Earlier this year a rather disturbing study was done by Asian-American sociologist Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm that revealed a disproportionately high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young Asian American women. Read about it here. Sad but true.
Study aside, what I found to be interesting about the article, is the rather predictable conclusions that Hahm draws when suggesting causes for this problem. This is what she says about it…..
Accounting for the gender disparity, Hahm suggested that again, culture may be playing a critical role. “Condom use is hard in a culture where women are raised to be accommodating and polite.”Obvious, right? Asian women are supposedly raised to be submissive and passive, so it’s natural that given this upbringing, young Asian women will not be assertive in many or most aspects of their lives. Case closed, right? I don’t think so.
Hopefully the problems with Hahm’s reasoning will be obvious to the unbiased reader. Clearly, Hahm is suggesting that traditional Asian cultures do a piss poor job of raising strong women. I don’t think this is necessarily true, but let’s put that aside and examine the facts against the presumed cause. Young Asian-American women are evidently engaging in risky sexual behaviour – lax attitudes to condom use and increased risk of exposure to disease resulting from different interracial dating habits. As Hahm says…..
“Asian and Pacific Islander women also have broader interracial dating patterns than Asian American men. This might explain why these women are exposed to higher rates of STDs.”As with many cases of high risk behaviour, unprotected sex with multiple partners is also a factor. Can you see the problem with this picture?
Hahm believes that these Asian women are so deeply enculturated to be submissive that they can’t muster the assertiveness to compel their sexual partners to use a condom. This is strange indeed! As many readers will know, a traditional Asian upbringing expects Asian girls to be chaste, and sexually demure. It’s expected that a women not date casually, and that preferably they should remain virgins until they marry. It’s also traditional that an Asian woman marry someone within their own social and ethnic group. Any potential husband is usually vetted by the parents and sometimes even chosen by the parents. Sex before marriage is a huge taboo.
Given the above description of tradition, do you see the problem with Hahm’s conclusion? Clearly any young Asian woman engaging in risky sexual behaviour has rejected just about all of what is expected of her, and rebelled against her traditional upbringing. Hahm wants us to believe that despite this rejection of sexual chasteness and traditional roles, that these women somehow retain the submissiveness of their traditional upbringing. These women have the confidence to rebel against centuries of tradition yet they can’t make their boyfriends put on a condom? It’s nonsense.
Of course what is really being said is that it's all the fault of The Asian Patriarchy - the usual suspect. It has become all too easy to point the finger at "The Patriarchy"! The Asian Patriarchy is to blame when Asian women are too weak, too strong, too loud or too quiet. If she makes wrong choices in her lovelife, it's the fault of the Patriarchy, if she adheres to tradition and lives an unhappy life, it's the fault of the patriarchy. If she rejects tradition and acquires an STD, it's still the fault of the Patriarchy!
The fact is that no-one is to blame but the women themselves. Let’s be honest about it, let’s not create victims where they don’t exist. If a woman is strong and confident enough to reject centuries of tradition and expectation, then it’s unreasonable to suggest that she isn’t strong enough to insist on safe sex. Blaming tradition comes nowhere near to being an appropriate explanation for this phenomenon. Even worse, it hijacks any effort to find the truth, after all the answer is so obvious, why delve any deeper?