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Sex, Death, Dragon Ladies, and Nuclear Weapons

Content Warning: For racism and sexual abuse.

Words: Molly Hurley, Jackie Waight and Lily Tang
Pictures: Molly Hurley

ADVERTISEMENT: Hot, sexy Asians in your area! Are you looking for a petite, docile China Doll™ to welcome into your life? One who is exotic like a lotus blossom and energizing like a dragon, ready to breathe fire and lighten up your world!? Well, look no further: These Asian women meet all the criteria AND can help you relax with some aromatherapy or a deep tissue massage!

Oh.. wait… what’s that? You thought I meant that kind of massage? Sorry to break it to you, but we aren’t that kind of massage parlor. If you’re looking for a good time with some big d*ck energy, then might I recommend the local nuclear silo just down the road, instead? Talk about some BOMBSHELLS over there. No, really.

If you’re drawn towards the Anna May Wong-style “Dragon Lady” based off of the female villain in the “Terry and the Pirates” comics, then believe me, nuclear weapons are where it’s at now. These weapons are menacing yet alluring, an ego boost to the highest degree if you can attain one. They’re something to be conquered, particularly by the white man. To rein in their deviousness, of course, but also to rein in the deviousness of others by showing them your power over these women… I mean weapons. If you’re not careful though, the gratification can become addicting. Oh, but it won’t be your fault! It’s obviously the weapons’ fault for being so intoxicating. Everyone has bad days and deserves to let off some steam, and everyone lets off their steam in different ways. I let off my steam by teasing the nuclear button while you let off your steam by going to “massage parlors” — ideally Korean if you’re allowed to be picky, but then again it doesn’t matter all that much because they all look the same anyway. Again, it’s not your fault! But be aware that sometimes a “bad day” can start to blur the lines between a lust to violate and a lust to murder. Perhaps that’s what happened in Atlanta.

But race has nothing to do with it, right!? Not all of the victims in Atlanta were Asian. If we used a nuclear weapon against China, not all of the casualties would be Asian, either. Any other ole tourist or expat wandering around in the wrong place at the wrong time could get wiped off the face of the Earth alongside a disproportionate number of Asian victims, thereby absolving the crime of any racial implications. Any addiction to certain types of power fantasies are independent of race and history, anyway. If we do end up nuking China, it’s because they asked for it. They’re a threat to world order, a true “yellow peril” whom we must knock down a peg or two through manipulation using our domestic and foreign policy. If that doesn’t work, well, then, we’ll just resort to more carnal measures.

But yeah, we aren’t racist. Your family has a long history of interracial couples with Asian women dating back to at least the Korean War — NOT racist! And my hobby of keeping an eagle eye on China comes from my grandfather who kept his eyes on Japan — NOT racist.

So what if American military personnel in Japan during World War II did rape over 10,000 women during a three-month occupation in Okinawa? And so what if then that sexual exploitation was brought home by the War Bride Act, which allowed these men to bring their Japanese wives back to the states? It’s not like the importation of these women came with the importation of cultural stereotypes as well. I mean, who’s ever heard of Nancy Kwan’s character in “The World of Susie Wongor Anna May Wong’s early films likeThe Thief of BagdadorDaughter of the Dragon? People like us love the idea of dominance, sexual or otherwise, but hate it when our women suddenly want to make the rules for themselves. And then they even want to get paid for their sexual labor!?

Look, the US did decide to use a nuclear weapon for the first and only times in combat on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sure, lots of reputable sources say it was unnecessary as Japan was already on the brink of surrender. And sure, those sources also say the proposition that the atomic bombs saved half a million American lives is vastly overinflated. But what’s most important to keep in mind is that we won. We got to have the thrill of the climax, of the “click” then “BOOM.”

So what am I trying to say again…? Oh, right. Come to our massage parlor if you’re looking for a good time but not a “good time.” We’ll highlight the sexualization of our Asian, female employees to draw you in and then submit to your hyper-masculinization of conflict, violence and dominance. [But for a real “ka-boom,” look no further than these weapons of mass destruction: Nuclear weapons. And then, if you don’t like who you are after all of the fantasies, just remember that however you respond next has nothing to do with race.]

Molly Hurley is a Nuclear Program Fellow with The Prospect Hill Foundation and Fellowship Associate with Beyond the Bomb. She is Chinese American as well as both “dragon” and “lady” in her fight against injustices but is neither in her relationship with men.

Jackie Waight is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Little Tokyo Service Center of Los Angeles, a co-chair of the WCAPS Human Rights Working Group, and is a Spring Fellow at Beyond the Bomb. She is a biracial Vietnamese American that breathes flames of radical change and bears wings of hope against the cultures and systems of injustice.

Lily Tang is a Chinese American and a first-generation college student at UMass Amherst studying Political Science & Global Studies, with concentrations in Asian/Asian American Studies & Civic Engagement. Lily sinks her claws in de-orientalizing Asian Studies and combating racial inequities to build a safer world for people of the global majority.

The image that appears in the body of this piece is a cover from Vogue Magazine published February 1, 1923.

The title image is “Long Mei,” by Molly Hurley. Clothed in just a single robe from a traditional Chinese hanfu, this woman is covered in scales and bears an uncanny resemblance to Anna May Wong. Ink, colored pencil, and alcohol marker on paper.

Molly Hurley, Jackie Waight and Lily Tang

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