I write these remarks concurrently with an article I am doing on an Asian American reading of the woman warrior Yael in Judges 4–5. As I research a number of studies on the representations of Asian women in American orientalism1—such as the diabolically villainous Dragon Lady, the exotic hooker Suzy Wong, the seductive and coy geisha, the Mongol slave girl,2 and so forth—I am struck by the cliche, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." These images were produced in Hollywood in various historical periods during the twentieth century, reflecting changes in U.S. foreign policy and social attitudes toward Asians. They were cultural representations that tried to resolve ideologically racist anxieties and fears in the United States in dealing with the influx of Asian immigrants during the late 1800s/early 1900s, the threats of Japanese imperialism before and during World War II, the takeover of China by the Communists, and Korean and Vietnam wars in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. These were not depictions of "real" Asians or Asian Americans. In fact, the major roles on screen were performed by Caucasian actors in "yellowface."3 Real Asians and Asian Americans who suffered various forms of political and cultural racism in the United States make up a double absence in these films, just as real women who endured and negotiated the anclrocentrism and ethnocentrism of ancient Israel remain a double absence in the Hebrew Bible. Instead of real Asian or Israelite women, we have ideological constructs that masked specific historical and socioeconomic subtexts. Hollywood films were following a long tradition, going as far back as ancient Israel, of using
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Publication information: Book title: Poor Banished Children of Eve: Woman as Evil in the Hebrew Bible. Contributors: Gale A. Yee - Author. Publisher: Fortress Press. Place of publication: Minneapolis. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 159.
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