“Are your parents okay with it?” That’s the first thing many people ask me when they hear that I am dating someone white. Most of those asking were other Asian girls, who struggle with their parental preferences on their dating life. Asian American girls often hear about what it means to date white to our Asian American peers (male and female) on blogs, but less about our parents. Continue reading
The correct answer is too many things.
This video of a girl slapping her boyfriend repeatedly on the streets of Hong Kong has become viral after two days, currently topping 930,000 views as I am typing. Without a doubt, it’s disgusting to watch as the girl beats her boyfriend in public. From what I gather, there was a dispute over whether the boyfriend invited another girl to his apartment (supposedly the other girl at the scene). I believe at one point he cries out that the second girl is the girl’s family member, and also he declares that he never did such a thing. Eventually a crowd gathers around and the girlfriend was arrested by police for assault.
But I’m horrified…and not just because of this girl.
“It’s sad when I am with my grandchildren and they are constantly like this with their smartphones,” someone recently shared with me as she mimed hunching over a smartphone. “But the saddest part is that I’m doing it too.”
This is nothing new. Cell phones and smartphones have become ingrained into our tech-savy societies today. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a cell phone until high school, and I didn’t get a smart phone until around my junior year of college. The thing is, I didn’t feel like I needed one. Since the campus had wi-fi, I could always check my email with my iPod. It was only when I went to renew my phone contract and get a new phone that I saw the not smart phone selection was of such poor quality! And now, ever since I switched from an Android to an iPhone (about three months now), I have become more addicted to those stupid games (Candy Crush Saga and Sims Freelife). And while yes, those games are fun and fill up those small voids of free time, such as sitting on a train, I have recently realized how much these phones disconnect us from people — and the people we love.
Last summer, I — like countless others — read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” and had several reactions to it. Aside from the class and racial issues I had about Slaughter’s article, it did raise interesting questions about feminism and work. Slaughter had the opportunity of becoming a powerful woman leader, at the peak of a political career in Washington — but she gave it up to spend time with her kids (and, you know, remain a Princeton professor). At the time the article came out, I was interning at Beacon Press, a non-profit press that promotes equality. When talking about the article with my (wonderful) supervisor at the time, she commented, “Isn’t this a step backward?” Back at the birth of feminism, women were trapped in the housewife role and wanted real careers. Now Slaughter was claiming that women still couldn’t be the mothers they wanted while having these powerful careers? I saw my supervisor’s point.
Yet the past few months, I’ve been grappling with the conflict between feminism and my own desires. While I initially saw how Slaughter’s article could be anti-feminist, my recent struggle with feminist theory and my life have allowed me to better understand Slaughter’s claims. Feminist theory has fought against old ideas of what women can and cannot do — it has allowed women to join the workforce side-by-side with men. But feminism has now shaped what we expect a woman’s goals should be. It has created restrictions again on the definitions of a woman. Really, feminism should give women the freedom to choose their goals.
I am supposed to be one of the privileged and educated women Slaughter was addressing. But I didn’t come out with a powerful job — in fact, I’m still pretty lost as to what I would like to do. I really enjoyed my summer internship, but as it drew to a close, I had to face a looming question.
After my internship, where would I go?
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It’s a phrase commonly known today. But I never realized how significant food was to my heart – a woman’s heart – until last year.
“Did you eat yet?” – I grew up hearing this greeting from almost every Chinese adult I met. The tradition came from surviving difficult periods of poverty in China, when food of any kind was scarce. It became a habit of asking each other if someone has eaten yet as a phrase of endearment. You asked in the past, hoping your friend has eaten already, and if they haven’t, you offer what you can. Today, it’s just a greeting, but signifies how you care about the person. There’s a popular t-shirt I once saw that said, “‘Did you eat’ means ‘I love you.’”
It’s that time of the year again – Valentines day! I hope everyone is enjoying it, whether they are single, coupled, or not physically in the same place (aka long distance like myself). But rather than focusing on enjoying singledom or enjoying coupling today, I wanted to approach the topic of toxic relationships, why we stay in them, and why we should sometimes make the break – even if the one who hurts the most might be yourself. Because on this day we are celebrating love, we should also remember that someone we often forget to treat well is ourselves.
Unhealthy. It’s a word we most often associate with food and less with people, but why? In my experience, it seems we are more likely to call someone “emotionally manipulative” than labeling a relationship “unhealthy,” not so unlike our reluctance to name a friend or lover “abusive” emotionally. Why is that when it’s so clear to a third-party? “Emotionally manipulative” makes it sound like it’s the other person’s problem. He or she is in the wrong. However, openly acknowledging a relationship in your life (lover, friend, family) is unhealthy brings into question your own role. Just like that third piece of pizza you consume, you are making a choice while knowing, deep down, this might not be the right thing. Because you see, it takes two to tango. It’s just like the word “abusive.” Once it’s spoken aloud, it’s hard to go back because you have openly admitted that you care about someone who is toxic for you. This is why, I assume, it’s so hard for us to say someone we for whatever reason have feelings for is an unhealthy relationship.
Asian masculinity has been a long standing issue in American culture, particularly with all the detrimental stereotypes and yellow fever, where Asian males see white males “stealing their women.” For example, in response to Jenny An’s article where she declares she would never date an Asian male, Clarissa Wei wrote “I Am an Asian Woman and I Think Asian Boyfriends Are Superior (Well, Mine is Anyway),” where Wei embraces the model minority rather than rejects it. “Hard-working, humble, unwavering loyal to the family? …Why the hell would you say no to that?” she declares. But does she miss the point?
The taboo topic of Asian American women dating outside their racial circle was reignited recently by Jenny An’s “I’m an Asian Woman and I Refuse to Ever Date an Asian Man,” where she bluntly announced that she’s a racist because dates white males to make herself more American. Certainly I understand An’s internal angst about feeling like an Other in a white America, but does dating someone white validate my the “American” in “Asian American?” As an Asian American female dating a white male, I couldn’t disagree more with An’s philosophy.
If Jenny An wished for a white man to reaffirm her Americanness, I find it to produce an opposite effect. Going to predominately white communities with my boyfriend, I wonder if people look or treat me differently than they do him sometimes. Having a white boyfriend isn’t a “get out of jail free” card in America. People still say racist things, including “Your English is so good” or “Where are you really from?” Like most Asian Americans (and likely any other Americans who aren’t white), regardless of gender, we’ve had to negotiate these feelings of being treated as an outsider. Having a body-guard works as well as putting a Band-Aid over a fracture. Jenny An should probably start with figuring out how to be okay with her own skin rather than using her boyfriend’s as a shield.