Last month, I wrote about David Bond, a self-described dating coach who is selling a series of pick-up artist videos that promote racialized street harassment targeting Asian women to other socially desperate men. In self-published YouTube videos, Bond is seen making racially inflammatory remarks about Asian men and women, mockingly mimicking Asian languages, and using emotional and physical coercion, such as grabbing women, in order to force them to pay attention to him.
Revelations about Bond came just weeks before Roosh V., another infamous pick-up artist and founder of the misogynist and anti-feminist website “Return of Kings” (linked via DoNotLink.com) announced a planned workshop series that would have spread Roosh’s pick-up artist philosophy — including his argument that rape should be legalized — worldwide. Roosh received enormous international backlash, and was forced to cancel the planned appearances.
Now, activists are hoping to place David Bond — whose videos include racism, as well as physical and emotional coercion of women — under similar international pressure.
In 2014, self-described “dating coach” Julien Blanc drew the attention of feminists (myself included) for a series of videos wherein Blanc engaged in street harassment of Japanese women, boasted of groping them while yelling nonsensical Japanese words like “Tamagochi” and “Pikachu”, and advised workshop attendees to use physical and verbal coercion, including choking, in order to “assert dominance”. A public outcry against Blanc ensued – coordinated in the hashtag #TakeDownJulienBlanc – noting that Blanc’s behavior is illegal in many of the countries that he visits, and these activities culminated in Blanc being formally banned from travel to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, with additional efforts focused on his travel to other countries such as Canada, Japan and Germany. Eventually, Blanc was invited onto CNN to be interviewed by Chris Cuomo, and in that segment, Blanc offered a qualified pseudo-apology for his videos and workshops.
In one of my first posts about the Julien Blanc outcry, I urged us to focus not solely on stopping Julien Blanc, but rather to see Blanc’s videos as symptomatic of the broader misogyny of the pick-up artist community. As shocking as Blanc’s videos and endorsed techniques are to the wider world, they are not unusual within the subculture of pick-up artistry. This is a community where the deep-seated fear of being labeled as a “beta” perpetuates a culture of misogylinity — the defining of masculinity through ownership of female sexuality. This is a community where #MasculinitySoFragile has been distilled into its most concentrated form, where heterosexism runs rampant, and where any notions of feminism and female agency are met with open hostility. In that context, the racialized violence of Julien Blanc’s teachings is not exceptional; rather, it is par for the course.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that another self-described pick-up artist has stepped into the vacuum left open when Julien Blanc was taken down. It should also come as no surprise that the same racism and misogyny endemic of Blanc’s videos has reappeared.
LifeHack.org is one of the web’s largest, and one of its more shameless, generator of those shitty clickbait listicles that periodically pollute your personal Facebook feed. Like most such sites, it is the digital equivalent of a pitcher plant: it entices readers to make an impulsive click on a curiousity-inducing headline atop some meaningless drivel of an article. But once sucked into the site, you’re trapped in an endless scroll of similarly fluffy listicles that slowly turn your brain to sludge while embedded webads turn your wild flailings for escape into money for the site.
So, I was torn about writing about one of LifeHack.org’s most recent articles (“9 Reasons Why You Should Date a Chinese Girl“), which appears designed to maximize clickbait appeal by attracting Asiaphiles and enraging Asian Americans. Written by self-described “Media Stragetist/Resultist/Content Writer/Blogger/Entrepreneur” Casey Imafidon, whose other work at LifeHack.org and similar sites are of equally low quality, this listicle is a transparent attempt to draw in readers with racist and sexist stereotype.
It’s not easy being a feminist of colour.
There’s this presumption that we as minority women can divorce our feminism from our race advocacy, and — more importantly — that we should. Among White feminists, the sticky issues of race and racism are rarely addressed; or when the existence of race is acknowledged, it is treated with such appalling clumsiness as to render theoretically feminist safe spaces decidedly unsafe for women of colour.
Among communities of colour, aspersions are also sometimes cast against WOC feminists. Sidelong glances are thrown in our direction because we understand that race oppression does not occur in a vacuum, and we dare to include within our race activism an integrated focus on the twin spectres of misogyny and male privilege. We present an intersectional politic that intermixes race and gender privilege with oppression, but we are often asked to mute our feminism and decenter ourselves in the name of blind racial solidarity. Talking about White patriarchy is okay, they say, but patriarchy in communities of colour must be taboo. The Movement, they say, requires a unified front. Feminism, they say, is a distraction from the Cause. Those of us who refuse to divorce our feminism from our race advocacy, they say, are misandrists and sellouts. Never mind, of course, that some of Asian America’s most dedicated civil rights legends — including Grace Lee Boggs, Yuri Kochiyama, Helen Zia and Patsy Mink — were self-identified Asian American feminists whose feminist work is treated as completely compartmentalized from their other advocacy.
To ask that feminists of colour be only feminist in feminist spaces, and only POC in POC spaces, is to ask the impossible: I cannot sometimes be only a woman and sometimes only be Asian American. I am both these things at all times; so too, therefore, are my politics.
Five years ago, long before Fresh Off The Boat became a runaway ABC sitcom hit, I wrote my first post on Eddie Huang. This was before Eddie was a star of Vice TV. This was before he was the author of a hit Asian American memoir. This was before Eddie Huang was a household name.
This was also way before Eddie Huang fucked up royally on Twitter last week.
Three years ago, Ellen Pao — former junior partner of Silicon Valley venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — filed a lawsuit against her former employers, citing a pattern of bias against female employees; yesterday, lawyers in her suit against Kleiner completed their closing statements with a plea for greater efforts to address gender equality in the tech industry. Pao’s suit alleges that Pao was harassed, and eventually fired, from Kleiner for challenging a culture of sexual harassment within her former company.
Throughout the Pao trial, Pao has courageously endured the usual victim-blaming, character assassination and mudslinging used to dismiss, invalidate, and insubstantiate the experiences of women. She has been tone policed. She has been slut-shamed. She has been labelled a gold digger. She has been accused of being untalented, amateurish, and unprofessional. The message Kleiner’s lawyers are trying to communicate is clear: Ellen Pao is lone voice trying to capitalize off an imagined gender problem in Silicon Valley.
The problem for Silicon Valley is that Ellen Pao is not alone.
Last week, Taiwanese American Chia “Chloe” Hong filed a civil suit against Facebook for gender discrimination. Days later, software engineer Tina Huang filed a civil suit against Twitter, also alleging gender discrimination in the company’s failure to promote women to management positions.
It should escape no one’s notice that all three of these high-profile gender bias lawsuits have been filed by Asian American women.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!