Iwasaki was one of several geisha author Arthur Golden interviewed while researching his novel Memoirs of a Geisha. According to Iwasaki, she agreed to speak with Golden on the condition that her involvement would be kept confidential, but Golden revealed her identity by mentioning her name in the book’s acknowledgments as well as several national interviews. After Memoirs was published, Iwasaki received criticism and even death threats for violating the traditional geisha code of silence. Iwasaki felt betrayed by Golden’s use of information she considered confidential, as well as the way he twisted reality. She denounced Memoirs of a Geisha as being an inaccurate depiction of the life of a geisha. Iwasaki was particularly offended by the novel’s portrayal of geiko engaging in ritualized prostitution. For example, in the novel the main character Sayuri’s virginity (called mizuage in the novel) is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Iwasaki stated that not only did this never happen to her, but that no such custom ever existed in Gion.
Part of Iwasaki’s displeasure with Memoirs may have been because the character Sayuri seems obviously modeled on Iwasaki, with many of the book’s main characters and events having parallels in Iwasaki’s life. These people and experiences are often portrayed negatively in Memoirs, even when their real-life counterparts were positive for Iwasaki. Iwasaki later gave public interviews citing that many established geiko criticized her interview with Arthur Golden, causing a rupture with the geisha tradition of secrecy to the outside world. Furthermore, Iwasaki has mentioned that she had lost some friends and relationships due to the scandal of her being known due to the book, along with certain inconsistencies and fallacies about Gion which were mentioned in Memoirs of a Geisha.
Iwasaki sued Golden for breach of contract and defamation of character in 2001, which was settled out of court in 2003.
—  Why You Should Stop Romanticizing Memoirs of a Geisha. 
Annie (a pseudonym) is a Chinese-American, straight, female university professor. While she was in graduate school, she found it difficult to receive medical treatment due to the perceived psychiatric condition of simply being Asian and female: “I went to a doctor at the university because I had recurring abdominal pain. The doctor listened to my description, but rather than doing a physical exam, he explained to me that it was normal for Asian women to be anxious and stressed out, and anxiety was probably causing my abdominal pain.” But surprisingly, the doctor didn’t treat the anxiety either. He just said there was nothing he could do.

So now people think any form of racism against Asians is “Orientalism”. Like, no.

Calling us racial slurs, making fun of our accents, etc. is plain old racism.

Calling us “mysterious lotus flower geishas from the far east” or “exotic golden belly dancers from arabian nights” is Orientialism. 

Learn the difference.

Orientalism recognizes the Orient as an antithesis to the West. If the West is advanced, clean, pretty, and sophisticated, then the Orient must be backward, dirty, ugly, and simple. In their book and movie, respectively, Golden and Marshall have planted the colonial seeds that corroborate the Orient as the antithesis of the West. Memoirs of a Geisha reinforces undesirable stereotypes of the Japanese people and culture. When the Orient is engineered by the West and devised as its antithesis, then the Eastern culture will be misrepresented. Golden and Marshall show the Japanese to be silent, stiffly polite individuals, who eat exotic food and slurp noodles. Golden and Marshall also perpetuate stereotypes about geisha as sexually submissive women who aspire to become mistresses, bathe with strange men, rest their necks on special pillows to maintain their hairstyles, play shamisen (musical instrument) made from virgin kittens, and wear facial powder made from a nightingale’s droppings. These misrepresentations reinforce the idea of Japanese culture and geisha as exotic, backward, irrational, dirty, profane, promiscuous, bizarre, and enigmatic. Since Golden’s and Marshall’s target audiences were Westerners, the cultural misrepresentation and misinformation present in Geisha might not have been noticeable to most viewers.
on weebs and ironic weebs

I just wantto clarify what I meant by this post, which I admit is very brashly worded because I wrote it while being frustrated by actual weebs in another post.

First and foremost, I need to emphasise that I do not condone bullying. When I used the word ”shame”, I used it in the sense that the word ‘weeb’ should have a negative connotation that will bring shame and remorse to people whose behavior warrant such a label, and that they will refrain from such behaviour in the future.

Before I go further, I need to put a disclaimer that I am not of Japanese descent, and this post only represents my view as a Han Chinese diaspora/mixed South East Asian native.

Why is there a need for a negative connotation for weeb/weeaboo?

Please don’t waste your time linking me to videos or articles on the long history of the term weeaboo. The context I’m talking about right now is not white kids watching anime the whole day in their mother’s basement. The context I’m writing in is that of orientalism, of racism, of imperialism and imperialist (and racist/xenophobic) complacency, of fetishisation, of infantalisation. This is a handful to say all the time (“hey you racist imperialist fetishist trash don’t do this” is harder to say than “hey you weeb don’t do this”). Words evolve to fit the needs of different communities. Please let this one evolve this way.

Watching a lot of anime or listening to jpop doesn’t make it automatically weeb in this sense. Engaging in racist, orientalist behaviours, fetishizing people of Japanese/East Asian/Asian descent, homogenizing Asian cultures, and–this is the reason why I made the earlier post in the first place–being apologists for Japanese imperialism that permeate many popular Japanese pop cultural products–is what warrants people like me, people of Asian descents who are actually hurt by such fetishization and Japanese imperialist denial/apologists, to label you a weeb.

