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This is why we need to stop stereotyping Asian women as submissive

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Megan Murray
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Mehreen Baig is a teacher, turned blogger, turned television presenter who has a very important message for you: Asian women are not the submissive stereotype that many paint them to be. 

Mehreen Baig gave up her 9-to-5 job to pursue a passion in writing, specifically using her experiences as an “Asian woman, a Muslim woman and a sometimes just a woman in general” to describe the world as she sees it.

With her palpable charisma and arrestingly honest attitude, it’s no surprise that she quickly moved into presenting, which is why we asked her to dissect – on camera – the enduring stereotypes that shroud Asian women.

Recognising that people who are unfamiliar with Asian culture may presume that the women with heritage from these countries take a submissive place in their family, relationships or communities, Baig lists each stereotype and splits it open.

Turning the question, “are Asian women submissive?” on its head, she instead asks, “what makes a powerful woman?”

Looking at the aspects of a woman’s life or the traits of her personality that might make her powerful, Baig holds up examples of women from her culture that are politically liberated, educated and independent.

“The issue is that the argument of Asian women being submissive comes from a one-dimensional social construct of power,” she starts. “As the western world moves forward with its feminist ideas, the real issue is that it almost dismisses traditional values and labels them as oppressive.”

Baig goes on to point out that America (considered by many to be the leader of the free world) has not yet proven progressive enough to elect a female president – something which has already been achieved by Bangladesh, which has Hasina Wazed as its prime minister.

 Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, sitting in her drawing room.

Referring to education, Baig highlights how high Asian schoolgirls have climbed. Once being statistically amongst the lowest educational achievers in Britain, they’re now outperforming their male and white counterparts.

She continues: “Of course there are areas in the world where girls can’t access education, but we mustn’t confuse submission with a lack of resources or opportunities, because that’s a problem that’s rife even within Britain.”

While Baig admits that there are aspects of her culture that can manipulate women to take on more traditional roles, she insists that “patriarchy exists within every culture, even around the western world, whether it’s within homes or within Hollywood, women are still subjugated by misogyny.”

“Let’s not reduce all the fantastic women in an array of settings, at home, at school, at work to a stereotype,” she finishes powerfully.

Hear, hear.

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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