reappropriate

Monday, May 08, 2006

Unbound Feet

I wrote previously about my identity as an Asian American Woman, as part of a multiplicity of identities I subscribe to. These multiple identities contribute to a uniquely layered 'me' that I must parallel with the experiences and history of my communities. Inescapably part of my identity is that of the Woman, which I write about today; particularly how being Woman often seems to conflict with aspects of Asian American political dialogue. When I participated heavily on various Asian American forum boards, I would occasionally encounter Asian American Male posters who subscribed to a common extremist philosophy of Asian American political thought. Forefront among these posters was one who took the screen-name 'DAC', and so frequently did I butt heads with him, that he has become, in my mind, the flagbearer: the quintessential "Deranged And Cranky" Asian/Asian American man. Heavily affected by the emasculation of Asian American men in mainstream media, the DAC feels the pain of racial castration but turns his anger towards the Asian American Woman. He rages against the miscegenation of 'his' women, and calls into question the Asian American identity of any woman who dares to marry outside the race. 'Sellout Whore' is a frequent entry in his lexicon. Hypocritically, the DAC simultaneously battles the Emasculated Asian Male stereotype by applauding any Asian American Man who exhibits 'player/pimp' behaviour. For DAC, 'having' a White woman is the ultimate symbol in reclaiming Asian Male virility. I find this subgroup of Asian American political thought troubling, especially in the context of our history and connection to Asia proper, in which sexism is a real, inescapable demon of our heritage. In the story of Asian Americana, the Asian/Asian American Woman has long been kept in silence and shadows. Gary Okihiro, in his essay, Recentering Women, uses the analogy of Maxine Hong Kingston's "No Name Woman" (of the same-titled story in The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts) as an analogy of every Asian American Woman's plight within the larger context of Asian American history. Okihiro writes:

Asian American history is replete with the deeds of men. Women constitute a forgotten factor in Asian American history. They have "no name." During Korea's Yi dynasty (1392-1910), women had no names of their own. They were identified and relative to men, as so-and-so's daughter, so-and-so's wife, and so-and-so's mother. When she married, not her name but her family name was entered into her husband's family registry, and her name was removed from her family registery, where only the name of her husband was recorded. Having no name thus meant being defined in relation to men, and having no name meant erasure and ostracism.
This Namelessness undoubtedly benefits the Asian American Man. Okihiro continues:
[The Asian American Woman's] ommission serves to bolster a system of male dominance, a system of privilege and oppression.
Although the emasculation of the Asian American Man exists, it would be anachronistic to attempt to justify the oppression of Asian American Women by their male counterparts using the relatively modern injustice of mainstream Asian American Male castration. After all, the East is not without its historical repression of the Female body and spirit. Maxine Hong Kingston relates in her pseudo-autobiographical work, The Woman Warrior, Cantonese phrases such as "girls are maggots in the rice" and "it is more profitable to raise geese than girls". The most obvious symbol of this repression of Woman in historical Asia is in the practice of foot-binding, which began in the Sung dynasty (960-1279) and which continued well into the early 20th century. Foot-binding involved the practice of wrapping a young girl's feet in cloth, breaking the bones and deforming the foot so that they would fit into tiny "lotus shoes". The bound foot was usually only a few inches in length and the process of foot-binding was a painful one for the girl. The final effect was that a woman had to walk slowly and carefully on her tiny feet and could not walk for long distances, thus rendering her completely dependent on those around her. Symbolically, foot-binding took the carefree spirit of women, rendering them feeble and imprisoning them within their households, and thus their marriages. One woman wrote:
I was inflicted with the pain of footbinding when I was seven years old... I was an active child who liked to jump about, but from then on my free and optimistic nature vanished...
To examine the outlook of the DAC is to see a similar foot-binding process. The DAC not only angers against the miscegenation of Asian American Woman, but feels a personal affront when seeing an Asian American Woman with a non-Asian Man. The act of Binding lies in the claim that if the Asian American Woman hopes to remain "down with the community", she should subjugate her own identity and autonomy in order to aid the Asian American Man in reclaiming his virility. We begin to draw connections between the DAC and the Black Panther Party's Eldridge Cleaver and his brand of African American Male politic, which likened sexual oppression of women with racial self-identification and pride. Famously, Cleaver advocated the beating and raping of Black and White Women to bolster the strength of the Black Male identity, and defended violent sex with a Woman as "an insurrectionary act". The Asian American Woman's own stories and experiences become irrelevant, argues the DAC, if, in our own choices of private sexuality, we do not use our sex to make a political statement for the Asian American Man. Here we see a claiming of the Asian American Woman as object, and arguments being made towards the imprisonment of the Asian American Woman politic within the household of the Asian American Male politic. With his words, the DAC binds our feet, and with it, binds our stories, experiences, and female identity, to him. We become the Foot-Bound Comfort Women, who contribute to the Asian American political movement not through our voices and our minds, but through our vaginas, easily colonized and reappropriated to serve the Asian American Man. Though it would be easy to point the fingers at the small group of marginalized DACs in our community as the root of our Bound Feet and Namelessness, it is imperative to remember that, in the practice of foot-binding, it was mothers and grandmothers who bound the feet of their daughters, not fathers or brothers. Here, too, we see an analogy to the Asian American Woman politic. Though cast as Nameless throughout our history, we find the Asian American Woman often embracing these traditions of closed mouths and Lotus Feet in order to maintain our cultural authenticity. Sayatani DasGupta and Shamita Das Dasgupta write in their essay, Women in Exile :
'What do you consider yourself?' I was asked once by a 'progressive' white American woman, 'an Indian or a feminist?' It is this mainstream notion, that progressive politics and Asian heritage are somehow irreconcilable, that has maintained the silence around Asian women's activism. For the Indian American community, this attitude is not only an external one, but an internal one as well. Feminists in the community risk being considered 'un-Indian' community betrayers.
This juxtaposition of cultural, political "down-ness" with a surrendering of feminism is what results in many an Asian American Woman finding herself culturally reluctant to find and claim her Name. Coupled with existing tensions between feminism and communities of colour -- the American Feminist Movement is often characterized as ignorant of the histories of the Feminist of Colour -- the Asian American Woman is forced to choose between her racial identity and her gendered identity. This choice is placed before us by American progressivism and by Asian conservatism and tradition, but ultimately, the Asian American Woman should take responsibility for, willingly or unwillingly, making a choice. After all, it is fallacy to imagine that we can divorce sexism from racism, or that my membership within the Asian American community necessitates less of a tie with my identity as a strong, empowered Woman. The identities are absolutely interconnected within the Woman of Colour. Elizabeth Spelman says, in her book Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought, "it is not easy to think about gender, race, and class in ways that don't obscure or underplay their effects on one another." Ultimately, we Asian American Women must reject the choice that demands that we surrender our feminism in favour of foot-binding by members of our own community. King-Kok Cheung writes, in her essay, Warrior Woman versus Chinaman Pacific:
Asian American men have suffered deeply from racial oppression. When Asian American women seek to expose antifemale prejudices in their own ethnic community, the men are likely to feel betrayed. Yet it is also undeniable that sexism still lingers as part of the Asian legacy in Chinese America and that many American-born daughters still feel its sting. Chinese American women may be at once sympathetic and angry toward the men in their ethnic community: sensitivity to the marginality of these men but resentful of their male privilege.
We must recognize that as the Asian American Woman, our history is at once connected to and unique from that of the Asian American Man, and that in order to build a community, history and heritage, we must strive to develop a dialogue that recognizes both of our oppressions and identities. We must unbind our feet, and with it, unbind ourselves from subjugation to the interests of men within our communities. We must rediscover our "free and optimistic natures". In my earlier post, I cited the sugar cane plantation owners and their cultivation of racial tension in an effort to control the coolies that massively outnumbered them. Here, again, I can only see another control mechanism, dividing our community and distracting us from the common goal of equality against a White majority. I tire of the DACs who would rather turn inward and criticize the Asian American Woman for advocating feminism within the community rather than to point their verbal barbs outward against those pulling the strings. I tire of those who would marginalize me and Women like me because we do not cater to the interests of Men like them -- those who choose to put our Asian Americana hand-in-hand with our feminism. But then again, as Jay writes in his comments to my earlier post:
...about [James'] comment: "political Asian American men would like what Reappropriate.com says". Don't worry about [the DACs], lots more political AAM than [them]. And a lot of them do like what reappropriate.com says.
Perhaps we, Asian American Woman, can finally take heart and, once more, find our Names; it seems most of the Asian American Men are, indeed, listening.

68 Comments:

Anonymous tekanji said...

Great post, Jenn. I'm not an Asian American, but I've seen similar dynamics in the AA groups I came into contact with on campus. Even the AAMs in my friendgroup, who generally had a great deal of respect for women, would sometimes fall into what you describe.

When we first got together, my ex would often talk about white men stealing "his" (Korean) women. I'd point to myself and say, "Hello, pot. Meet kettle." He'd try to argue that it was different, and of course lose -- a double standard is a double standard, and he was smart enough to know that (I wouldn't have dated him otherwise ^_-). He also had a warped view of "Korean Pride" for a while, which had less to do with actually being proud of his Korean heritage and more to do with DAC rhetoric of masculinity and control that you describe.

And this was someone who was the most sweet, sensitive, and feminist guy I've ever dated. Eventually I think he was secure enough to let it go (at least, he didn't make those comments anymore in front of me or our friends), but I think it really illustrates how much pressure there can be in the AA community to conform to the behaviour you describe. Obviously since I don't have first hand knowledge of all the aspects -- only the ones that affected me -- you're more qualified than I am to judge that, but, yeah, just wanted to say that my experience corroborates what you've said here :P

5/08/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger powerpolitics said...

LOL, I remember DAC from modelminority. It was a large part of what drove me out of that place. That and infrequently updated posts and the overall juvenile and reductive debate.

5/08/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you tekanji for your comment - it's cool that you challenged your ex to think about what he was saying. Truly, the DAC mindset is preposterous to me because it is so obviously misogynistic in its core assumptions -- that women, of any race, are some sort of token or symbol for political identity. I am not going to be anyone's object to be sexually colonized, by anyone.

"And this was someone who was the most sweet, sensitive, and feminist guy I've ever dated."

I'd like to think that only asshats subscribe to misogyny, but I think it's extremely prevalent even among politicized, sweet men. Sometimes, it's just hard to divorce their identities as AM from their own feminism -- and while I respect that it's hard to be an AM in a society that emasculates you based on the colour of your skin, I don't think that's any reason to tolerate sexism against me and my kind.

But thank you for your comments!

To PowerandPolitics: yeah, dac was on YW, where I modded for awhile. We got into some heated debates. I never bothered with MM -- them's some truly irrational, intolerant people over there, and me being an outspoken Asian American woman dating a non-Asian man, I wouldn't ever be able to get a word in edgewise.

