What is it like to be an Asian woman in America? Well, the comedy duo SJ & Ginny created a wonderful video series called Quiet Tiny Asian to show just that, as it features an Asian American woman exposing her baby niece to The Woman’s Guide to Being Asian in America. SJ Son navigates, through situational comedy, the various microaggressive incidents that she, along with many other Asians in America, face on a regular basis.
In this series of five mini episodes, Son manages to get the point across that Asian women in America don’t have it so easy – dealing with stereotypes, assumptions, and racist attitudes, to name a few. “People see you in a very specific way,” Son tells her niece in episode 1. She then goes on to show how her friends stereotype her as the quiet one, especially as they use the word “ninja” to describe her.
In a blog about Quiet Tiny Asian, Mia Mercado of Bustle writes of her own experience as a half-Asian woman. “There are a lot of roles Asian women are expected to fill. We need to be your sidekick and your fetish and also somehow Emma Stone,” Mercado blogs. “Weirdly, though, despite the diversity in roles we’re expected to play, I’ve found (in my half-Asian experience) that people assume Asians in America come from just four countries: China, Japan, India, and Korea— wait, no, Vietna— What’s the one with all the islands? Indeed, telling people where I’m ‘really from’ is just one of my presumed duties as an Asian woman.”
The comedy duo intended the series to be hard to watch because of the very real microaggressions included that they themselves have learned to ignore over time. “It’s amazing and sad to me that Americans—of all colors—today still insist that Asians, and I focus on my east Asian experience, that we are not, cannot be American,” Son told Kollaboration New York. “We are exotic, alien, other, and if you forget, don’t worry we’ll let you know. This sentiment dates back to the first Asians from the ‘Orient’ coming to the U.S. in the mid-18th century and it is still with us today in 2017.”
So, yes, we get a great kick out of watching this series with its clever humor and absurd scenarios. But what we also get is a very illustrative view of the stigmas that are still inherently attached to “Asianness.” Son closes with a powerful statement in the last video that sums up what it’s like being Asian in America: “No matter what you do, you can’t win.”
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