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Minority student groups covered Penn's LOVE statue with notes about the experiences of being an Asian-American woman after a discussion titled "Reclaiming the Exotic" in the Penn Women's Center.

Credit: KC Miller

Members of several minority student groups plastered Penn's LOVE statue with notes and flyers describing the experiences of Asian-American women on Thursday night.

The project was organized by the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Penn Association for Gender Equity, and Spice Collective – an organization and discussion space for Asian-American non-men on campus. The signs included phrases such as "Don't fetishize my Asianness," "It's never just 'A Type'," and "Not your China doll."

"I decided it would be good to do something more visible," PAGE Chair and College junior Tanya Jain said. "So that's when we decided that we would make our experiences visible to Penn's campus."

The flyers were pasted onto the statue following an event in the Penn Women's Center on Feb. 21 titled "Reclaiming the Exotic." About 30 Asian-American women attended the event and discussed various issues relevant to the community, including fetishization, fat-phobia, and gaslighting, PAGE Political Chair and College junior Maggie Zheng said.

One of the main points of discussion at the event was the viral Facebook group "subtle asian dating." 

"subtle asian dating has been known to be very East Asian-centric," APSC Vice External Chair and College sophomore Sarah Kim said. "It also seems that a lot of the women [in the group] will add that they are an ABG — Asian Baby Girl — but they also feel the need to add that they're wholesome. You don't need both to be dateable."

The students also said the fetishization of Asian women was another relevant issue to the community.

"We get the question 'where you're from' a lot," Kim said. "It's mostly men who are asking women in the API population 'where you're from'. Society tends to exoticize API women."

After the discussion, Kim said about 12 to 15 women participated in making the flyers, which they then plastered onto the statue.

"There were a lot of different quotes written on the LOVE sign," Zheng said. "We wanted everyone to write what came out of the discussion for them. A lot of people had personal frustrations about specific students on campus. Things they had faced in classrooms, or Uber rides, and other students wrote things towards society."

Zheng said the LOVE statue was chosen specifically because of its prominent location on campus.

"Our intention is to bring these issues to the surface of conversation for all students," Zheng said. "To have them be recognized and acknowledged rather than just things we're forced to struggle with in silence."