HomeAsian Americans“Kung Fu Vagina” criticized for cultural appropriation

“Kung Fu Vagina” criticized for cultural appropriation

Screenshot taken from Kung Fu Vagina music video

Critics have condemned self-proclaimed sex expert Kim Anami for a music video titled “Kung Fu Vagina” she released to promote her “Vaginal Kung Fu Salon” online course, the Daily Mail reports.

In the video, she and various other women dress in stereotypical Asian outfits and accessories while lip syncing to a parody of the controversial 1974 song “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas. 

While the original post and video have since been removed from all social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Youtube, Twitter user @christinacyoung uploaded the original video, frustrated with its high production quality despite its discriminatory content.

Many have taken issue with how the video not only appropriates Asian culture but also portrays it as a monolith. Throughout the video, references to various countries such as China, Japan and even Thailand are seen in the set design (shoji screens and paper lanterns), costuming (kimonos), accessories (hairstyles using chopsticks and fans) and the lyrics themselves.

Some choice examples include: “We don’t need a funky Thai vag to shoot ping-pongs with pizzazz” and “It’s an ancient Taoist art of lifting weights with your parts.” 

Fashion watchdog Diet Prada pointed out how the stylized text used in the opening title and the credits is “wonton font,” “a style of typeface designed in the late 19th century to appropriate visual characteristics of Asian writing systems.”

Furthermore, beyond creating a melting pot of various Asian cultures, the parody lyrics are rife with historical inaccuracies and racist stereotypes. 

“Everybody wants a Kung Fu gina! / It starts with a jade egg from China.”

The myth of the jade egg as an “ancient ‘guarded secret of Chinese royalty’ used by queens and concubines” to improve their sex lives was brought into the mainstream in 2017 by Gwyneth Paltrow of goop, according to Cosmopolitan.

In 2018, gynecologist Jennifer Gunter and archaeologist Sarah Parcak released a study disproving the myth. Later that year, Tech Crunch reported that goop settled a $125,000 lawsuit relating to false advertisements of its vaginal jade egg, which the company claimed could balance hormones, prevent uterine prolapse and more—none of which were medical benefits supported by science.

According to Linda Fan, MD, director of the gynecology section at Yale Medicine, the myth of the jade egg facilitates harmful stereotypes about Asian women and their sexuality.

“This is the sort of thing that perpetuates rape culture and allows the world to look the other way while sexual slave trade persists in Asia,” Dr. Fan said, according to Cosmopolitan.

The director of the video, Shae-Lee Raven, later released an apology statement for her role in the video. Many commenters criticized her apology, noting that its audience seemed to be White people rather than the Asian women who were harmed by the video.

“This was a post written by a white person for an audience of white people,” Instagram user @buangsuwon wrote. “Where this falls short is that it still feels like her explanation subjugates the very people that she should try to reach out to and make amends with.”

Anami has not released a statement or apology since the writing of this article.

This incident is another example of a series of white women using Asian cultures as a marketing technique. Last month, The Mahjong Line drew criticism for appropriating Chinese culture through redesigning the traditional tiles that one of the owners, Kate LaGere, felt “did not reflect the fun that was had when playing with her friends.”

Many critics took note of how these two incidents occurred so close in time together and expressed their disappointment and frustration.

“Why?” Diet Prada asked. “Why did this have to be made at all? Why couldn’t this have been made without using harmful “Oriental” tropes? But alas… white people.”

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