Art You're so Exotic

Title: You're so exotic // Artist: Anna Dugan // Date: October, 2020

“You’re so exotic.” This is a phrase that most Filipina womxn have heard at least once in their lives. It is a phrase that some may think is a wonderful compliment, but in reality it is one that is tainted with possessive undertones and accentuates “otherness” always in comparison to whiteness. My Tita very recently told me the story of how she met her (now ex) husband back in the 70s and it seemed like your classic story of “he saw me from across the room and fell in love.” But really it was a story of a man who saw a gorgeous & (in his eyes) exotic woman and he immediately wanted to possess her. It was the same instinct some men have to hunt for the purpose of having a trophy, rather than putting a meal on the table. It reminded me of when I was 18 working at a restaurant when I was speaking about being Filipino to a coworker and my general manager said in front of everyone “Oh, you’re Asian? Wow you’re so much hotter to me now.” Asian womxn are stereotyped to be timid, subservient, and obedient. And because our beauty is foreign & different to whiteness we become an easy target for a lot of men who crave authority. They no longer see a womxn with individual thoughts, dreams, or personality. They see a trophy they can hunt. When I hear Nina Simone’s song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” I think about wanting so badly for myself and my family and other Filipinas/Asians to be able to walk freely without being fetishized or hunted. Like the many animals that are hunted for sport or thrown in zoos, Asian womxn should be able to walk among the world free from the predatory gaze of white men. We are so much more than trophies. So I dedicate this mural of a proud Filipina womxn standing strong & free among her other “exotic” friends (the animals) to my Tita and to the many many Asian womxn out there who feel like nothing more than a caged zoo animal put on display.