After a month-long hiatus following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, Meghan Markle’s podcast, Archetypes, is back. The fourth episode, released on Tuesday October 4, titled ‘Debunking Dragon Lady’, saw Meghan discuss the concept, as well as the stereotypes that ‘define and limit Asian women’, with comedian Margaret Cho and presenter Lisa Ling.
The fate that Asian women often face was not realized by Meghan for “many, many years”, she said, explaining how she enjoyed a “multitude of Asian cultures” growing up in Los Angeles.
Meghan fondly recalled how she spent her weekends touring the Little Tokyo neighborhood, having iced teas in the Thai Town neighborhood and relaxing at Korean spas with her mother, Doria Ragland.
Meghan said she had a “genuine love of learning about other cultures” since she was a little girl. But as she grew up, she realized that many Asian women face stigmas and archetypes that pop culture is partly responsible for.
She said: “I hadn’t experienced all of the stigmas and archetypes that so many Asian women had faced until many years later. These terms, these ideas, these stereotypes; they were unfamiliar to me, like the ones we see in so many movies and all of pop culture.
Meghan hit out at two films in particular, Austin Powers and Kill Bill, for their presentation of caricatures of Asian women as “oversexualized or aggressive”.
In Austin Powers – a James Bond parody – Japanese twins feature in the movie Goldmember. The two women are called “Fook Mi” and “Fook Yu”.
O-Ren Ishii’s half-Chinese, half-Japanese American character appears in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Ishii – played by Lucy Liu – is part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and decapitates its victims, “picking up their heads”.
However, Liu once criticized her character as an example of a “lady dragon” in an essay by writer India Roby, titled “Hollywood Has Played a Role in Hypersexualizing Asian Women”.
In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Liu said it didn’t make sense because the film “features three other female professional killers besides Ishii”, and concluded that she only received the label only because of his ethnicity.
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The term was first coined in the 1930s to describe strong, sexual, deceptive and dominating Asian women, with the opposite and naïve archetype being known as “Madame Butterfly” or “Lotus Blossom”.
Meghan told her listeners that it wasn’t just her who identified these stereotypes. Her podcast guest, Ms. Cho, explained that there is a Hollywood trope of Asian women having an “evil alien force”.
The 53-year-old actress and comedian said: “‘Dragon Lady’ really comes from this fantasy of Orientalism. It’s actually a character that resembles the femme fatale. In that, a beautiful and deadly woman. Because that one cannot be just beautiful, it must have a price.
“And it’s kind of like the evil queen adjacent, but it’s also so tied into this idea that Asianism is an inherent threat that our alien is sort of [going] to get [you]. Mystery and exoticism are part of it and unfortunately, this trope has stuck with cinema but also with Asian American women or Asian women.
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The Duchess told her listeners: “The Lady Dragon, the temptress of East Asia, whose mysterious foreign allure is scripted as both enticing and deadly – it has seeped into much of our But this toxic stereotype of Asian women doesn’t stop once the credits roll.
Meghan ended the episode by reminding her audience to “be themselves” and ignore “loud voices from small places”.
The Archetypes podcast, available on Spotify, first aired on August 23 and featured Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams. She also interviewed hit singer, Mariah Carey.