Asian American Identities: Gender and Ethnicity in Obasan and M. Butterfly

Lee, Meredith
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
I first became interested in the intersection and interplay of gender and ethnicity as a result a Women's Studies course that I took a few years ago and concurrent exposure to Asian American Literature. Both gender and ethnicity seemed important in the formation of identities, and yet I was curious as to which of the two categories people tended to view as their primary marker. I had learned during the Women's Studies course that many women of color felt that (white) feminism did not address their needs; Caucasian women were fighting to get into the work force and be allowed to hold high positions while women of color were already in the work force (because of economic necessity) and were fighting for the luxury of not working. Moreover, women of color were under pressure from their ethnic communities to support the "minority" cause first and not split the community over the gender issue. Thus, it seemed to me that these women's experience of gender was different because of their ethnicity.
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