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In the pre-World War II years, close to half of all Japanese American women were employed as servants or laundresses in the San Francisco area. government officials thoughtfully arranged for their employment by fielding requests, most of which were for servants.The World War II internment of Japanese Americans made them especially easy to exploit: they had lost their homes, possessions, and savings when forcibly interned at the camps, Yet, in order to leave, they had to prove they had jobs and homes. The first wave of Asian women's organizing formed out of the Asian American movement of the 1960s, which in turn was inspired by the civil rights movement and the anti-Viet Nam War movement.
Asian immigration laws have changed such that they new Asian immigrant is not educated and professional but working-class or poor.
The "picture brides" from Japan who emigrated to join their husbands in the U. were, to racist Californians, "another example of Oriental treachery," according to historian Roger Daniels. employers didn't have to pay Asian men as much as other laborers who had families to support, since Asian women in Asian bore the costs of rearing children and taking care of the older generation.
It bears noting that despite the fact that they weren't in the country in large numbers, Asian women shouldered much of the cost of subsidizing Asian men's labor. Asian women who did emigrate here before the 1960s were also usually employed as cheap labor.
White feminists and other liberals advanced this feel-good fantasy with celebrations of Asian American culture and people.
The result was a triple pressure on Asian women to conform to the docile, warm, upwardly mobile stereotype that liberals, conservatives, and their own community members all wanted to promote.
However, conservative and mainstream institutions supported these "model minority" activities because it implied there was a "good" minority in tacit opposition to the "bad" minorities -- African Americans and Latinos.
At the same time, the model minority myth helped countless struggling Asian Americans start businesses and send their kids to Ivy League schools, and was thus consciously upheld by Asian American community leaders.
Trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT have broken down protections for workers and the environment in order to secure a free-wheeling capitalist global economy, and Asian workers, especially women, are suffering the worst of it -- laboring under worse working conditions and being forced to compete for the most degraded, worst-paying jobs.
Activists have responded to these new changes with a renewed labor movement that cross borders and industries.
Asian women organizers have been at the forefront of these campaigns.
Most significant among these is the groundbreaking campaign by Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA) to organize Asian seamstresses against a powerful fashion designer, Jessica Mc Clintock.
Sometimes this feeling reflects a fear of alienating men -- a consequence that seems inevitable if men are unable to own up to their gender privilege.