I was adopted in Vietnam when I was a baby (I have two little sisters who were adopted there as well, two years later), then raised in France, where have been a victim of racism for my entire life – sometimes aggressive, sometimes it was more like ‘jokes’ about my skin colors, what I could eat and so on. I was called racial slurs in the street or at school, and then what I thought was a compliment before I fully understood it, was “I love Asian women, you all are (insert stereotype)”. My adoptive parents, my brother and friends being white, before my teenage years, I didn’t have anyone who ever really understood what I went through. Even my sisters never felt the same way. Basically people told me it surely wasn’t that bad, and that maybe I should roll with it. In France, there’s a lot of racism hidden under the “joke” cover and people would always tell me that I’m offended too easily when I said anything, so I tried ignoring it instead.
During the entirety of highschool and the first years after that, my nickname was Katsumi. As there was a French X actress of Vietnamese descent, people thought it was a good nickname for me and it stuck for years. While growing up, the only Asian woman I looked up to was Disney’s Mulan and I never felt truly represented by Asian women in media in general, even when reading mangas or watching animes. The representation I saw the most was the stereotypical old Asian mentor (like the Emperor in Mulan), sexy Asians – either the fighter or the Geisha type – or weird stuff like the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, or The Aristocats. I really liked Mulan from the 2009 Chinese movie “Mulan, Rise of a Warrior”, Shao Jun from the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China game and then the Samurai and Wu Lin factions from For Honor, but these are pretty much the only recent examples I have in mind.
Working in communication and events in clubs and festivals for a few years, I was almost always the only Asian, and women were always outnumbered. When I joined the video games industry, I started working with (or seeing colleagues working with) Asian women that I started looking up to, and it helped me a lot. I could identify to them, be inspired by them and this is the point where I started seeing myself as an “Asian woman”, when the Asian part had never took that much importance for me before. I started thinking about representation again, especially when I heard stories about Kelly Marie Tran being harassed for her role in Star Wars. Then, I had very high hopes about Disney’s live action of Mulan, which was disappointing, not to say terrible. I found a few articles and podcasts about Asian representation, which helped a bit, but it was never enough.
I joined Women In Games back in September 2020 and thought I could join something focusing on Asian women, and was told there was no such thing yet – at least on the French side of WIG, not sure about the global side. This is how I started thinking that just because it didn’t exist didn’t mean I couldn’t try creating it. Then the Anti Asian / AAPI Hate movement convinced me I had to try doing something.
Having a safe place where I can talk about things that matter to me, to people who can relate and understand, is something I’ve been looking for for a while. All of this led me to hope that we (or our representation) can become the ones that other Asian women will look up to later, when they will be searching for role model who are still hard to find in popular culture.
– Marion B.