5/08/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, I'm not an academic trained in critical theory, but I think one of the central factors on why APA/PI progressives have trouble moving forward in tackling REAL issues is because of this DAC patriarchal Asian/APA male mindset that revolves heavily around petty rhetoric, such as "whitey are taking our wimminz!! all our wimminz who don't date us Asian men are sell-outs!".

Once again, this is WHY I did not want to major in Asian-American Studies: to hear the tired ranting of bitter Asian men. Them and their colonized patriarchal double-standard bullshit!!

And interracial relationships do NOT equal being a sell-out. I myself am in an interracial relationship (and it's not a white man), but I myself am of mixed heritage. So I guess the DAC dude from MM would consider me a "sell-out whore" because I'm a half-breed mutt. *sarcasm*

5/08/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

BRAVO JENN!!

I've heard some men discuss women in terms of ownership that is frightening. There used to be a creepy site called bitterasianman. I wonder if that is DAC?? The guy used to talk about "our women" and how he wanted a white woman (but not black or Latina)

5/09/2006 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous BehindRoundEyes said...

Sorry about that link...it kinda throws off the whole screen...

Anyway to fix it?

5/09/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

erhm... not really, without deleting your comment. No worries, though!

Next time, you could try using the anchor tag [a] where the square brackets are really greater than and less than signs, but if you don't know HTML, I wouldn't sweat it...

5/09/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous BehindRoundEyes said...

gotcha...I'll remember that for next time...

5/09/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravissimo and not a moment too soon.

5/10/2006 12:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can somebody explain to me how the oppression of females during the colonial times have anything to do with asian men who grew up in america today? Are we am to blamed for the oppression of females in the past in asia. Weren't females oppressed in the past and present in ever nation including the US? For some reason colonial oppression of asian female must be punished while white male colonial female oppression is ok to be forgotten?

First off were you adopted?

I think most of the belief that these "bitter asian men" have is the belief that many af who claim to be unbias in thier mate selection reveals a bias against their own race by only dating wm and possibly some bm. Have any of you ladies ever tried giving an am a chance? If you are so open minded about race relations that you are willing to date somebody who is outside of your own race, culture, and community why not try dating an am? I mean somebody in your playing field, not the supper dupper wham bam thank you man asian player. I mean an am at the same level as you. May not work the first time but when have anybody found true love on the first try?

am and af grew up in the same house. I am positive about this. They eat the same foods. They have the same family. Deal with the same problems. Yet when they grow up one tells the other that they are not like them and that they do not want to date the other. That they really don't belong together. All this makes no sense. I would imagine an af an am are the best possible mate for each other.

I have experienced such love and I will tell you to me it's the greatest love of all. To enjoy the same foods. To have the desire to travel back to our parent's homeland. To have a child who will call us mother and father in the language of our parents. Although I didn't experienced the last item, but let me tell you I will. And the day it happens will be the happiest day of my life.

In psychology they have never been able to prove that opposite attract. They did show that people who are in successful relationships are usually very similiar. Even their bone sizes are the same. Eharmony arguably one of the most successful online dating site is built on the basis of finding people mates whom they are most similiar to. The founder of the site was a marriage counselor who determined that most of the failed marriages were between people who are too disimiliar. I know you might be thinking about the tv shows showing how horrible it is to date oneself. But has this ever happened in real life? This could just be a myth. I wouldn't plan life around a myth.

You do what you want but I am telling you there's some sense in us "bitter asian men" and it has nothing to do with racism, it has nothing to do with sexism, it's really not based out of anything negative. To me, it has everything to do with wanting to be with somebody who is very much like me. Do you suppose all that I wrote may have something to do with that common advice that people give to people who can't find love? Love yourself first.

I don't think I will change you. It's funny how in life people get's an idea an just spends their time trying to prove it. It takes a lot of effort and time to change a person. oh well.

5/10/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, my spelling is off and I could have made it clear I am not implying am and af from the same family! I meant the same kind of family and so on. lol, should have checked my writing. I am sure you will understand what I am trying to say.

5/10/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

what makes you think that any af who ends up with a non-am is a self-hater? or that an af who dates outside the race would also not date an am given the right opportunity? Love is about finding a connect between two people -- and in an ideal situation, it shouldn't need to fall along racial lines.

also, af's do experience sexism at the hands of am's. The very fact that am's would disapprove of an af's dating choices but not hold themselves to a similar standard is a primary symptom of that sexism. I am also arguing that af's need to find an asian american feminism that isn't about trying to empower the "DAC"s of the world. Our narratives need to be our own, not forcibly linked to ams.

and what makes you think your love is any greater than anyone else's? i mean, it sounds like you're arguing that my relationship is inauthentic or cannot possible be deep and meaningful. since you don't know me nor my relationship, i don't know how you could possible justify that remark.

5/11/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's ironic that an Asian male poster responds to a post about Asian male sexism with sexism. Then claims Asian male sexism hasn't existed since "colonial" times in Asia. Colonialism, which is almost always a consequence of imperialism, is the implanting of settlements on distant territory. China and Japan were never colonized by the West though Vietnam, The Phillipines and India were. Most importtantly, patriarchy existed for thousands of years in Asia before Asians ever saw a white person.

"Though cast as Nameless throughout our history, we find the Asian American Woman often embracing these traditions of closed mouths and Lotus Feet in order to maintain our cultural authenticity...It is this mainstream notion, that progressive politics and Asian heritage are somehow irreconcilable, that has maintained the silence around Asian women's activism."

The silence is deafening.

5/14/2006 05:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn and anonymous,

Look people. Asian men do not disapprove of asian females dating white men. But we do have a problem with asian females WHO ONLY DATES WHITE MEN AND GO AROUND SAYING THAT IT'S BECAUSE ASIAN MEN IS THIS AND THAT WHEN WHITE MEN ARE THE SAME. Asian men are human just like white men. Some of us are sexist and some of us are not. Just like with white men. Until you guys start believing this, you guys will keep finding some reason to demonize us.

You know many asian females started life out just like you, have issues with asian men. But then they change. Ming-Na Wen is one female who went through such tranformation.
http://www.modelminority.com/article293.html

I am being nice to you guys, I won't be coming back here again. Obviously, my kind are not wanted here.

Man, you hate asiaphiles but you give them every chance to be your mate, but for asian men whome you have the most in common with, you won't even give them a chance. Absolutely, makes no sense.

5/14/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous tw said...

I remove my props for your "misappropriation" post. You are not my sister. You are just another power faction with an agenda to drive forward. You are just another person who wants power, not unity. Not equality. Not true equality - for Asian women, and Asian men.

Gender does not, repeat, not, trump race. (Except, of course, on this blog.) The fact that there are people like you out there, who despite their considerable smarts use that trump card, is 1) disappointing, to say the least, and 2) it ensures that true equality will never be obtainable... because it means that people like me will be forced to fight for my genderkind to counter your inherent bias, instead of devoting my resources towards unity and equality.

Look into your heart. Truthfully. No amount of academic sophistication will obscure the fact that your inherent bias is driven by the most primal of emotions. Yes, it's that apparent.

Good luck, and goodbye.

5/15/2006 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Dialectic the Stealth M.C. said...

Have you ever heard of the notion of "white privilege"?

A very irritating way white privilege manifests is in those minorities who, for whatever pathological reasons, love and revere white people more than John loved Jesus.

In the Asian female manifestation of this phenomenon (and there are many different ones; I just choose this one because it's common among Asian-Americans), these "white-chasers" seem to hold every bad thing an Asian male ever did in history against their Asian-American male peers.

Here's a great example. In the comments section of a website for a short film depicting an Asian female/ White male romantic pair (by far the MOST prevalent interracial pairing in Hollywood and on the streets), people were debating how significant their ethnicities were.

Here was a response by "Asian Female Viewer" posted on April 29, 2005 08:06 PM.

[Quote:]
i do agree that casting an asian guy opposite natalie would have been more interesting. HOWEVER, this is a good movie with a good plot. AND I JUST HAVE TO SAY TO THE ANGRY ASIAN MALE RESPONDERS: Asian women have gotten crap for so long from asian males. do you think it's surprising that our earliest expressions through film would praise asian men? i mean, after all, they bound our feet for 1000 years. there's gotta be some residual pain.
[End quote]

This is the sort of irrational hate I have seen and heard quite often which bewilders and disgusts me to the core of my being.

Asian males, to say nothing of Asian-American males, are going to be hated for this?

But White males, they get a pass for all that they have done? They get a pass for committing genocide on a continent of people? They get a pass for enslaving and destroying the future of another continent of people? They get a pass for using an entire continent as a penal colony while massacring its aboriginal population? They get a pass for slaughtering and raping and taking land to sell drugs?

(I'm referring to Native Americans, Africans, Aboriginal Australians, and Hong Kong Chinese, in case you need a scorecard, and there are many, many more people I have not mentioned).

They get a pass for all this, and we, who are just as American as an Asian-American female, as a White female, as a White male, we have to be HATED by our own people, by our own sisters, for our past patriarchy?

White men formalized the concept of women as chattel. They invented corsets and declared that it was the woman's "fault" for bearing daughters. They institutionalized the notion that women were not meant to think or work.

Yes, there exists Asian patriarchy. There exists Black patriarchy. There exists Latino patriarchy. There exists Indian patriarchy. And ABOVE ALL OTHERS, there exists White patriarchy.

Which one has done the most damage to our fragile world?

5/15/2006 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

China and Japan were never colonized by the West...

*cough* Opium wars, carving of Chinese ports, Perry's gunboat diplomacy, opening of Japanese ports, cotinued neo-colonial occupation. *cough*

Sorry to burst your bubble but the US never got to be a dominant power through that "honest work pays off" ideological BS.

Sexism before colonialism? Of course, if you apply western standards. But all nations are guilty of sexism. If you believe that American is an egalitarian state nonsense, then yes, the silence is deafening.

5/15/2006 02:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who needs white men to oppress Asian males when Asian women are getting in line to do it for them for the past in justices imposed on them. Thank god for Amy Tan and her loyal following of "Joy Luck Club feminism" because this contributes to why the Asian American community will get nowhere.

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

5/15/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, this post about AA feminism is rife with ignorance.

Your posts about AA feminism are overflowing with Maxine Hong Kingston-type biases, information taken out of context, and nonsensical cultural analogies.

I am suspicious if there really are old Cantonese phrases, which state: "girls are maggots in the rice" and "it is more profitable to raise geese than girls.” Amy Tan got called out by Frank Wu for fabricating details about Chinese culture and then selling it off as historically accurate to Caucasians. Amy Tan referred to an old Chinese proverb in which "the skill of a wife is determined by the size of the husband's belch." Later, this "proverb" was shown to have never existed in China, but Tan maintained that it was "emotionally" true.

Gary Okihiro (not a Corean and knowing not understanding the context of the information he was posting) states that: 1. Corean women were heavily oppressed during the Choseon Period. 2. The use of pseudonyms was a reflection of this oppression.