So please stop calling yourself a weeb ironically.

If you watch a lot of anime and read a lot of manga, you might jokingly call yourself an anime trash (I certainly think I can fall under the category of a loser with no life who consumes too much anime sometimes). But please don’t call yourself a weeb ironically. You might say that the word hasn’t had a negative connotation in the sense I’m talking about, but that’s because it hasn’t had the chance to be. When people like me call people out for being weebs, I don’t mean in the sense of shaming you for watching too much anime and having pastel blog theme or whatever. I mean it in the sense of any of the above–which really are too long to list all the time, hence the need for a shorter word.

I personally think this also goes for Asians/East Asians; I’ve definitely met too many Chinese weebs in the past few days. Basically, please just refrain from describing yourself or using the word weeb ironically because it drains the negative connotation and power from the word itself, when I think we really need a word to describe that long list problematic behaviour. But this word especially is not for non-Asian anime fans to reclaim. 

I think it needs further reiteration that what I’m saying is not that we should bully misfits who watch too much sports anime and cosplay Madoka. What I’m saying is that we need to criticize weeb behavior, and to do that, we need that word with all its power.

Please don’t be weebs, unassumingly or ironically.

Orientalism & Yellow Peril in 2014: Food & Cars

(image source: bisnispost.ga)

Yesterday I had to educate people about the reality of MSG and its deep connection to a half century of racist socialization against Asians.  

You all realize that there are no real adverse reactions?  If you are having headaches and indigestion from knowingly eating MSG, it’s called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” and it’s the literal connection between how racism can affect people physically and psychologically.  

The National Institute of Health has noted that despite several studies even dating back from the 1960s, there have been no proven connection to these reactions and MSG.

When people claim that they have negative bodily reactions to MSG and consume it unknowingly, nothing happens except that they enjoy a savory meal.  MSG is meant to be a form of salt and preservative that enhances a food’s already savory flavor.  It was originally discovered by the Japanese and the flavor it gave off was labeled “umami.”  I’ve had it almost all my life.  And I’m sure you’ve even had it most of your life too, and you just didn’t know it.  Even if you had been avoiding Asian food due to a fallacious fear of MSG, I know you probably still had it.

Oooh, yes.  Yakisoba. (Japanese)

I love tom kha. (Thai)

Salivating for bibimbap. (Korean)

Heck yes to dim sum! (Chinese)

Mmm, pho! (Vietnamese)

100% here for Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese)

banh xeo! (Vietnamese)

Sushi, oooh, girl. (Japanese)

These are some foods that normally have MSG in them and if you’re too busy being racist and/or having a weak, close minded palate, then it’s more food for me to enjoy. (Not targeting you if you’re one of the extremely few people in the entire world who is majorly allergic to MSG or have some other condition that prevents you from eating Asian foods.)

The number of actual people who are really allergic to MSG is so minuscule, but based on the widespread of people who claim that we all have to be careful of Asian foods because of MSG and its unclean and unhealthy nature, I would think otherwise too.  But every international and national food safety institution will tell you it’s bullshit. 

That doesn’t stop large movements and petitions that exist today with a goal to make sure MSG is banned from the United States.  You’ll also notice, if you do the research, that it’s all white people backing these petitions.

The majority of Japanese people eat MSG every day with their meals, and they’re recorded as people with the greatest longevity in the world.

This ridiculous phenomenon with MSG and Asian food is a result of decades of Orientalism and Yellow Peril.

Orientalism: It’s a dichotomy created by the ‘West,’ it builds a view of the ‘East’ along with many elements of this culture that becomes obscured and exotic. Making a whole group of people seen as something monolithic, creating an erasure of actual identities. (See: YELLOW FACE AND ORIENTALISM IN THE MEDIA: CONTROLLING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ASIAN)

Yellow Peril (or Yellow Terror): When the term originally was given birth, it was specifically regarding the Japanese military expansion then broadened to include all Asian groups.  I mean, even though this term came out in the early 19th century, we still see it in today’s media.  One prominent example would be in the movie Red Dawn (2012), white people vs. Asian occupation.

(image source: frontpagemag.com)

(Notice how all the good doers in this particular film  [and the majority of films] are white.  I also know several of the Asian extras that were in the movie.  They’ll defend the film and their involvement in it, but they also got a pretty good deal out of perpetuating a long time racist notion of Asian people.)

History has shown us real life applications of what Yellow Peril looked like when the West created devilish caricatures of Asian people as people of cheap labor, dirty, opium addicts, etc.

(image source: wikipedia)

Over the years, the phrase grew into being used to describe the fear that Asians would take over western jobs and wages and way of life. (Sounds familiar, right?)

Orientalism others Asian people and makes their culture monolithic in a western perspective of exoticism.  At the same time Yellow Peril promotes fear of Asian culture & people. These concepts are practiced even today when people around us continue perpetuating the idea that Asian products, while exotic, are dirty and inferior and will completely destroy American jobs and way of life.

Keep reading