"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Excuse me, sir, I refuse.

I will NOT

I will not ask PERMISSION
I will not APOLOGISE

I was made of the earth
And made for the world

I was not made for you to devour
(you will find me too bitter, too monstrous
Too like the moon-
Fucking huge)

You do you, do you, do
Do me if you wish
Do me if you will

But this will not do.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

free agent

Now Playing: Take Me to Church by Hozier (I was born sick but I love it, command me to be well)

When I was in high school I wasn't so much a wallflower as actual wallpaper. I got absolutely zero attention that wasn't the embarrassment of consistently coming almost-last in chemistry (I went to one of those infernal schools that really liked ranking systems) or the mild notoriety of topping English.

That was it. I was a Walking Brain.

I don't hold grudges against my classmates for the lack of attention; I know now that attraction is a messy, complicated thing that is not as easy to beg or barter for as I had imagined in my sillier days. The part that really rankled was the assumption that because I was incapable of attracting anybody, I didn't experience any form of valid attraction.

It's a pretty standard stereotype that people react with shock and horror when a nerd ever dares to express attachment to anything other than a textbook, and the things that were said about me in the few times that I couldn't keep my feelings and my humanity in check really hurt. People assumed that because I was valued for academic merit I didn't experience the dehumanization that the 'pretty girls' went through, but it was incredibly dehumanizing to be treated like I didn't have and didn't deserve to experience attraction the way that other people did; for a long time I genuinely believed that I didn't deserve anything more than begrudging friendship. It was truly one of the most horrible things I've ever experienced and if I want my bullies to apologise for anything, it's that.

I've often said that I am about as opposite to asexual as they come, but I have a great deal of empathy for the asexual community because, for the longest time, I was treated as one. But the crux of the matter didn't seem to be that I had given any impression that I didn't experience attraction; it was the assumption that because I didn't inspire any desire, I didn't have any of my own. 'Single' and 'asexual' became interchangeable and equally undesirable states of being.

After the torment of high school I admitted to myself, and then to everyone else, that I experience two very distinct types of attraction - which was probably too much for everyone to handle after spending years assuming I didn't experience any kind of attraction at all. And people always, always, always ask me really personal and intrusive questions about my sexual history with women and frankly, I'm really sick of it.

I'll be the first to admit that the furthest I've gone with girls are a few very drunk pashes with a few very straight girls. I know. Very unextraordinary. But why is that even relevant? Why does anyone care? People assume I am straight, most of the time, and nobody feels the need to demand a full, graphic account of my experiences with men. I've always found it bizarre that an identity that I haven't associated myself with for a long time is legit, but the one that I have chosen for myself is under so much scrutiny.

I'm not really fussed if people are confused about my sexual orientation; it doesn't really matter, on the grand scheme of things. For a long time, as a Valentine's Day joke, my friend and I were in a Facebook relationship and everyone thought I was gay, and I didn't find the misunderstanding offensive because there's nothing wrong with being gay and I suppose it's a valid assumption to make. There's nothing wrong with being any kind of orientation. But I find it really frustrating that other people feel entitled to define my identity for me; the thing that I can't stand is that those labels are not my own, and the ones that I do choose are endlessly questioned and constantly need to be defended and justified.

A gay man isn't gay because he attracts other men; he's gay because he's attracted to other men, and his sexual history cannot ever contradict his identity. There are gay men who have only had sex with women, who have had more sex with women than with men, and gay men who haven't had sex at all. Sexual behaviour does not define us and does not define our identities; and, get this, queer folk have just as much a right to privacy as everyone else. You would not ask a straight person to provide proof of their heterosexuality; and I equally have nothing to prove and nothing to hide.

I am very open about my sexuality and discussions about sex; hell, I study sex at university. But there is great agency in choosing the conversations you have, as a woman, and being open doesn't mean I feel comfortable suddenly being interrogated about how much I've gotten my lesbian freak on, and I shouldn't have to defend the labels I feel most comfortable with.

Why do people insist on considering my lack of female partners as a failing on my part? I don't have a pressing need to randomly sleep with women in the same way that straight folk don't waste away longing to sleep with every single person of the opposite sex that has ever existed. We live in a deeply homophobic, heteronormative society and it is very difficult for queer folk to exist as their whole, genuine selves. Has it ever occurred to anyone that I have struggled with self acceptance and coming out and finding a crowd and homophobia just like every other queer person? It's safer for me to stay in the straight lane, and whilst I wouldn't say I have straight privilege I do have the privilege of existing in this mainstream space whilst staying true to myself, which is more than what a lot of the queer community can say. I should not have my identity mocked and erased and dismissed because our society can't deal with its own homophobia.

People often comment how strange/obscene/uncomfortable it is that I am comfortable talking about sex and really curious and interested in sexuality as an academic pursuit, but honestly, I have a bigger problem with society's fixation on sex than my own. Admitting that my sexuality is not passive and not defined by how many people ogle me was a strange taboo that I didn't expect to encounter; I always thought I would have the human agency to define my own identity, but apparently not.

Friday, September 25, 2015

what even?

Now Playing: Someone New by Hozier (some like to imagine the dark caress of someone else, I guess any thrill will do) 

I'm nearly twenty years old, I am about to graduate uni, and I've never been on a date.

And to be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure how to date.

I spent most of school not having a boyfriend; and I spent all of that time really needing a boyfriend. High school is a pretty conservative place, and single women are treated kind of like lepers, but also like lost property; we were unclaimed baggage.

I very briefly had a boyfriend in year eight or nine. And by 'very brief' I am not joking; it lasted three days, two of those days being the weekend, which we spent on the opposite ends of the vast Perth suburban sprawl. We were a thing Friday night and not a thing Monday afternoon and absolutely nothing happened in the interim. My thirteen year old self took the whole thing a bit personally, but evidently not as personally as my beau, who is in the habit of drunkenly stealing phones off of our mutual friends to beg forgiveness, six years on.