Number one is correct whereas number two is not. During the Choseon Period, it was considered bad luck to refer to anyone male or female by his or her given name. Children had "children's names," and men had names relative to their position and occupation in society. Fathers were and are routinely called "so-and-so's father" or even "so-and-so's son." Using someone's true name indicated an intimate bond and personal names were not routinely used in public.

Additionally, foot binding was a practice of the elite. Only the wealthiest and most privileged segment of society got to do it. It was a status symbol that displayed a life of luxury and privilege since no normal family could afford to keep women out of the family workforce. Thus, women with bound feet lived a life of luxury in comparison to the women with unbound feet that had to toil for them. Now, this is by no means of an excuse for that particular practice but the reasoning for it isn’t as cut and dry as you make it out to be such as “Asian male sexism.”

To continue, "bound foot comfort women?” The practice of binding feet and the Japanese comfort corps have no relationship at all. Foot binding was Chinese. Comfort Corps was Japanese sexual slavery. Different countries, different sexist patriarchies.

One of her supporters was also talking about how China was never colonized. This is laughable. I guess that means Germans never controlled the ports at Qingdao, the Russians never took over "Port Arthur" on the Liao Dong peninsula, and Soviet East Asia isn't located in Manchuria.

Asian American interpretations of Asian history are some of the most self-absorbed, self-serving, ignorant babble I have ever seen. Speaking up for Asian female rights are encouraged but what many of these comments are doing is assisting in the emasculation of Asian men by white society. If your “liberation” by white society means oppression and ridicule of Asian men, I want no part of it and neither should any other reasonable Asian American/Canadian.

I’m not even going to get started about the discussion of Asian women who blow off Asian men and then talk about the Asian American community.

5/15/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

I'm not Asian.

For any Asian/ Asian American man who's upset because the writer of this blog dates outside of her race: get over it.

I have never seen so many people who find fault with people who speak out about their group's political issues, only because of their personal life choices.

As a Black man, if any Black woman told me I couldn't write or speak about African American issues because I'm not dating a Black woman (and never have), I'd laugh heartily at her ignorance. On some level, a person like that is just mad because they are alone. Nothing about my personal life says that I can't have an opinion on racial profiling or environmental racism.

No one should define their melanin membership through their genitals.

5/15/2006 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"Yes, there exists Asian patriarchy. There exists Black patriarchy. There exists Latino patriarchy. There exists Indian patriarchy. And ABOVE ALL OTHERS, there exists White patriarchy." - Dialectic the Stealth M.C.

To believe this argument means that on some level, one has to believe that sexism imposed from within a minority community in America is less damaging and less demeaning that that imposed from the larger society. I do not believe that makes sense.

Those with the closest intimacy, greatest knowledge, and strongest ties to us as individuals are members of our families. After that, community and race emerge as powerful socializing tools, just because of their proximity to the individuals within their spheres of influence. That being said, the covers of Maxim and Playboy express their own anti-woman of color social programming with every new issue, but that printed sexism becomes a relevant human act when a family member openly reads those pages.

Hell, many Black men would never consider picking up FHM but read King religiously, and listen to artists like Ludacris and Snoop Dogg as a matter of normal behavior. It goes without saying that the anti-Black female messages sent by those actions to the sisters and nieces and daughters of those brothers may have a more powerful impact today than the history of American female suffrage.

We should not compare patriarchies to justify anti-White antagonism. That only serves to forever consider sexism as less important and less relevant to people's daily lives than race, or other oppressions, and that comparison need not be made to combat the oppressions themselves.

5/15/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This post is being debated here:
Fighting44s, but the detractors seem incapable of understanding that I deliberately make the comments section of this blog open to all kinds of users (including the ever-aggravating anonymous commentor), citing a reluctance to sign up for blogger to post criticism here.

So, I'm responding here because, by the same token, I have no desire to sign up for Fighting44's in order to defend myself against ad hominem attacks. I'm going to respond to some of the argument-based criticisms in that thread, specifically the post by seoulbrotherno1.

He says, "First of all, I am suspicious if there really are old Cantonese phrases which state: "girls are maggots in the rice" and "it is more profitable to raise geese than girls". Amy Tan got busted by Frank Wu for making up shit about Chinese culture and then pimping it off as the real deal to White folks (Amy Tan referred to an old Chinese proverb "The skill of a wife is determined by the size of the husband's belch." Later this "proverb" was shown to never exist in China, but Tan maintained that it was "emotionally" true. Hooray for truthiness!)."

To which I say: I quoted Okihiro and other essays quoting Maxine Hong Kingston's pseudo-autobiographical work (these lines are well-quoted). I'm not going to claim there is truth to these proverbs, but I'm also not going to claim they are false. I'm trusting Okihiro, one of the greatest AA academics of our time, to have done his homework.

"During the Choseon Period, it was considered bad luck to refer to ANYONE male or female by their given name. Children had "children's names," and men also had names relative to their position and occupation in society. Father's were / are routinely called "so-and-so's father" or even "so-and-so's son." Using someone's true name indicated an intimate bond and personal names were not routinely used in public."

Reference? Mine is Okihiro. Yours?

"Next, foot binding was a practice of the ELITE. Only the wealthiest, most privileged segment of society got to do it. Peasants couldn't afford to have their woman's feet bound (they had to work in the fields). Women with bound feet lived a life of luxury in comparison to the women with unbound feet that had to toil for them."

Actually, foot-binding became a not-so-common but not altogether rare practice of the peasantry and underclass after its popularity among the elite. Although many peasants indeed could not afford foot-binding, if they could, they would -- as it was a desirable trait to have for their daughters, and the ability to marry the daughter off to a better family was worth the loss of manual labour. We see this pattern in many societies: the elite would create a new fad and eventually it would circulate to the poor who would constantly try to emulate the rich. We see it today with our modern celebrities and the number of teens who copy their styles.

But whether peasant women were or were not suffering from foot-binding, this detractor doesn't actually deny the existence of foot-binding. Just because a woman was of the ruling or upperclass, does this justify this treatment of her in society? I think whether we squabble over exactly who, when or why, women were certainly still objectified and subjugated for centuries through this practice.

Anecdotally (only because I'm not willing to find a reference at the moment) we certainly know that female children were not prized as male children were, in most Confucian societies. How one can argue against this is beyond me, as there are countless instances of cultural practice and historical events that substantiate this, as well as the current culture we face.

"To continue "bound foot comfort women"?!@# The practice of binding feet and the Japanese comfort corps have no relationship at all. Foot binding = Chinese. Comfort Corps = Japan. Different countries, different patriarchies."

Duh. Artistic license. I frickin' know -- I was bringing the foot-binding into the metaphor of the Woman as being used as enslaved sexualized companions of DAC men, as they might see us.

"Asian American interpretations of Asian history are some of the most self-absorbed, self-serving bullshit I have ever seen."

I really fail to see how this post argues AGAINST sexism in Asian culture, and certainly how it argues against the need to develop an Asian American female narrative. How is this rebuttal (coming from a self-proclaimed 'seoulbrother') not self-serving in its desperate need to counter any discussion of Asian history oppressing Asian/Asian American women?

5/15/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

oh, thank you 'dialectic' for reposting 'seoulbrotherno1's comments.

However, you SHOULD consider reading this post before you mindlessly reprint the rantings of another against it.

5/15/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I'm not quite sure it's fair for the black poster to say something along the lines of "get over it".

That's hardly a fair statement. That's like asking this gentlemen here to get over the fact that the cops are 7 times more likely to stop him than they would stop a white person, or that 50 years ago there was segregation in schools and establishments that forbade him to enter. Yeah, I know, it's not quite on the same scale, but it doesn't mean it doesn't effect us.

or how about this. how many times has he walked into a store, and some white woman starts getting nervous around him just because he's black? how many times was he treated with less courtesy because of his race? It's the same goddamn thing.

and to simply dismiss this with a "get over it" is a pretty insensitive thing to say to someone.

Does this mean this kind of double standard behavior is allowed? Certainly not. I personally do not think an asian girl dating a white guy is necessarily wrong. It's when the reason behind said union is purely based on a racist and sexist notion that's when I have a problem with it.

I've met guys who only date asian women. why? because they think Asian women are more domesticated, more docile, more submissive then their white/black/hispanic counterparts. Tell me that's not in many ways a racist and sexist thing to assume.

The same goes for AAM. By assuming that dating a white girl is BETTER than dating an AAF, the AAM has automatically lowered his own race to think that being with a WF is some kind of empty victory.

Having said that, I have noticed a very large number of AFs who simply refuse to date AMs, just as there are a lot of (and I'm gonna borrow Jenn's term here) DACs pissed about this kind of thing.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, watching America's Top Model's Asian contestant Gina, who has expressed on the show that she doesn't date AMs.

Most of the time, these girls either think that all AMs are insecure DACs or are basically caricatures of the Joy Luck Club universe. That or they just have some contrived reason like "they're too short" or some such. (Despite the fact that a growing number of my friends and myself are in the 6 foot range)

It's like me saying I wouldn't date black girls, because I think they're all loud, shallow, and obnoxious women or something.

5/15/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"On the other hand, I'm not quite sure it's fair for the black poster to say something along the lines of "get over it"." - Anonymous

It's not about fairness, or sensitivity, or anything outer than free choice. Too many Asian/ Asian American men, upset over interracial dating in their community, espouse beliefs that deny free choice for their female counterparts without any reflection upon the depraved sexism of their stances. It's annoying. When Black females express similar views towards Black men who date outside the race, they are largely ignored. However, I've never heard Black women express views as radical as the AAM's who've disagreed with this post.

The idea that people who date interracially are forever unable to comment on the racism they and their community combat daily simply because they date outside of their race promotes ludicrous silence on people because of personal choices one's community does not and should not care about. Any Black person (or anyone else) who says that my opinions on American race issues are not valid because I date interracially will only receive vitriol.

And no, asking a person to "get over" their personal issues with interracial dating is not similar in any way to asking a person to endure racism without comment. One involves a group's internal dissension over racial trends, while the other involves interracial discrimination in law enforcement, legal segregation, and racist personal behavior justified by custom. No, it's not the same goddamn thing. Internal community debate over IR dating is nowhere near racist cops arresting Black men on flimsy evidence.

Further, many of the people upset with posts like this never stop to really consider the sexism of the AAM demographic, or assume that the real culprit must be someone White. All the people who'd rather not deal with Asian/ Asian American feminism need to hear "get over it" sometimes. Perhaps insensitivity will work where reason fails, because in the grand war against racism in America, AF/XM pairings are not the biggest issue.

5/15/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

I'm going to address James first. It's taking a very long time to write this message.

For any Asian/ Asian American man who's upset because the writer of this blog dates outside of her race: get over it.

This shocks me a little, not because of the comment, because I don't think Jenn's IR should affect her argument (unless there's racist rhetoric involved) but because of your response. "Get over it" is dismissive and denies peoples' pain.

As a Black man, if any Black woman told me I couldn't write or speak about African American issues because I'm not dating a Black woman (and never have), I'd laugh heartily at her ignorance. On some level, a person like that is just mad because they are alone.

