(i've been working on this post for a while now... it's slightly dated but still relevant (to me anyway). the issue has been a thorn in my side for quite some time. must de-thorn. and really truly sorry for all the f-bombs.)
so, i watched the oscars on sunday night like most of snowbound america. i was really happy to see sandra oh in the audience looking quite lovely in her red ballgown. the first time i saw sandra oh was in a film called "double happiness". when i saw the movie, i had just graduated from art school and was struggling to prove to my parents that i hadn't made a mistake. i just couldn't disappoint them after they finally "allowed" me to pursue a career in the arts. so, the conflicted character she portrayed (a young asian woman pursuing a dream to become an actor w/o the approval of her parents) was very inspiring to me. since then, i've enjoyed her performances in the cable tv series "arli$$" and the movies "the red violin" ,"the princess diaries" and "under the tuscan sun".
anyway, she's in the movie "sideways" which was directed by her husband alexander payne. the film was nominated for five academy awards and actually won for adapted screenplay. (because i am lame and a slave to an extremely busy two year old, i have not yet seen this movie or most of the movies nominated for oscars this year.)
when the winner of the oscar was announced, the camera zoomed over to a joyous, beaming sandra hugging her husband and i just knew that the asian female sellout/race traitor haters would be rolling their eyes over sandra oh's "cracker" husband winning an academy award and mumbling that she got the part like all other actresses do - by sleeping with the director. and that thought made me sick to my stomach.
so, i'm curious and a glutton for punishment. i did a little googling and i learned, on different asian message forums, that me, sandra oh and all the women below have a few things in common a) we're female b) we're asian c) we're "sleeping with the enemy" d) we're sellouts, self haters and race traitors.
maxine hong kingston
oh yeah, we're also short sighted hypocrites too. you see, i may take the initiative to speak out against oppresion, protest racism and sexism, cultivate consciousness among other asian men & women, and blast asian stereotypes but if i'm married to "whitey" - i'm not helping "the cause". i'm not practicing what i preach. because i married a white man, i am biased and supporting white male dominance. i am perpetuating the vicious characterizion of asian men being undesirable and weak.
so, someone enlighten me, what IS "the cause" really? 'cause the way this issue has lit a fire under the *ss of almost every asian activist or pseudo activist, you'd think it was a communist state directive calling for the re-education of asian women of dating age.
do you want to put asian women in a different gilded cage than they're already in? do you want to make an asian woman feel even more responsible for the asian race than she already biologically, physically, intellectually and emotionally does? and why are my experiences and my involvement in the cause suddenly meaningless simply by my marriage to a white male. and how is that implication or conclusion any less demeaning that being connected to suzie wong, geisha girls, china dolls, bound feet, "me so horny" or "f*cky-sucky"? please clarify if my exsistence will always be tied to the one that i am attached to? if that's the case, i may as well be f*cking mormon (no offense intended to any mormons). and can someone tell me who the f*ck died and made all these other hateful male and female f*cktards the decisionmakers, outlining all the correct protocols for being pro-asian? it's to those people i ask the simple question - if you truly love your "asian sisters" why does your love come with conditions? pot? kettle? who's biased now? who's labeling who?
from my vantage point, society is ruled by a white patriarchy. newsflash! we live in f*cking america.
is it a perfect world? does a perfect world exist anywhere? does any one class or race hold a monopoly on being impoverished or chauvanistic or imperialistic? last time i checked, F*CK NO.
is this country better for some and not for others?
is there room for improvement? H*LL YES.
let's look at the news in asia shall we? let's see - asians are being tortured or brutally murdered at the hands of asian terrorist extremists. some asians are living desperately in deplorable conditions without all the things that we take for granted here - food, water, shelter, education while blocks away other asians are living in absolute luxury. whole islands and people were swept away by a tsunami and others were swallowed whole by massive earthquakes and mud slides. countries are ripped to shreds by abject poverty and rampant corruption. so why the f*ck are we even remotely focused on this dating issue? why is a minute of thought or energy wasted on who someone is dating and then, summarily kicking that person to the curb instead of getting off our collective *sses and re-focusing our attention to where it is truly needed?
my feeling is it's nobody's business why asian women date who they date. if the f*cking KKK can exist in the same century the my child lives in, do you really think i give a f*cking rat's *ss who a woman decides to date or marry? every woman has a preference just like every man. and why is it no sellout hater ever brings up the fact that some asian men date/marry white women exclusively?
