I don’t speak for my race. I don’t speak for my gender. I only speak for myself and how I feel I have occasionally been viewed and treated in a college setting. This isn’t to say that I feel like all people have treated me this way, it is just an observation I have had lodged in the back of my mind for some time now. Disclaimers help to avoid absolutes.
We have recently started to see a surge of discussions regarding minority experiences and related microaggressions coming downstage into the light, with personal reflections and anecdotal teaching stories coming to the forefront of the debate. I, as one might expect, have many opinions and thoughts about what it means to be an Asian girl in today’s day and age. From the way I was raised to the jokes occasionally made by close friends or complete strangers, but one thing I don’t really talk about and would like to focus on specifically is how that has translated to, for lack of a better term, my “love life”.
With the emergence of the online hashtag #BAGU (being Asian at Georgetown University) I felt it was time for me to express my feelings on this subject, which only truly began to form once I arrived at college. This gets rather personal and I feel wary about baring my feelings regarding this subject, but I hope others here can relate to this or that it, at the very least, sparks a dialogue.
I have reached a place where I believe that the only guys who are attracted to me are those who are known for being “into Asian girls”. The guys plagued with “yellow fever”.
You might think, “well what’s wrong with that? It’s like preferring brunettes or people with blue eyes or any set of traits that one might just find more attractive”.
And yes while that can be true for some, I have come to notice that it’s a little different for those who have a “fetish” or preference for Asian girls. It is what these people have come to expect from romantic or sexual encounters with Asian women in the media, historically, and in pornography.
Asian women have been expected to be submissive and compliant. The genre of pornography including Asian women tends to perpetuate the theme of dominance and submission: An Asian maid in a public restroom gets bent over and taken against her will. A woman gets molested in a crowded bus and is powerless to do anything about it. A schoolgirl in a plaid skirt gets robbed of her innocence by a pixelated form. And where does this come from? From the “classics”: Memoirs of A Geisha, Miss Saigon, stories from wartime, rumors of horizontal vaginas. Girls in movies who are good at math, play the violin, are quiet, awkward and bespectacled, fade into the background of the plot. [If you have not seen To J.K. Rowling, From Cho Chang (I strongly agree with 1:20-end), I urge you to watch it as well as her graceful responses to the critiques she received].
I’ve already spoken about how I feel I have come into my own as a Korean-American, but this goes deeper. The college hookup culture or even the pursuit of a boyfriend is something I approach with much hesitancy. When it comes to “potential suitors” I am not one who trusts easily, I am almost never willing to make myself vulnerable to people in that way, I keep my guard up, I speak candidly about opinions but rarely about feelings, and I run easily. Why? Because not many people have ever given me reason to feel otherwise:
“Lindsay, do you only date white boys?”
“Do you feel like you’re competing with other Asian girls here at Georgetown for guys?”
“You’re one of the prettiest Asian girls I know”.
“Where are you from?”
“Do you wear your makeup like that to make your eyes look bigger?”
These were not isolated incidents and these quotes don’t even show the extent of it. The worst part about these comments is that the people who say them don’t even realize what they’re saying is wrong. These comments/questions are microaggressions: They are born out of ignorance, not malice, and are worse (in some ways) than someone making a direct racial slur at me. I have often felt as though I have been viewed as Asian first, Lindsay second, and comments like these have only deepened that feeling.
So today, Tuesday, December 16th. Speak out on what #BAGU means to you.
I welcome comments and constructive criticisms, #BAGU is meant to be a dialogue.