“My Life On My Back”: GIRLS and Rape Culture

If you haven’t heard of Lena Dunham’s hit show Girls, you might be living under a bit of a rock. The show has been deemed something you just don’t find anywhere else on TV. Some people love it, some people hate it – some people hate seeing Dunham naked (she not only writes, but also acts, directs, and produces). Left and right, there have been lots of controversy buzzing around both her (not size zero body) and her show.

Lately, season two has taken a dark turn. (Spoiler alerts ahead.) The characters are more isolated than ever. After a failed marriage and hurtful encounter with her emotionally abusive father, Jessa has disappeared into thin air. She is a “free spirit,” but one carrying heavy wounds from her past. Shoshanna no longer has her “dreaded” virginity badge, but she has cheated on her first boyfriend who she “loves.” Marnie has been on a downward spiral since the beginning of the season: sleeping with a gay man, being downsized from her job, becoming a hostess, dealing with a gaping rift between her and her best friend Hannah, and entering a “relationship” because she wants Booth’s life. It seems she was on a slightly better note last weekend when she finally admitted her lifelong dream of wanting to be a singer – but apparently this translated to suddenly singing a terribly slow remix of Kanye’s “Stronger’ at her ex’s party. And then having sex with him. Meanwhile Hannah has fallen back into her OCD ways under the stress of a stalkerish ex-boyfriend (Adam) and a (e-)book deal that she has to finish by the end of the month. She’s so stressed that she punctures her ear with a q-tip. Yeah. That was a ridiculously painful scene to watch. None of the girls are in a good place. In fact, this whole episode reeked of self-destruction and awkwardness.

But the worst of it all is in the scene that people can’t stop talking about. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about: does Adam rape Nat? The episode begins with Nat(alia) and Adam having sex for the first time.  “I’m ready to have sex now,” she announces. They begin kissing as she lists all her preferences. “I like how clear you are,” Adam tells her. “What other way is there?” she asks. It seems that they are going to be a hopeful and cute couple. Continue reading

Wealth Inequality in America

Wealth Inequality in America – YouTube.

I always hear things about how the wealth disparity in China if going to be the downfall of the communist regime. But what about America’s wealth disparity? I think back to the occupation movement. While I agreed they were the most organized movement, I really thought they had a point. And they were trying to do something! The last influential rioting in America was probably against the Vietnam war. Have we all become so desensitized to problems? Even when they affect us? We’re letting that 1% (or top 10%) get away with this. I can’t stand the arguments that they “deserve” it and that if we do anything, it’ll result in the “dreaded” socialism. Something is clearly wrong with the system. So what can we all do about it?

Photo by Alice Li

Perpetual Foreigners

The first Chinese immigrants built the foremost railroads to connect our country under harsh and sometimes inhumane conditions. Asian workers were massacred by union workers, and these murders were disregarded by authorities. From China, only men were allowed to sojourn to the Beautiful Country, the Chinese name for America. Women were excluded so that no Asian families would take root on U.S. soil. Chinese enclaves called Chinatowns, better known for their tourism today, segregated the Chinamen from the more civilized Americans. In 1882, the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned immigration of these undesirables, until it was finally lifted in 1943. Despite the contributions of Asian migrant workers, they were seen as foreign, exotic, and ultimately seen as unable to assimilate. All of these efforts in the past were to ensure that Asians did not join the civilized melting pot of America.

This past summer, the Pew Research Center’s report, “The Rise of Asian Americans,” stated, “Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.” The report shows that the Asian American community is flourishing…but a question continued to pester me. Why is that, despite Asian American prosperity, they are so alienated?  For a community that is so educated, Asians are still seen as an Other. People still praise me for my accent-less English, despite being a native-born American. We get asked “Do you speak English?” or “Where did you really come from?” We are still perceived as our ancestors were – perpetual foreigners.

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