Crazy, Rich, “Hegemonically Masculine” Asians?

crazy rich asians

By Jane Hatfield

Although attempting to be progressive as the first Hollywood film with an all Asian cast in over 25 years, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates traditional gender norms of hegemonic masculinity and femininity. The texts Everyday Women and Gender Studies and Gender Inequality help display the implications of the movie’s differing portrayal of both genders.

The bachelor and bachelorette party scenes in the film define typical gender roles as the men party, drink, and shoot guns while the women shop, gossip, and tan on the beach. At the bachelor party, the men are constantly surrounded by beautiful female models, all of whom sit around them or on their laps in tiny bikinis. This portrayal of women reinforces the belief that women exist only in order to appeal to men, to be seen as sexual, beautiful objects for the taking. As Judith Lorber explains in Gender Inequality, “one of the manifestations of men’s objectification of women is the male gaze, the cultural creation of women as the objects of men’s sexual fantasies” (174). The scene further supports traditional masculinity when one bachelor takes a bazooka gun and fires it off of the ship. Since this act of aggression and the use of guns is seen as stereotypically male, Crazy Rich Asians supports traditional gender norms. In “Racializing the Glass Escalator,” Adia Wingfield concludes, “contemporary hegemonic masculine ideals emphasize toughness, strength, aggressiveness, heterosexuality, and a clear sense of femininity as different from and subordinate to masculinity” (266). Through its bachelor party scene, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates hegemonic qualities of masculinity and depictions of women as subordinate to men.

On the flip side, the Asian women in the bachelorette party spend most of their time on a shopping spree, squealing with joy at the thought of buying new clothes and products. The portrayal of characters Araminta, Amanda, and Francesca as product-crazy consumerists redefines the stereotype that femininity is defined by an interest and dedication to beauty. In “The Muslim Women,” Lila Abu-Luhgod states that America is “a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools, calling upon customers to purchase them”  (31). While reinforcing the idea that women are the primary consumer of beauty products, the film also suggests that women themselves are a product to be consumed, as evident in the sexualization and objectification in Crazy Rich Asians’ bachelor party scene. Further, when Amanda and some of the other girls leave a dead fish on Rachel’s bed with the words “gold-digging bitch” written on the mirror, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates the stereotype that women are inherently bitchy and love to gossip, especially when it comes to their boyfriends.

Overall, whether overt or not, the differing portrayal of females and males in Crazy Rich Asians reinforces hegemonic masculinity, As Braithwaite and Orr state in Everyday Women and Gender Studies, “these are the characteristics of real men constantly              re-presented around us, in everything from popular culture (film, TV, music videos) to the workplace; indeed there is a long history of such representations of what has been called hegemonic masculinity” (311). Since the film constantly switches back between shots from the bachelor and bachelorette parties, Crazy Rich Asians helps to contrast and define what it means to be feminine and masculine.


Note: This essay was written by a student in Dr. Heidi R. Lewis’ First-Year Experience (FYE) course FG110 Introduction to Feminist and Gender Studies. FG110 teaches students how to examine, power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. The students visited a local theatre to screen Crazy Rich Asians, and this essay was written in response.


No Pain, No Game: The Roots and Effects of Violence in Contact Sport

This video, written and produced by Malone DeYoung, Claire Hotaling, Emily McBride, and Ashley Sawyer during the First-Year Experience (FYE) section of FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College during Block 1 2016, explores the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and contact sport.



1-800-YouDoYou: Examining Drake’s “Hotline Bling”

Original Print“Although Drake’s “Hotline Bling” can be interpreted as counter-hegemonic due to its allusions to female empowerment and male sensitivity, the song still caters to a dominant masculine narrative that relies on the subordination of female sexuality. This project attempts to explore and disentangle these conflicting messages while recognizing the potential of this song to become a space in which feminist discourse and contemporary hip-hop can coexist.”
—Jade Frost, Mari Young, Charlie Britton, and Nora Teter (Block 5 2016)

“The original cover art for ‘Hotline Bling’ consists of a pink square with the text ‘1-800-HOTLINEBLING‘ written ten times consecutively. The simplicity of the italicized white writing creates a unique aesthetic and therefore distinctive impression.”

“Implicitly, his argument is that she was better off with him, despite the fact that the song is about his yearning for control over her. Here, one could argue that the promotion of male sensitivity is resistant to dominant gender ideologies; yet, the promotion of male sensitivity in the song perpetuates problematic themes, such as slut shaming and controlling male behavior […] The lyrics paint Drake as obsessed with the fact that he is no longer exuding the same degree of control over this woman; yet in the video, he is deliberately depicted as enthusiastically happy, comical even, dancing, and ‘feeling himself.'”

New Print“With ‘1-800-YOUDOYOU,’ we are feeding into the postfeminist mantra by arguing that women have the ‘choice’ to feel empowered in doing whatever they want, but we feel as though we could have delved deeper to question the notion of choice in our print component.”

“It is clear in the original text that Drake is not ‘stressed out,’ because he is lonely and single—instead, he is ‘down’ because his ex-lover is acting in a manner that he deems unsuitable and outside the ‘good girl’ narrative that he tries to impose on her: ‘wearing less’ and ‘going out more.’ This is why we chose to reflect real remorse (both visually and verbally), as well as demonstrate female liberation in the absence of the victimization of a male as well as told from the male perspective.”

More than Friends: Subverting NBC’s Friends

Original Print“At first glance, Friends is an innocent, family-friendly sitcom. However, it contains problematic and discriminatory themes, reinforcing hegemonic expectations […] Friends serves as a medium through which white and heterosexual hegemony are reinforced.”
—Lyric Jackson, Nathan Makela, Jamie Baum, and Eliza Mott (Block 5 2016)

“As the women in the photo are wearing lots of makeup wearing and revealing clothing and the men are not, we see that they are shown in ‘postures of sexual submission, servility or display,’ subtly perpetuating the ‘dehumanizing objectification’ of women.”

“While other popular sitcoms have been critiqued for perpetuating racial stereotypes, Friends succeeds in almost completely erasing racial minorities altogether […] Homophobia and transphobia are also apparent throughout the show. Any lifestyle straying from heteronormativity is used as a source for humor, reinforcing gender and sexual stereotypes.”

New Print“With a racially diverse group of individuals that are not just white or black, we eliminate the erasure of people of color and challenge the problematic black-white binary. This also prevents the perpetuation of the white superior as the ideal” (Chidester 157).

“Television has limited its standards to monogamous relationships that thrive on heavy commitment and possessive social interactions. We decided to shift the tone of the trailer to be more relaxed in order to deviate from the hypersexualization of polygamous relationships. In our new show, we extend the conversation beyond such limited perspective and create a much more inclusive environment.”


Not All Sh!ts & Giggles: Gender Roles within Friends

FriendsThis video, written and produced by Brae Salazar, Walker Walls Tarver, Nora Holmes, and David Andrews during Block 5 2015, explores constructions of gender and heternormativity on NBC’s Friends.