What Michelle Obama wants, Michelle Obama gets
I’ve tried to write this blog several times but my anger gets the best of me and I end up typing out rage influenced hate letters to people who piss me off. Like the people who are searching “mail order asian wifes” (not wives, but wifes) and then coming to my blog because I wrote about Debbie Lum’s web series “They’re All So Beautiful” which centers around “yellow fever” and “asian fetish”. (however, I’m quite glad they’re coming to my blog. I just wish I could see their disappointment when they start reading!)
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I really want to write my two cents about this failure of a video, “Asian Girlz” by Day Above Ground. (BTW–the band so graciously took the video down and recorded a whole new song about the American dream. Give me a break.)
We all understand that it’s racist, they make it obvious. I can only assume they know they made a huge error when they went to lengths to defend their song by saying that “it’s not meant to be racist” and “how could it be racist? we’re multicultural!”
Outside of the overt racism in this video the lyrics alone are violent and perpetuate rape culture. The band has made the claim that the video is supposed to be satirical. But I would like to point out that satire often goes hand and in hand with irony and humor. There is nothing humorous about rape culture when it is rooted in white supremacy, Orientalism, and colonialism. One cannot put out something, call it satire and ignore the legacy of Asian women who have been subjected to white supremacist male sexual violence. Dehumanizing people isn’t ironic, satirical, or humorous.
Come on sit on my lap (right here baby)
Or we’ll send you back
And you age so well
I can barely tell
17 or 23?
Baby doesn’t matter to me
Congratulations to you Day Above Ground, you have successfully contributed to the masses of Orientalist based media that continues to misrepresent the lived experience of Asian women. As Edward Said coined the term, simply put Orientalism is a way of looking at the “East” through a Western lens as backwards or distorted, this often happens in art and literature. “Asian Girlz” is a perfect example of this.
The best thing to come from Day Above Ground putting out some racist and sexually violent bull crap they call music are the reactions.
Lastly, Joe Anselm does a Q & A and proves he has no idea what satire is and is thus using it as a crutch.
Happy (almost) Weekend lovelies! I’m excited to be back in Chicago after a week in the middle of nowhere Indiana. I don’t have any rigid plans for the weekend other than continuing to apply for jobs and enjoy the last month of summer. I rather enjoy taking it slow on weekends and having the ability to soak it all in. What about you? Any fun plans this weekend?
To start your weekend off right here are some links I want to share with you:
One of my favorite Feminist Tumblrs
These charred corn crepes look AMAZING
Some pretty cool, thought provoking summer reads
The very worst thing on the internet right now
I’m totally obsessed with Orange is the New Black
You all should be reading Virgie Tovar’s Blog
A RECIPE FOR THAI ICED TEA (i’m excited)
Have a great weekend all!
I was waiting for my mom’s flight to arrive at SFO, she was flying in for my graduation and then we would embark on a three week trip back to Seoul, her current location. My nerves were going all crazy, mainly because my mom makes me nervous and I had consumed a stupid amount of coffee beforehand. When she walked through the gate, past customs, I started crying. My mother was here for my college graduation, something that seemed like it would never happen, and seeing my mom is always a constant reminder that she is the only parent I have, a hard pill to swallow. After a long embrace, some hard slaps on the back (a sign of Korean parental love), and a few hand squeezes we walked to to the car. The conversation that I was dreading soon started, “You didn’t say anything about my face!” she exclaimed. My mom had recently gotten laser surgery to “erase” some age spots and she was quite happy with the results. I turned and examined her skin, “OH! looks so smooth, like baby skin!” Silence ensued during the drive back home and then out came, “Your arms are so fat. Like your aunts. Aiya!”
This conversation continued on for the next three weeks.
Things about my mom we should note: She’s never weighed more than 120 in her life, even during pregnancy. She loves to tell people this.
So, my mom has always been like this and even though it’s hard to deal with, I just let it go and move on. Sure, it’s totally fucked with my own ideas of health (cigs and coffee are great meal supplements!) and I know more now. I eat whatever the hell I want.
But there was something different about my mom now, weight held such power over our conversations that nothing else could be talked about. Once we got to Korea, I totally got it.
On our first day out we decided to go shopping at a local outdoor market. This meant an hour, 3 transfers long subway ride. We settled down in our seats and as I scanned around the car I noticed how many women were looking at their reflections in the window and their cell phones. At one point one woman busted out a handheld mirror. Were not talking compact mirror, think the mirror from Beauty and the Beast. I saw this happen EVERYWHERE and on a daily basis, in a Starbucks, on the street, at the mall.
In addition to these events, I found several weight loss advertisements on the subway. But more than weight loss programs, plastic surgery was the number one culprit. Plastic surgery is so huge in South Korea and everyone acts like it’s no big deal. I had read this article on Jezebel about plastic surgery in Korea a couple months before my trip and had mixed feelings about it.
