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EthnicStudies244FinalEssay - Reapor 1 Vanessa Reapor Ethnic...

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Reapor 1 Vanessa Reapor Ethnic Studies 244, Section 01 Dr. Grace Yeh June 11, 2010 Final Essay: Prompt 4 (Race and Masculinity) China Doll, a porcelain figure that symbolizes perfection. Geisha, a skillful and talented woman trained to please her audience, especially men. Comfort Women, “a euphemism for [Asian] women working in military brothels” (“Comfort”). Although all these nouns are accurate in their definitions, they have attributed to the on-going Western perception of Asian women: exotic, submissive, and delicate. Unfortunately, the dominance of these Asian women stereotypes in society, have not only overshadowed, but also blurred the views of their counterparts, Asian men, and thus depicting their masculinity less of Western Caucasian men. In David Henry Hwang’s play, M. Butterfly —about a French diplomat, Rene Gallimard, stationed in Beijing, China who participates in a lengthy love affair with Song Liling, a Chinese male spy disguised as a opera star— greatly exemplifies the redundancy of Asian women stereotypes, and the distorted definition of Asian male masculinity through the use of literary elements like genre, staging, plot, and setting. Ultimately, Hwang helps prove gender as a societal construct, and that if not properly followed consequences like dehumanization, demonization, and marginalization will/can occur. M. Butterfly stems from Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly of “an Asian
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Reapor 2 woman [who] rejects [a] suitor from her own culture in favor of [an] American/European [suitor]; and even when she’s abandoned by [the American/European] she still loves him” (Yeh). Hwang thus satirizes Puccini’s original, and intentionally uses a male to masquerade as the Asian woman who falls in love with the male foreigner. This strategy not only provides comedic relief, but also introduces the idea of Asian male emasculinity.
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