"You're So Exotic Looking": an Intersectional Analysis of Asian American and Pacific Islander Stereotypes

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Affilia-Journal of Women and Social Work

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We applied critical race theory’s concept of intersectionality to analyze the experiences of discrimination among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APIs) in the United States, across race, gender, and sexuality. We collected tweets from October 2016 through December 2017 using the hashtag #thisis2016 on the social media platform, Twitter. Data were scoped down to 3,156 tweets and were coded by four members of our research team—all of whom identify as Asian American female social workers. Only intersectional themes related to the convergence of race, gender, and sexuality among APIs are reported in this article. These six themes include the following: (1) API women are perceived to be exotic and are overtly sexualized, (2) API women are expected to be passive, (3) API men are perceived to be weak and asexual, (4) Both API men and women are the objects of racialized violence and sexual harassment, (5) Queer APIs have unique experiences of sexualized harassment and violence, and (6) APIs are the subjects of neocolonialist attitudes. Taken together, these themes portray an intersectional understanding of the Asian American experience that counteracts stereotypes of Asians as the “model minority,” who do not experience racialized, sexualized, and gendered microaggressions.


Copyright © The Author(s) 2021 Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions DOI: 10.1177/08861099211001460



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