Humans fear the supernatural, both the undivine (the animal impulses such as sexuality, the unconscious, the unknown, the alien) and the divine (the superhuman, the god in us). Culture and religion seek to protect us from these two forces. The female, by virtue of creating entities of flesh and blood in her stomach (she bleeds every month but doesn’t die), by virtue of being in tune with nature’s cycles, is feared. Because, according to Christ, woman is carnal, animal, and closer to the undivine, she must be protected. Protected from herself. Woman is the stranger, the other.
Gloria Anzaldua, “Borderlands/La Frontera: a New Mestiza”.


The face of the US scientist is changing: Asian Americans now make up 14 percent of the science and engineering work force, according to recent data from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which can be found atwww.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08. With these numbers one would expect a proportionate increase in leadership positions. However, this is not the case.

In academia and federal institutes, Asian Americans encounter what some call a “bamboo ceiling,” similar to what female scientists faced 30 years ago. A diverse group, Asian Americans comprise numerous ethnicities, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islanders. All lumped under the umbrella of the “model minority,” this community faces a number of misperceptions or stereotypes—some of which work in their favor and some of which do not. (NB: not sure about this “bamboo ceiling” catch phrase but there are some legit worrying stats in there.)


How To Talk About Asian Female “Privilege” Without Sounding Like An MRA


I despise MRAs. In case you don’t know, MRA stands for “Men’s Rights Activist.” You’ll often find them trolling in the comments sections of news article that talks about rape, pay inequality, depiction of women in the media, etc. 

Here are some of their familiar choruses:

"Divorce court favors women!"

"Men have to fight in wars!"

"Men have to pay for first dates and face the risk of first rejection!"

"Women are privileged because they get to cry while men can’t!"

"Women are supposed to be submissive and deferential because biology."

"Waaaah, the hot girl in class won’t give me sex even though I’m Nice to her!"

You get the idea. Mainly, they’re guys who despise feminism because it has deflated the value of the Average Guy. For example, back in the 1950s, any Joe Schmoe with a high school education and a job was probably seen as a decent catch because most women relied on men for financial support. Fast forward to now, and with so many women having post-graduate degrees and their own income, suddenly Joe Schmoe isn’t worth so much on the sexual market anymore. 

He COULD work hard to improve himself and become more of an eligible bachelor (e.g. stay in shape, read some books, learn to cook), OR he could just sit on his ass and whine about the oppression that men face these days from those women. Yeah, you know those same women who dominate all 19% of Congress? 

Anyway, my point is that MRAs are despicable people and no confident and successful guy should want to be associated with them.

So it’s much to my dismay when I see Asian guys somehow sounding a lot like MRAs when they talk about certain advantages that Asian women have in American society. For example, Asian women are more readily accepted socially and romantically by the White majority. There is arguably more positive representation of Asian women than men in the media. Asian female news anchors are a common sight because Americans associate them with positive feminine qualities. Meanwhile, when and if Asian men show up in the media, it’s usually as villains (if we’re lucky) or as anti-sexual comic relief. 

When it comes to Asian American literature, America listens to the voices of Asian WOMEN, not men. Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston are the Asian equivalents of Ralph Ellison and Langston Hughes; that is, minority writers that are presented to White Americans as being representative of their groups. It is almost certainly not a coincidence that both Tan and Kingston flatter the American ego at the expense of the Asian one, especially the Asian male one.

So in this context, how can Asian men talk about gender differences in our demographic without sounding like an MRA? It’s a very tricky situation, but here are some general pointers.

1) Don’t make it about sex

Things such as the interracial relationship disparity and Asian male stereotypes are key symptoms of anti-Asian prejudice, but don’t bring in your own sex life (or lack thereof) into the debate. This makes it sound as if your main complaint is that you’re not getting as many hot chicks as you think you deserve. That’s not a cause that most people want to support.

2) Be an ally of feminism

You can be critical of anti-Asian male prejudice AND support feminism. You can be critical of a certain branch of Asian feminism that seeks to demonize Asian men while ignoring the many transgressions of White men, and still be supportive of the idea of gender equality. If you can show that you’re an ally of feminism, then you can also neutralize the most broad-brush (and lazy kneejerk) attack against you, which is that you’re a sexist who wants to subjugate Asian women.

3) Don’t use terms like “sellout”

As a rule, you don’t want to insult or demonize people you’re trying to have a dialogue with. Sad fact is that there ARE indeed sellouts of all types who will try to fit in with the most dominant group. But name-calling ends debates before they even start, and we want to have a dialogue here.