My friends, my mother, and all and sundry assured me that I would meet THE ONE at uni; I'd lock eyes over lattes with some cute boy in the back of sociology and things would hit off and we would raise our kids on our mutual love of Shakespeare and Annabel Crabb. Three years on and I can no longer afford the daily brew, I dropped out of sociology, and the one boy I did like from that class turned out to be Kinsey-six gay, so that turned out really well.

What did happen was that I joined student politics; and, in the back end of fresher year, I found myself very drunk and surrounded by a lot of other really drunk student politicians in shitty student bars. I refer to this point in my life as the time of poor life choices, but they weren't really choices, given that I wasn't really conscious for a lot of it.

The one thing that I did learn at the end of it is that white people do actually glow in the dark, it is possible to have such a cold sexual encounter that you literally catch a cold in between the lack of clothing and the lack of human contact, and my poor sweet innocent seventeen year old self learned some hard lessons about not conflating sex with anything else.

That was a really, really hard lesson to learn; it was unlearning everything I had ever known, trying to force myself to see this weird, strange, cold, alien perspective on life. And it's not really a lesson that I've ever fully accepted, anyway; I learned other things. I learned that there's a lot to play with between 'vapid disconnect' and 'true love', and that intimacy and privacy are strange things that sometimes coexist and sometimes there is a certain heat in the moment, a certain quality to the fractured light of the l'heure blue, that is beautiful and exciting and ethereal. I learned that love is complicated and romantic love is vastly overrated and that you don't have to turn yourself into a block of ice to interact with people on a not-so-platonic level.

I think my greatest fear when I was younger was that being single meant being sexless; it meant living a life totally devoid of human contact. I've always been a very sexual person and having no outlet for that was unbearable; but admitting to yourself and to the world that you are a fuck love, give me diamonds kind of person is not really an option when you're sixteen and at school. I have a really fulfilling life and I'm more secure in myself than I ever was in high school, both in my three days of being a girlfriend and my thousand days of not. And that fulfillment comes not just from friends and pasta and sex but also spending a lot of time by myself, enjoying my own company - which is always something that I've needed, but in my younger and more vulnerable years had a bit too much of. I've realized how much time and energy I spent making myself Appealing and Attractive, how much of my time and energy was wasted on what other people thought of me and I just Don't Care anymore. It's delicious, living your life solely for you. I didn't know who I was, when I was in high school, outside of my grades or my ferocious need for a boyfriend. Now I know so much more about who I am and what I want outside of my dubious grades and my no longer very pressing quest for The One.  

Most people have a period of serial monogamy between being a high school wallflower and a BNOC party animal; I didn't (I also don't have the commitment issues and habit of failing units and changing my degree to stay on campus long enough to become a proper BNOC). So here's the thing; I'm getting on a bit, you know. It's weird, being my age and never knowing anything else aside from singledom. I love my late night rendezvous and short lived flings but I'd like to mix it up a bit and here's the clincher - I don't know how.

It took me a long time to learn how to navigate hook up culture and keep some semblance of self and sanity intact. I don't know how to date. I don't understand how you can meet a total stranger in the understanding that you are potentially romantically and/or sexually attracted to each other, or at least are attracted to the notion of a romantic and/or sexual relationship, and I don't understand how that can't be the most awkward thing on the planet.

Anxiety has had the unpleasant side effect of making me nervous, jumpy, and perpetually awkward. I avoid this state by avoiding people, and occasionally by avoiding sober consciousness, and in the context of hook up culture a great deal can be achieved in an impressive state of inebriation. I don't even feel like I'm hiding behind it, but more that I become more of myself after a few drinks - I used to be a really loud, bubbly person and you get some of that back when you drown out the anxiety with a few overpriced cocktails; I don't really get drunk enough to do anything monumentally stupid anymore. I really am in awe in alcohol's role as social lubrication and it is extraordinarily freeing, when you spend most of your life trapped in endless doomed spirals of really toxic, or sometimes just really twitchy, trains of thought. But somehow I think it is poor form to show up at a date blind drunk.

More to the point is that I like how blunt and honest and forward you can be in hook up culture; we live in a society where women are supposed to be quiet and have a really florrid, indirect way of speaking and of articulating their needs and wants and rights, which just turns out bad for everyone involved. It's scary, being a go-getter kind of person as well as a person with very particular and specific boundaries that need to be constantly spelled out and reinforced - especially as a woman, and I've become the brave, bold, no-bullshit kind of person I wish I was before I ended up elbow-deep in some nasty shit I was too timid to talk my way out of. I don't know how to be that person in a situation when nobody is being upfront about what they want.

My generation is constantly being accused of being in love with disconnect, and I strongly disagree; we just seek different kinds of connection. I'm big into online video and I love the communities that are created between people who have something more in common than geographical proximity. I am of the unpopular opinion that there is real value in relationships that don't last forever, and that a lot of love and respect can exist in spaces that have been stigmatized as seedy and sleazy. But we are not a generation of dinner dates; it's just never anything I could get into, for the longest time, and now I feel the desire and also the expectation to date, and I have no idea what I'm doing. I've enjoyed the independence and autonomy of being a single young adult; it's an interesting break from being a Child who is always told What To Do. But this is not how I imagined living out my life, and as much as I enjoy the varied company and the emotional privacy of the life I've had as an undergrad it's no longer imperative that I have vast quantities of time to myself. I've never felt the need to collect as many lovers as I can; it's more like I've found myself in this culture of blue hour romances and enjoyed the ride, but I won't entirely be sad to see it go. But I don't know how to date. That's a class I clearly slept through.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

the man species

Now Playing: From Eden by Hozier (Idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword, innocence died screaming, honey ask me I should know)

It has not escaped my attention that the few truly 'fearless' moments that I've had after developing anxiety have been really, incredibly drunk moments.

Which might be a sign that I'm finally becoming dinky-di Aussie after a lifetime of eschewing the footy, until I start waxing lyrical about the first time I got drunk.

