Samhita’s SXSW Talk: Redefining Asians on the Internet

Today, Feministing’s executive editor Samhita Mukhopadyay gave a fantastic talk at South by Southwest Interactive as part of a series of short talks about Diversity on the Web. Samhita’s talk was called “Redefining Asians on the Internet: I am Not Your Fetish.” I was lucky to enough to see this fabulous lady in person as she rocked her presentation, but for everyone who couldn’t be at SXSW, here’s a few highlights from what Samhita presented today!

    In looking at Asians and the internet, Samhita found three key themes: the trend of outsourcing online work to Asian countries; the constant theme of Asian women being objectified online in various ways; and young Asians using the internet to create their own alternate realities that don’t necessarily match up with their actual realities
    She also warned us: don’t ever try googling “Asian women and the internet.” The results are nearly all about how to date Asian women, porn, and mail order brides
    42.2% of all Internet users worldwide are Asian, not even counting Asian Americans! The leading countries are China, Japan, India, and South Korea. Or, as Samhita says, there are “hella Asians online!”
    There is tension for Asian women online between liberation and exploitation. There’s lots of female sex bloggers, but also still an overwhelming number of photos of girls serving sushi on their bodies.
    Access to technology in more conservative Asian countries, like India, is redefining cultural norms quickly, but many Asian societies aren’t ready to able to keep up with it. An example Samhita gave was a woman in India whose boyfriend made a video of her giving him a blowjob and spread it online. It went viral and Indian society could not deal with such a thing — the girl left the country, disappeared, and her family won’t talk about it. And so, access to technology in India has actually surpassed what contemporary society is ready to accept.
    Social media people often get caught up in how the world uses Facebook and Twitter, but social networks used abroad vary too — in India, it’s all about Orkut and not as much about Facebook or Twitter.

What are your thoughts about how Asians are portrayed online and how they participate online?

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