We learn from watching. If dramas are developmental exercises in identification and empathy in our formative years, one can easily surmise why many white men — such as those who take part in the alt-right movement — believe the world should revolve around only them, and women and minorities should be relegated to supporting roles or disappear entirely.
A disturbing antifeminist wave has swept through many Asian American digital spaces in the past few years.
Though misogyny in self-professed progressive and radical Asian American spaces is nothing new, the specific iteration that has developed presents a departure from past forms. Whereas older Asian American antifeminisms would seldom engage feminist theory, the new Asian American antifeminism co-opts the work of Black and Asian feminists in service of narratives that position the prioritization of Asian American cishetero men as a truly “feminist,” even “intersectional,” venture.
In recent months, Medium, Nextshark, and YOMYOMF have been flooded with a torrent of articles exemplifying this antifeminism. These pieces have ranged from screeds decrying Asian feminism as complicit in White supremacy to fictionalized accounts of East Asian women marrying neo-Nazis. Generally speaking, these articles have focused on Asian women in interracial relationships with White men, and have presented these pairings as evidence of a hidden sexual agenda in Asian feminism, and Asian women’s enthusiastic participation in the structural oppression of Asian men.
These arguments are not new. They have existed as undercurrents in Asian American politics for some time. However, the willingness of popular Asian American news media outlets to provide a platform for these ideas is cause for alarm. By offering space for these pieces, sites like YOMYOMF and Nextshark are proliferating an antifeminist ideology amongst their respective audiences. This development not only threatens Asian feminists, but also Asian women in general and our movement as a whole. It therefore demands a response.
The acquittal of police officer, Betty Shelby, in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher was preordained.
The narrative follows a familiar pattern: A White individual (Shelby) encounters an unarmed African American man, and with no evident motive, chooses to end the life of the Black person standing before them.
“Crutcher’s death is his fault,” she later said. It is hard to imagine how that could be the case. Dashcam video shows that Crutcher was shot and killed while unarmed and complying with police orders.
After my visit to Ferguson last summer, I referenced the writings of Simone Browne, Christina Sharpe, and Alexander G. Weheliye, to argue that unless we understand how Anti-Blackness/Whiteness operate in the U.S., we will consistently fail in creating a society that would treat everyone with dignity and respect. Without this understanding, we will never build a place that honors the hopes and dreams of someone like Terence Crutcher.
Recently, Brooklyn Nets star Jeremy Lin said to the New York Daily News, “A lot of times we have Asian girls go for non-Asian guys but you don’t see a lot of the opposite. You don’t see a lot of the opposite; you don’t see a lot of non-Asian girls go for Asian guys. When they said ‘Yellow Fever’ growing up, it wasn’t all these white girls going for Asian guys. It was the Asian girls going for the white guys.”
Although Lin was relatively thoughtful throughout his interview, his answers nonetheless reinforced a damaging myth: that Asian American women have more advantages than their male counterparts.
Lin represents a segment among men of color who have become obsessed with embodying a superficial and regressive “masculinity.” If our goal is to dismantle patriarchy, we must form a deeper, layered understanding of “masculinity” and its relationship to Black, Brown, and East Asian American men. That radical reexamination of the “masculine” must account for the marginalization that many men of color feel, while not absolving them of their role in perpetuating misogyny.
It was Valentine’s Day in New York City. While others were thinking about where to buy last minute chocolates and flowers, my thoughts were entirely elsewhere. I was reading restaurant reviews in the New York Times and found myself confronted with an article exploiting my community’s perceived exoticisms.
The review was from the New York Times (“Culinary Clashes End in Harmony at Chinese Tuxedo“), but I would have sworn I was reading a Chinatown caricature by Chuck Connors—the 19th century Rhode Islander who shamelessly profiteered by hawking exaggerated, cartoonish tales of exciting and foreign “ethnic” life in turn-of-the-century Chinatown to upper-class white tourists. National news correspondent Arthur Bonner described Connors as “a hanger-on in Doyers Street saloons who earned tips by showing thrill seekers tame wonders like the Joss House. For an added tip he would show them an opium den complete with a ‘fallen woman’.”
This treatment of Chinatown as a seedy den of foreign crime and taboo thrills to be packaged and sold as a form of ethnic tourism would be best left to the past. Yet, writers and editors seem perfectly willing to revive old stereotypes and evoke the worst of Chinatown’s history in a vain attempt to remain relevant, regardless of the consequences.