If you don't want Jenn to be disrespected because of her relationship, why are you disrespecting others because of theirs?

To believe this argument means that on some level, one has to believe that sexism imposed from within a minority community in America is less damaging and less demeaning that that imposed from the larger society. I do not believe that makes sense.

You ignore one thing: white men, because of their history after World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars, have systematically created a system of objectification of Asian women exclusively for white men. Think about Miss Saigon, Madame Butterfly, the Transporter 1, etc. It is both racist and sexist. Then they try to pass it off as "love", and call anybody who object to this type of objectification as racist and anti-IR. And because of white privilege, their viewpoint is accepted as the norm.

It makes more sense than you think. I've seen white men who do have a sense of entitlement to Asian women and Asian culture (see Asian Boston, where the white male founder's justification for his magazine with scantily clad Asian women is his relationship with a Vietnamese woman), and their spouses do not necessarily object, because of fear or because they've bought into the mainstream viewpoint that places white men on top of the racial/sexual hierarchy.

I believe sexism matters as much as racism does, but sexism and racism intersect in ways you don't expect, and different types of racism complicate the matters further.

5/15/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that you basically just called most AMs chauvinistic pigs and insecure assholes in one single swoop based on a couple anecdotal internet run ins and citing practices that are more than 150 years old.

Yeah, so basically, AMs are mostly assholes except for the few "westernized" ones, that must be it.

and the guy up ahead who told all asian guys to "get over it" is not exactly being fair. that's like me telling him to get over the fact that by him being black he is 7 times more likely to pulled over by a cop on the highway to be searched for drugs, that despite his accomplishments, people are always going to assume he's not that intelligent, and in the court of law he is far more likely to convicted of a violent crime, regardless of truth behind it.

Yeah, get over that shit.

5/15/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous seoulbrotherno1 said...

Yeah, someone else posted my stuff up on your blog with a few added touches here and there. You can go back to the 44's in order to see the real deal.

While Okihiro has a lot more credibility than Kingston (one works in the realm of reality and the other creates fictions which she tries to pass off as reality), his observations on the Choseon Period are lacking. It fulfills the role of painting a picture of oppressed Asian women, but it isn't contextualized. It is just a fact which has been plucked to further an argument.

In a similar way, your arguments about "Asian Patriarchy" do the same thing. Various facts are plucked out of context to add to a narrative of "Asian Patriarchy" as if it is one universal, monolithic entity. Your use of the term "foot-bound comfort women" is a clear example of this.

Such heavy-handed reductionism transforms Asian men into nameless, faceless, indistinct boogeymen oppressors of Asian women. This catagorization is conveniently corresponds with White racist conceptualizations of Asian men, and it also sets up White men as the solution to Asian patriarchy (as if White men don't have their own patriarchies which have inflicted equal if not greater suffering upon both Asin men and women.)

Thus, while Okihiro may have had a point in the 80's about AA women being silenced, that certainly doesn't hold true today. AA literature is over-flowing with female narratives -most of which correspond to this formula: Asian woman suffers under Chinese communism, Vietnamese communism, North Corean communism, Pol Pot, etc, she escapes to America and finds freedom, happiness and fulfillment in the arms of a White man. White (and Asian female) audiences have shown time and time again that they are eager to consume anything that depicts Asians (specifically Asian men) as backwards, barbaric, and oppressive while positing White people are progressive and enlightened.

To argue that an Asian American female narrative doesn't exist in the "Asian American canon" tells me that Jenn knows very little about the body of Asian American literature or even about the field of AA studies (which is dominated by AA female) which has existed for the last twenty years. I am not arguing against the development of this literature (it has already been developed and its existence can't really be argued)-I am arguing against its racist reappropriation by the White majority. I am arguing against mis-informed rants against a supposedly monolithic Asian patriarchy that doesn't really exist. You cannot create "sisterhood" by ignoring the specific details of other women's struggles in order to make one universal bad GUY.

I have no issue with exposing the myriad of patriarchies operating in Asia, however, I think that it should be done in an informed, nuanced way. You post about unbound feet contains a lot of randomly connected historical examples to illustrate those points which made "The Joy Luck Club" a best seller: Asian men are evil.

Patriarchy is fucked up and terrible. However, it is hardly an irreversible and intristic part of every Asian culture and the solution is not as simple as "Westernizing." Can you see how essentializing Asia creates a paradigm where the only logical conclusion is to become like the West? When you make an unqualified criticism of "Confucianism" (which is equally as broad and diverse as "Asia") for valuing boys over girls, the implication is that this type of sexism is endemic to only Asia.

If we are to address patriarchy as a community, I think it is important for us to establish our loyalties to each other. There are too many critics of Asia who are saddled up with White partners, living in White communities, with little to no contact with Asians. However, they feel that they are entitled to bash Asians because they too are Asian. This is analogous to an Asian bringing a rope to a Klan lynching in order to string up another Asian.

When it comes to understanding and criticising patriarchy it is crucial that this is done in an understanding and sympathetic way. Idiots like DAC have been so wounded by White patriarchy, they try to take refuge in their own sexism. That doesn't make his sexism excusable, but by approaching folks in an empathetic way (e.g. "hey I know that you are really hurt by things but can't you see that you doing the same thing when you act like this") I think it will be easier to enact change.

Instead, what we have here is a spiral of escalation. White folks shit on DAC, DAC says "fuck those Asian bitches," Jenn says "Asian men have always shit on Asian women, DAC is just doing what comes natural to him," and then seoulbrother feels persecuted.

Now I am not trying to lash back and say that you are either stupid or wrong for feeling the way you do. Patriarchy does exist within various Asian communities and it needs to be addressed by men and women TOGETHER. Blanket statements and across-the-board catagorizations will only polarize the issue further and alienate folks who might otherwise be allies.

I would encourage you to learn more about your own roots and history in order to understand the bigger picture of partiarchy as it applies in your life -not as it applies to some nebulous, indistinct realm called "the Orient." Learn about British rule in Hong Kong, learn about the US occupation in South Corea, actually sit down and read Confucius, etc. Patriarchy in Asia (be it White or Asian) doesn't happen in a vaccuum.

As far as the topic of dating and political views is concerned, I'll simply make a closing statement by borrowing from the feminist movement, "the personal is political."

sb1

5/16/2006 03:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah. I'm too lazy to register an account so I'm forced to use the anon feature. Sorry if it's hard to reply to.

I actually bumped into an interesting article from an Asian American woman as to why it's difficult for one to believe an Asian female's pride and activism if their "other" is from another race.

http://www.aamovement.net/viewpoints/sistersear1.html

5/16/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous seoulbrotherno1 said...

I posted a rather lengthy (and very civil) response here, but it was deleted.

sb1

5/16/2006 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so I guess I don't know my way around blogger so well -I found my old post.

sb1

5/16/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

testing

5/17/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have time to read these comments but I posted that China and Japan weren't colonized by the West. Someone commented about ports so I'll read more about it.

Also, Korea was only colonized by Japan.

5/17/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad is an Asian man in his 70s and he told me about China, Japan and Korea not being colonized by whites so I'll have to take it up with him again.

Again, my definition of colonialism: "Colonialism, which is almost always a consequence of imperialism, is the implanting of settlements on distant territory". So were these settlements or control of ports? I'll have to ask Jeeves.

5/17/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn,
First off, I do not want to register to blogger, but posting as an anonymous person is not my style. Hence, I will reveal that I am from the 44's, with moniker "silkie," one of the more "moderate" members.

SB1 has posted an eloquent response to your piece and stated many issues I want to touch on.

All I want to say is this-- You ended your piece by saying:

"Perhaps we, Asian American Woman, can finally take heart and, once more, find our Names; it seems most of the Asian American Men are, indeed, listening."

I am one of those Asian Men who are listening, as are many in the 44s (believe it or not). Yet I find your article incredibly hard to swallow. You stated you wish to unify the Asian Community, but then spent almost all of your article demonizing Asian Men, a practice that I have found very common lately. In the end, you and DAC are just contributing the the problem that causes the Asian gender divide, albeit you two are at the opposite sides of the coin.

I have absolutely no problem with Asian people in interracial relationships, even if that relationship is based on fetish. After all, whatever people prefer is their business. However, I am throughly offended when these people justifies their position by bashing other Asians, especially on offenses from our grandparent's generation.

I don't mean to come off this strong right off the bat. I just want to ask you to consider what you are trying to accomplish the next time you write a piece like this, because if you are genuinely trying to unite Asians, I think this particular piece just did the opposite...

5/17/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I really fail to see how this post argues AGAINST sexism in Asian culture, and certainly how it argues against the need to develop an Asian American female narrative. How is this rebuttal (coming from a self-proclaimed 'seoulbrother') not self-serving in its desperate need to counter any discussion of Asian history oppressing Asian/Asian American women?"

All the comments by Asian men have been self-serving and not open to the post's spot-on description of Asian male sexism. It's sexist that no one is silencing the DACs. It would be more productive to work on them instead of criticizing someone who is merely pointing out this all-too-common phenomenon.

"Most of the time, these girls either think that all AMs are insecure DACs or are basically caricatures of the Joy Luck Club universe. That or they just have some contrived reason like "they're too short" or some such. (Despite the fact that a growing number of my friends and myself are in the 6 foot range)."

All the Asian male comments are perpetuating the stereotype of sexism either by disagreeing with the argument about DACs or by not criticizing the DACs. It's the DACs who should be silenced not people who put forth an accurate critique of this phenomenon. It's sexist for men to let DACs continuously speak without critique.

"It's not about fairness, or sensitivity, or anything outer than free choice. Too many Asian/ Asian American men, upset over interracial dating in their community, espouse beliefs that deny free choice for their female counterparts without any reflection upon the depraved sexism of their stances. It's annoying. When Black females express similar views towards Black men who date outside the race, they are largely ignored. However, I've never heard Black women express views as radical as the AAM's who've disagreed with this post...And no, asking a person to "get over" their personal issues with interracial dating is not similar in any way to asking a person to endure racism without comment. One involves a group's internal dissension over racial trends, while the other involves interracial discrimination in law enforcement, legal segregation, and racist personal behavior justified by custom. No, it's not the same goddamn thing. Internal community debate over IR dating is nowhere near racist cops arresting Black men on flimsy evidence...Further, many of the people upset with posts like this never stop to really consider the sexism of the AAM demographic, or assume that the real culprit must be someone White. All the people who'd rather not deal with Asian/ Asian American feminism need to hear "get over it" sometimes. Perhaps insensitivity will work where reason fails, because in the grand war against racism in America, AF/XM pairings are not the biggest issue."

Being ignored sexually or romantically is not oppression. When Asians are systematically discriminated in the job market we can talk about oppression. Asians are being discriminated against in the job market but the average Asian American "activist" won't touch that one. The main issue in Asian America is that we have succeeded but not had the "spoils", so to speak, of white women. We have the education, jobs and money but not the white honey. This isn't "oppression". Asian women are secondary and get the heat. If white women are not dating Asian men, take it up with white women. If Asian America were to march in the streets today, we'd have to hold up signs saying "WHITE PUSSY NOW" or "We have the education, jobs and money. Come over here, white honey."

