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Nadra Kareem Nittle

Video Explores Street Harassment of Asian Women

By September 10, 2011

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Most women have had the disquieting experience of fending off a man's unwanted sexual advances as they walk down the street. But for women of color street harassment may go beyond catcalling and venture into stereotyping. This especially proves true for Asian women.

A video at Sweet.Sour.Satire called "How to Hit On An Asian Girl" specifically highlights the kinds of come-ons Asian women receive from male passersby. Sadly, these come-ons include cracks about Asian cuisine and the Vietnam War and assumptions that Asian women aren't really American. While the video isn't a documentary, it re-enacts the pick-up lines Asian women say they've gotten from random men on the street.

In the first scene of the video, a man says to an Asian woman who passes him on the sidewalk, "Damn, girl, I want to stir-fry you up." The woman balks, but the man remains clueless that equating a woman with food isn't a great way to win her over.

Another surefire way to offend an Asian woman is to refer to war movies such as "Full Metal Jacket" when approaching her, especially if you're quoting lines from the movie in which Vietnamese prostitutes offer sexual favors to U.S. soldiers. What woman in her right mind would take that as a compliment?

Racially offensive pickup lines don't end with references to food and war films. Some men are fond of calling the Asian women they fancy names such as "geisha girl," "China doll" or "Madame Butterfly." Another no-no is asking Asian women where they're from, you know, where they're really from. Assume the woman in question is from the United States. If she answers that she's from Minnesota, don't challenge her.

Of course, most men who catcall women on the street aren't exactly the respectful type. It's no surprise that men with a penchant for objectifying women don't hesitate to lace their misogyny with a dash of racial stereotyping. But these men should know that if they actually expect to win a woman over, making jabs about her race won't help.


September 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm
(1) Staci T. says:

This is a real shame in this day and age. Asian American women are not the only ones have to encounter this so do black and Hispanic women. There are always the assumptions that we are not in our home country or generalisations that we all have the same taste in men. Recently while in downtown Dallas I was approached by a white guy who kept telling me how attractive I was and wanted to immediately know if I liked white men because “black women love white men”. He came at me so suddenly with all of this and I was caught off guard so all I could say was I don’t know; different women have different taste. We are all not the same. My boyfriend is Middle Eastern and I usually prefer ME or Hispanic men and of course he hurried away at that one.

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