Meghan Markle calls out "toxic stereotyping" of Asian women in films

Meghan Markle is not afraid to talk about injustices in the world, such as campaigning for vaccine equality. Now, the Duchess of Sussex has spoken out about the treatment of Asian women and how this is impacted by harmful stereotypes in the media.

The royal's comments came during the latest episode of Meghan's Archetypes podcast – which was titled The Demystification of Dragon Lady. Joined by Margaret Cho and Lisa Ling, who both shared their experiences of the stereotypes that try to limit and define Asian women, Meghan called out how pop culture has damaged the Asian community.

"Movies like Austin Powers and Kill Bill – they presented these caricatures of women of Asian descent as over-sexualised or aggressive," the Duchess said. "And it’s not just those two examples. There are so many more."

"This ancillary dark character in the side of like the shadows playing this evil, exotic force. We sort of have to take those roles if we want to work at all," Cho replied, referencing the Hollywood trope of Asian women.

Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

The trio then went on to discuss what the origin of the 'Dragon Lady' is. "Dragon Lady really comes from this sort of fantasy of Orientalism," Cho tells Meghan. "It's actually a character that [is] similar to the femme fatale in that, you know, a woman who is beautiful and deadly. Because we can't just be beautiful... it has to come at a cost and it's kind of like, evil queen adjacent."

Cho went on: "But it’s also pinned to this idea that Asianness is an inherent threat. That our foreignness is somehow gonna getcha'. The mystery and the exoticism of it is part of it. And unfortunately, that trope has really stuck to film, but also to Asian-American women or Asian women."

Cho's explanation prompts Meghan to note that although this stereotype is played out on screen, it often spills out into the real world as well. "The Dragon Lady – the East Asian temptress, whose mysterious foreign allure is scripted as both tantalising and deadly… this has seeped into a lot of our entertainment," she says. "But this toxic stereotyping of women of Asian descent doesn’t just end once the credits roll."

"When people ask me, 'Does Hollywood matter? It's just entertainment', I can point to this," adds Yuen. "Those tropes till exist. And certainly we know that it resonates with people in everyday life because of all the anti-Asian racism."

Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to New Line Cinemas and Miramax for comment.

You Might Also Like