The fetishization of Asian bodies, women in particular, is deeply rooted in Westerm imperialism and Orientalism. From Colonial to Cold War eras, Asian women stereotypes have been perpetuated through patriarchal lens in mainstream media such as movies in which they’re often depicted as sex workers or a submissive, somewhat less intelligent being. Those one-dimensional portrayals still persist to this day.
“Tell me one more time how you love us
Ask me 'bout the price, tell you how much
Don't have to tell your favourite color
Bet you think we're all made in China”
The above lyrics come from “Yellow Fever,” the latest single by Pyra, a rising Thai songstress known for her fearless fashion sense and thought-provoking cuts like materialism themed “Plastic World,” and “Dystopia.” “Yellow Fever” tackles the rampant hyper-sexualization of Asian women head-on.
“Are you a ladyboy?”
Pyra told us about the inspiration behind “Yellow Fever.”
“So I became friends with this white dude in China right? One day this guy was in town on holiday, so I met up with him. We’re friends but he jokingly asked me if I was a ladyboy. I was like ‘What? Hold up.’ Is that our country’s reputation? Do they think all Thai women are ladyboys?”
“Why has that become an acceptable joke? More importantly, what’s wrong with being a ladyboy? WTF right? That rage actually fuelled this song.”
Save your smile
Pyra also links up with Indonesia’s top rapper Ramengvrl and Japanese feminist artist Yayoi Daimon on this single. The three Asian women have come together to defy toxic stereotypes.
“I think every Asian woman must have experienced something like this at some point. When a white man touches you without your consent, you don’t go smiling back at him. You call him right out. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, this thing will become normalized.”
Welcome to my territory
“In the MV for ‘Yellow Fever', I play the role of a tour guide who gets sexually harassed by a group of white dudes. It actually happened to me once, but I didn’t say anything at the time. I should have called them out. The MV is set in the red light district and it turns out that I run the whole business. Women are powerful. We don’t belong in the kitchen. We too can become a CEO or a business owner. Anything that men could.”
“Feminism stems from the gaping inequality between the sexes. If you support equality, you’re a feminist.”
Do you think we fetishize others as well?
“We have to first set aside the word ‘fetish.’ It’s totally fine to like Asian women or white guys. Fetish is a different thing entirely. Going to Japan to have sex with girls in cosplay or AV girls, that’s fetish. Coming to Thailand to see a ping pong show at Soi Cowboy, that’s fetish. You’re free to love anyone in this world or be sexual orientation as long as you don’t encroach on other people’s rights.”
What female artists have to go through
“No matter if it’s in America, Europe or Asia, the inequality between sexes is everywhere. Only 2 percent of producers are women in the entire world. That’s just so little! Female artists also fall prey to sexual harassment. We must fix this!”
“I personally experienced unwanted attention when one promoter tried really hard to flirt with me. We women should address this thing more. To all promoters out there, you book an artist because of the music not because you want to fuck them. Female artists experience it all the time.”
"I really hope ‘Yellow Fever’ will help address the issue and spread awareness."