Editor’s Note: Minutes after this post was published, @hmasculazn deactivated his Twitter account. Shortly afterwards, the viral Medium essay was removed by the author, and the author’s profile was deleted. Some links may no longer work.
In the last two weeks, an essay posted last year on Medium and written by a self-described Asian American woman and former neo-Nazi has gone viral. “I was an Asian White Supremacist” (Google web cache here) was widely shared through Asian American Twitter and Facebook groups, and it even attracted interest from the editors of prominent Asian American media outlet NextShark who sought to republish the writing.
The essay sparked interest for its first-person depiction of a self-described Taiwanese American woman – “Angie Lee” – who describes growing up in the American South hating her Asian appearance and desiring to become White. Lee further describes how she became romantically involved with a white teenager – “Brandon” – who becomes involved in neo-Nazism. Lee explains that through this relationship, she internalized white supremacy and racism, coming to hate herself, her family (and in particular, her restauranteur father), and other people of colour. Lee describes how she eventually ran away from home to live with Brandon and fully embrace neo-Nazism, and even became pregnant by Brandon. However, Lee explains that when her son was born, the fact that he appeared more Asian than White caused Brandon to reject both mother and child. The essay concludes with Lee’s description of how she was taken in by a women’s shelter and now raises her son on her own, and has let go of her racial self-hate.
The essay has been widely shared on social media for its supposed evidence of how Asian American women are complicit in white supremacy, and it is often paired with latent attacks on Asian American feminism.
However, some are now wondering whether the essay might also be entirely fake.
Questions about the essay’s authenticity were independently raised to me by two separate readers. Each pointed out an easily-overlooked contradictory detail about the post: that author Angie Lee’s profile (Medium.com/@SouthernAsianGal) on the blog-publishing platform Medium is linked to the Twitter account, @hmasculazn. Twitter user @Quincetessence published the following photo in a tweet, showing the connection between Lee’s profile and @hmasculazn’s Twitter account, as obtained when loading the site on a desktop computer:
If attempting to share Lee’s essay from a mobile device to Twitter, the automatically generated tweet also shows that the essay is authored by the @hmasculazn Twitter account.
Although Angie Lee describes herself as a Taiwanese American single mother and former neo-Nazi, the author of the @hmasculazn Twitter account describes himself as a biracial Asian American man, former drug dealer, and proud “hypermasculazn” who uses his Twitter account to repeatedly urge Asian Americans to commit violent crimes. In one tweet, posted on August 22, 2016, @hmasculazn describes himself as an “AA male” (where AA is short-form for Asian American), and in another posted in January of this year, he describes himself as a “#Hypermasculazn hapa ready to destroy [his] toxic patriarch father”.
In other tweets posted in 2016, @hmasculazn urges Asian Americans to “undermin[e] the white man [by] addicting him to heroin [and] driving him to suicide,” and boasts that he has caused the death of two White men himself. He confesses to selling ecstasy deliberately laced with rat poison in order to injure buyers, and suggests that his readers should sneak poison into people’s food.
Incidentally, these tweets are a clear violation of Twitter’s community guidelines which prohibit the use of Twitter to encourage unlawful conduct or to incite violence.
The @hmasculazn account is one of several Twitter accounts created in August of 2016 that specifically reference the #HyperMasculAZNs hashtag and whose first or only tweets were direct rebukes of the tag. The hashtag (and the term itself) originated as a Twitter townhall organized by AAPI progressive group 18MillionRising as an effort to discuss sexism and toxic masculinity as it intersects with the AAPI community. I was invited, along with several other Twitter users and representatives from both Man Forward and GAPIMNY, to participate in the townhall and together we tweeted on a variety of topics relating to sexism, patriarchy, masculinity and race for a little over an hour on August 5, 2016. After the hashtag trended and the townhall was picked up by larger media outlets such as Daily Dot, the hashtag was intentionally co-opted by a small cadre of Asian American mens’ rights activists seeking to rebuke those involved, including @hmasculazn and other users who appear to have created Twitter accounts specifically for this purpose.
