Yellow Peril: What does it mean?
February 25, 2011 by Bang!

Yellow Peril in full effect.

Why are we calling this yellow dildo the Yellow Peril? The racism of course? If you don’t know, now you know (via wiki):

Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a colour metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with immigration of Chinese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States, and later associated with the Japanese during the mid 20th century, due to Japanese military expansion.

The term refers to the skin color of East Asians, and the belief that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages and standards of living.

Many sources credit Kaiser Wilhelm II with coining the phrase “Yellow Peril” (German: gelbe Gefahr) in September 1895. The Kaiser had a portrait of this title—depicting the Archangel Michael and an allegorial Germany leading a charge against an Asiatic threat represented by a golden Buddha—hung in all ships of the Hamburg America Line. It was ostensibly painted by the Kaiser himself.

In 1898, the British writer M. P. Shiel published a short story serial entitled The Empress of the Earth. The later novel edition was named The Yellow Danger. Shiel’s novel centers on the murder of two German missionaries in Kiau-Tschou in 1897 and features the Chinese villain, Dr. Yen How.
[edit] American use

The phrase “yellow peril” was common in the U.S. newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst.[2] It was also the title of a popular book by an influential U.S. religious figure, G.G. Rupert, who published The Yellow Peril; or, Orient vs. Occident in 1911. Based on the phrase “the kings from the East” in the Christian scriptural verse Revelation 16:12,[3] Rupert, who believed in the doctrine of British Israelism, claimed that China, India, Japan and Korea were attacking England and the U.S., but that Jesus Christ would stop them.

“Pulp magazines in the 30s had a lot of yellow peril characters loosely based on Fu Manchu,” says William F. Wu, a pioneer in Asian science fiction writing in the U.S. “Most were of Chinese descent, but because of the geopolitics at the time, a growing number of people were seeing Japan as a threat, too.”

In his 1982 book The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American fiction, 1850-1940, Wu theorizes that the fear of Asians dates back to Mongol invasion in the Middle Ages during the Mongol Empire. “The Europeans believed that Mongols were invading en masse, but actually, they were just on horseback and riding really fast,” he writes. Most Europeans had never seen an Asian before, and the harsh contrast in language and physical appearance probably caused more skepticism than transcontinental immigrants did. “I think the way they looked had a lot to do with the paranoia,” Wu says.

The ‘Yellow Peril’ and the American National Origins Formula

In the USA xenophobic fears against the alleged “Yellow Peril” led to the implementation of the Page Act of 1875, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, expanded ten years later by the Geary Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act replaced the Burlingame Treaty ratified in 1868, which encouraged Chinese immigration, provided that “citizens of the United States in China of every religious persuasion and Chinese subjects in the United States shall enjoy entire liberty of conscience and shall be exempt from all disability or persecution on account of their religious faith or worship in either country” and granted certain privileges to citizens of either country residing in the other, withholding, however, the right of naturalization. The Immigration Act of 1917 then created an “Asian Barred Zone” under nativist influence. The Cable Act of 1922 guaranteed independent female citizenship only to women who were married to “alien[s] eligible to naturalization”. [1] At the time of the law’s passage, Asian aliens were not considered to be racially eligible for U.S. citizenship. As such, the Cable Act only partially reversed previous policies, granting independent female citizenship only to women who married non-Asians. The Cable Act effectively revoked the U.S. citizenship of any woman who married an Asian alien. The National Origins Quota of 1924 also included a reference aimed against Japanese citizens, who were ineligible for naturalization and could not either be accepted on US territory. In 1922, a Japanese citizen attempted to demonstrate that the Japanese were members of the “white race,” and, as such, eligible for naturalization. This was denied by the Supreme Court in Takao Ozawa v. United States, who judged that Japanese were not members of the “Caucasian race.”

The 1921 Emergency Quota Act, and then the Immigration Act of 1924, restricted immigration according to national origins. While the Emergency Quota Act used the census of 1910, xenophobic fears in the WASP community lead to the adoption of the 1890 census, more favorable to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population, for the uses of the Immigration Act of 1924, which responded to rising immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as Asia.

One of the goal of this National Origins Formula, established in 1929, was explicitly to keep the status quo distribution of ethnicity, by allocating quotas in proportion to the actual population. The idea was that immigration would not be allowed to change the “national character”. Total annual immigration was capped at 150,000. Asians were excluded but residents of nations in the Americas were not restricted, thus making official the racial discrimination in immigration laws. This system was repealed with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

The Yellow Peril was a common theme in the fiction of the time. Perhaps most representative of this is Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels. The Fu Manchu character is believed to have been patterned on the antagonist of the 1898 Yellow Peril series by British writer M. P. Shiel. (See above; see also M.P. Shiel).
Another is Li Shoon, a fictional villain of Chinese ethnicity created by H. Irving Hancock, first published in 1916. As common in the pulp fiction of the times, the depiction of Li Shoon had considerable racial stereotypes. He was described as being “tall and stout” and having “a round, moonlike yellow face” topped by “bulging eyebrows” and “sunken eyes”. He has “an amazing compound of evil” which makes him “a wonder at everything wicked” and “a marvel of satanic cunning.”

DC Comics featured Ching Lung in Detective Comics, and he appeared on the cover of the first issue (March 1937).

In the late 1950s, Atlas Comics (now Marvel Comics) debuted the Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu pastiche. However, a growing realization of the racist nature of the character archetype led to[citation needed] the villain having a handsome young Asian FBI agent, Jimmy Woo, being his principal opponent. Marvel would later use the actual Fu Manchu as the principal foe of his son, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu in the 1970s. Other characters inspired by Rohmer’s Fu Manchu include Pao Tcheou.

A 1977 Doctor Who serial, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, builds a science fiction plot upon another loose Fu Manchu pastiche. In this case, the key “yellow devil” character serves to enable an ill-intentioned time traveller from the fifty-first century.

Yellow Peril: The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe, by Richard Jaccoma (1978) is both a pastiche and a benign parody of the Sax Rohmer novels. As the title suggests, it’s a distillation of the trope, focusing on the psychosexual stereotype of the seductive Asian woman as well that of the ruthless Mongol conqueror that underlies much of supposed threat to Western civilization. Written for a sophisticated modern audience, it uses the traditional use of first-person narrative to portray the nominal hero Sir John Weymouth-Smythe as simultaneously a lecher and a prude, torn between his desires and Victorian sensibilities but unable to acknowledge, much less resolve, his conflicted impulses. The cover blurbs for the paperback edition declaim “Erotic adventure in the style of the original ‘pulps’” and “‘A Porno-Fairytale-Occult-Thriller!’ —Village Voice.” It is clearly in the same line as the contemporaneous works of Philip José Farmer, “updating” Rohmer the way Farmer updated Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent and Walter B. Gibson.

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