"If you don't want Jenn to be disrespected because of her relationship, why are you disrespecting others because of theirs?"

No comment was disrespected on this thread. However, the post was disrespected because it was not read or thought through carefully.

"Thus, while Okihiro may have had a point in the 80's about AA women being silenced, that certainly doesn't hold true today. AA literature is over-flowing with female narratives -most of which correspond to this formula...White (and Asian female) audiences have shown time and time again that they are eager to consume anything that depicts Asians (specifically Asian men) as backwards, barbaric, and oppressive while positing White people are progressive and enlightened."

Some of us don't read or like Amy Tan or chick lit. Besides, let's talk about our lives not fictional books.

"White folks shit on DAC, DAC says "fuck those Asian bitches," Jenn says "Asian men have always shit on Asian women, DAC is just doing what comes natural to him," and then seoulbrother feels persecuted."

Then why doesn't anyone tell DACs to be quiet?

"Now I am not trying to lash back and say that you are either stupid or wrong for feeling the way you do. Patriarchy does exist within various Asian communities and it needs to be addressed by men and women TOGETHER. Blanket statements and across-the-board catagorizations will only polarize the issue further and alienate folks who might otherwise be allies."

That's like saying feminists can only address issues if they're lesbians. Or only hang out with feminists. Currently, I hang out with white and black women who don't even call themselves feminists. It's what I'm comfortable with and helps me learn about people different than myself. I'd go nuts if I only hung out with feminists. She didn't make blanket statements. She's addressing a strange phenomenon and the fact that women of color need feminist movements to be anit-racist and people of color movements to be anti-sexist. (I think. I read it a while ago) Again, she is spot on.

"I am one of those Asian Men who are listening, as are many in the 44s (believe it or not). Yet I find your article incredibly hard to swallow. You stated you wish to unify the Asian Community, but then spent almost all of your article demonizing Asian Men, a practice that I have found very common lately. In the end, you and DAC are just contributing the the problem that causes the Asian gender divide, albeit you two are at the opposite sides of the coin...I have absolutely no problem with Asian people in interracial relationships, even if that relationship is based on fetish. After all, whatever people prefer is their business. However, I am throughly offended when these people justifies their position by bashing other Asians, especially on offenses from our grandparent's generation...I don't mean to come off this strong right off the bat. I just want to ask you to consider what you are trying to accomplish the next time you write a piece like this, because if you are genuinely trying to unite Asians, I think this particular piece just did the opposite."

It's sexist to tell a woman what to do. If you can tell DACs to "tone it down" first, this post would have been unnecessary.

5/17/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some of us don't read or like Amy Tan or chick lit. Besides, let's talk about our lives not fictional books."

This should have been "Some of us don't read Amy Tan or chick lit. We're talking about lives not books."

5/17/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

""Get over it" is dismissive and denies peoples' pain." - Jay

You are correct. I was dismissive. I have a real problem with people who behave as if a person's intellectual product after considering race issues becomes suspect if they are romantically involved with someone outside of their race.

I would never say that a person like Michelle Malkin is forever denied discussion of the blatantly racist hate mail she receives just because her husband is Jewish. Reasoned people do not dismiss a person thoughts just because of their personal lives.

Any Black female who dislikes my blog because of what I write receives no vitriol from me. Any person who dislikes me because I date Jenn should never express that prejudice in my presence. Ever. I don't have patience for such stupidity.

Further, life is not fair. Every person who recalls facts about Black male life in America should remember the real pervasiveness of that persistent racism - it never goes away; it never stops hurting, but it can never retard one's progress without your consent.

I guess part of the reason I dislike the DAC backlash against Reappropriate is because I don't think of AM's as pathetic, wimpy creatures who must resort to insipid sexism to get dates. Regardless what Hollywood promotes as Asian male masculinity - all pocket protectors and HTML and asexual ass-kickers - no Asian male need internalize that stereotype.

I refuse to allow Hollywood or anything else to define me or my melanin.

5/17/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edward Said, the world's preeminent scholar on post-colonialism, says that colonialism started around 1878 with the "scramble for Africa" with the first great systematic conquests under Napolean (cf. Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, p. 58). He also defined colonialism as the implanting of settlements on distant territory as a consequence of imperialism (cf. Culture and Imperialism by Edward O. Said, p. 9) China is a a civilization comprising successive states and cultures dating back more than 4,000 years (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China). I think Asia is older than 4,000 years, like 6,000 so parts of Asia have been colonized, at most, for 5 percent of the time.

Reagrdless of definitions of colonization, I don't see much movement in Asia or Asian America towards Asian women's liberation which is at issue here.

5/17/2006 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is the sort of irrational hate I have seen and heard quite often which bewilders and disgusts me to the core of my being...Asian males, to say nothing of Asian-American males, are going to be hated for this?...But White males, they get a pass for all that they have done? They get a pass for committing genocide on a continent of people? They get a pass for enslaving and destroying the future of another continent of people? They get a pass for using an entire continent as a penal colony while massacring its aboriginal population? They get a pass for slaughtering and raping and taking land to sell drugs?"

Dialectic, I agree with the following black feminist blogger on how racism and sexism affect women of color because I have the same experience. I'm not saying this is all women of color's experience but check this out:

"Additionally, there is this notion that gender issues affect black and white women in the same way...I don't think that's necessarily the case...in terms of my experience, the discrimination I get from white men is very much racial; in other words I feel that race virtually erases gender bias in interactions with white men; first and foremost they are racist towards me and sexism doesn't really come into it. For that reason I feel that the gender discrimination issue with reference to black women is going to relate to black men, not white men. At the same time, white women are unlikely to experience sexism in relation to black men - black men haven't got the power to discriminate against them period. So what I'm trying to say is that black women and white women experience gender discrimination within the context of their own communities...Maybe black women would be better off addressing gender equality/promoting feminism internally within the black community rather than doing this in collaboration with the white feminist movement...I personally am beginning to feel that this would be better for black women, and better for black male - female relationships/ overall black unity.

5/17/2006 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous seoulbrotherno1 said...

China never colonized? Now my Chinese history isn't the greatest, but I could have sworn that up until 1997, Hong Kong didn't belong to the Chinese.

As for you James, I never knew that oppression was a personal choice. So those who are oppressed choose to be oppressed? Blame the victim much?

And although our long-winded anonymous defender of Jenn had a lot to say, her comments can be reduced to three issues:

1. Asian female oppression

2. Asian male oppression

3. The conduct of AM

In the first catagory, I don't think that folks are arguing against battling against sexism in the AA community. Like I said before "I have no issue with exposing the myriad of patriarchies operating in Asia, however, I think that it should be done in an informed, nuanced way. You post about unbound feet contains a lot of randomly connected historical examples to illustrate those points which made "The Joy Luck Club" a best seller: Asian men are evil." Incorrectly essentializing Asian culture as sexist posits Westernization as the only true solution to Asian sexism. This answer is equally as flawed as the premise it is built upon.

Next, our anonymous blogger seems to regale in mocking AM and trivializing their struggles. Firstly, to dismiss AM oppression as "belly-aching because they don't get White pussy" is incredibly offensive. AM's are targetted for violent hate crimes, we deal with plenty of discrimination -both on the job and in public. AM's also feel the brunt of being politically disenfranchised. And even though economic discrimination hasn't left AM's poor on the streets, the glass ceiling is still a harsh reality as over-competent, over-qualified AM flounder at their jobs while their less-qualified White peers advance right past them. The reduction of AM oppression to a desire for White pussy simply smacks of hatefullness.

"Being ignored sexually or romantically is not oppression." But being fetishized sexually or romantically, (like Asian women) is real oppression? Again, more self-contradictory hatefullness.

Lastly, our anonymous defend really has an axe to grind because "no one ever calls out DAC." She assumes that all AM are complicit with DAC's sexism because she assumes that it goes unchallenged. I am not sure what space DAC has staked out in the on-line world, but there are plenty of AM online who challenge other AM sexism. She (or Jenn for that matter) is welcome to check out our own little internet niche (thefighting44s) if she wants to see such rhetoric in action.

To summerize, Jenn's anonymous defender:

1. Falsely concludes that those critical of Jenn's acontextual, and ahistorical remarks are against women's empowerment. Thus a straw man is quickly created and then dispatched.

2. Trivilizes and ridicules AM and their struggles.

3. Assumes the worst about Asian men in concluding that they never have stood up against other AM racism.

Overall, this entire post reeks of autoracism and self-hate.

Next post please...

sb1

5/18/2006 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

SB, show me how Asian men are oppressed by IR dating from AF's. Seriously. Show me.

It's not mandated by law, it's not vastly outnumbering the amount of AM/ AF pairings, so what's the real oppression here? And how does that translate into antagonism towards AF's who speak about political issues involving the Asian American community from their perspective alone?

Asiaphila oppresses Asian people. I realize how racism oppresses Asian men with emasculation stereotypes, but I do not see how a backlash against those stereotypes and general Asiaphila translates into silencing Asian American women when they discuss radical, extreme examples of Asian American male sexism.

For your overall "personal is political" position to make sense, SB, the trauma AM's endure as a result of the emasculation stereotype must justify a control complex some radicalized AM's wish to impose on AF's, where the AF's must only date within the race and can never call out publicly examples of Asian/ Asian American male sexism and/or patriarchy, for fear of further damaging the already taxed Asian/ Asian American male psyche.

Give me a break.

I like to believe that AM's are stronger than that, SB. Frankly, at some point, people either choose to always fight their obstacles or not. To assume that anti-African American male stereotypes define me, I'd have to exhibit lots of self-defeating behaviors - violence, promiscuity, perpetual joblessness - by choice.

I reject that paradigm, and I think most Asian American men reject what people say about them too.

Frankly, this is what I liked about Jenn original post: a person of an oppressed minority group articulates how internally perpetuated sexism can manifest as a reaction to outside racist forces, and discusses the need to reject prejudice to foster community uplift and unity.

I don't envision any reasonable Asian American activist or politico having a problem with that sentiment, even a SeoulBrother.

5/18/2006 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My browser is in chinese (!need to improve that reading) so I have registered as anonymous - my name is Rebecca, I also post on the fighting 44's. How would you feel about japanese people being villified and painted as inhumane devils because of their actions in the second world war? Or German people known as jew hating baby killers? Should I avoid all Indian members of my family because generations ago one of their countrymen allowed the practise of widow burning to take place? Or avoid New England because the men there will clearly call me a witch and sentence me to death by hanging? Have you ever heard the saying "For the sins of your fathers you, though guiltless, must suffer." - Horace. I hope you may lead a blameless life.

5/18/2006 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger Sheelzebub said...

