Shadows of Stereotypes

Dear Diary

I sometimes wonder if the stereotypical images of Asian women follow us everywhere and my encounter of this at work has caused some issues.

Every morning I walk into work and greet each and everyone of my colleagues. There is one colleague who never says hello in the morning and finds it extremely difficult to take instruction from me. If I have to ask him to do something, I am dismissed or disregarded. He talks to everyone except me. A few weeks ago he even started raising his voice to me which I found extremely offensive.

At first, I thought it was a personality clash so would stay out of his way rather than cause an awkward scene. He is extremely talented and great at his job so I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was brought into the business for a specific purpose and I always need his co-operation. Then I began to wonder if he resented me being there or whether he just didn’t like me. His attitude towards me was really unpleasant and making me feel sad at work.

A few weeks ago, there was a general conversation amongst the staff and he spoke about Asian women being subservient and always standing behind their men. He spoke about how quiet we were and that we did as we were told. I was of course dismayed at his assumptions of  Asian women but not surprised. This stereotypical image was his reality. I recall a talk that I went to earlier in the year where the Chief Executive of a charity was seen as the secretary because she was Asian and stereotyped

I realised then that I did not meet his assumptions and he struggled with an Asian woman being his boss. For him, I should not be in this position, let alone be giving him instruction. I addressed this with him and of course he denied his feelings and attitude and since has been very pleasant and cooperative. He still doesn’t say hello but I can live with that.



3 Comments to “Shadows of Stereotypes”

  1. Yes but most asian women are subservient! Even if you stand your ground, I bet many of them still keep the peace by staying silent. how many asian women can moan about how unhelpful their husbands are around the house, with the kids etc. sometimes the guy is even earning LESS than his wife and still justifies being a lazy bum because he’s a bloke. how many actually leave their husbands as a result of being the sole house cleaner, looking after babies and going out to work. as yourself Are you really truly assertive at home as well as at work. it is a sad stereotype that we must accept because we are it.

  2. Interesting post, Bunty. I have friends from many backgrounds and from my experience most of them would stay quiet to keep the peace or find nice ways of showing disagreement rather that saying their partner was plain wrong/stubborn etc but I think we are portrayed as being more traditional by the media and others as assertive when it is plainly not true.

    In Delhi, I occassionally have to deal with patronising behaviour from men who work around me but as you have found they learn to respect you, it just takes longer.

  3. I agree with Guppy. A lot of women, of asian origin or not, will talk about being assertive and being all for equal opportunieis for both sexes, but then when it comes down to it, I know very few equal partnerships in the couples I know.

    I think it’s unusual to encounter such blatent sexism in men in the workplace these days. In my work, no one would ever dare say anything like what you heard at work Bunty, HR would be all over them, but then that doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking about it…

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