Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers

By Mary E. Young | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
Sui Sin Far to Amy Tan

None of the previously mentioned Chinese-American male writers created more than one-dimensional female characters. For the most part, they have been concerned with "defining themselves as men and with exploring the relationships between their identities as men and their status as members of the Asian American minority."1 This position cannot be attributable to a male supremacist attitude but rather to the fact that the "Asian American experience has been largely male, shaped by racially discriminatory policies that have undermined their sexual and social status."2

Nonetheless, Asian-American men have implicitly demanded, as have African-American men, that a woman's first loyalty should be to eradicating the racism that affects the group rather than to the sexism that affects her. Chinese-American women writers have struggled since the end of the nineteenth century to portray themselves accurately--not as the docile and seductive stereotypes found in male fiction but as fully developed characters with human rather than racial reactions. Sui Sin Far was one of the first.

Edith Eaton, author, known in the East as Sui Sin Far, the "Chinese Lily," died. . . . She was the daughter of Edward Eaton . . . [who] . . . went to the Orient . . . [where] . . . he became fascinated with the East, and after a year married a Japanese noblewoman.3

So reads the obituary that fictionalizes the life of Edith Eaton as created by her sister Winnifred. Under Winnifred's rearrangement of facts, Edith is no longer a Chinese Eurasian but a Japanese Eurasian.

-109-

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Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One "John Chinaman" As "Sambo" 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter Three The Female Response: Harriet E. Wilson To Alice Walker 47
  • Chapter Four Dragon Ladies, Susie Wongs, And Passive Dolls 81
  • Chapter Five Sui Sin Far to Amy Tan 109
  • Chapter Six African-Americans And Chinese-Americans 133
  • Selected Bibliography 149
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 158
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