Madame Butterfly’s revenge

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  • Published 20130604
  • ISBN: 9781922079978
  • Extent: 288 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

‘She had enough long black hair, Japanese hair, to keep on drowning him forever,’
– Richard Brautigan, Sombrero Fallout; A Japanese Novel
(Simon and Schuster, 1976)

PHIL, WHITE, MALE, in his early middle years, looks me up and down. ‘Your long black hair, that’s very feminine. I love the colour of your skin, I love the shapes of your body, the deep brown eyes, you know. From an aesthetic perspective, I just find Asian women much more beautiful than white women.’ It’s easy to dismiss Phil as a sleaze. But his objectification of me, which in the humourless parlance of feminist cultural studies is called ‘the white male gaze’, is hardly unusual. It’s the way men like Phil inscribe onto my body their fantasies of the exotic, over-feminised, submissive Asian woman, turning me into their version of Rice Bunny, Lotus Blossom, Madame Butterfly.

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