4) Find sympathizers with non-Asian women

In my experience, non-Asian women often have an easier time empathizing with the issues of Asian men than some Asian women do, especially if those non-Asian women have had relationships with Asian men and know what kind of prejudices that we face. These women aren’t regressive anti-feminists; they’re well-educated feminists who don’t have racial blinders on when it comes to Asian issues. By finding White, Black, and Latina women who support you, you can again neutralize the inevitable attack against you that you’re just trying to figuratively bind Asian women’s feet.

5) Be an awesome person

The predictable ad hominem attack against you will be that you’re a typical Asian male loser who plays Starcraft all day and has no friends or girlfriends. Therefore, you’re just a whiner. While there are some people like that, it’s not as if Asian male discrimination only afflicts the dorks. Here’s Tim Chiou, a 6’2” handsome Asian actor, talking about how he knows what it’s like to be devalued for his Asianness. If you exhibit charisma, social ease, and a diverse group of friends, you will be given much more credibility when you speak out.


The 6 Stages Of White Women’s Plagiarism Of Feminist Women Of Colour


Plagiarism itself is common of course, and anyone can engage in it. But when it comes to feminist/progressive writing by women of colour, a very specific type of plagiarism is common. It is top down. It is often done by people with privilege if not privilege and power via the support of institutions such as the mainstream media or the academe. And even when they do not have the support of such institutions, White privilege alone is enough for them to be belligerent and feel entitled to the content while demanding “niceness” from those they’ve taken from. Many Whites engage in tone policing while they are being abusive.

Black women especially experience this type of plagiarism (as I mentioned in Exploitation of Black Women’s Labor…In The Name of Feminism or Justice? Please.) as much of what shapes feminist politics has a Black woman’s work as origin. (I am plagiarized multiple times per week without fail and have mentioned this before in I Could Not Be Any More Tired Of Academia And I Am Not Even A Part Of It.) Black women’s epistemology and Black culture in general are always treated as a picking place for vultures who simultaneously want to use our every expression while not only refusing to cite us but also discrediting us and straight up insulting us. The entitlement to consumption and exploitation of Black culture has a long history where Black cultural production and Black bodies themselves are viewed as products open for a White market at will. Even non-Black people of colour do this to Black people by using this knowledge while being anti-Black, yet many times cannot describe their experiences without this knowledge. Non-Black people of colour can be perpetrators of the exploitation of the cultural production of Black people and not feel accountability is necessary for the same reasons that Whites do. But Whites also engage in this exploitation against other people of colour. Many women of colour, Black and otherwise, have to deal with White plagiarists and the stages of plagiarism. 

By the stages, I mean the common pattern of behavior when Whites are confronted about their plagiarism of women of colour:

  1. They deny that the plagiarism has occurred, even when it is obvious and blatant and other people notice it as well.
  2. They claim that the woman of colour that they plagiarized should be flattered to even be thought “worthy” enough to “deserve” to be plagiarized by someone White. They suggest that plagiarism is “appreciation” yet to actually appreciate someone is to mention them, and this logic is purposely skirted by Whites.
  3. They demand “niceness” and “humility” from the woman of colour that they plagiarized. It’s unacceptable for that woman of colour to be upset despite being exploited. They suggest that her caring about plagiarism is a “mental health” issue about “needing recognition” versus a matter of their own White privilege and actually a matter of the law; plagiarism is actually not legal. I know it’s common. It is still illegal. And Whites who especially are consumed by “legality” when a person of colour is in question sure do not give shit when their own behavior is in question.
  4. They insult. Racial slurs (i.e. anytime I speak of plagiarism, people bring in the “Angry Black Woman” stereotype), coded language only used against women of colour online (i.e “bully,” “toxic,” etc.) and sometimes ableism (the woman of colour who made the content magically becomes “stupid”) comes into play.
  5. They discredit the work itself. Ironically, their plagiarism is based on work that they think…is “stupid?” The mental gymnastics involved in taking work and thinking it is valuable, but thinking its creator is “stupid,” but then if the creator finds out and doesn’t applaud the plagiarism, they’re also “stupid” makes me think of the elaborate social illusions that accompany White supremacy, ones that James Baldwin wrote about so well. 
  6. They turn into the victim. When the White person is a woman, White supremacist, patriarchal constructions of womanhood are evoked where they’re the victim of the “mean ol’” woman of colour who could not politely allow plagiarism to occur. “Delicate damsel” performance occurs. Worse, some will even claim it is “racist” to point out this form of top down plagiarism of feminist/progressive writing happens and plays out this way because of White privilege. They easily move from tyrant to toddler in these situations, trying to maintain control the entire time. At this point, other Whites may join in to gaslight and abuse the woman of colour or make excuses. Sometimes other people of colour join in the abuse as well and make the unequivocally false and nonsensical claim that the woman of colour in question wants “White approval?” Or is “greedy” and a “capitalist” for not wanting to be exploited? Nonsense.

