I will always support Asian women everywhere if they do work which contributes positively to our cause. One must remember that as Asian feminists we need to be mindful of of all other Asian and POC causes and discrimination, and this is what makes us more intersectional in terms of how we see and perceive feminism. Just last week, I wrote a piece titled: Asian Feminism Exists To Empower ALL Asian Causes Regardless Of Genders And Does Not Enable White Supremacy. It highlighted how Asian feminism looks at fighting oppression under all patriarchal restraints in being Asian and in being a woman:
So when we look at the idea of ‘racial privilege”, as I have just stated, us Asian women have none. I have heard and read ramblings going around that Asian women get white privilege when they are in relationships with white men, and that when an Asian woman gets married to a white man and takes his last name, then she is afforded the same opportunities as a white woman gets are just completely false. RACISM against skin colour and race happens whether we are Asian men or women. Even if as an Asian women our surnames change, one look at us, and the racial categorisation occurs within mainstream society. And add on the facts that Asian women are objectified and fetishised, please enlighten me where is the privilege here?
But the purpose of this week’s piece is not to continue this line, but to discuss the show CHINESE BURN, and why it pushes our feminism cause backwards. The show as you know got funded by BBC who released the pilot late last year on their channel BBC3. All indications prior to the pilot’s release pointed at something which would be “unconventional” and turning the negative stereotypes about East Asian women on it’s head. I admit, even I was excited for it prior to the pilot and at the time thought, finally a show which reflects me and many other East Asian women and feminists. In addition the show was created by 2 East Asian women, YENNIS CHEUNG and SHI-FEI CHEN, who built up this show as something very amazing. Sadly, it was poorly executed and instead of helping promote East Asians in a more positive light it just made us all look like a complete joke and a complete laughing stock. I would go as far as saying it promotes further institutional racism towards East Asians.
I do not want to explain how and why, but just share a few insights as I have previously written an opinion piece on why the show is problematic. I do want to say that we should not support the 2 writers just because they are East Asian women. The fact is they had a huge opportunity and in essence blew this opportunity with a poorly presented pilot. They also let us as Asian women and as feminists down in presenting an inaccurate view of who we are and made us appear more susceptible to “yellow feverists”. They could have made an amazing show to break away from all the negative stereotypes. It shows that they have little to no inkling on the issues Asian women and feminists face, particularly under the the thumb of white supremacy. I get it, they were trying to present all the negative stereotypes and make it humorous, and thought the mainstream audience will see it this way. But let’s face it the majority of the audience will be non-Asian mainstream and it just normalises the racism and the negative racial stereotypes which plagues as both Asian and as Asian women.
The last thing I want to mention is that it paints East Asian/Chinese women negatively. There are already negative stereotypes out there that East Asian/Chinese women go for white/western men and this stereotype has caused rifts and robust debates within Asian diaspora online and offline circles. Why further demonise East Asian/Chinese women for their relationship choices? The stereotypes I have discussed only makes this situation worse and it doesn’t do much for the empowerment of East Asian/Chinese women. It also perpetuates the stereotype of “yellow fever” and the fetishisation of East Asian/Chinese women – a negative stereotype which is a never ending fight and battle in terms of social activism and advocacy.
In addition, as I mentioned, to identify as an Asian feminist, we must be intersectional and we must be opposed to any racism at all costs. The fact of the matter is that the show also let down Asian men (both cis and non cis) by portraying them as awkward, weak, perverted and sexually inept. The fact that there were dick jokes and a label known as DAGS (Desperate Asian Men) is extremely problematic and it validates and normalises this racism aimed at our fellow East Asian brothers. Both cis and non cis Asian men face a lot of discrimination in terms of their sexual prowess and their masculinity. As I have stated in the post detailing why this show is problematic, the Western mainstream film and TV have made billions off portraying Asian men as inferior to all other races of men.
To add more fuel to the fire to have Chinese men/East Asian characters to be labeled as DAGS (Desperate Asian Guys) again does nothing to empower and improve the image of what the mainstream perceives East Asian/Chinese men to be like. It essentially labels East Asian/Chinese men as being desperate and unable to find women. In addition, jokes by the main character (played by Yennis Cheung) saying that her vagina dries up when she sees Chinese guy is just in poor taste and feeds back into this negative stereotype.
Hollywood and Western mainstream media have made billions presenting East Asian/Chinese men as being awkward, sexually inept and having small penises over many decades.
Now, you may be asking me why am I discussing cis and non cis Asian men issues as an Asian feminist? Shouldn’t I be focused on just Asian women? Well my answer is that Asian feminism is inclusive and many Asian women who identify as Asian feminists work in fighting both the Asian and other POC causes. My brother is an Asian man and my husband is an Asian man, and my best friends are gay Asian men, so this is why issues surrounding Asian men are important to me. Of course I will call out the misogyny and the patriarchy, but in this case we need to hold both the Asian female writers and BBC to account.
I will leave it here, but please feel free to let us know what you think…