The first time I got drunk I was sixteen and not yet struggling with anxiety, although I was getting caught up in some pretty toxic shit (that was totally irrelevant and on a different continent than the drunk episode). I was studying abroad in Songdo, Korea, and after class all of us - Uzbeks, rich Arab guys, Americans, a French Korean, a Brazilian Korean, a British dude with a Master's degree from LSE - went downtown. Songdo in the winter of my seventeenth year was actually a very bizarre place for a rowdy night on the town with your global classmates - we were in Korea, a place I'd always associated with suffocating authoritarianism, Songdo is a really cultivated and multicultural place, full of tourists and ex-pats and students and celebrities and professionals, but it is really, uncomfortably close to the DMZ, which is the border between North and South Korea. It was also one of the coldest Korean winters on record and Songdo is one of the coldest places in Korea.

But off we went, to Korean barbeque and a bar called 'beer is cool' and noribang and, on one of those occasions, little lightweight me got dead gone on Korean booze.

The 'lowering of inhibitions', as inebriation is sometimes delicately put, was absolutely euphoric. I became more of a child than at any point during my childhood, because I had always been quite an anxious child. They were big, brave, exciting days with wonderful people.

And now, alcohol is an escape; an escape from the endless swirl of fear and doubt, the knawing insecurities that sometimes get just a tad debilitating. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm just a fan.

A couple of years later, after some very awesome drunk experiences and some very, very terrible drunk experiences, I found myself in hook up culture in a way that I hadn't been before - an independent, free thinking, active, consensual player in a thrilling game. It was the first time I had any kind of interaction that wasn't strictly platonic and I met lots of people and some of us saw each other at our most vulnerable and I can't tell you how glad I am of that.

I remember, at about twelve or thirteen, wandering aimlessly around the house in my ratty pyjamas, wondering what it would be like to be married. My instant thought was that I couldn't do this - I would have to wear nice pyjamas. I would have to look pretty. I definitely couldn't fart. From what I saw of men they were impossibly judgemental, difficult to please people who seemed totally incapable of understanding the human failings of women and I was monumentally angry that I wasn't, as I used to put it, 'more gay'.

Your teenage years are full of bad advice from well meaning Grown Ups who have plainly never experienced adolescence before in their lives (I've often wondered this; has the world changed so much? Or is there some kind of amnesia that kicks in after age 25 that makes the horrible past a #notbigdeal?). Most of that advice for me, as I grew older and more blatantly boyfriend-less and increasingly bitter about it, was about how terrible and disgusting boys are; juxtaposed, quite humourously, with advice about How to Not Annoy Boys With Your Opinions and How To Be Appropriate Girlfriend Material and How to Soothe Malformed Ayn Rand-esque Egos of High School-Aged Males. But seriously, I remember my adolescence being full of shit like 'boys don't respect girls they have sex with', 'boys will inevitably cheat', 'boys don't see monogamy/children/human decency the way girls do', or 'boys think all downstairs should look like a pornstar's downstairs' and all sorts of truly terrible stuff that made me seriously question a) how the human race has survived and b) why anyone ever gets married.

Given that I didn't have many male friends and the closest I had come to a boyfriend was living vicariously through Twilight, I viewed men with increasing suspicion, contempt, and begrudging admiration. In trying to make sense of the convoluted Aunty-advice swirling around my head I came to the conclusion that I would never attract anyone remotely attractive, because I was hideous, he'd probably laugh at everything I say, I'd really have to up my grooming game, and he'd pester me for all the sex I obviously didn't want, and then he'd leave me alone in a puddle of tears and I was supposed to want this. At no point did anyone give me the impression that men were capable of empathy, or of not dropping dead at the sight of a female face sans mascara, or any kind of human decency. In some ways a lot of the Aunty-advice was true, in that we live in a society that lets men get away with a lot of shit they probably shouldn't be doing, but at any rate the talk was aimed at the wrong gender. It wasn't my problem that teenage men just needed a good kick in the face; only it was, because my entire purpose in life was to be a Girlfriend. But the picture being painted for me was still hilariously one-sided and stereotypical and one-dimensional; nobody ever said that yes, there are lots of guys my age who like to screw around (not that there's anything wrong with that, you can totally be a single slut in a safe, consensual way), but a lot of them do eventually want marriage and babies and a relatively normal life, and female body hair isn't a biohazard that makes penises drop off.

The times when I felt the most insecure and vulnerable was when I was in hospital - sick, in pain, unwashed, bloodstained, bloated and just not my best self. You'd probably think that boys and looks are the last things on your mind when you're in hospital, and that's true, in an emergency. But a lot of hospital time is spent immobilized in dreadful-but-not-quite-debilitating pain, staring at the ceiling, contemplating the meaninglessness of life and the fleeting nature of existence, and you do start to worry about it. I had been raised to think of men as so cold, so shallow, that I really started to worry that, aside from my family, I had no chance of ever having someone I loved to look after me.

And in this culture where women are told that men are the WORST THINGS EVER but also NECESSARY FOR YOUR SURVIVAL, women sadly let a lot of shit slide; many people still labour under the deluded belief that men aren't wired to do laundry or change nappies. But more sinister than that is the extent to which women are encouraged to turn a blind eye to blatantly abusive behaviour - like I did. Because, compared to all the Aunty advice, he didn't seem out of the ordinary.

Feminists are under this constant pressure to be all I DON'T NEED A MAN, and you don't, because a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. But we do need people, and some of us need sex, and men are vastly interesting creatures that have really been undersold by the Aunty advice and really let down by the patriarchy. In my frustrating years as an involuntarily celibate high schooler, many people were quick to say that a girl like me shouldn't *need* a man, and at any rate it didn't really look like I was trying hard enough. We should always be wary, when we teach girls independence and emancipation, to not alienate them from their sexuality; and given where I am on the Kinsey scale, men factor into that a lot, and it was important for me to recognise that my sexuality wasn't some latent misogynist in my feminist self. And even if you don't need a man to look after you 24/7 or tell you what to do, it's important for all people of all genders to be able to imagine everyone else complexly, and for a long time, I simply couldn't do that for men. They seemed to operate, at least in my mind, on a vastly different level, and follow a code where vast amounts of heartbreak and careless disregard for other human beings was okay.