Indeed, a closer examination suggests that the @hmasculazn Twitter account was created specifically to troll AAPI feminists while working to associate the #HyperMasculAZNs tag with invocations of criminal violence. Primarily active through the month of August 2016, @hmasculazns resurfaced this January with a flurry of tweets still directed at participants of last August’s Twitter townhall. It’s no surprise therefore that this account has only four followers, and that its entire Twitter activity has been focused on this cause.
Interestingly, reader S.V. pointed out to me that Angie Lee’s Medium profile was also created on August 23, 2016 (the same day when Lee’s essay was published), exactly one day after the @hmasculazn Twitter account went live. Importantly, to link a Twitter account to Medium requires that the Medium user provide password authorization with Twitter. Taken together, this is strong evidence that the same user is behind both the @hmasculazn account and the Angie Lee Medium essay — even though one account purports to be written by a biracial Asian American man and former drug dealer with possibly homicidal ideology, and the other purports to be written by a reformed Asian American female neo-Nazi and single mother of a seven-year-old child.
Attempts to reach @hmasculazn for comment on these inconsistencies in their self-described identity were unsuccessful.
Medium prohibits deceptive conduct on its site, describing disallowed behavior as follows:
Don’t impersonate someone else in a way likely to deceive people. Parody and satire are fine, but make clear that is what you’re doing.
The use of deceptive behavior to impersonate progressives and feminists is an oft-used false flag tactic popular among certain troll-focused internet subcultures. In 2014, members of the online anti-feminist men’s rights movement were found to have created hundreds of fake Twitter accounts posing as women of colour feminists in order to foment chaos within progressive circles and to smear women of colour feminists. Elsewhere, some internet users have been known to create fake profiles (typically of women, and often of women of colour) for the purposes of publishing fictionalized narratives for political, and sometimes sexual, gain; other times, the motives seem to be to provoke confusion.
In the case of the Angie Lee/@hypermasculazn accounts, the purpose appears to be to mainstream a common anti-feminist message already popular among certain Asian American meninists. Specifically, that (all or most) Asian American women have so-called “daddy issues” that compel racial self-hatred and encourage sympathy for neo-Nazism; and, further, that Asian American feminists encourage such self-defeating behaviour (obviously, we do not) and so are equivalent to white supremacists (obviously, we are not).
There are, of course, examples of real Asian white supremacists and female anti-feminists in the world. But, in my more than fifteen years of blogging, I have encountered far more examples of clearly fake profiles impersonating feminists — both Asian American and otherwise — as part of a false flag effort to denigrate or diminish actual women of colour and Asian American feminists.
In the last few months, I have witnessed a distressing rise in anti-feminism within the AAPI community, of which the viral sharing of the Angie Lee/@hypermasculazn essay is only one small part. Anti-feminists appear to have been emboldened — for reasons I have yet to identify — to publish essays in mainstream Asian American media outlets that attack Asian American feminist theory and that delegitimize Asian American women. There has been little effort made by editors of media outlets to counterbalance these writings with Asian American feminist voices.
Against this backdrop, we find that at least one viral anti-feminist essay may be a piece of pure fiction, and that it may have been deliberately falsified as part of a larger anti-feminist smear campaign launched last year against Asian American women and outspoken online Asian American feminist activists. One simply must wonder why someone would go to such elaborate lengths to create a fictionalized and sensationalized story all just to assault Asian American feminists’ work.
To report Angie Lee to Medium for deceptive conduct, create or login to a Medium account and load Angie Lee’s profile and click the down arrow to report the user for violation of Medium’s rules. To report @hypermasculazn to Twitter for violation of Twitter’s rules against inciting violence, go to his profile and report it with reference to tweets promoting criminal activity.
Update: Minutes after this post was published, @hmasculazn deactivated his Twitter account.
Minutes after that, the Angie Lee profile removed the essay from Medium.
The Angie Lee profile was then deleted from Medium.