I really appreciate Asian womyn who speak their minds, even if I don’t agree with them. I came across this conversation, “So, Sherlyn Chopra Will Be The First Indian Woman To Pose Nude In Playboy?” and it immediately caught my attention. I was excited to read their thoughts, hoping to find something I could relate to. I was surprised by their comments, but ultimately pleased that they tackled this issue. However, in my totally bias anti-porn opinion, there were several points I wished they had discussed in further detail.
1. Womyn, especially Asian womyn have historically been objectified, sexualized, and fetishized to validate the invasion and colonization of Asia by White men. Playboy is another venue for this practice to continue. We should not be celebrating that mainstream society has finally gotten around to objectifying a South Asian womyn.
2. Womyn who look like Chopra and see her pictures in Playboy are still receiving the message of an imaginary standard of beauty. These pictures are altered to make womyn look flawless, and pretty much the same shape and size. Having womyn of different “colors” isn’t revolutionary if they all look the same.
3. We womyn often get blamed when we attempt to claim power and visibility through our sexuality. In a world where our value is determined by how we look, how fertile we are, and how “doable” we are, it is not a surprise that we get confused and think that being sexy is the only way to get attention. This message is internalized so much that generations of womyn blame each other for our gender’s status. In reality, there is a larger system in place (sexism) that tells us womyn that no matter what we try, we are still not good enough.
4. Pornography limits our sexuality. Somewhere along the line, porn has told all of us how to think about our sexuality, and in turn, affects how we have sex. Magazines like Playboy tell consumers that this is what a womyn should look like, this is who you should want to have sex with or what you should look like if you want to have sex. The womyn who were part of the above conversation totally skirted around this issue. In the U.S. and I’m sure in other parts of the world, porn is one of the key tools to teaching people about how to have sex. Instead of us working with each other (as awkward as that sounds) and talking about what we want around sex, we can just look up on the Internet or in a magazine to see what we should do.
These are just some of my thoughts on the issue. As I said earlier, I really appreciated Gayatri Bajpai, Diana Nguyen, Jen Wang and Asiance Magazine, talking about this issue. It really got me thinking about where I stand when it comes to Asian womyn’s visibility. As a young adult womyn who is being sexualized regularly by just walking out the door, I want to know how my people are handling it. I’m happy to see that we haven’t given up on figuring out how to be visible and empowered. It’s confusing and difficult, but we have to keep trying.