Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:

The Butterfly's Effect: Stereotypes of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly in History and on the Internet

File SizeFormat 
Takesono_Janelle.PDF857.63 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Item Summary

Title: The Butterfly's Effect: Stereotypes of Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly in History and on the Internet
Authors: Takesono, Janelle
Advisor: Fujikane, Candace
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: When "Japanese women" is queried on the search engine Google, a collection of articles and images appear that sexualizes these women and strips them of any agency. This portrayal has roots in historical events, such as Commodore Matthew Perry's overturning of Japan's period of isolation in 1852 and Giacomo Puccini's 1904 opera, Madama Butterfly. In the opera, Navy Lieutenant Pinkerton describes Cio-Cio San as "doll-like" and "mysterious," words that continue to describe Japanese women on the internet. During Allied Powers' occupation of Japan in 1945, state sponsored brothels played a significant role in how Americans continued to eroticize Japanese women. In these examples, Americans portray Japanese women as "butterflies" as a means to achieve political or economic control. Americans also project this stereotype onto Japanese American and Asian American women by depicting them as foreign, which removes their agency as American citizens. On the internet, Americans continue to replicate these stereotypes, but Japanese American and Asian American women use blogs and webpages to speak out against these stereotypes. In this way, these women are able to regain the agency that had been stripped from them historically. This paper will look at the historical Orientalist and sexist representations of Japanese, Japanese American, and, more broadly, Asian American women, and will examine the internet as a new space where a counterhegemonic narrative has both helped to reinforce and transform mainstream consciousness. First, I will examine historical "butterfly" representations of Japanese women by looking the interaction between Commodore Perry and the Japanese in 1852 and the American soldiers and the Japanese during the Occupation in 1945. Then I will look at the honorary white" or "model minority" stereotype to explain why Asian Americans continue to be seen as submissive or docile. To illustrate how the internet maintains this stereotype, I will look at articles from two websites, and I conclude by examining how Japanese American women use the internet to as an alternative space to turn these stereotypes upside down. First, I will examine Ida Yoshinaga's poem about her experiences in chatrooms, and the kinds of prejudice she encountered. Then I will look at the different ways Asian American women use blogging to respond to stereotypes by examining articles from Disgrasian and 8 Asians. I conclude by stating that although the internet replicates post-colonial power, it also allows Asian American women to regain some of their agency.
Pages/Duration: 55 pages
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English

Items in ScholarSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.