Do Submissive Asian Women Exist?

Watching my wife give birth to my beautiful son, I was amazed and impressed by her strength and courage. This got me thinking about the whole submissive Asian woman stereotype – which if Yahoo! Answers is to be trusted, people in the world still believe. Here is an example of one such question: What makes Asian girls so submissive?

And here are two of the most offensive “answers” to that question:

their culture. they are more traditional & also honor & respect apparently is highly valued in their culture.

it’s just what they were taught in Asia to be towards asian men.

However, my favorite answer was:

The only woman i know thats submissive is your mom

But I digress. My wife is the furthest thing from submissive. If anything, I’m the submissive/geisha between us. (Actually, I’d love to be a geisha. It sounds like a lot of fun, but that’s a different article.)

None of the other women in my family fit the submissive stereotype either. Neither do my friends, ex-girlfriends, coworkers, and the other writers on 8Asians. Like my wife, they are all the furthest thing from it. In fact, everywhere I look I see strong and confident Asian women. So what gives?

Maybe it’s an Asian American thing? Maybe because Asian American women tend to be well educated and empowered, they are different? Then I think about my Japanese Japanese female friends and I can’t say that they are all that demure and submissive. The same can be said for my friends from other parts of Asia.

And this (slightly ironical?) writer from The Jakarta Post seems to agree with me:

Modern women in Asia are tough creatures who can easily manipulate men. A married woman who did not want her name printed reported having the following conversation with her husband. Wife (W): “I need a black dress.”

Husband (H): “You have a black dress.” W: “I need a wide range of black dresses.” H: “You have three black dresses.” W: “Three is not a wide range. 20 is a wide range.” H: “You are not buying 20 black dresses.” W: “Okay, you win. I’ll make do with 10. Actually, seven or eight should be plenty.” M: “Right. I should think so too.”

By the time he realized that he had okayed a purchase of five new black dresses, she was halfway to Zara.

Eva said that today’s Asian woman can control men by simply teaching them the “Three Golden Rules of Relationships.” 1) Know that when a woman says, “we need to talk” she actually means “I need to complain”, so just shut up and listen. 2) Know that the word “minute” in the phrase “I’ll be ready in a minute” is a metaphor for an undefined length of time ranging from 20 to 60 minutes. 3) Know that a male who responds during an argument is automatically wrong. So is a male who does not respond. To save time, men should just apologize immediately. And then shut up and listen.

Maybe it’s a previous generation thing? But I highly doubt it. I look at my family and my first generation friend’s families – “traditional” Asian families – where the Asian man is allegedly the boss. But if I take a closer look, I see the Asian woman (the mom) making all the real decisions. Back when I was single I was NEVER afraid of the girlfriend’s dad, I was always more afraid of her mom. I knew who I needed to bow lower to.

In these families, to an outsider, it may look like the Asian mom regularly defers to the dad but what is really going on is that the mom is only pretending to make it look like the dad has a say for the sake of saving face. But I don’t think this as much the case anymore. I don’t want or need my wife to act like I’m the boss. I don’t even want to be the boss. Maybe I’m just not manly enough or more likely that my wife and I are truly equal partners.

I wish there was some kind of committee that I can present the case to so that we can once and for all get rid of the submissive female Asian stereotype.  But I could be wrong. There could be submissive Asian women out there but I just haven’t met them yet. Do you know one? Are you a submissive Asian women? Write to me and let me know.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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