But we do have a problem with asian females WHO ONLY DATES WHITE MEN AND GO AROUND SAYING THAT IT'S BECAUSE ASIAN MEN IS THIS AND THAT WHEN WHITE MEN ARE THE SAME.

Jenn isn't one of those women, and her post never said any such thing. It's interesting how you are all ignoring the content of her actual post.

5/18/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longwinded? There are alot of ignorant comments in this thread to respond to. India, The Phillipines, Hong Kong were colonized. There's a difference between colonization and occupation. Japan colonized Korea from 1910-1945 and Russia and the US temporarily took over administrative duties after WWII so governments would be formed in Korea. Then Russia attacked Japan and conducted war in Korea with the US. Occupations are not intentions to own land or colonize. Japan had every intention of owning land in China and Korea and in fact, gave Korea it's name, Chorea. I will Wikipedia Vietnam to know if the War was occupation or colonization.

"In the first catagory, I don't think that folks are arguing against battling against sexism in the AA community. Like I said before "I have no issue with exposing the myriad of patriarchies operating in Asia, however, I think that it should be done in an informed, nuanced way. You post about unbound feet contains a lot of randomly connected historical examples to illustrate those points which made "The Joy Luck Club" a best seller: Asian men are evil." Incorrectly essentializing Asian culture as sexist posits Westernization as the only true solution to Asian sexism. This answer is equally as flawed as the premise it is built upon."

Reasonable people do not essentialize but when evidence keeps showing up to perpetuate a stereotype. Behavior of some of the commenters here has legitimated this stereotype. I would recommend not perpetuating your own stereotype.

"Next, our anonymous blogger seems to regale in mocking AM and trivializing their struggles. Firstly, to dismiss AM oppression as "belly-aching because they don't get White pussy" is incredibly offensive. AM's are targetted for violent hate crimes, we deal with plenty of discrimination -both on the job and in public. AM's also feel the brunt of being politically disenfranchised. And even though economic discrimination hasn't left AM's poor on the streets, the glass ceiling is still a harsh reality as over-competent, over-qualified AM flounder at their jobs while their less-qualified White peers advance right past them. The reduction of AM oppression to a desire for White pussy simply smacks of hatefullness."

A commenter suggested that the post promoted "oppression" and "ridicule" of Asian males. Read the post again and see what she is criticizing and if these criticisms are valid. None of the commenters could point to any of the arguments as invalid. There has been no "oppression" or "ridicule" in the post or my comments. Asian men obviously are not used to criticism especially about their sexism because criticism about sexism would not come from the outside world but from within the intraracial community. I don't know much about the forum where you are coming from but I do remember the one where DAC was and it was incredibly sexist. Reread the quote from a black feminist who says women of color should criticize the racism of the larger community and the sexism of their own community because that is where women of color are mostly affected by sexism.

A perfect illustration of this is her post on cultural appropriation "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" (http://www.reappropriate.com/2006/04/im-mad-as-hell-and-im-not-going-to.html) had 198 comments mostly from white male racists and now her post about sexism "Unbound Feet" has had about ten sexist Asian men and what seems to be an enabling Asian women which she also wrote about in this thread. ("Though cast as Nameless throughout our history, we find the Asian American Woman often embracing these traditions of closed mouths and Lotus Feet in order to maintain our cultural authenticity...It is this mainstream notion, that progressive politics and Asian heritage are somehow irreconcilable, that has maintained the silence around Asian women's activism.") This further demonstrates the legitimacy of the black feminist's suggestion that women of color fight racism in the larger community and sexism within their own communities. Here is what she wrote again.

"Additionally, there is this notion that gender issues affect black and white women in the same way...I don't think that's necessarily the case...in terms of my experience, the discrimination I get from white men is very much racial; in other words I feel that race virtually erases gender bias in interactions with white men; first and foremost they are racist towards me and sexism doesn't really come into it. For that reason I feel that the gender discrimination issue with reference to black women is going to relate to black men, not white men. At the same time, white women are unlikely to experience sexism in relation to black men - black men haven't got the power to discriminate against them period. So what I'm trying to say is that black women and white women experience gender discrimination within the context of their own communities...Maybe black women would be better off addressing gender equality/promoting feminism internally within the black community rather than doing this in collaboration with the white feminist movement...I personally am beginning to feel that this would be better for black women, and better for black male - female relationships/ overall black unity.

"Being ignored sexually or romantically is not oppression." But being fetishized sexually or romantically, (like Asian women) is real oppression? Again, more self-contradictory hatefullness."

I never compared emasculation and exotification and you can't compare oppressions. Racism affects both men and women. Men are emasculated and Asian women experience racist-sexist exotification. Women of color experience both racism and sexism.

"Lastly, our anonymous defend really has an axe to grind because "no one ever calls out DAC." She assumes that all AM are complicit with DAC's sexism because she assumes that it goes unchallenged. I am not sure what space DAC has staked out in the on-line world, but there are plenty of AM online who challenge other AM sexism. She (or Jenn for that matter) is welcome to check out our own little internet niche (thefighting44s) if she wants to see such rhetoric in action."

I'm glad to hear that men are calling out other men's sexism and hope that continues.

5/18/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unbound Feet" was included the 15th Carnival of Feminists! Congratulations, Jenn!

http://holly.mclo.net/archives/2006/05/carnival_of_fem.html

"How does footbinding still figure in Asian communities? Jenn at Reappropriate responds to 'Deranged and Cranky' Asian American Males who perpetuate 'The act of Binding' through 'the claim that if the Asian American Woman hopes to remain "down with the community," she should subjugate her own identity and autonomy in order to aid the Asian American Man in reclaiming his virility."

No disagreement there. On Jenn's post "Who I am and who we be" (http://www.reappropriate.com/2006/05/who-i-am-and-who-we-be.html) a member from the sexist forum of DACs posted a link where a poster Duracell said some amazing things. Here are some of the highlights.

"More Asian Americans would be political if they did not receive sexism from their own folk when they speak up. Her posts make a lot of sense. It is not a good idea to attack an Asian American sister with a brain. I wouldn't drive an articulate Asian woman away from the race. It doesn't matter who's she's dating. I like what she's saying. Slavery ended in 1865 but Asian men want to own all Asian women regardless of their politics and become irate when you can't. You all cannot point to a statement she's made that you disagree with.

Asian American political voices will continue to be silenced unless AM's start expressing distaste with the unnecessary sexism against AF's some AM's love to express. Unless a person has a problem with that woman's writing, they need to leave the stupid anti-AF misogyny alone. I wouldn't have any problem with anyone who expresses reasoned support for Asian American political thought and the Asian American community. The personal lives of the speakers involved are not relevant. My point is that when some AM's tell AF's that unless they define their race solidarity through their vaginas, they cannot express pro-Asian American political perspectives, they try to silence their own people. They are no better than Hollywood executives who won't allow Asian men romantic leads in blockbuster movies, or middle class Whites who blame their newfound layoffs on the Japanese. It's oppression, and the AA community can ill afford such internal corrosion.

How does calling AF's sexist names when they speak against Asiaphilic exploitation assist the Asian American community? Cultivating AF political speech, unhampered and uncensored, should always remain a necessary perspective for all Asian Americans, above and beyond AF silence for AM ego boosting. AF's must respect themselves to recall that their political voices, quieted for so long under traditional cultural regimes, should never be sacrificed for other people ever again. Gender equality should not frighten the Asian male community; rather, people respect one another enough to always wish to hear more speech from members of their community, not less. Never less.

The entitlement complex some AM's display out of frustration displays an unhealthy and divisive sexism that corrodes the Asian American community from within. And any Asian man upset with an Asian woman regardless of her understanding of Asian American politics shows only that an Asian American man would rather control women than respect their ability to make free choices. Control implies ownership, and to attempt intra-racial ownership of other human beings is illegal under the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. That's where the "our women" rhetoric crosses the line.

The point is that some Asian males are incredibly sexist today, and their current sexism prevents Asian American group solidarity when Asian Americans need to confront real racial problems, like Asiaphilia and the corporate glass ceiling to which professional Asian Americans are subject. Everything else is history that cannot change. Further, even though the pathological misogyny shown by some Asian males here is a current phenomena with historical precedent rooted in past treatment of Asian women, the justifications made by some Asian men that AF dating choices cause their sexism are false. No matter who's dating who, none of that means that any Asian man should make demeaning sexist hate speech against Asian women. I am against the current, present-day sexism some AM's display toward AF's.

Gender equality is important for the health of the Asian American community. Nothing more. People act as if an Asian American woman who speaks against sexism has committed treason against the Asian American community, and that should not continue. No one respects the Asian American community or Asian American culture by denigrating Asian American women. Who says it's not sexism when they denigrate AF's? It's simply not up for discussion, and when some Asian men feel it's necessary to dismiss the opinions of Asian American women because of their perceptions of the women's personal lives, they should be challenged in the public sphere. Period."

5/18/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you, anonymous. I hadn't been following the MM thread, so I greatly appreciate this re-posting.

Duracell, if you read this, thank you!

5/18/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm glad to hear that men are calling out other men's sexism and hope that continues."

lol, you mean non-asian men are labelling asian men as sexist. This country encourages men to put down asian men and naturally this is what these men are doing. Society encourages it. Can you imagine black people claiming that white men are sexist? It would be absurb because we know that some white men are sexist and some are not. But not so for asian men. For some reason it's ok to say that all asian men are sexist. This is an example in which a group of people are not considered as individuals and is a great example of racism.

Jenn posted an article with hundreds of sentences describing the horrible things the asian men do to asian women. Most of the items turned out to be items taken out of context. Binding of the feet was done by the uperclass asian women to show others that they can afford a life that doesn't require her to do hard labor. She writes about the way women in asia were forced not to use their names directly when such practiced is used by both men and women even to this day simply because it's good luck not to do so. All items are regarding things that occurred in asia. And she's trying to connect these things to asian men born in another continent many hundreds of years later. Then she writes at the very end in a few short sentences that she doesn't think all asian men are sexist. Jenn has no asian men in her life. She surrounds herself with people who obviously shares her aversion to asian men and encourages this attitude. Everything about jenn indicates a negative attitude towards asian men. The only thing that reveals any acknowledgement on her part that asian men are individual human beings and not a group of sexist pigs are in these few choice words she ends her article with. And you really expect me as an asian man to believe these words?

5/18/2006 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Awhile ago, Behindroundeyes wrote:

Something in the vein of Asian feminism...

link

Perfect for Asian American Heritage Month...woman held in sexual slavery freed...

This is Asian American heritage at its best.

When the vast majority of young South Korean college kids are more interested in pop culture, protesting US and Japanese imperialism...it has been Korean American youth such as Adrian Hong, mentioned in this article, who have taken up the cause of their brothers and sisters suffering under the regime of Kim Jongil. Hong, just out of college, is responsible for feeding, clothing, and sheltering hundreds of North Korean orphans in hiding in China.

Celebrating heritage is great, but it's guys like Hong who are setting the example for where Asian Americans can go.

5/18/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

the previous comment was deleted and reposted to correct viewing errors.