Hook up culture is a funny thing; it's a fascinating juxtaposition between relative physical intimacy and relative emotional privacy, but somehow in between that a lot of humanity somehow becomes a real, visceral thing. Learning to connect with the humanity of people is one of the most important things I've learned so far, and a lot of that was drunk pillow talk or shy disrobing and silent, mutual acknowledgement that nobody looks like a pornstar and that's okay.

At uni I'm now known as a pretty empathetic person; during a social media spat a person that I don't actually know very well defended me by saying 'if you know who she is, you'd know that judgement is not her thing'. It's a strange reputation to have, because I really struggle with empathy because of the many social and cultural difference between me and most other people and because I have social anxiety and I'm generally a pretty awkward person which translates, sometimes, into coldness - some people claim I have a vindictive streak, but I think that's more people disliking the fact that I have feelings. But whatever empathy I've had is in this long struggle to be recognised for what I am instead of every other thing people think I should be or claim that I am, and in realizing that other people often face this endless struggle too and that sometimes it's nice, when that sort of short, very drunk girl you met at a club smiles at you and says that you're doing okay. Which, at the end of the day, is all we want, as millennial good for nothings with eternal existential crises.

People continue to do a lot of brutally cruel shit that I can't fathom; and whilst it is something of a gendered phenomenon, women are not exempt. But I am also learning, slowly, that men are not what society tells them and tells us that they are, or that they have to be, and that the only way to truly respect men is to refuse to put up with shit.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

memory as agency

Now Playing: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift (it's so sad to think about the good times, you and I)

In my younger and more vulnerable years I was always terrified that nobody would remember me, that I wouldn't become some Big Famous Person, that I would die or sink into disrepair before My Time Had Come.

(if I sound like a nihilistic self-absorbed narcissist with delusions of grandeur, it's because I was)

And as if to confirm my thirteen-year-old self's worst nightmares, I'm currently at uni in one of the busiest libraries and one of my biggest bullies at high school is sitting right next to me and he does not recognise me.

But I spend a lot of my time these days thinking introspectively, nostalgically reminiscing over beautiful and beautifully fleeting moments and haunted by ghosts from my past, and I realize how much people are afraid of me not because they remember me as something Great and Awesome and Formidable, but rather afraid of what I remember.

In my time as both a nerdfighter and an English student I have learned about the silence of trauma, both in horror genre fiction and in real life. I learned that pain demands to be felt, and that pain defies language. I've spoken before that the cruellest part of emotional abuse is that gaslighting erases your memory and erases your ability to articulate your needs and rights and leaves only silence and doubt and the idea, but not the recollection, of pain. But there are a lot of things that I can remember, and as something of a relatively talented writer, I have through poetry and essay and reading obsessively found ways to put words to my pain and also to my pleasure and frustration and happiness and anxiety and that, I think, terrifies people.

Memories are not, by nature, objective records of the past. They are elaborations of summaries stored in a brain that is by no means a proficient curator of thought; In our nostalgic recollections of the past we tend to dwell on moments of intense emotion, but I don't think that is a bad thing; everything is biased, including really dull and obnoxiously authoritative law textbooks, and we are no different.

But what I do remember, of a lot of people, is not kind. A lot of people were not kind to me, which is okay, you know - I'm made of pretty strong stuff. But in the words of Anne Lamott, you own everything that has happened to you; and you own those things in the way that you remember and articulate them. When your reputation changes wildly in a very short space of time - from high school loser to moderately notorious arts student - people change how they treat you, but I always remember the feelings and emotions and euphoria and hurt that flashed through my smaller self in ways that I mostly could not handle.

I've been a writer all my life and a public writer since I was twelve, and I've always found this very obscure blog with its very small audience to be a source of agency for me; at home, away from the people who hurt me, I can write whatever I like about them and they can't stop me. I often liked to sneer, to heartbreakers and hair-pullers, that everyone has a story, but it's my story that counts; and in a way, that's true, because I'm the writer. And when I run into ghosts at uni, a long way away from my battered, scraped-knee, snotty-nosed child self, I see shock, and then begrudging acknowledgement, then fear. Because as much as we become different people we hold on to the same memories and those memories are powerful.

Like many bullied kids, I spent a lot of my childhood feeling powerless and helpless and therefore deeply resentful; of the kids who bullied me, my teachers who either bullied me or did very little to stop bullying as a systemic problem at school, and the frustration of being a kid and of being a person who didn't have the words or the nerve or the strength to fight back - and the few times I did fight back were instantly punished. I'll never forget the time I was made to apologise to my bullies. I'll never forget my Year 8 Science teacher who told me that I was useless or my Year 12 Politics teacher who said I would never get into uni. I spent a lot of time fantasizing about hurting my bullies or at least saying something super clever and snarky to their faces but I've come to the realization that people are genuinely afraid that I remember things, and that I write, and that I'm not a huge fan of forgive and forget. What happened in the past is thoroughly in the past for me, in that they don't hang in moments or places as panic and dread on a daily basis in the way that other things do, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily going to give you a clean slate for free. But there is power in that, in remembering. Because holding people accountable isn't just cathartic and deeply satisfying; it is the only way to show people that easy targets sometimes grow up into people you can't push around anymore.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Respect & Fraud

So today I got into a spat with an acquaintance that culminated in her threatening to ‘bring to the media’ the story of a deranged Perth Modern schoolgirl who, in retaliation for not receiving affection from a certain boy, decided to besmirch his reputation with libel and falsehoods about the nature of their relationship.

And if that sounds stupid, it’s because it is.

