PODCAST: Jollene Levid on "Asian Girlz" and the stereotyping and fetishization of Asian and Asian American women

Asian Girlz,” a song released by the band “Day Above Ground” has been called the most racist song ever. The lyrics are essentially a list of racist and sexist stereotypes about “feng shui,” “spicy tuna sashimi,” and “creamy yellow thighs” and the video features a sexualized Asian woman, played by Levy Tran, who is shown in various states of undress, dancing around in lingerie, and naked in the bathtub.

Aside from the song being completely and utterly awful, musically, it is unbelievably racist, amounting to a five minute long mockery of Asian people.

AF3IRM — The Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization — sprang to action and successfully petitioned YouTube to remove the video.

I spoke with Jollene Levid, national chairperson of AF3IRM, about the song and video as well as, more generally, the stereotyping and the fetishization of Asian and Asian American women in the media and in society at large.

Listen to that interview below.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Melissa

    Thank you so much for this podcast! This objectification is disgusting in so many ways: the stereotype that all Asian women look the same/all of Asia is homogenous, Asian women are childlike/submissive while at the same time sexually insatiable, Asian women should be with white men because all Asian men are backwards/misogynist/sexual predators, etc…

    I’ve noticed that a lot of mainstream feminist blogs won’t touch the myriad ways that Asian women are oppressed as a group such as the above video, let alone the unique oppressions that a Han Chinese woman or a Filipino immigrant to Dubai would face. I remember reading (I think it was on Jezebel) an article on WOC as a whole, but it only focused on black women. A commenter who said she was Japanese-American said that she felt it was unfair that issues facing black women were discussed in such a way that made it seem that other WOC, like Asian and Native American women, had the exact same problems (i.e that all “WOC” are the same).

    And what were the responses? That she should shut up because Asians are “model minorities” and have nothing to complain about, she’s derailing the discussion, and that Asian women are just “white girls with slanted eyes.” I can’t tell you how many times-on both feminist and mainstream blogs-I’ve seen white and black women complain that Asian women are stealing their men, Asian women are whores, that anime/sushi/paki/bubble tea is great but Asian women are like children, etc.

    Has anyone else noticed this?

  • Lucy

    I’m Filipino, I live in what is supposedly one of the most liberal and diverse areas in my country (the US) but I face discrimination everyday. I’m always treated as a second-class citizen. White girls only want to befriend me to appear more “open-minded” to others and white boys sees me as a fetish. This white women told me she wanted to adopt an Asian baby and name it after me because she had a spiritual awakening while volunteering in Thailand. Like ugh….

  • W

    I’m glad the campaign against AG is being led by Asian women. this way, no one can dismiss it as another instance of Asian male insecurity.

    I wonder what the band was thinking releasing that awful POS. Did it not occur to them that people would be offended? Maybe they thought Asian women would be *flattered* by the attention, since there’s nothing an Asian woman craves more than the white man’s approval *roll eyes*

  • Toni B

    This stereotype has been around for so long. I’m African-American and worked as a licensed massage therapist in Florida and Arizona. I got a lot of mysogynistic shit from racist white men based on hypersexualized images of black women that they choose to believe. But my Asian female co-workers really had a lot worse than I did because of media stereotypes that depict Asian women in massage parlors who are prostituted women as well as the “Me love you long time” crap. Racist white men who are misogynistic choose to inflict their stereotypes on women of color. Anytime there was anything on television or in a film that depicted something sexual with a massage therapist whether it was racist or not, the management would tell us about it and notify the receptionist. They were pretty good at weeding out most of the creeps but a few would always sneak through. I had one Asian friend who was an excellent therapist who quit because some guy cornered when she refused to give him a hand job. Luckily we worked at high end resort that didn’t tolerate that crap. He was escorted out by security and banned but the experience was so traumatizing she couldn’t do the job anymore.

  • scaldingmay

    And of course who could forget that disgusting Vogue Japan cover with Crystal Renn with her eyes taped up to look “slanted?” All it took was for her to give an interview saying “we didn’t mean for it to be racist” for all the libfem blogs to jump to her defense, b/c of course her reputation is more important than the systematic othering of Japanese women.

    Sorry Crystal, just b/c you make fat white girls feel better about themselves doesn’t mean you get a pass for being racist.