An Attempt to Redefine Asian American Masculinity (or lack thereof, in the media)
The idea of the "model minority" and the emasculated Asian male has been the long standing image in the media. The Import Scene subculture is a means for the Asian American youth to contest this dominant image as being successful, smart, submissive, and nothing else. For males, the "cool" and "sexy" that comes along with racing and "tricking out" cars has created a way to reshape their masculinity, which is lost in the media. Often they borrow the African American male youth's "gangsta" image to convey a hyper-heterosexuality, and acts of illegal racing rather than studying in the library allow them to compensate for what they see as a negative and incorrect image of themselves in the media.
Yet the Hypersexualized Representation of Asian American Females Persists
For Asian American women, their portrayal in the media has been on the other extreme, that is, hypersexualized. The import scene is undeniably a masculine institution in that it caters to the need for Asian American men to reclaim their masculinity. Objectifying young Asian American women seems to be one of their ways in doing so, as is clear in their portrayal in car shows and magazines. Furthermore, most of the import models are girlfriends of import enthusiasts, whereas others are aspiring models or aspiring models. Although it is far too simple to attribute the origins of the import scene to the compensation of masculinity, it is unique space where Asian American males feel they can contest their meek and subordinate stereotypes.
What to make of "Girl Racers"
Anna Comingore, an import model-turned-girl racer
In the recent years, there have been many female racers that have emerged in the import racing scene, which counters the subordinate position that the women assume when posing on cars in scantily clad outfits. In particular, many of these "girl racers" are import models who have managed to gain enough support and knowledge of the scene to make a career change. However, "girl racers" appear to be just another mode of objectification, as the men of the import scene paint their ideal female as "hot and knows how to race too." More often than is the case with male racers, "girl racers" will pose with their cars wearing close to nothing, making it hard to distinguish them from import models. Such is the case with Anna Comingore, an import model-turned-girl racer, who was recently interviewed with Super Street magazine.
Interview with model/girl racer Anna Comingore