because i figure since i spent a good bit of last night in tears over this i might as well write about it right
i was talking to one of my friends once, who doesn’t watch elementary, and i told her about how much i loved joan watson and she asked me, “do you like her because she’s asian?”
and i said “well… yeah.”
of course there’s more. i love her because she’s fiercely compassionate and has a strong sense of morality, because she’s clever and funny, because she’s beautiful in every way and so so brave. but none of that comes in a vacuum. i’d seen it all before. the enchanting part was realizing that all of these qualities made up a character who represented me.
and i guess it just hit me how much i love joan watson because like
media would like us to think that asian women must either be one or the other; hypersexualized feminine subordinate soft spoken weak willed easily controlled, or masculinized robots crazy tiger moms doctors in the background whatever the hell. always replaceable. never really those with any substantive emotional depth. asian women are just… there.
but that’s the problem, isn’t it? asian girls must be quiet, out of sight out of mind, perpetually infantilized and if they dare raise their voice or their middle fingers they must be crazy militant misguided don’t know what the fuck they’re going on about. and that’s not unique to asian women; it’s an experience shared by women of color as a whole.
enter joan watson. joan, who fought her way to the top and fell, who had her fair share of achievements and disappointments, who knows herself and couldn’t give two shits about people who tried to tell her who she is or who she is supposed to be. she has found where she’s happy doing things she loves and is good at with people she respects and who respect her. partnership. equality. with a white man.
too good to be true, right? apparently everyone else thinks so. joan watson, the roomate who wants to get into bed with sherlock holmes. joan watson, the assistant who wants approval from the great sherlock holmes. moriarty, lestrade, lestrade’s assistant and even further back… because obviously they know joan’s motivations better than she does herself, right? because obviously asian people can be smart and clever but they are followers, never partners, right?
because in every version of every narrative ever the asian girl must always be doing something in order to charm the affections and approval of white men and i hate it i hate it i hate it so much and just the patronization that licks into it every time, as though these strangers must know better than she does. as though she wasn’t the one to solve moriarty, as though she wasn’t the one to spend months watching and listening and making mistakes and learning to be where she is, as though always always always everyone assumes that they know where she wants to be and that is supporting the white dude.
and that’s why it’s not just an issue of joan being a woman, but of her being an asian woman because it’s not just misogyny that spoonfeeds these attitudes it’s disgusting and neverending racial microaggression perpetuated not only by white men but also by white women so white feminists who are only interested in viewing joan as a ~*~*champion for women with her sassy sassiness*~*~ can get the fuck out until they’re ready to have an actual discussion about how women of color are appropriated by white feminism as long as they’re not threatening to whiteness and the moment that they are they’re demonized and dismissed by a movement that claims to advocate for them but really couldn’t give two shits about women of color.
joan watson is so so important and the social context and everyday micro violence she faces and how she handles that is important and that’s why i’m crying over her steely looks of defiance and venom-laced sword-sharp voice because those are her weapons in her everyday battles in a society that says that asian women are soft and unsubstantial.
which why the clumsy writing is so infuriating because after a season of being sidelined and ignored and disrespected no doubt joan is angry but she is never afforded the luxury of expressing it verbally, which is something sherlock gets and meta-textually smells like another racist trope. the asian woman as the silent sufferer, am i right? somehow, she is expected to stay silent, but she can’t stay silent much longer.