International Women’s Day 2021: Recognizing Asian and Asian-American Women in Pop Culture #IWD2021

International Women's Day 2021

March is Women’s History Month, and today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is a globally recognized day meant to highlight the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements and contributions of women. Every year we at The Geekiary try to do something special in honor of the day, and for International Women’s Day 2021, we have chosen to recognize a few notable women of Asian descent.

Violence against Asian-Americans is on the rise in the United States, which is why we decided this year to focus on Asian and Asian-American women in popular culture for International Women’s Day 2021. The women we have chosen to spotlight are from various aspects of pop culture, from television to art to sports, and have all made an impact on at least one of us on staff. This is far from a comprehensive list of the many amazing women of Asian descent who should be recognized, so please feel free to add to it!

 

Rika Kihira (L) and Yuhana Yokoi (R). Image: Instagram

RIKA KIHIRA (Figure Skater)

I know I’m cheating a little bit by putting Rika on this list because she’s an athlete (which is not really pop culture), but figure skating is very important to multiple people here at The Geekiary, and I just couldn’t not include her. Rika is the current and reigning Japanese National Champion in ladies singles and has won multiple medals in international competition. She’s a gorgeous skater with solid technical skills and masterful artistic expression on the ice. (Nominated by Jamie)

 

Image: Twitter

MING-NA WEN (Actress)

I don’t think there’s a major franchise that Ming-Na hasn’t been a part of. From Disney princess (although technically Mulan isn’t a princess) to the extended Marvel universe to suiting up on The Mandalorian, there is nothing this woman cannot do. Everyone gets excited when she gets added to a cast! She has been a recognizable figure in pop culture for more than two decades, and she radiates such a positive energy and love for her family on all of her social media. (Nominated by Jamie)

 

Image: Instagram

MICHELLE LEE (Singer)

I first heard about Michelle Lee back in around 2014 during an online discussion about anti-blackness in East Asian media. She was in the girl group SuPearls from 2011 until they disbanded two years later. Like other Black Koreans, she’s endured racism and bullying, especially as a child. Her evocative debut “Without You” (and the music video) shows the trauma of experiencing colorism and anti-blackness. (Nominated by Brahidaliz)

 

International Women's Day 2021ALICE X. ZHANG (Artist)

You may have seen Alice’s art without knowing her name. I first became aware of her at New York Comic Con some years ago, when I was cruising through Artist Alley and noticed a particular print of Elsa from Frozen. Alice’s table was swamped pretty much every time I went by, but I finally did manage to buy some prints. Since then, she has done art for the Doctor Who comics as well as a recent publication recognizing female superheroes in the Marvel universe. Alice is one of those artists whose table is a perennial favorite of mine; if she’s at the con, I’m buying art from her. (Nominated by Jamie)

 

Image: Instagram

ARIANA MIYAMOTO (Model)

The first mixed-race (Black Japanese) woman to become Miss Universe Japan in 2015, Ariana Miyamoto also made it to Miss Universe 2015’s top 10. She received criticism afterward for being biracial and not fair-skinned enough. Most of her videos on YouTube focus on cooking, shopping, and more. The loss of a friend (half Japanese and white) to suicide motivated her to compete for Miss Universe Japan. She wanted to make others see that she had the right to call herself Japanese. (Nominated by Brahidaliz)

 

international women's day 2021MO XIANG TONG XIU (Writer)

Mo Xiang Tong Xiu is a writer from China who has written several popular danmei novels including Mo Dao Xu Shi, Tian Guan Ci Fu, and Scum Villain Self-Saving System. Many of her books have been adapted into comics, cartoons, and live-action shows, which have opened up the entire world of danmei to new fans around the world. The adaptations of her works have gained international acclaim and won numerous awards. (Nominated by Angel)

 

LOU JING (Singer)

When Lou Jing became one of the finalists on Go Oriental Angel, a talent show in Shanghai, she and her mother encountered both support and backlash. Lou Jing takes pride in being Chinese, but her Blackness doesn’t make her “Chinese enough” to many in the country. She is a talented woman who is going places, and yet unsurprisingly she’s been exoticised and disrespected for being Black. (Nominated by Brahidaliz)

 

Image: Instagram

KELLY MARIE TRAN (Actress)

Kelly Marie Tran is a Vietnamese-American actress best known as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She also stars in the new Disney animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon, playing Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess. She’s the first WOC to have a lead role in a Star Wars film and also the first Asian woman to be on the cover of Vanity Fair. (Nominated by Bekah)

 

Image: Twitter

ARCHIE PANJABI (Actress)

I recently re-watched The Fall and fell in love all over again with actress Archie Panjabi, who plays the motorcycle-riding pathologist who helps in the serial murder investigation. She first hit my radar as the older sister in Bend It Like Beckham, but she spent six seasons on The Good Wife, for which she won not only an NAACP Image Award but also a Primetime Emmy, becoming the first Asian actor to do so. She is also classically trained in ballet. (Nominated by Jamie)

 

Image: YouTube screengrab

CHLOE ZHAO (Filmmaker)

Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker who is best known for her work on independent US films. She recently made history as the first woman of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe for Best Director; she is also only the second woman to win that category (she won for her film Nomadland) in a year where women were the majority of the nominees. (Nominated by Jamie)

 

Due to misinformation and racism surrounding the current global pandemic, violence against Asian-American Pacific Islanders is increasing. We encourage everyone to visit Stop AAPI Hate and learn what you can do to help. If you are AAPI, you are urged to report any instances of racism, no matter how small they may seem. For those who are not AAPI, we should learn to recognize the signs and try to step in and speak up if we can.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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