Trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT have broken down protections for workers and the environment in order to secure a free-wheeling capitalist global economy, and Asian workers, especially women, are suffering the worst of it -- laboring under worse working conditions and being forced to compete for the most degraded, worst-paying jobs.

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In the pre-World War II years, close to half of all Japanese American women were employed as servants or laundresses in the San Francisco area. government officials thoughtfully arranged for their employment by fielding requests, most of which were for servants.

The World War II internment of Japanese Americans made them especially easy to exploit: they had lost their homes, possessions, and savings when forcibly interned at the camps, Yet, in order to leave, they had to prove they had jobs and homes. The first wave of Asian women's organizing formed out of the Asian American movement of the 1960s, which in turn was inspired by the civil rights movement and the anti-Viet Nam War movement.

As Asian American scholar Gary Okihiro notes, "Europe's feminization of Asia, its taking possession, working over, and penetration of Asia, was preceded and paralleled by Asian men's subjugation of Asian women." While earnest, hardworking, and vital, these early Asian women radicals couldn't compete with the growing reality that for many Asian American women, there was money to be made. Not surprisingly, large organizations of primarily middle-class East Asian women flourished during these years.

The highly educated and affluent Asian immigrants who came to the U. after 1965 were eager to be incorporated into the U. These groups devoted themselves to education and service projects, rather than to directly resisting social injustices.

During these years, Japanese immigration stepped up, and with it, a reactionary anti-Japanese movement joined established anti-Chinese sentiment.

During the early 1900s, Japanese numbered less than 3 percent of the total population in California, but nevertheless encountered virulent and sometimes violent racism.

Empress Tsu-his ruled China from 1898 to 1908 from the Dragon Throne.

The described her as "the wicked witch of the East, a reptilian dragon lady who had arranged the poisoning, strangling, beheading, or forced suicide of anyone who had ever challenged her autocratic rule." The shadow of the Dragon Lady -- with her cruel, perverse, and inhuman ways -- continued to darken encounters between Asian women and the West they flocked to for refuge.

However, conservative and mainstream institutions supported these "model minority" activities because it implied there was a "good" minority in tacit opposition to the "bad" minorities -- African Americans and Latinos.

At the same time, the model minority myth helped countless struggling Asian Americans start businesses and send their kids to Ivy League schools, and was thus consciously upheld by Asian American community leaders.

Far from being predatory, many of the first Asian women to come to the U. in the mid-1800s were disadvantaged Chinese women, who were tricked, kidnapped, or smuggled into the country to serve the predominantly male Chinese community as prostitutes.