5/18/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn, I won't take up any more of your space but one more thing needs to be said.

I'd like to respond to two more things seoulbrother1 said.

"Next, our anonymous blogger seems to regale in mocking AM and trivializing their struggles. Firstly, to dismiss AM oppression as "belly-aching because they don't get White pussy" is incredibly offensive. AM's are targetted for violent hate crimes, we deal with plenty of discrimination -both on the job and in public. AM's also feel the brunt of being politically disenfranchised. And even though economic discrimination hasn't left AM's poor on the streets, the glass ceiling is still a harsh reality as over-competent, over-qualified AM flounder at their jobs while their less-qualified White peers advance right past them. The reduction of AM oppression to a desire for White pussy simply smacks of hatefulness."

Your points about racism are redundant because Asian women also experience racism, in the form of hate crimes and job discrimination. I don't trivialize hate crimes and job discrimination. I also don't trivialize being ignored sexually and romantically but the fact that it is all that Asian America can focused on and it's not a legitimate oppression. Ask black women about the triple oppression of race, gender and class, and as additional issue, romantic prejudice. It's a problem when it divides the community as the poster Duracell eloquently put it. Gender equality should be a given from the beginning. What is happening is that instead of achieving gender equality Asian men are 1) blaming whites for their own sexism and 2) blaming Asian women for their own sexism and 3) not focusing on more important social justice issues. I don't think it can be any simpler that this: Asian men are blaming their own sexism on others instead of working on their sexism.

The reason DACs do not challenge sexism is because they want white women, partly to "get even" with Asian women. They think they can get white women by acting as sexist and obnoxious as possible. Again, Asian women are secondary in this charade and have to deal with the sexism. Meanwhile, the community is divided due to sexism. The first Asian American feminist movement ended mostly because Frank Chin shouted down Maxine Hong Kingston in the 1970s. What people are less aware of is the fact that the first Asian American movement ended inthe 1970s because of factions, the main one being the shouting down by Chin of Kingston. Sexism brought down both the first Asian American feminist movement and the the first Asian American movement (cf. Making Waves by Wong and Capachero especially "Where are all the Asian American women?" by Esther Chow).

"Lastly, our anonymous defend really has an axe to grind because "no one ever calls out DAC." She assumes that all AM are complicit with DAC's sexism because she assumes that it goes unchallenged. I am not sure what space DAC has staked out in the on-line world, but there are plenty of AM online who challenge other AM sexism. She (or Jenn for that matter) is welcome to check out our own little internet niche (thefighting44s) if she wants to see such rhetoric in action."

I'll believe Asian men are challenging sexism when an Asian man calls out Asian men for their sexism on this blog. Finally, what Duracell wrote is worth repeating:

"Gender equality is important for the health of the Asian American community. Nothing more. People act as if an Asian American woman who speaks against sexism has committed treason against the Asian American community, and that should not continue. No one respects the Asian American community or Asian American culture by denigrating Asian American women. Who says it's not sexism when they denigrate AF's? It's simply not up for discussion, and when some Asian men feel it's necessary to dismiss the opinions of Asian American women because of their perceptions of the women's personal lives, they should be challenged in the public sphere. Period."

5/19/2006 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cattygurl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/19/2006 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Cattygurl said...

As an Asian-American woman and a feminist, I can see where Jenn is coming from in terms of people like DAC. I have never had issue with interracial relationshps in any capacity. I have been in intra-racial and inter-racial relationships in the past, and do not regret my experience with either. However, interracial relationships are prone to failings and issues that befall intra-racial relationships, and also have issues of possible racism that is an additional factor, such as racial fetishism. Inter- or intra-racial relationships do not denote anything inherent regarding the "quality" of the said relationships. I do not agree that people that are prone to dating interracially are "less racist" than those that do not. A prime example are men that partake in sex tourism and some men that choose mail-order brides. However, the issue I find troubling is the innate focus on demonizing "Asian" patriarchy when patriarchy exists in the majority as well, and gaining considerable steam.

Many of what she has written can be applied to the West, especially United States- so the issues she has written are not unique to asian culture. I have lived long enough to see DACs of every race, education level, and class.

I suppose the *biggest* issue I have when issues within minority groups gets aired out is that many people refuse to see the complex issue of racism and sexism in the said community and how it affects both genders of community members against positive change. Rather, people from the outside use the information to further harmful stereotypes and assume inferiority of the community compared to the (white) majority.

Fundamentally, as a minority and a feminist, I see things in this manner:
1. Work with other feminists of every race, religion, etc to further equal rights for women worldwide

2. Work with like-minded men and ensure that men's voices for women's rights get heard by others, especially other men.

3. As a minority, work within our community- with BOTH men and women- to work for equal rights of women.

Yes, patriarchy exists in asia and in asian-american men, but I do not believe through experience that asian-american men are more sexist compared to men of similar upbringing (i.e. men that come from traditional or religious families, for example).

In order to reduce patriarchy in minority comunties, feminist women must support both feminist men and women that are supportive of feminist ideals- rather than focus on the men that are not. I personally know of many feminist asian-american men, and I would rather uphold my brothers that are supportive of us- rather than spend the time to demonize idiots.

I would also like to get rid of racial stereotypes and allow people to be seen for their individual qualities. Just as gender roles restrict and oppress both genders (moreso women), so do racial stereotypes. I do not want the stereotype of the oppressive asian male as much as I despise the geisha submissive stereotype of the asian female- because that will hinder asian-american men from speaking out against sexism and also prevent them from moving away from the patriarchial model present in their culture as well as the majority culture of the west.

5/19/2006 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Cattygurl said...

A reply to Anonymous,

Seoulbrother 1 (or SB1)is very much an upstanding asian-american man that has consistently been a supporter of feminist ideals on the board at the fighting 44s, along with many other male posters.

While SB1 and I always do not agree, he has been one of the most passionate, yet civil people to deal with. Just because he speaks out against the racism that Asian men experience (and yes, there is racism against the asian male) does not make him a misogynist. In fact, he has also been incredibly vocal about the racism and sexism that asian women experience.

He consistently speaks out against misogyny and also homophobia when the subject arises on the fighting 44s, so your statement:

"Asian men are blaming their own sexism on others instead of working on their sexism"

is incredibly far from the truth. We have many asian men on our boards (xian, kimtae, lycheng, Zu Ba Jie, etc) that have consistently supported me and others when we have defended feminist ideals on the board.

I have nothing but respect for SB1 because the time I have known him, he has consistently been one of the most powerful voice against misogyny on asian-american board. While his views may make people uncomfortable and be more extreme than many others, they are well considered, and he is an open individual that is more than willing to discuss any subject in a passionate but civil manner.

I, for one, am proud to be in the company of asian men like SB1 and others like him that are passionate about the fight against racism and sexism.

5/19/2006 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"Inter- or intra-racial relationships do not denote anything inherent regarding the "quality" of the said relationships. I do not agree that people that are prone to dating interracially are "less racist" than those that do not."

Wow... did I miss the comment where someone asserted that people in IR relationships are "less racist"? 'Cuz... hell no.

5/19/2006 02:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"However, interracial relationships are prone to failings and issues that befall intra-racial relationships, and also have issues of possible racism that is an additional factor, such as racial fetishism. Inter- or intra-racial relationships do not denote anything inherent regarding the "quality" of the said relationships. I do not agree that people that are prone to dating interracially are "less racist" than those that do not. A prime example are men that partake in sex tourism and some men that choose mail-order brides. However, the issue I find troubling is the innate focus on demonizing "Asian" patriarchy when patriarchy exists in the majority as well, and gaining considerable steam.

Many of what she has written can be applied to the West, especially United States- so the issues she has written are not unique to asian culture. I have lived long enough to see DACs of every race, education level, and class."

Hey, Cattygurl, I did not disagree with anything you said there. I suppose I've had a different experience and have not experienced sexism from white men and whites in general as I have from Asian men and Asians in general. That has simply been my experience. I'm glad to hear things are getting better with men like SB1, xian, kimtae, lycheng, Zu Ba Jie.

5/19/2006 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cattygurl said...

I do believe that as a feminist, our job will not be done if all the women believed in equal rights- our job will be done when all genders believe in equal rights for men and women- straight, gay, or bisexual, transgendered, etc.

Having worked in the entertainment industry as well as working as a bartender in a metropolitan area through college, I've unfortunately experienced sexism from assholes of every race.

We are a product of our experience, and I'm sorry that you have experienced sexism from asian men, but let me assure you that our community is not hopeless and it's not full of guys like DAC at MM. I had a great, feminist father that raised me to be an independent human being that was at least as capable as a man. So, even if I come across a DAC, I know there are men like my father and other men on the board that need support from other women. I'd rather focus on supporting them and working together to fight sexism.

5/19/2006 04:34:00 AM  
Anonymous B the student said...

Jenn,

To bring this discussion back to the more relevant matter of the current sexism exhibited by a select few Asian American men toward their Asian American sisters called “DACs”, I would argue that it is American systems of patriarchy that are far more relevant than the historical patriarchal practices of Asian patriarchal structures. I feel that by emphasizing Asian patriarchy and not giving equal due (or IMHO greater due) to American patriarchal systems, you are further “Orientalizing” (to borrow from Edward Said) your Asian heritage and creating further divisions within the Asian American community.

I am bringing this up because you’re discussing a specific type of sexist Asian American, a DAC as you call it (i too have had the experience of witnessing the original DAC’s misogyny) and although you state: “Although the emasculation of the Asian American Man exists, it would be anachronistic to attempt to justify the oppression of Asian American Women by their male counterparts using the relatively modern injustice of mainstream Asian American Male castration,” I have to disagree. DACs are for the most part products of current American patriarchal systems, not Asian patriarchy. I ask you to review your second paragraph in this article because you state this yourself. They are utilizing forms of American club/playa/pimp culture to hyper-sexualize themselves and objectify women. I’m not saying all AM sexism follows this pattern, but this pattern is what I observed in the original DAC of which you base the term and which arguably your post is focused on.

Therefore, I think it is actually anachronistic to use the practice of foot binding and historical Asian patriarchal systems in discussing the current Asian American DACs who do not reside in the past of Asia but exists in present-day American society.

I agree with you, the so-called DACs, make up a very small portion of Asian American men but their type of political thought is very troubling. However, I think you stray from the proper context of their existence into an “orientalist” notion of Asian men. The DAC I encountered on 44s ages ago did not espouse nearly as much on women’s traditional roles in Asian culture as he did on “finding pussy and race traitors” and on just being the best “pimp” he could possibly be.

That is not to say you haven’t suggested American patriarchal systems have had nothing to do with the DACs. I know you bring up Eldridge Cleaver and his extreme form of sexual politics, and I find that much more relevant to the discussion of DACs than I do with foot binding. Not only do I feel that past Asian patriarchal systems have little to do with DACs in comparison to American patriarchal systems, but to anachronistically bring up historical Asian patriarchy in regards to DACs is to risk further solidifying “Orientalist” notions in North American society, which would be doing more harm than good IMHO.

