Monthly Archives: August 2012

Intersectionality and Fear

I was at the gas station yesterday getting, guesswhatnokidding, gasoline. When I got out of my car, I noticed a group of middle-aged white men sitting on the back of a pick-up truck and cussing. Like realllly cussing. And the whole time I was getting gas, I was scared that they would look over at me and see an uppity, elitist, non-white bitch who needed to be taken down a peg.

I went to Starbucks afterwards and spent the entire time evaluating whether or not the weird customer wearing the hunting vest and carrying a vaguely threatening metal cane was a potential mass shooter. I actually considered bolting for the door when he went to the bathroom, only staying because, as I told myself repeatedly, the likelihood that he would be able to hide a gun inside of his cane was infinitesimal. I also convinced myself several times that the other male customers in Kroger were following me through the parking lot. It was like, noon.

Two observations on this incident:

1) Fear of rape runs deep. To be a woman in this country, and really, most everywhere, is to be constantly on guard.

2) I am uppity and elitist and probably need to be (gently) taken down a peg. I would not have been as scared of a group of unruly white male i-bankers cussing, as they are wont to do, and if I had been scared, I wouldn’t have continued to be scared, because if I had run into a group of unruly white male i-bankers cussing, I probably would have been in a nicer area of town. I also would not have assumed that said unruly white male i-bankers were racist. Stupid, maybe, but not racist. Unruly white male i-bankers are innocent until proven guilty. Unruly white male construction workers are guilty until proven innocent. I clearly have some class-traitor issues to work out because my grandpa was a white male construction worker who was probably unruly at least once.

Let’s take a quick look at how aspects of my identity impacted my fear:

I am a half-Asian, liberal, elite (by means of education) woman.

1) half-Asian- fear of racial violence, typically instigated by white males, sometimes instigated by black males (L.A. riots)

2) liberal- fear of politically motivated violence by conservatives. Loosely translates to fear of Southerners.

3) elite- fear of the working class and working poor, accompanied by a propensity to judge others by their clothing, whether or not they live in cities, and their level of “civilization.” Also accompanied by the assumption that others are jealous of you.

4) woman- fear of rape

So, in the above situation, fear of rape, which is pretty broad, was filtered down to fear of racially and politically motivated rape by Southern, working class men who are resentful of my “status.” And, in fact, according to my fear rubric, this situation is actually my worst rape-related fear because it puts ALLL the fears together.

Don’t you love intersectionality?


Filed under Gender, Life, Race


me:  which is like
and you hate abortion for rape victims?
you’re a keeper
defs letting you into my vagina

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Filed under Amateur Hour, Gender

Boy Meets Girl, Boy Creeps on Girl, Boy Asks Girl If He is Being Creepy, Girl Does What?

I realize that the answer to this question may seem incredibly simple, and in theory, it is. In practice, it can be much more complicated.

Let me walk you through a scenario or two:

1) You’re in a bar with your friends. A guy comes up to your table and starts talking. No one is interested in him, but you’re nice people, so you engage in enough small talk not to be rude, but you try to let the conversation die after a few minutes. The guy is freaking Lazarus and keeps resurrecting himself. It’s been twenty minutes, and he’s still circling the table despite your best efforts to put out an uninterested vibe. You’ve pointedly hinted at boyfriends. You’ve avoided eye contact. And yet, he parks himself dangerously close to your personal zone. He says, “Am I awkward? I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable. I don’t want to be a creep.” And you say….

2) Your next-door neighbor seems like a nice, nerdy kind of guy. You’re friendly and say hi when you run into him in the hall. No big deal. But then, you start to realize that he might be interested in you. He sends you texts for no reason and keeps trying to get you to hang out with him alone. You ignore the texts and/or decline politely, but he doesn’t stop. You start to avoid him. Then, out of the blue, he sends you an explicit text asking you to have sex with him. You are shocked and incredibly uncomfortable. You say no. He apologizes and says “I just can’t help thinking these things when you’re around. I’m sorry I’m such a creep.” And you say….