I am something of an open book, because I don’t see the value in privacy when I have spent my life trying, and failing, to keep secrets that are not shameful – and then being shamed for them. I also remember the deafening silence around the many things I faced growing up – racism, body image, eating disorders, mental illnesses, sexism, abuse – and I made up my mind that even if my voice is just a shout into a void, that it would exist and that somehow my intent to call to attention my story will come into fruition, and that my story, however unextraordinary, can help someone think that they are not alone. The reason why I read and listen to podcasts and watch an extraordinary amount of YouTube is to hear these voices – some complementary and many conflicting with my own perspective – and in this conversation I have the courage to contribute, and there is real value in that, however insignificant my person may be.

I do not have a very large ‘following’, as it were. I am one of thousands of students at a very unremarkable university, I have spoken at a few small conferences that nobody has heard of and I write on a blog that has reached an impressively few number of people. But the people that I have reached are fascinating and valuable and we are thankful for this exchange, in the real world and in the cyberspace, and how having a symphony of voices can help us deal with the unbearable loneliness of existence.

It is not easy talking about the things I talk about. I have a reputation, as it were, of talking about very taboo topics, and often people come up to me and say that I am the first person that they have heard publicly voice opinions on topics that are dangerous or disgusting. Some of my friends have heard my story and were finally able to put voice and context into their own experiences, and that has allowed them to heal in a way that silence and ignorance specifically inhibits.

In the wake of my abusive relationship I began to write about it, and I have published some of that – both on my blog or on Facebook or in a magazine that I used to edit. And I’ll be honest with you; you start to feel like a fraud. This is mostly because emotional abuse makes you question your own sanity and grip on reality, but also because in this culture of deafening silence you start to feel alien in a world that has facilitated your abuse.

I often speak about not having words, and how most of the things in my life have been in pursuit of acquiring more words. There are no words to describe abuse; I think the main reason why victims and survivors shut up is because unlike physical abuse, when descriptions become too graphic and people switch off, descriptions of emotional abuse often end up sounding trite and whiny; like the description of anything remotely romantic or sexual in a badly written book. Putting words to pain, putting words to things that defy language; that’s really hard.

And this is why it is important to believe victims and survivors even when things don’t ‘stand up in court’. A rudimentary understanding of psychology will tell you that trauma leaves gaps and plot holes, which should speak to pain rather than lies. I am bad at explaining what happened, and I live in a world that encourages me to internalize a lot of guilt. But in speaking out, however poorly, is acknowledging that what happened to me was real, and wrong, and that I am not guilty.

The things that movies often miss is that bad things often happen to terrible people; and an admission of abuse is not a declaration that you were a perfect friend, or a perfect partner, or that you never on any occasion ever hurt your abuser. There is a world of difference between being a bad friend or submitting to the failures of humanity, and abuse. I have had plenty of shithead boys walk in and out of my life and some of them arguably hurt me much more than my abuser did, but abuse stands in its own category and should not be conflated with anything else. And in accusing people who speak out about their experiences of somehow proclaiming that they are perfect flawless angels, you are in a way buying into a culture of victim-blaming; that, by virtue of not being angelic, we deserved our abuse.

It’s always struck me how incapable people seem to be of respect; the lack of respect anyone shows to my narrative and the huge levels of respect afforded to my abuser; there is no stigma attached to being an abuser, especially abuse of this nature. There was an enormous level of respect that I had for this person, and the respect I continue to show when I choose, every time I put pen to paper, to conceal his identity when he does not deserve and is not entitled to anonymity.

I think people are confronted by the real power that women who write have; even women who write anonymously or about unnamed people. I have spent my whole life constantly being shut out, but technology and society has allowed me in some limited scope to have my say and people are petrified of that, and I think that’s sad; I don’t like that we live in a world where a man can hurt a woman in the deluded belief that she can’t do anything to fight back. And there is nothing immoral about fighting back – whether it is with a pen or with a fist. Women are human, and in our instincts lies our humanity. I think a lot about my uneducated paternal grandmother and my illiterate maternal one, and I think about how their lack of words have severely handicapped them in this vastly literate, fast-paced world. And it is a sign of respect to them that I never stop using the tools that I have been given that they never had a chance to hold.

Going public with stories is not a sign of disrespect. After what victims suffer we are not obligated to respect people whose actions exist in every minute of our lives. Very few people randomly construct stories of abuse as a form of retaliation; as I stated earlier, I learned very early on that there is very little I could do to impact my abuser in any way, and that my only power lay in putting my story out there for people other than him. And being open should not be a vulnerability, something you whip out to shut me up over some unrelated issue; the threat of following through with ‘his story’ just should not be a thing; especially in a society that, by default, privileges his narrative over mine. It is hard enough to be an abuse survivor and I don't need the stress of worrying how my audacity at being open about my life is going to be weaponized against me. In the years that have passed between then and now, he hasn’t said anything in his defence, either privately or publicly; and I think it is a signifier of how little this impacts him, and how he is able to move on with his life in ways that I cannot. Or maybe, I like to think, that it is at last a tiny scrap of respect thrown in my general direction; the knowledge that the real fraud would be to cast doubt over what I have said and what I am trying to say.    

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Sodium Chloride

Do not tell me what it is you love about them
There is nothing about anyone that you love

Do not tell me how you love their eyes

And I have spent my whole life
Why mine weren’t good enough

I wish you had told me instead
The truth;

The truth I couldn’t know in my solitude
The truth that love is like salt.

I wish you had told me that people are like elements,
Together we are explosions or raspberries or cures for cancer
But when your uninteresting eyes met her uninteresting eyes
Together, you were salt

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t good enough
I couldn’t see the difference between her eyes and mine

But I would have understood salt.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

On Not Having Words

Now Playing: Angels by the xx (and with words unspoken, a silent devotion, I know you know what I mean)

I am a terrible student.