Again, I stress that this is in regards to the current trend of Asian American sexism as observed in “DACs”, not all Asian sexism, And that there are only a few of these types to be found in Asian American society. For the most part, Asian American men are open to hearing out Asian American women and are willing to stand beside them in their pursuit of equality and freedom. But “orientalizing” their heritage is perhaps not the best way to engage them in a dialogue. Rather discussing current, relevant forms of patriarchy that affect both AAM and AAF is what I believe to be the most successful way in establishing unity and trust. Just my thoughts on the issue you bring up in your article.

B the student

5/19/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Elliott said...

I think another reason why many of the AAMs responded so strongly and negatively is also because of the way the article was written, it becomes far too inclusive after a while.

Now, Jenn does make a distinction there are SOME AMs that are sexist. But then a lot of the comments that follow tend to omit the SOME and then it just becomes "AMs are sexist".

To be honest, it's hardly a fair comment for ANY AM to take. So while I can understand that Jenn definitely did not mean ALL, her article has become a vehicle for many people to claim that ALL, if not MOST AMs are such. And I do not believe such was the intent of her article.

5/19/2006 04:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think women of color experience racism in the larger (white) world and sexism more intimately in their communities. I have easily avoided and blocked out white male sexism by not associating with obnoxious men. However, sexism in our families or families people marry into is unavoidable and very intimate. It's not revolutionary or new to say that women of color have fought racism in feminism and the larger world and sexism in the people of color movements and their own communities. Black women have been saying it for decades (cf. Aint I A Woman by bell hooks or All the Feminists are White, All the Men are Black, But Some of Us Are Brave by Gloria Hull) It's certainly not something I thought up or the black femininst thought up.

The smoking gun is right here in these comments and in the comments of the “Misinformation and Character Assasination” post.

http://www.reappropriate.com/2006/05/misinformation-and-character.html

Women who don’t see the sexism in these comments, who don’t have a problem with the sexism in these comments or who don’t speak out against the sexism in these comments perpetuate the stereotype of the Asian female as passive, submissive, subservient and silent that feeds into Asiaphilic fantasies. My sense of Asian American forums is that they perpetuate the stereotypes of Asian men and women we are so much against. Of course, Asian women should speak out against all political injustices such as racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, war, violence, environmental degradation, etc. etc. etc. Some of us already do. We need more Asian female political bloggers. I can think of two, Reappropriate and Shaljia Patel (I wish her feed would work so it were easier to read!).

5/19/2006 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to argue with many of the men responding here is, quite simply, pointless. There are exceptions, but your typical 44er and MMer are essentially men that have no concept of what racism is. They equate Asian women dating out to be the ultimate form of racism against Asian men. They know not the important issues in Asian America today, but they can tell you 100 different ways that an Asian woman can sell out and they can tell you how many times in any given day they saw an interracial couple - because, you see, it turns out that the issue of interracial relationships is the most important issue in Asian America today and it is necessary to keep a daily mental record of how many interracial relationships one observed in any given day.

Now, having said that, I have not read every single reply here, but I have not noticed how Jenn has downplayed the racism that white men or the white mainstream perpetuate. I saw some people here equate the no-mention of white male sexism to that Asian male sexism is worse than white male sexism, or that white male sexism does not exist. The logic is essentially false and it is not unlike how a neo-con may proclaim that social injustice exists in every country when the US is criticised, or how a white man may insist that racism exists everywhere when American racism is mentioned. It is an irrelevant point, and one that is used in an attempt to render the real point of discussion to be moot. Not mentioning white male sexism is no statement of whether or not it exists, and it is no statement of how negatively it affects Asian women. And the fact that white male sexism exists does not delineate from the fact that Asian male sexism exists and that it needs discussion.

- R.A.D.

5/21/2006 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Elliott said...

Yes, it definitely requires discussion, but I think it should be treated as a topic of sexism, not necessarily one that is targetted simply just at Asian males alone. To isolate this and only pin it on Asian men is to say that men of other color were not guilty of the same thing.

No, it doesn't excuse Asian men of sexism and it should be discussed. But it needs to be contextualized else it just makes it look like Asian men are just MORE sexist than other men. (Of course, here we lie in the danger of defining ourselves in relativity to others again.)

5/22/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might not be relevant to discuss sexism practised by other racial groups if you are discussing sexism in Asia, but Jenn's experience is sexism in North America, and, as such, to ignore the sexism practised by other racial groups, particularly the group in power, is highly misleading.

Rebecca

5/23/2006 04:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now, having said that, I have not read every single reply here, but I have not noticed how Jenn has downplayed the racism that white men or the white mainstream perpetuate. I saw some people here equate the no-mention of white male sexism to that Asian male sexism is worse than white male sexism, or that white male sexism does not exist. The logic is essentially false and it is not unlike how a neo-con may proclaim that social injustice exists in every country when the US is criticised, or how a white man may insist that racism exists everywhere when American racism is mentioned. It is an irrelevant point, and one that is used in an attempt to render the real point of discussion to be moot. Not mentioning white male sexism is no statement of whether or not it exists, and it is no statement of how negatively it affects Asian women. And the fact that white male sexism exists does not delineate from the fact that Asian male sexism exists and that it needs discussion."

Apparently, you haven't read any of the posts either because this blog addresses white supremacy in almost every post.

It's misleading to say some of us do not criticize white male patriarchy. Some of us here have been railing against white male patriarchy for most of our lives. Some of us have been criticizing the sexism of white males decades longer than we've criticized Asian sexism.

The idea of fighting racism in the larger community and sexism on our own communities goes back to the late 1800s with the first wave of feminism, probably earlier. Ain't I A Woman was written in 1981 and But Some of Us Are Brave was written in 1982.

"That is not to say you haven’t suggested American patriarchal systems have had nothing to do with the DACs. I know you bring up Eldridge Cleaver and his extreme form of sexual politics, and I find that much more relevant to the discussion of DACs than I do with foot binding. Not only do I feel that past Asian patriarchal systems have little to do with DACs in comparison to American patriarchal systems, but to anachronistically bring up historical Asian patriarchy in regards to DACs is to risk further solidifying “Orientalist” notions in North American society, which would be doing more harm than good IMHO."

I disagree with B the Student here. American racism had lead to the emasculation of Asian American males and this in turn has lead Asian men to turn their anger on Asian women. But DACs use racism as an excuse to take out all their anger on women. Alas A Blog sums it up nicely in his link farm:

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2006/05/17/link-farm-open-thread-25/

Excellent, not-easily-summed-up post about sexism in the Asian American community, with attention to how racism against Asian American men is used by some men as a rationalization for their own racist sexism against Asian American women. See also this disturbing follow-up, about some of the reactions Jenn received to her “unbound feet” post.

5/23/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to say:

The idea of fighting racism in the larger community and sexism on our own communities goes back to the late 1800s with the first wave of feminism, probably earlier and Ain't I A Woman was written in 1981 and But Some of Us Are Brave was written in 1982.

5/23/2006 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tekanji said...

Great post, Jenn. I'm not an Asian American, but I've seen similar dynamics in the AA groups I came into contact with on campus. Even the AAMs in my friendgroup, who generally had a great deal of respect for women, would sometimes fall into what you describe.

When we first got together, my ex would often talk about white men stealing "his" (Korean) women. I'd point to myself and say, "Hello, pot. Meet kettle." He'd try to argue that it was different, and of course lose -- a double standard is a double standard, and he was smart enough to know that (I wouldn't have dated him otherwise ^_-). He also had a warped view of "Korean Pride" for a while, which had less to do with actually being proud of his Korean heritage and more to do with DAC rhetoric of masculinity and control that you describe.

And this was someone who was the most sweet, sensitive, and feminist guy I've ever dated. Eventually I think he was secure enough to let it go (at least, he didn't make those comments anymore in front of me or our friends), but I think it really illustrates how much pressure there can be in the AA community to conform to the behaviour you describe. Obviously since I don't have first hand knowledge of all the aspects -- only the ones that affected me -- you're more qualified than I am to judge that, but, yeah, just wanted to say that my experience corroborates what you've said here :P

Jenn said...

Thank you tekanji for your comment - it's cool that you challenged your ex to think about what he was saying. Truly, the DAC mindset is preposterous to me because it is so obviously misogynistic in its core assumptions -- that women, of any race, are some sort of token or symbol for political identity. I am not going to be anyone's object to be sexually colonized, by anyone.

"And this was someone who was the most sweet, sensitive, and feminist guy I've ever dated."

I'd like to think that only asshats subscribe to misogyny, but I think it's extremely prevalent even among politicized, sweet men. Sometimes, it's just hard to divorce their identities as AM from their own feminism -- and while I respect that it's hard to be an AM in a society that emasculates you based on the colour of your skin, I don't think that's any reason to tolerate sexism against me and my kind.

I say...

Yes, the dynamics between men and white women and Asian women are different. I personally love it when Asian men date white women. I've noticed they suddenly start talking about how respect and equality are so cool, start toeing a feminist line and even become raving feminists and activists. An example is the post on Naveen Andrews (was he this way before Barbara Hershey? Who knows but I see this pattern alot):

http://www.reappropriate.com/2005/12/needing-more-naveen.html

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051228/LIFE/512280312/1076

5/23/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it when they marry them also because they become feminist or spokespersons for life.

5/23/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reappropriate critiques the overarching white male patriarchy (I call it the heterosexist, capitalist, racist, Christian fundamentalist patriarchy) on a daily basis that causes feminist movements to be racist and classist and communities of color to be sexist. I also critique on a daily basis the heterosexist, capitalist, racist, Christian fundamentalist patriarchy. This overarching white male patriarchy causes the divisions in feminist movements and communities of color.

As I commented in the “Character Assassination” post the feminist blogosphere very admirably confronted and is working on its racism and classism and communities of color ought to do the same thing that is confront and work on its sexism. Feminist movements should never have been racist and classist and communities of color should never have been sexist in the first place. These divisions were caused in large part by the overarching white male patriarchy we critique on a daily basis. From Ain’t I A Woman:

Bell hooks argued that black nationalism was largely a patriarchal and misogynist movement and thus that it sought to overcome racial divisions by strengthening sexist ones. Meanwhile, the feminist movement, a largely white middle and upper class affair, did not articulate the needs of poor and non-white women, thus reinforcing sexism, racism and classism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain%27t_I_a_Woman%3F_%28book%29

We have to move forward to a new vision of revolutionary politics that takes into account intersectionality (cf. the "matrix of domination" by Patricia Hill Collins). Revolutionary politics is explored in books like Patricia Hill Collins “Black Feminist Politics” or bell hooks’ “Feminism is for Everybody”. I recently read the following essay by bell hooks that critiques capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and nationalism and sees anti-sexism helping men as well as women. It is an example of revolutionary politics:

http://iticwebarchives.ssrc.org/Z%20Mag/www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/dec95hooks.htm

5/23/2006 08:13:00 PM  

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