Last night a mutual follow, a woman of colour and queer Muslim feminist @jaythenerdkid (Aaminah Khan) noticed that her tweet and viral quote about men giving women insincere compliments rooted in misogyny was haphazardly plagiarized by various White women. Again, this is very common when it comes to feminist/progressive writing even in the smallest microblogging form, as she uses Twitter for and as many women of colour do. She herself recently wrote about being plagiarized before in her essay If My Words Are Worth Nothing, Why Are You Stealing Them?. These White women will perch in the Twitter streams and blogs of women of colour looking for something as small as a tweet to steal in hopes of increasing their attention on Twitter or something as large as exploiting major conversations among Black and other women of colour and turning them into profit for their own mainstream media platforms or blatant content trolling and plagiarizing for their articles on feminism. Again, common and old activity here. 

Once @jaythenerdkid confronted those White women, they followed the stages listed above to perfection. I supported her and spoke to some of these White women and advised them that they could share the content that they think is great without plagiarizing. It’s actually easier to use the retweet button or reblog button than to make a new tweet or a new post and take the content and pretend that they created it. It actually takes less time to do the former. They of course acted dominating and entitled at first and then switched to “delicate damsel” phase. This reminded me that @bad_dominicana alluded to how White women use their perceived “softness” as a weapon because of how White supremacy works in their favor. This is the pre-cursor to full-fledged White Tears™. Women of colour have no such luxury and Black women especially do not as we are not assumed to even be human enough to have nuanced emotions or feel pain

There is no excuse to be made for this unless the person making the excuse is ready to defend White supremacy. And suggesting "well as long as the knowledge gets out there" does not address the question of why must the thoughts, ideas and cultural productions of women of colour be taken and are only acceptable from a White woman? No one can answer that without defending White supremacy. No one can explain why can’t the "knowledge get out there" attached to its creator and still matter? Why is it only good when when the woman of colour involved is erased? White supremacy and the notion that knowledge is not even knowledge unless it comes from someone White is why; period. 

I tire of this cycle. I tire of the entitlement and petulant tantrums by Whites who feel entitled to the work of women of colour. It doesn’t matter if it is a single tweet (i.e. in @jaythenerdkid's case) or if it is a full essay (as it has happened many times to me and to so many other women of colour) or if it is an entire framework (i.e. how White women try to erase "intersectionality" from Kimberlé Crenshaw). It’s unacceptable. The entitlement to the labor of women of colour—and especially Black women since we are regularly viewed as objects of labor and not even as people—needs to stop. It is sickening and especially so coming from people who claim to be about justice, as many of the Whites who do this claim feminism or some other progressive politics. How can you truly desire to dismantle oppressive systems when you perpetuate them by manipulating and silencing the voices and knowledge of women of colour?

Related Essay Compilation: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism

Related Post: How EVERYONE Works Together To Silence Women of Colour’s Critiques of Mainstream Feminism


Cyberfeminism vs. Afrofuturistfeminism


There are differences and sameness on some accounts within cyberfeminism versus afrofuturistfeminism, I’ll quickly list the basics.

Cyber Feminists and Afrofuturist Feminists agree that Western Marxist/socialist/radical feminism, rooted in class conflict and gender roles to create a naturalize unity amongst women left no room in their structure for race, therefore for decades othering the Black body within feminism.

In an effort to keep this portion short since most futurist feminists are familiar with Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” cyber feminism is rooted in science/machine/technology/genderlessness; it sees Science Fiction as post-modernist and the group’s main framework is dependent on the binaries of White Capitalist Patriarchy versus Informatics of Domination. It imagines a utopian world without an origin and negates gender.

Afrofuturist Feminism is rooted in ethnicity and gender; understanding their African Diasporian continuum, the group sees their supernatural ambiguity to shape-shift in natural and manifested surroundings as a genealogical code that predates post modern Science Fiction. The group’s main framework is dependent on the binaries of ethnicity and womanhood versus everything that marginalizes and oppresses their group—including technology if necessary—yet, it openly embraces technology as a choice, and not as the final option, to further the African Diasporian continuum.

Afrofuturist Feminists do not negate their history as the group works on a continuum of past, present, future and must utilize the Sankofa principle of “it is not wrong for one to go back and take that which they have forgotten” or “simply go back and take,” therefore, they do not imagine a world without gender nor genesis. Simply put: Afrofuturist Feminists embrace ethnicity with technology, as long as technology doesn’t seek to marginalize the group, they do not need to eradicate the Black or female body nor the history it has witnessed. Utopianism for the group is keeping the Black female body by choice, and the body cohabitates with the world around it without being othered. Note, Afrofuturist Feminists shape-shift so, hybridization, including robotics, etc, may occur, but it’s not a permanent state that solely negates the Black female body.