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.
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 attractedinterest 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.