Western beauty is such an ideal in Korea and success is measured in how well you achieve it. In Korea, my body is fat. I can’t fit into most of the clothes, XL (the largest size) is too small for me. My mom made me wear loose fitting clothes that made me look like I was wearing a tent. However, most times when I met someone new, they would say how beautiful my face was. At first I didn’t quite understand why, I wasn’t fully Korean nor do I display any “Asian” physical qualities. And then I understood how my race played into the equation after seeing one too many TV programs. At birth I had achieved the beauty ideal that most of these women were playing into. I had “american” eyelids, a big enough nose with an actual bridge, and a slimmed down “v-shaped” jawline. It was a startling realization. While I was in Seoul, I had emailed my old boss from an internship at About-Face telling her all of the things I had discovered during my trip. She emailed me back with a link to an episode of This American Life where an American teacher shares their experience with body image among Korean high schoolers. Everything I had heard, I had witnessed. I wasn’t crazy! I’m not saying that femme’ing yourself up is a bad thing, femme it on up! But if i’m not, and not going to lengths to be this way, there should be nothing wrong with that. Jobs should be widely available to you and nobody should doubt your ability to be a member of society if you’re fat.
Towards the end of the trip I started to get frustrated. I wanted to see people loving their bodies, embracing what they’ve got or lack of. I would walk down the streets asking myself, “where are the fat girls?” Cause I wanted to hang out with them, not with my family who kept body shaming me and my cousin.
I think that this push for weight loss, plastic surgery, and beauty ideals comes from a long time internalized effect of colonialism. This shit doesn’t happen automatically or overnight, nor does it occur in a vacuum. People are taught that the less space they take up, the better you are. You can almost be a ghost, weaving in and out of the world, and the less someone notices you the more success you have achieved. There is something so powerful in taking up space, literally and figuratively. Now, I am not advocating for anyone to go to Korea and save these poor women. My point is that beauty and body image happen differently in different spaces and that we should ask how race and colonialism play into this equation before we start pointing out how “bizarre” this is.
So. Where did I go?
In the past 3 months my life has changed quite drastically and my day to day routines, such as blogging, flew out the window with these changes.
In the past 3 months I:
-went to Korea for 3 weeks to visit my mom
-packed up my life in Oakland
-went on an epic week long road trip through 8 states
-moved to Chicago
Trust me, it was a lot to do in 3 months (more like 2.5 months actually). And with every event there was a blog post in my head.
I’m back folks! And there’s a lot to say!
I went to a high school located smack dab in the middle of the northside of chicago. Its student population was extra large in comparison to many other city high schools. and was also known as “the school of champions” for generations. it failed students in so many regards. Teachers were overworked, underpaid, given ridiculous restrictions, and were expected to raise test scores. Attendance was a bigger issue than actual education to most, but not all.
I actually loved my time in high school. I made terrible decisions and often didn’t listen to the advice of my teachers. My grades were mediocre, something that I am not so proud of now. Friends were a huge priority and having fun was the biggest priority. This isn’t to say my high school career was always fun, almost half of it was spent in the hospital with my dad. There were classes I loved (mainly history & art, also that one year of chemistry) and classes that I hated. But if I liked the teacher, the subject matter didn’t mean so much.
As I’m writing a final paper for my last class of my undergrad career, I can’t help but reflect on the high school teachers that shaped my worldview. They all encouraged me (& others) to speak up when I felt something was unjust and told me the truth, albeit hard to take. These teachers were the beginning formations of my social justice focused life. Little did I know that these small moments would forever live with me, well into my years as a Women and Gender Studies major.
So, in true fashion of missverasays, here are some shout-outs to the teachers that helped me in more ways than they may know, even almost ten years later.
Mr. Harris: Freshman year, we were forced to take communications classes, to develop our reading and writing communication skills. Mr. Harris, facilitated critical thinking conversations among 35 fifteen year olds and did it well. At the beginning of the year, he took photos of everyone in the class, posted them on the wall with speech bubbles with clips of comments each student had made in class. Mine said something along the lines of, “I don’t believe in war. Violence can’t be the answer.” Mr. Harris encouraged students to express their opinions on different topics, but we had to do it well, and while we could disagree, we had to do it respectfully. Shout out to you Mr. Harris!
Karen Lewis always told me the truth in every aspect of my life. Aside from having her as a teacher, Ms. Lewis would let me sit in her classroom during lunch and listen to all of my complaints about adolescent life and then tell what’s really up. I hated her honesty at certain points, and she could break it down for you like nobody else. Her honesty though, has stuck with me for years and is a trait that I have taken with me and utilized in my own social justice work. Ms. Lewis also taught me that when things are unequal, unfair, and unjust, communities and folks have got to come together and speak up. Without this, who is going to know what’s going in? Shout out to you Karen Lewis!
