'Sexy Little Geisha' Line Pulled by Victoria's Secret Following Charges of Racial Stereotyping

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By Brittney R. Villalva, Christian Post Reporter
September 26, 2012|10:09 am

Victoria's Secret was forced to pull a lingerie line called "Go East" from its website after it was accused of promoting racial stereotypes.

The lingerie giant pulled links to its "Go East" collection on Wednesday morning after a number of online sites accused the company of perpetuating the "sexualization of Asian women."

The site references the term "exotic" to describe the new collection, prompting some to suggest that it is promoting a false perception of Asian women.

"Your ticket to an exotic adventure ... flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals," the company's website description reads.

The site Racilious, which dedicates itself to an "anti-racist view of culture," has been accredited with enflaming the controversy. The site accused Victoria's Secret of reinforcing "a narrative that says that all Asian cultures–and their women–are exotic, far away but easy to access."

"It's a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation and humanization of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women," Guest Contributor Nina Jacinto wrote.

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Within the Japanese culture, geishas are recognized as female entertainers who host parties and acquire skills that include classical music, dance, and games. Unlike the image that other women are expected to represent within the culture, the geisha is expected to maintain a carefree attitude, but is not permitted to marry without resigning the title.

After World War II and the occupation of American soldiers in Japan, the role of the Geisha was sometimes confused due to the number of prostitutes who began to imitate their dress.

In spite of controversy, other sites have suggested that the backlash appears to be an overreaction.

"You might as well [criticize] the 'sexy French maid' [costume] for sexualizing French women," wrote commenter Inna on Styleite.com. "It's meant to be playful and sexy, not degrading."

Victoria's Secret could not be reached for a comment. This is not the first time that the lingerie brand has been accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes.

 

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