Mod Jess said in the 1st chronological post in the "Dragon Lady" tag: "I think when it comes to Asian ladies, they immediately fall into the Dragon Lady stereotype whenever they get angry, no matter what kind of angry it is." Been pondering that, b/c everywhere else lists it as a specific set of traits derived from racist pulp fiction portrayals (not just "angry"), but that sounds more like "Asian equivalent of Angry Black Woman". Makes me wonder. What're your current thoughts/feelings on this?
Anger in the Dragon Lady vs. Angry Black Woman Stereotype
It’s tempting to make superficial comparisons like this, because hearing about specific emotions that fall into multiple stereotypes leads you to think that the root of stereotyping is tied to individual emotions and how they present. Stereotypes are, instead, meant to reinforce a behaviour or belief set about an ethnicity, and as a result cannot be compared on traits.
As a result, our thoughts are that you’re drawing a false comparison without understanding the history and beliefs behind the stereotypes.
Asian women are taken as submissive, and Dragon Ladies are understated, cool anger… when Angry Black Woman is the polar opposite of this, as being loud, brash, and bold. Whiteness views them as extremely different people, and uses the tools to reinforce completely different behaviour sets.
While some stereotypes do indeed share root similarities— Magical Negro and Magical Native American both fall under “x ethnicity has special powers inherent to being x ethnicity"— most do not. Making comparisons like this without understanding the behaviours that are being perpetuated leads to only revealing more ignorance, instead of making you sound educated.
Stereotypes do not come from “x people express emotions in y way”; stereotypes come from “x people should behave in y way, which influences all emotional expressions allowed and imagined.” Of course stereotypes are going to cover the same emotions, because people only have so many emotions. They just express them in different ways, and different people will have different default sets of behaviour.
What racist stereotypes do is limit the set of default behaviours allowed down to a single note. Angry East Asian women are Dragon Ladies because white people assume all Asian women are submissive and restrained in their behaviour, and that falls in line with the Dragon Lady stereotype— clinically calculated, refined, seductive, and deadly. Angry Black Women are their own stereotype because all Black women are loud and hot-tempered— motivated by exploding at the smallest provocation from a chip on their shoulder.
Most racist stereotypes are reinforcing different sets of behaviour, founded in totally different beliefs from centuries of white people creating certain images for certain ethnicities. Dragon Ladies have their roots in the “dangerous Asian who will seduce then kill you” stereotype, while Angry Black Women come from “slaves complain about everything” stereotype. The two do not mix.
You need to have a much deeper understanding of stereotypes before you go throw around comparisons such as this. It is hurtful to try and flatten individual ethnicities’ experiences with “both of these stereotypes impact the same emotion, therefore you’re similar, right?” It’s the same logic that drives “Japan and China are close enough I can blend the two cultures easily, right?” or “Native Americans are all the same, right?”. Just because we have some tenants of shared oppression and limitations in our expression does not mean our experiences are the same. Individual stereotypes should be taken as individual stereotypes until proven otherwise.