I’m so angry today about the “Asian” blanket term. How can the world throw us together just because it makes classification easier? Don’t talk to me about how much abuse and oppression “Asians” have gone through because East Asia and Southeast Asia is NOT the same thing. We are very different people with different sets of problems. You cannot act like we are one and the same.
And fuck the implication that Asians are just East Asians. Everytime we talk about being Asians, it starts with “I’m Asian too”. I shouldn’t need to remind you or inform you. I’m fucking Asian too.
I hate seeing these posts on Tumblr about American shows and “Asian” actors in them. Oh wow look 8 East Asian actors, and 2 South East Asians ones. Yay diversity. Don’t bunch us together. You undermine us by doing so.
I’m really not sure where to begin with this because I’ve only shared snippets of this experience with my sister and literally no one else. It’s been really hard to formulate my thoughts and feelings into something coherent because many of my experiences can (and will) be rebutted with gaslighting and strawman arguments and “why didn’t you assert yr agency”, and I become upset enough about this person as is. And, to boot, this person has no idea how fucked up I feel; I’ve never felt safe or justified in talking about this. But I am now.
My partner and I have been together for almost 7 years. We are high school sweethearts. We have been non-monogamous for around 2 years. We’re pretty boring in that despite not being monogamous, we would still rather be around each other the vast majority of the time. We’re best friends. He is truly one of my favourite people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. So, navigating seeing other people after many years of monogamy was difficult and rife with a lot of “uh, is this normal/acceptable?”. Let me expand.
Back track to my earlier days of non-monogamy, I was much more liberal feminist friendly, and for all intensive purposes identified as pansexual. I’ve never really had preferences for gender, if I’m attracted to you then I’m attracted to you, plain and simple.
I dated a person, let’s call him Jon, for a little while. In hindsight, so many scary red flags were there, but female conditioning means not believing oneself and one’s intuition.
On our first date, I was met with “I don’t believe in a ‘rape culture’”. I asked him to expand what he meant by this, and was further met with some sort of diatribe about how “if two people are drunk and they have sex with each other, i don’t believe should they both be charged with assault” sort of crap. It demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what rape culture actually is, and I did my best to explain the culture that facilitates normalized sexual violence against women. He showed some sort of pitiful understanding and insinuated he would look into it more. I was confused because his OKC clearly identified him as feminist and anti-oppressive, yet he took issue with the concept of rape culture. I told myself to forget it and that I was placing too much emphasis on that point.
Fast forward a few hang outs: I’m not 100% sure where I see this person in terms of his relationship with me, and I haven’t had sex with him yet because of this. Jon clearly believes sex is 100% on the table, because in the least organic fashion possible, he goes “so, let’s talk about sex!” and I was put into the position of listing my sexual preferences, despite not having actually been intimate with him and knowing what I would like from him, because, ya know, just because you like one person doing something to you doesn’t mean it’s what you want everyone to do to you? After uncomfortably talking about myself while Jon got excited about all the things he assumed he could do to me, he brought up anal play (yep… haven’t even kissed yet), and I don’t even remember how I reacted, I’m confident I just mumbled something to get him to stop making me feel like I was put on the spot. Red flag.
I asked what he wanted to do activity-wise, and he responded with silence and pouting. I guess I took that as my cue to get in bed with him. My own bed. Placating this man in my own bed, my supposed safe space. Because what other reason would I have him here for, I guess. Even though in hindsight, I never expressed wanting him in my bedroom. I had been reduced to talking about myself in a vulnerable way, about information Jon thought he was privy to because he believed we were going to have sex. And I did not have the confidence to tell him otherwise. So I did what I thought I should do.
That was the first time I had sex with Jon, and it was rubbish sex to boot. Like literal garbage. I cringe as I type this, btw. I cringe so I don’t cry.
Jon started becoming more and more open with me about his gender identity issues and other… issues. And like the good liberal feminist I was, I took all this at face value and did not question it cause I assumed that made me a terrible person and/or transphobic.
Jon came over one day, declaring he was “not a man”. Again, the good liberal feminist in me immediately asked what his preferred pronouns were, and despite not being a man he still wanted to be addressed with “he, his, him”, male pronouns. He identified as “intersex” and when I asked about intersexuality being a biological condition his response was something along the lines of “well it has multiple meanings” and I did no further questioning. Jon was cis passing, no one would have ever assumed any differing gender identity from how he presented himself. The only difference between him and other men was that, in his head, he didn’t “feel” like a man, and therefore “wasn’t a man”. So he reaped the benefits of male privilege, but in his mind, this was all negated because of his feelings. He expanded on this by saying he was not comfortable in big groups of men and didn’t “relate” to them. Red flag.
Picture: me, the good liberal feminist, dressing the emotional wounds of a man who would continue to make me question myself and my thoughts for the next while.
I remember another conversation with him where he was expressing frustration with how some feminists in an academic setting spoke to him once during class or a meeting or something else I couldn’t have cared less about. He didn’t like their demeanor. I asked him why he thinks feminists should only respond in utter kindness to him (in my mind, what privileged shit did he spew in order to receive that feminist vitriol?), and he stated it was about “basic human respect”. Oh, that makes sense! Respect. Like the lack of which you demonstrate to women who take issue with your male analysis of their problems. I know this now but I didn’t trust my feminist logic enough to know it then. This was a male-presenting person who took issue with women who did NOT care about what he had to say. Red flag.
