State House Representative Gerald Brady at a press conference. Screenshot of footage by NBC10.
Content warning: Racist and sexist slurs
In late June, Delaware State Representative Gerald Brady (D) sparked backlash after an email he wrote was published by Delaware Online / The News Journal. In the email (which Brady sent from his official government email address to the email sender rather than to its intended recipient), Brady criticized efforts to protect sex workers using racist and sexist slurs referring to Asian women.
The email sender had forwarded to Brady a Princeton study that had found that decriminalization of sex work in New York City had led to a reduction in sex crimes, and had called on Brady to support efforts to decriminalize sex work in Delaware. Neither the original email nor the attached study made any mention of Asian or Asian American women.
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.
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.