Boxer Kazumi Izaki Debunks East Asian Female Stereotypes

kazumi-izakiIt’s a fierce, ass-kicking East Asian woman on the rise! In the boxing ring, no less! Kazumi Izaki is a 46 year-old Japanese mother who is in the run to becoming the oldest boxer to win a world title. Izaki is a housewife who “dutifully” prepares her husband’s and children’s lunch before she leaves for the gym and is sure to have dinner on the table before she is off to practice again. Women who are able to fulfill the two ends of the so-called gender spectrum seem to be highly revered. Izaki can kick your ass and whip up a mean meal. It seems like the new standard for being an accomplished woman is to be able to be perform both normative masculine and feminine tasks. And to do them well. That makes me feel a little insecure because I’m good at things like… eating large amounts of food and drawing hair, neither of which are so starkly gendered.

It’s great that Izaki debunks the stereotype of East Asian women as submissive, quiet and frail. My initial reaction to the story was a slight surprise (omg, internalized racism at work! nooo!), which evolved into a rush of excitement at the idea of a Japanese woman not filling the stereotypical expectations of her. Then I stopped myself and asked, Why am I surprised? And do I really need to rely on mass media reports on outstanding East Asian women in order to feel that rush of excitement? Like, really? I generally get annoyed with stories like Izaki’s because they shouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary. Yes, her older age as a boxer is an element of what makes the story, but the racial aspect makes it even more of an appealing one. Why are we still continuously surprised when someone of a certain identity does not fit into the mold that is expected of them?

Then it just made me annoyed and frustrated that the BBC mediated that heightened sense for me. I can point out so many fierce Asian women who are engaged in all sorts of interesting and stimulating things without the help of a media conglomerate standing between us. We are out there! We are strong, interesting and holdin’ it down! Just be more attentive!

After all that ranting analyzing, it is still great for Izaki to have received international exposure. Hopefully, more kick-ass Asian women who are involved in various fields will start to get more media attention.

Hmmm, I can make really ugly and unappealing faces. Does that make me media worthy? An East Asian woman who does stupid shit? Appealing and story-worthy, no? (No.)

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About Teresa

Teresa is a queer Chinese/Taiwanese daughter, sister, friend and lover. She has spent half of her life in Taiwan and the other half in Canada. She currently resides in Toronto, where she spends her time making zines, writing stories and working at a feminist bookstore.
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