[UPDATE] Win! Best and Less pulls jumper from shelves
We can't ignore the misogynistic and racist history of this phrase
We were recently alerted to a Best and Less catalogue for children's clothing. Several items included sexist slogans and imagery, but one particular item stood out from the rest - "Love you long time."
The sexist and racist origins of this phrase are instantly recognisable to many. In an article for ASAM news, pychotherapist and diversity speaker Sam Louie describes how the phrase made its way into pop culture:
If you ask anyone younger than 30 where the roots are from the line, “Me love you long time,” you’d probably get a blank stare. They may think it’s just broken English from an Asian women who is truly trying to express genuine affection to someone in English. The reality is that this phrase, “Me love you long time,” is not “I love you” coming out awkwardly in an Asian accent.
Instead, it’s a phrase popularized by Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 movie, “Full Metal Jacket,” where the line itself is taken from the scene where a Vietnamese woman propositions herself to two American GIs. The movie’s objective was in capturing the essence and impact of the Vietnam War based on the experiences of a U.S. Marines Corps platoon. The term has since become a popular part of American lexicon spoken with limited insight to the past and or a desire to ignore the realities of the present. (bold mine) Read: White Sexual Imperialism: "Me Love You Long Time"
This desire to ignore the 'realities of the present' was evident in many of the comments posted in response to a KidSpot article about the issue. "I don't see the connection" was a common refrain with the implication being "there is no connection."
But "love you long time" is very specific wording used to stereotype, harass and vilify Asian women and girls. Refusing to see this doesn't mean it ceases to exist.
“It’s so many different kinds of slurs in one,” comedian Margaret Cho said. “It’s instantly putting you in the position of being a foreigner, an outsider and a sexual stereotype. It’s an all-in-one combo.”
“I was walking down the street and this guy yells from his car, ’Love you long time, me love you long time,’ ” Cho related. “And I was so horrified. Of course he’s talking to me, to the Asian woman walking down the street. Mariah Carey, Fergie promise to 'love you long time' — but is the phrase empowering or insensitive?
Best and Less's initial response to customer feedback was that they would not be withdrawing the item. Customers shopping for children's clothing may unknowingly dress their child in racist and sexist slogans and the child has no choice but to be a vehicle for these harmful messages.
[UPDATE] Best and Less has now announced it will withdraw this item. Lets look at what else they're selling.