How do I know that? Because I've reached Level 321 on Candy Crush, a game that epitomizes the addiction to mindless disengagement that is procrastination; in fact, this whole blog, seven years of teenage rambles, is the sum product of many hours of time when I should have been doing something else. Right now I should be writing an essay, but I have a pathological aversion to doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I may be an intellectual teenager, but I'm still a teenager.

Many people ask me why I study what I study, and why I relentlessly pursue subjects and topics that are widely considered to be useless and not beneficial to the Business of Being Employed.

By the way, this question has been a part of my life long before I became a Gender Studies student; it existed when I read Harry Potter instead of pretending to enjoy AFL, it existed when I read Harry Potter during maths class, it existed when instead of memorizing dates and the names of Dead White Males in history I was wondering what women wore and what rights a married woman had and how they dealt with menstruation in that socio-historical context. I have always focused on whatever interested me, and never paid much attention to whether or not the skills I acquired were profitable or employable or marketable.

This total disconnect with the Real World is from a position of incredible privilege, of course. My family were not well off for most of my childhood but I enjoyed a level of economic security that neither of my parents had at my age. I have exceptionally enlightened, educated parents who basically let me go my own way (I mean, they thought I was deranged, but not dangerously so) and I have learned in my life to value things other than money (which is why my bank account is always dangerously close to red). But the main motivation in my life, the thing that makes me finally tear my focus away from Candy Crush and towards my due-in-a-few-hours essay, the thing that always pulls my path away from the pedestrian and conventional into uncharted territory, is not having words.

This seems like a strange thing for someone like me to say. I have always been a very literary person; I've been a chatterbox for as long as I can remember and my inability to shut up is one of my many annoying traits. I am in the business of using words to make meaning and I am also in the business of teaching that to others as my primary source of incredibly meagre income. I always come across as someone who always has something to say and the words with which to say it but that has not always been the case; and, in some ways, it has never been the case.

When I was a child I had a stutter; even now, I am rendered speechless more often than most people. It was incredibly frustrating and I was always frustrated at my lack of words; but beyond that, I knew that my youth and ignorance disadvantaged me, and I was always aware and annoyed that I couldn't conceptualize things, couldn't imagine things complexly, and didn't have the means to argue a point or to present my case. I lost many arguments - and there were many - with grown ups simply through not having the words I needed. As I got older, I got snarkier. I had found a means of communication through sarcasm, through nonchalance, through contempt and active rebellion. It was by no means the most palatable or effective way to make a stand but it was the only way I knew how. They were the only words I knew.

A lot of my fights involved straight white male peers or straight white male teachers (and even straight white female teachers who were intensely disagreeable) and I was always aware that I seemed to have some kind of inherent disadvantage, separate to being a student, even separate from being really short and very nerdy. But I didn't know how to articulate it. I knew what racism was, but not what microaggressions were, I didn't know what privilege and oppression was even when I was experiencing the impact of my own oppression, and it was an intensely strange and dehumanizing and frustrating experience. And in not understanding, other people definitely didn't understand. They didn't understand why I couldn't follow the rules or stick to the status quo or why every moment felt like a betrayal of either myself or my community or my culture or all of the above. I had internalized a lot of the racism and sexism and xenophobia that I was experiencing so I didn't know why the people I was arguing with somehow seemed right and wrong at the same time. I didn't have the words to explain or understand my own oppression and so I didn't have the words to push back against it.

This failure in communication, this lack of words, has led me down some dangerous paths. I was astonishingly terrible at school and didn't remotely live up to my potential. I was a bitter, angry kid and I battled, wordlessly, through an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression. I also got into a very abusive relationship with someone with the same lack of words but a very different place on the intersections of privilege and oppression, which proved disastrous.

I was, however, good at English. I didn't really study but I read a lot, and I thought about things a lot, and it was the first time I really felt like I got something, I really understood something; how to get meaning and how to make the meaning that I got from something seem meaningful. It was also the first time I was described as 'lucid' and 'eloquent', and the first time I had any sense of authority; I knew what I was talking about. I couldn't contain the endless stream of words and for the first time I didn't feel like I was running out of words; I was learning new ones. The debates I got into in English class I usually won, and I learned how to have an opinion and hold it even when nobody else agreed.

Being a Gender Studies student has given me more words; the words to explain, succinctly and clearly, difficult and complex and convoluted things like oppression, gaze, privilege, perspective, context. And I don't know what I'd do without this training; I don't know how I'd live my life without knowing what I know, without the tools that I have learned that I use daily to navigate my life and throw shade on the haters. I don't measure the value of my education by the kinds of jobs I will get and the salaries they attract (although admittedly I should think more about that than I do), but in the words that I am learning. I was a stuttering child and a bitter, frustrated highschooler and now I think I am a better person and a better fathomer of the universe because of my useless education and I can't put a price on that.

I think there is a great anxiety about people who study what I study. The vast majority of people like me - queer, female, person of colour, etc. - lack voice and lack representation. Education, and specifically an education that gives you the words to say what you need to say, is a dangerous thing - an educated woman is a very dangerous thing in a patriarchal society. And that's why there is a constant need to belittle, or to mock, or to continually cut funding and arbitrarily close majors. It's not because they are unimportant; it's because they are too important. Because graduating with these degrees might not produce CEOs or people to cure cancer, but they do produce troublemakers; people who have the words to question a deeply problematic, violent authority. And there is value in that. There will always be value in that.


What I Will Tell Our Children

When we first met I was so
Enamoured, my love

By the bare expanse of flesh
Bared, at the breast

And I thought that a woman loved
Is a woman adorned

Not just by jewels, my love

But I am a rich man
With no imagination

And I love you.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

on entitlement.

Now Playing: Do I Wanna Know (Cover) by Hozier (I dreamt about you nearly every night this week)

I’ll admit, in my younger and more vulnerable days, I felt quite entitled.

