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The Orient. In Western fantasies, it is the exotic, sensual, dangerous, decadent land of dreams – where submissive women cater to every desire, where conquerable men pose no masculine threat, where compliant nations fall into line under Western dominance. And while we might like to think we’re way too sophisticated now to fall for images and illusions like these, the truth is, as Sheridan Prasso demonstrates in this book, they persist – in Western literature, stage, and screen, and in the minds of us all.
The Asian Mystique lays out a challenge to see Asia and Asians as they really are, with unclouded, de-eroticized eyes. It uncovers the origins of these Western fantasies in the sexually-charged history of West-East contact; it examines Hollywood’s images of the Dragon Lady, Dominatrix, Geisha Girl, Suzie Wong, and others, exploring the expectations they generate and why they persist; it tears apart the stereotyped images of Asian males as emasculated and asexual; and it probes the phenomenon of “Yellow Fever” as well as the underlying “race-ism” and other social factors that fuel it.
Required reading for anyone with interest in or interaction with Asia or Asian-origin people, as well as any serious student or practitioner of East-West relations. The Asian Mystique demands that we move beyond our misty-eyed myths of exotic difference.
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