Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental”

Innumerable gender and sexual acts occurred publicly in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Narratives of failed marriages, intimate friendships, and rebellious daughters flooded city newspapers, journals, magazines, and theater houses. Yet how did all these private desires and public representations connect and what did they signify?

Lecture Description

White reporters, writers, artists, and others conflated Chinese and Japanese, previously seen as two races, into one. There emerged the Oriental—a single pan-Asian American stereotype weighted with sexual and gender meaning. The quest to forge new frontiers in gender and sexual freedom reinforced—and spawned—racial inequality through the ever evolving Oriental.


Asian American Gender, Masculinity, Femininity

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