The instinct for many women who are put into the above situations is to say something along the lines of “Oh no, you’re not a creep,” because that is how nice people respond when someone puts him/herself down. Most people don’t enjoy saying negative things about other people (at least to their faces) and most people are trained to graciously accept apologies. It also is generally a terrible idea to offend someone who has six inches and forty pounds on you. And so, the creep manipulates his target into “forgiving” him, thus giving him license to stick around and creep even further. This is dumb. This sucks. This shouldn’t happen.

So, what do you say?

For starters, tell the truth. “I am uncomfortable with the way you are acting,” “I do not want to continue talking to you,” and, “Yes, you are a creep,” are all perfectly acceptable things to tell people when a) they are making you uncomfortable b) you don’t want to talk to them and c) they are being creeps. You don’t have to go into detail or make derogatory remarks, but if someone says to you “Am I being creepy?” this indicates a level of self-awareness about the creepiness of his/her own behavior that deserves an honest answer. The creeper is literally asking you to call him a creep. So do it. It might not feel good, but it’s better than sanctioning inappropriate behavior.

And if you can’t tell the truth, lie. “I have a boyfriend and I’m not interested in meeting anyone else,” is a stand-by, as is the fake engagement ring often worn by single female travelers.

A note on this: It SUCKS that sometimes you have to rely on men (imagined or not) to get rid of creepers for you. It feels anything but empowering. It is ridiculous that you, a fully formed human being with rights and agency and all that, letting someone know that you are NOT interested or, you know, not expressing interest in having sex with someone is not enough to keep said someone from harassing you. But, if you are in a situation in which you are threatened or potentially in danger (your next-door neighbor, does, after all, live right next door), it may make more sense for you to lie.

Lastly, look out for your safety, especially in ongoing situations such as harassment by a neighbor, classmate, or acquaintance. Make sure that you’re not the only one who knows what’s going on, and if you directly rejecting a creeper isn’t enough to make the creeping stop, don’t hesitate to get a third party involved.

And, very lastly, to everyone in this situation who is not a) the one being creeped upon or b) the creeper: Be sympathetic. Be helpful. Do not dismiss a friend’s concerns as oversensitivity. Do not tell someone that he should be flattered by the attention. Do not tell someone that she is responsible for what has happened because she’s too friendly or flirty or pretty or whatever. Be a not-douchebag.

To the creeper: STOP CREEPING. Stop looking for compliance and look for enthusiasm. No means no isn’t always enough- the better rule of thumb is YES MEANS YES. If someone is avoiding eye contact, stepping away from you on the dance floor, giving one-word answers/not responding to your questions, and generally not acting interested in anything you have to say, GTFO. You don’t want to make conversation and/or love with someone who doesn’t like you–you’re better than that.

P.S. I realize that this post is heteronormative/assumes that the creeper is male (there is a lot more to write on this particular subject, but I’m not doing it right now). Please feel free to replace pronouns wherever necessary in order to relate to your personal situation- I wrote based on the experiences of myself and my friends. 


Filed under Gender, Life, Sexuality

On Hanna Rosin’s “Boys on the Side,” or Why Hanna Rosin is not the second coming of Feminist Jesus

Hanna Rosin wrote a piece in the Atlantic on how hook-up culture isn’t victimizing women, but rather is perpetuated by them. Jezebel and Slate gave it good press. I’m giving it a mixed review.

Rosin’s piece makes women who hook up sound, quite frankly, like privileged, self serving assholes. The whole first page reads like something out of “I am Charlotte Simmons”–God forbid women laugh at a dumb photo of someone giving a snowman a blowjob. My 6th grade class was equally as ribald. Among other things, Rosin writes that women who perpetuate hook-up culture are “cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind.” Of course, as the piece progresses, those other things that Rosin writes become more positive and praise-worthy, but there’s still something about the whole shebang that sticks in my craw.