It was a private entitlement. I lived in a world that told me I didn’t deserve anything – so, naturally, I believed that I deserved everything. I was a child, a girl, and a minority – but I also had a lot of good old-fashioned Korean pride. I grew up in awe of my mother, who was everything I thought a woman should be – educated, independent, financially stable, and didn’t take shit from anybody. And in a way, this private snobbishness has served me well, hardening me for years of bullying and self-doubt and depression and anxiety and all the trials and tribulations of growing up. I was also quite a solitary person – an entire childhood spent in institutions designed to facilitate interaction with peers had failed to educate me on how to understand other human beings. I preferred to work alone, and I loved reaping the rewards by myself. I struggled with the racism and sexism and culture clash that existed in the life of a second-generation Asian immigrant and often escaped into a world of my own, where things were better; and nobody who wasn’t imaginary deserved a place there. I set quite high standards for myself, if I put my mind to it, and the few attempts I made at collaboration ended in disappointment.

When I was a kid, anything I wanted, I worked for – and eventually got. I had all the insecurities of a bullied kid but all the arrogance of a nerd, and I was supremely confident in my ability to make a life for myself, however hard the path may be. Anything I couldn’t do – art, math, science, the ability to run without inducing a heart attack – I quickly snubbed and lost interest in, learned to work my life around.

One failure I could never come to terms with, and still struggle with, are my relationships with people. Relationships are not something you can doggedly work at until you single-handedly get it right, or something you can abandon and go without. I didn’t have many friends growing up, and the few that I did have were rather short-lived. I didn’t understand people, how to make relationships work, how to keep them going. And although I enjoyed my own company my childhood was defined by an unbearable loneliness.

As I got older I realized that children didn’t really try very hard at relationships, and most childhood friendships were held together by a tenuous bond of close proximity and vague similarity – and most of them fell apart eventually, even if they seemed rock solid to a six year old loner. And I wasn’t similar to the children I grew up with, and no amount of work from one person can keep something between two people alive. I’m better at the friend thing, now. My friends are my opposites in many ways but we have the maturity and fortitude to try and keep something good going – especially now at uni where the lack of common free time has forced us to really put the effort in, but it is worth it and I am thankful for that.

I soon hit the age of pimples and hormones and I was, of course, desperate for a boyfriend. It was something I wanted, something I needed, something that would make me complete and whole and happy – that message had been thoroughly beaten into me by the cultural discourse of patriarchal heteronormativity. Growing up in a culture that privileged romantic love, and taught women especially to aspire to it, I felt inadequate and incomplete without it.

And then I got angry. Sure, I wasn’t perfect, but neither were any of the boys at school. I would put up with them, why couldn’t they put up with me? I did all the mandatory grooming and tried to keep my opinions and waistline to a minimum. I was trying hard, so I deserved a boyfriend. I was being wronged.

Our society tells us that romance and sex is an input-output mechanism – like a video game. You put in the desirable input and you get the desirable output. This, my friends, is entitlement.

I remained fairly entitled throughout my sexless, dateless, lonely adolescence. Of course, I had many valid reasons to feel anguished – my lack of boyfriend left me quite open to the very vocal opinion that I was clearly unfuckable. It reinforced all my insecurities of being a female minority and an insecure teenager and, worst of all, triggered my fear of failure that I had developed in a lifetime of being valued for my achievements instead of my inherent value as a human being. I viewed boys with a strange, convoluted mix of lust, longing, and utter contempt – and in feeling inadequate, I didn’t even bother to pause and validate my feelings for girls that were starting to bubble up.

I was caught in a vicious cycle – I had never experienced love or lust, so I didn’t understand that it was a physical, visceral, irrational thing; something no amount of perfect hair or lack of opinions could automatically trigger. In the movies Character X does something and that makes Character Y fall in love with them; and that’s how I thought it worked. I lived in a culture that had taught me entitlement – to other people’s feelings and bodies. Of course, we all felt entitled – my bullies felt entitled to push me to the depths of despair, everyone felt entitled to interrogate my racial identity on a daily basis, and a lot of the people I grew up with felt entitled to see me as a disembodied brain. We all thought it was funny, or at least perfectly acceptable, to routinely touch people without their consent, even in the knowledge that it would make them uncomfortable. And the people who had boyfriends and girlfriends certainly felt very entitled, and you could see it in the way they treated their partners.

The reason why I have very little patience with male entitlement is because I’ve been there. I’ve been that angry, frustrated, lonely teenager dying for a little bit of love. It was not easy to deal with, but my situation was exacerbated by racial and sexual and cultural dynamics that most MRAs would never have to imagine dealing with. People who are involuntarily celibate and very, very, angry at the world about it act like it’s something that other people, especially women, couldn’t possibly understand, and that’s part of the entitlement that’s been taught to them. Romance and love and sex is hard. It doesn’t always work when you want it to. But that doesn’t mean you can indulge in your entitlement.

How do we come by entitlement? First, we stigmatise failure; we tell people that failure is not an option. This message is beaten into you the higher up the privilege ladder you go – people with the most privilege have the greatest fear of failure, and our fear of failure is tied up with our privilege. For me, my privilege was being educated, so a lot of my failure phobias revolved around academia. I also have cis privilege, so there was a lot of anxiety about performing gender in a way that let me hold on to that privilege. With men, a lot of the failure anxiety is about sex and relationships and women.

After we establish this taboo of failure, we construct situations where you are basically doomed to fail. You can’t make anyone fall in love with you or make panties drop at the drop of a hat, but we’re told that the inability to do so is failure. Entitlement is failing to take into account other people or external forces that contribute to an inability to do or be something that you have been told is desirable.

We then set up these situations as work/reward, or input/output situations, which is how a lot of how the world appears to work – do good to get good, work seven and a half hours, five days a week at some shitty job and you will get a paycheck, insert dollar into vending machine and you will get a heart-attack inducing snack bar, etc. In our industrialized, mechanized world, a lot of things work like this – put stuff in, get stuff out. Love and sex doesn’t work this way but nobody gets that memo.