Another time later, post-sex at his house, I was relaxing in his bed. I continued having sex with Jon because I was not trusting any of the things my discomfort and intuition was telling me; I thought my discomfort was inherently transphobic/cissexist and me not having sex with him was “not nice” and made me a bad person, bad feminist, a bad pansexual. I would listen to this man go on about how much living with his parents as a young “sexual” (read: horny) man sucked, was uncomfortable, whatever. I don’t even remember how I sympathized with it, I don’t know why I did. [Aside, random microaggressions: he continued to go down on me when I asked him to stop, “Why don’t you just relax” was what I heard, and I complied. Another time, he made me touch his penis, likely literally put my hand on his penis, without asking. Just did it. I complied.]
And there, while lying in his bed, was I then subjected to him going on about his porn addiction. Yep. Jon had a porn addiction and I had to listen to him talk about it, because that’s what nice, good, supportive, understanding women do. We placate the men who are “addicted” to watching us being raped and abused and dehumanized. There I am, a naked woman having just had (bad) sex with him, and I get to listen to this garbage. Worse, I have no choice but to “explore” it with him and listen to him talk about how his compulsions show themselves, how his addiction manifests itself. Btw, he watched solely straight porn. He “wasn’t a man” but his sexual preferences and entitlement reeked of male conditioning. In no way would he view women as victims, or me as a victim, in his porn addiction woes. Red flag.
How did I react to this? Why, I felt so lucky that he was comfortable enough with me to talk about his gender issues, his addiction issues, his family issues. I am burdened, constantly, with the thankless female task of being a counselor for those who did not so much as ask me how I feel about porn. It was just assumed I’m ~cool~ with it because good liberal feminists are ~cool~ with whatever!
So I coped by thinking I was just a really good person for him to feel this comfortable around me.
He would give me weekly updates about whether he had managed to avoid watching porn or not (apparently it’s really difficult to simply not search for it) and I noticed that times when he had sex with ACTUAL women, his addiction seemed to be at bay. He seemed to just need the porn when there weren’t actual real live women around.
What role did I play in this? Was my body, my vagina, and access to it, simply a part of his compulsion to dominate? Well.
Some time later, we were walking outside, when he told me he was thinking of opening up a FetLife account. I know, it’s like clockwork. I asked him why, and he told me he was looking for a sub (a female one of course). I didn’t ask him to expand on it, because frankly I didn’t care. I had a strong feeling he was trying to gauge whether I would placate his need to have a woman to sexually dominate. I knew, at least, that this was NOT a role I wanted in his life. And, again, did not place much emphasis on it at the time, because libfems assert that BDSM is empowering and a-ok provided ~consent~ is there, so what could possibly be wrong with his “need” to do and engage in stuff like this.
Jon and I don’t hang out anymore. It’s been over a year.
My encounter with dating a genderspecial person resulted in me ignoring my intuition, my gut, my discomfort, so that I could be the good compliant non argumentative woman and partner. I have been minimalizing my own fucking awful experiences for ages now, with no one to talk to about this, because I am afraid of being dismissed, afraid of him being considered an “exception in the trans community”. Worse, I told myself a lot that it’s not that bad, others have had way worse sexual encounters so who am I to complain.
Jon did not understand that not matter how much he asserted he was not a man, his life went on as though he was. People treated him like he was. My fearful responses to so many things he said and did were a response to being afraid of men, which I did not recognize at the time, as many woman are raised to not recognize power dynamics and men are raised to ignore them. He benefited from being a man.
And he has no. fucking. idea. I sit here typing this out, trying to make sense of this, and he’s a-ok. Jon is fine.
And I don’t think I was much else for this trans/intersex/however-he-identified person other than a hole. He could blither on about feminist rhetoric all he wanted to and then in the same breath ask for sympathy for his porn addiction I really didn’t want to hear about.
And I remember thinking that I was a bad person. Women are always to blame. I blamed myself. Where was my voice?
It was muffled by female fear of men, in ordinance with female subjugation. And it must still be, because pressing the “post” button on this page has me scared.
powerful stuff. thanks for sharing it.
Yuri Kochiyama is my activist role model because she specifically cared about and showed up for black, Latino, and Native American communities. Asian oppression was not her main focus with other oppression coming in second; her primary goal was dismantling white supremacy and she understood that fighting for ALL people of color was crucial in achieving that goal.
I am a pinay feminist but I cannot have my feminism be exclusively Asian. I have to be here for all of us and part of that is the acknowledgment of anti-blackness and shadeism in my community that needs to be eradicated. Antiblackness is a crucial component, if not the true heart of white supremacy, and if we don’t make the dismantling of that a priority in our feminism, we are operating on exclusivity and success at the expense of black people. We need to stop appropriating, stop aligning ourselves superficially, and for fuck’s sake, WE NEED TO STOP USING THE N WORD BECAUSE IT IS NOT OURS. We cannot claim to be activists if we willingly remain ignorant.Discussion of oppression should not just cover intersectionality of individual identity, it should be about solidarity across communities.
including the following: East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and West Asian/Middle East, the indigenous people of North Asia/Russia, and mixed race Asians
Like/reblog this post if you are a fellow feminist of Asian descent, no matter where you currently reside, so that I can follow you ^^
(I’m Korean, living in America.)