Maybe it’s that Rosin is writing this as a preview to a book called The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (which sounds like the perfect Christmas present for your resident Men’s Rights Advocate’s entitlement complex). Maybe it’s that the words “I’m focusing on my career instead of my relationships” sound more callous on the page than coming out my friends’ mouths. I think it’s mostly that I resent that in order for people to make sense of unrepressed women’s sexuality, they have to make women into capital-M Masculine Men. And more than that, I resent that we accept without evaluation that male sexuality is ravenous and indiscriminate, and therefore the shift from traditional dating to hookups doesn’t need to be studied as a change in men. I am not at all trying to say that hookup culture is evil/immoral/terrible/whatever, but it does seem unfair and somewhat insulting that people assume that all men must be totally into it (or prefer it to being in a relationship) because BOOBZ and HORMONEZ and REAL MEN ALWAYS WANT IT.

Anyways, Rosin’s piece is worth a read, but I don’t know that it does much for feminism….I’m glad someone is out there trying to convince the world that women having sex doesnotequal the apocalypse, but it would be nice if women having sex = relatable human beings instead of that sexy-scary girl with short hair and a black pantsuit who intermittently steals Kathryn Heigl/Reese Witherspoon/insert romantic comedy heroine here’s boyfriend.

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Filed under Gender, Sexuality

It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window.

“Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage…”

Bill Maher in the Huffington Post


If I had to pick a blanket term to describe my political views, it would be liberal, and in our exalted homeland’s highly functional two-party system, this means that I almost always back Democratic candidates. The Democratic party, its candidates, and its platform are (generally) less racist, sexist, and homophobic than the Republican party, and this pleases me. I try to feel ok about the fact that my vote is basically decided using the criterion “who doesn’t hate me,” but occasionally I realize how ridiculous it is that my criterion for voting is “who doesn’t hate me.”

Then, there are those days when I am reminded that the criterion is not “who doesn’t hate me,” but rather, “who hates me less.”

Liberal racism, y’all. It’s a thing.

Now, I can whole-heartedly sympathize with Bill Maher’s sentiments towards Todd Akin and his magical rape-proof vagina (I know it’s technically the uterus, but vagina has such a nice ring to it). Unfortunately, the fact that Mr. Maher has reasonably educated views on the non-existence of magical rape-proof vaginas does not cancel out his unreasonably uneducated off-hand insult towards Asians. I mean, really, he couldn’t think of a better simile?

The abridged run-down of the racial stereotypes invoked through Bill Maher’s dissing of Asian places with chickens hanging in the window:

  1. The curse of the perpetual foreigner. In the eyes of the media/average American, Asian Americans are more strongly associated with their “country of origin” (nevermind if that country of origin is the US) than with America. They are always them, not us.
  2. “Asians are all the same”- “Asian” places are typically not ones that have chickens hanging in the window due to the fact that pan-Asian cuisine typically (not always) caters to people who order Pad Thai and Sushi from Chinese restaurants and hence are probably the kind of people who  would be totally grossed out by seeing a chicken hanging in the window (unless they are authenticity junkies looking for their latest ethnic fix). No, it’s more likely that the ethnic group Mr. Maher was trying to insult were “the Chinese slaves who make TVs” that he refers to later in his article.
  3. “Asian people are gross”- This one has mostly died off since the Gold Rush, but people occasionally like to bring it back every so often to keep the model minority from getting too many ideas. Oh, your daughter got into to Harvard? WELL AT LEAST I DON’T EAT CATS (unless I’m eating them to prove how cool and authentic I am because your culture is only acceptable when I consume it).


Look, this isn’t a BIG FREAKIN DEAL. No one’s going to show up outside of Bill’s office with picket signs. I’m not crying myself to sleep tonight. I honestly don’t think that most people who read his article even caught the comment. But it’s this kind of racism–the kind where people laugh at off-hand comments and ask you about your Tiger Mom and complain to you that their ex-boyfriend is dating an Asian girl–that flies under the radar straight into the heads and hearts of Good Liberal Americans Who Don’t See Race Because I Adopted A Korean Baby And Also I Have A Black Friend. Maybe I should vote Republican- at least they’re upfront about what they believe…

Just as soon as my magical rape-proof vagina arrives in the mail.


Filed under Race

As much as I enjoy social commentary on Facebook…

It’s time for me to think a little bigger. Also to stop clogging up your newsfeeds.



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