to assume that asian women don't date asian men only because she's bought into the asian male misogynistic stereotype and feels she'll be treated like property is ridiculous. i'm sure it happens but frankly, if she does, she needs better role models and an education - not a man and certainly not to be demonized as a self hater or a race traitor. honestly, i don't think any modern urban woman feels like she should or could be owned by anyone - male or female - white or poc. additionally, i don't think any woman is free from sexism in this day and age. but to assume any woman's accomplishments are due only to the benevolence of a man is not only insulting, it's illogical. a woman's accomplishments are the fruits of her own labors, blood, sweat and tears. but a person's accomplishments are not the only things that define him/her. people are duty bound to many people and many dreams - i think it's masochistic to perceive and project one's self in just one way and still attempt a balance. i don't believe anyone is that simple.
my parents taught me that to successfully navigate this country or this life, the bottom line is if you think you're owned, you're owned, if you think you're trapped, you're trapped and it's your own damn fault. they should know. they were brought up in a country that has been colonized by almost every industrialized nation in the world. today, the philippines is characterized by others as "the sick man of asia" and a social catastrophe. the idea that they were less valuable than the people who "owned" them was drilled into their heads every minute of every day. but, my parents escaped that mindset and are successful. did they have to leave the philippines to do it. maybe yes, maybe no. but they don't see the philippines as a lost cause. my father loved it so much that he returned there and lives there now. my parents don't see themselves as the failed experiments of imperialist colonizers. they see themselves as success stories. could they stand to win a lottery? sure. couldn't you? were they fully accepted by mainstream america? hardly. are they happy? yes.
i guess my point is they are educated, successful and happy because they were taught and told that they could never be successful and even if they managed to be successful - they wouldn't survive. to which they resolutely responded, "f*ck you". they were challenged with different obstacles all of their lives and overcame them. they gave their children the tools we needed to do the same. i don't credit asia or asians or being asian or anything american with my happiness because i'm wholly aware that my parents are at the root of it.
i was lucky to have a very strong male and female role model. they were who they were and never apologized for it or hid from their true natures. they burned inefficient bridges wherever and whenever they appeared. they are very individual people. i remember being so conscious of how outrageous and honest and visibly vocal my parents were. everday, my parents shattered any illusions or goals i might've had of being a model minority and stopped me from fashioning a cage of my own making. so, for someone to call me a sellout, race traitor or a self hater is an insult to my parents and family as well as to me.
for the record, there wasn't a large asian male population for me to choose a mate from. growing up in my neighborhood, there were two asian boys and six asian girls. yes, i was attracted to both and both of them were attracted to every other girl but me (but, again - i am the circus freak - that was true for all boys, not just the asian ones). in my high school class, there were four asian boys. they also dated everyone except me.
to date, of all those asian boys i knew - one is gay, one is still a bachelor who only dates asian women and four married white women. i didn't keep in touch with the asian girls i went to primary or secondary school with but of the 14 asian girlfriends i have now, 4 are married to asian or other poc males, 4 are married to white males, 2 prefer to only date asian males and 3 have no preference and date males of all races.
in art school, i didn't have any asian male classmates. and despite the lack of asian men and vast wasteland of any asians in the media, i was ALWAYS attracted to asian men first but was open to dating men of all races.
in the end, i married my husband for many reasons, the least of which was his skin color. what's funny is that he looks white but is actually multiracial - mostly puerto rican and a mish mash of every european race. a large chunk of his childhood was spent with the puerto rican side of his family since he was raised in a single parent home by his father. i am always reminded of a story he told me about an argument he had with a female latino activist about a hot latino issue and she actually said, "and what do you know about being latino?" and again i ask, "who the f*ck died and made you the boss?"
look, not every asian woman that dates or marries a white man hates or dislikes dating or marrying an asian man. do those women exist? without a doubt. but conversely aren't sellout haters doing a disservice to all asians and dividing young asian males and females by a) stereotyping what a "politically correct and proper" asian woman should be b) painting those women who date or marry white as "anti-asian" women? and logically wouldn't that imply that bi-racial childen of such marriages are less valuable and have less to contribute than full blooded asian children? does that mean that full blooded asians the only ones allowed the right to fight for asian causes?
asian women and asian men need to put this issue to bed and just agree to disagree. we need to own up and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of our past as well as the best and worst of our asian role models. we need to re-group and resume fighting the myriad of more important battles - TOGETHER.
our common enemy is racism and sexism fueled by the racist, chauvanistic media that perpetuates the stereotypes - specifically, the perennial asian foreigner, the emasculated asian man and the exotic oversexualized asian woman. if studies show that the largest group benefitting from affirmative action is white women. i think it's time that we all get a clue. fighting against each other is what's short sighted and detrimental to asian americans as a group. it's preventing us from actually moving forward - instead, we're getting nowhere. let's get somewhere together, anywhere but where we currently are - going round and round in circles.