Sheridan Prasso The Asian Mystique

ISBN 13: 9781586483944

The Asian Mystique

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9781586483944: The Asian Mystique
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Few Westerners escape the images, expectations and misperceptions that lead us to see Asia as exotic, sensual, decadent, dangerous, and mysterious. Despite — and because of — centuries of East-West interaction, the stereotypes of Western literature, stage, and screen remain pervasive icons: the tea-pouring, submissive, sexually available geisha girl; the steely cold dragon lady dominatrix; as well as the portrayal of the Asian male as effeminate and asexual. These "Oriental" illusions color our relations and relationships in ways even well-respected professional "Asia hands" and scholars don't necessarily see.

The Asian Mystique lays out a provocative challenge to see Asia and Asians as they really are, with unclouded, deeroticized eyes. It traces the origins of Western stereotypes in history and in Hollywood, examines the phenomenon of ‘yellow fever,' then goes on a reality tour of Asia's go-go bars, middle-class homes, college campuses, business districts, and corridors of power, providing intimate profiles of women's lives and vivid portraits of the human side of an Asia we usually mythologize too well to really understand. It strips away our misconceptions and stereotypes, revealing instead the fully dimensional human beings beyond our usual perceptions. The Asian Mystique is required reading for anyone with interest in or interaction with Asia or Asian-origin people, as well as any serious student or practicioner of East-West relations.

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About the Author:

Sheridan Prasso has been writing about Asia for nearly three decades. Her articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Fortune and numerous other publications. A Mandarin speaker with an M.Phil. from Cambridge University, Prasso is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. She currently lives in Hong Kong.

From Publishers Weekly:

Prasso, a former Business Week Asia editor, asks if Westerners can look objectively at the Eastern region, blinded as they are by "issues of race and sex, fantasy and power." It's this worldview-one the author admits succumbing to and feeling a "sense of loss" in giving up-that clouds cross-cultural relations. Prasso's ambitious agenda focuses on both Asian women and our perceptions of them, exploring the historical and pop cultural roots of the "Asian Mystique" and ending with a "reality tour of Asia." Her stories about the lives of Asian women from diverse cultures and socio-economic backgrounds are compelling. The Japanese woman who inspired Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha shares her distaste for the novel's "misinterpretation" of her "flower and willow world." A Chinese investment banker struggles with modern demands and traditional expectations. With the author in tow, a Filipina prostitute navigates a seedy red-light district. Prasso has an almost voyeuristic fascination with sexual mores, and the result is a frank, at times graphic, exploration of how some Asian women cope with stereotyping-and with Western males looking for one-night stands. But when the author moves from reportage to social anthropological analysis, the book loses focus. Self-conscious ruminations, such as the incongruity of dancing with Filipina prostitutes to Madonna's "Like a Virgin," sometimes intrude and distract. In addition, Prasso never really gets a grip on the Asian Mystique's effects on foreign policy, concluding, not surprisingly, that it is "much harder to measure and more difficult to prove." Nevertheless, Prasso's work and travels have opened her eyes, and this book might do the same for others.
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9781586482145: The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient

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