Shout out to every Art teacher that I had in high school, especially one, Amy Moore. Arts are seen as the programs that can easily be cut because they don’t give students utilitarian skills. Also, it adds nothing to test scores. Ms. Moore took this mentality and turned it on its head. She took our program and made it legible to every other school in the city, mostly by winning crazy amounts of awards at competitions. Ms. Moore stayed late and kept the studio open to have students keep working on their art projects. Shout out to Ms. Moore and her commitment to students!
Shout out to Mr. Drajpuch & Ms. Bradish: Thank you for not sugar coating history. It’s a hard topic to teach, with all of it’s downfalls. You two were honest and real. Both of you taught me that there is always more to the story, and goes beyond what you read. Shout out to you two!
Basically, shout out to any high school teacher that sticks to it. I’m sure you made a difference to a student at some point. Kudos to you all.
i am obsessed.
perhaps its because you are so focused on taking the picture in this small space that you can see the emotion so clearly in the end result.
maybe its the closeness that photobooths make you feel, you’re bound to sit on someones lap or touch faces.
the obsession started when i was young, maybe 7, when my dad took me to one in the mall. those pictures of him and i, in small cramped booths, smiling cheek to cheek, are my favorite thing to look at, even years after his passing.
the obsession has moved onto my relationship with chad. it’s my favorite way to document our relationship. we try to take at least one in every new destination we go to, its usually in a bar. these photos are concrete proof of our love.
When Girls first came out, Chad and I joined the masses and tuned in for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd episode.
And then, we quit.
After the first episode I turned to Chad and said, “I hate it”.
At first, I was turned off by the privilege that the characters have, the lack of actors of color, the awkward sex scenes among other things.
After listening to several interviews of Leah Dunham and hearing her reasonings about the way she writes the show and one amazing interview of the costume designer for the show, we decided to give it a shot again.
I like it. kind of.
I wouldn’t want Leah Dunham to just write in characters of color for the sake of diversity because it would seem fake. Obviously, her lack of interactions with people of color is her genuine experience. That’s fine. It is hard to watch a show that takes place in a HUGE METROPOLITAN area and not show any people of color. Like, not even in the stereotypical sense, a cab driver? doorman? maid? busser?
Sex is awkward, especially if its bad sex. Hannah has a lot of it. Hence, the awkward sex scenes. I wish to see more of the self love champion here.
I like how Marnie, after losing her job, understands that sometimes you just gotta hustle and make ends meet. Hannah, who thinks she’s going to be all feminist here (she’s not), thinks that she can put Marnie down for this and stand up for her right to not “sell her body”. People do it all the time. Let’s look at the bigger picture here Hannah, –why do women sell their bodies?
I do like that Hannah’s weight and body image is not the focus of her insecurities. It’s brought up a couple times but in a second-hand sense. Rather, the show focuses on the fragility of relationships among friends and lovers and co-workers. And how being 25 is mildly isolating.
My version of Girls would like this:
-waking up early to get a ride to the train so i don’t have to walk the mile by myself.
-riding the train and getting squished by people who think i’m invisible.
-inner monologue about how my size reflects how people see me.
-furiously texting my best friend to tell her about train experience.
-texting chad about said train ride.
-drinking copious amounts of coffee at school.
-sitting in 3 hour lectures. lots of eye-rolling.
-talking shit about people in my classes with other fellow colleagues (that i like).
-social media-ing it up in between classes for my job/internship. cursing internet connection.
-stuffing food in my face, claiming that “today is an eat day!”
-attend 2 more classes. more eye-rolling occurs.
-complain about the commute home.
-drink two glasses of wine while making dinner.
-eat dinner standing up at the stove while watching something terrible on hulu.
-squeal with delight when chad comes home with dessert in hand.
-drink more wine.
-say im studying but am actually perusing facebook and furiously texting best friend about facebook newsfeed.
-curse all those who are engaged/married/expecting/got a dog.
-watch pug videos.
-make chad re-watch pug videos with me.
-pass out by 11 pm.
my life isn’t as glamorous as Hannah’s, sure, but i appreciate seeing a show about someone, who is my age, who doesn’t have it together.
happy post-valentines day. i’m not much into celebrating it as i think the holiday revolves around capitalism and gender norms. these are things i hate and consistently try to avoid as difficult as that might be.
i do love LOVE and being in love. here are a few things that i have noticed about being in love over the past few years:
being in love makes you crazy, but in a good way.
being in love can be one of the most difficult experiences in your life.
being in love means you show your partner your deepest insecurities.
being in love is intense.
being in love is challenging.
being in love makes you take a good hard look at yourself and wake the fuck up.
being in love means you can’t imagine your life without this other person.
-people talk about dating & relationships but i don’t hear much about being in love. why is this? is it cause being in love makes you cray-cray?
i think beyonce puts it best:
last post, I confessed my love for the library and my fears for the future of libraries.
the past couple of weeks i have gone to my local branch and found out that it looks like i’m not the only one who loves the library. i found this little love note right before the steps to the entrance.
and then, the next week, this appeared:
so, it looks like i’m not the only one.