Entitlement is all about privilege, and so whilst entitlement impacts all of us it impacts us in different ways. People with less privilege are also told an equally pervasive but very contradictory narrative that we are undeserving, that we are worthless, and that our failure to get what we are entitled to is proof of this inferiority; that’s certainly how I took it.  The way entitlement was marketed to us is that we had to tick a certain number of extremely unattainable boxes, and if we didn’t, we were failures. For a long time I felt like a failure in every moment that I knew that a lot of my feelings were going unreciprocated.

For people with privilege, entitlement is a novel kind of inferiority, something they are unfamiliar with in a social structure that tells them that they are superior. In situations that are as random and unpredictable like the dating scene or hookup culture, often failing to get a partner or solicit any interest is the first time people miss out on what they believe they are entitled to. And it is in this toxic mindset of an inability to process an artificially constructed failure that you get the mass shootings and the date rape and the MRAs who send death threats to feminists on social media – and then when the lonely angry virgin does open fire in retaliation for the hot sorority girls not fucking him, the media explodes with things like ‘they should have just given him pussy’.

It took me a long time to learn to consider other people’s feelings in my Desperate Bid For Somebody To Love Me; it took a long time to stop taking rejection personally. In trying to come to grips with my own entitlement I also spent a lot of time catering to other people’s entitlement; the few occasions somebody did express interest I was shocked and confused that I couldn’t find it in me to return the favour , and I immediately felt guilty, because I thought they deserved my affection simply for not doing anything vaguely terrible. I felt like a terrible person for turning people down, and so I thought all the people who turned me down were automatically terrible people. It was a pretty vicious cycle.

The first couple of times that I really clicked with someone, the first couple of times when sparks genuinely flew, was quite a shock to the system. It didn’t make sense. Nobody had ticked any boxes. It wasn’t the neat give-and-take that I had imagined; just a messy collision of feelings and bodies and hormones. And that was the first time that I realized that I wasn’t entitled to anything, that they weren’t entitled to anything, and that mutual enthusiasm is hard to come by but impossible to buy or steal or artificially recreate. It was a ground-breaking moment.

Growing up, many people were horrible to me for no good reason. And, blinded by entitlement, I thought that not reciprocating my feelings was part of that; that it was a conscious decision to hurt me, or to punish me for being a woman or Asian or ugly or whatever. I wish someone had told me that it didn’t work like that; that people being horrible to me and people not wanting to go out with me were two completely different things that you just have to live with, until the sun rises on a better day. And, going through that, learning the lessons that I have learned, I understand the vital importance of teaching this lesson of unlearning entitlement to the people who need it. We live in a society that teaches entitlement, constructs failure where there is none, and then encourages outrageous, criminal reactions to this perceived failure in people who have lived lives of privilege and entitlement and believe that this entitlement extends to people and bodies. It’s bullshit, it’s dangerous, and it needs to change. Now.

Friday, September 04, 2015

I'll Make a Man Out of You

Now Playing: Do I Wanna Know (Cover) by Hozier (maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new)

I’ve always had an ongoing, largely unspoken, feud with many of the Asian men that I know and have interacted with in my life. There is a restlessness, a frustration, an anger and anxiety that is difficult to put a finger on; they always seem to hit a nerve, but I can never quite catch them in the act.

As a result, I don’t have many Asian friends; I don’t hang out in Asian crowds and I don’t do stereotypically Asian things. I’ve never had an Asian boyfriend, can’t remember having a serious crush on an Asian, never hooked up with anyone Asian; and people pick up on that. I definitely pick up on it; I’m always conscious of how white washed my limited dating profile is becoming.

I am nothing unusual, by the way. It is a well-known stereotype - backed up by stats in online and real-time dating scenes - that Asian women seem to prefer non-Asian men. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does edge on being a slight bit suspect, and I’ve always wanted to break it down.

So here it is. My highly unscientific, very circumstantial breakdown of Asian Lady Racist Hormones.

(disclaimer: I am bi, but more on the straight end of things. Also much easier to understand the hetero narrative thanks to heteronormativity)

1. There aren’t that many Asian guys.

Asians make up something like 8% of the population. Australians of European descent make up 90% of the population. Statistically, there just aren’t that many Asian guys in the field; if you don’t have any racial preference (or fetish), you’re probably gonna end up with a white guy.

2. Cultural diaspora & dysphoria 

‘Asian’ is a pretty bad blanket-term, if you think about the huge diversity of ‘Asians’ who are living in Australia. There are lots of countries in Asia, each with their own unique language and cuisine and culture and their own histories of conflict (Korea & Japan? Interchangeable in the West, despite centuries of war and colonialism) Then there are the Mudbloods; mixed race, mixed heritage, half-white, half-everything folks. There are the ‘boat people’, the rich international students, the first generation immigrants and their second generation children, and Chinese families that have been here since the gold rush. People who speak one language or twenty. A huge variety in socio-economic status and levels of education. Most Asians don’t really have that much in common with most other Asians here; in fact, with the dominance of Anglo-Australian culture, a lot of Asians find it easier to find common ground in their Anglicization and with Anglo-Australian people than in a culture that is somewhat geographically near to their arbitrary ancestral roots. I definitely do.

Personally, I am a monolingual, second-generation Asian of mixed heritage who has been Western educated since I was a year old. I’m an Arts student at university and I meet most guys at clubs. The world that I live in is very white-washed, but, in a weird way, I am more comfortable in it than in The Fatherland. I am not Anglo, and at times feel very alienated and isolated from Anglo culture, but we share a common language and I have nineteen years of living in this strange, white world.

3. Unchecked misogyny & patriarchy in Asian cultures.

Misogyny and patriarchy are far from exclusive to Asia; but it goes largely unchecked, especially in immigrant populations in Anglo countries. In general (and this is a huge generalization with many exceptions), Asian girls seem to be more Anglicized, or more open to Anglo influence, than Asian guys; mostly because Asian guys get a pretty sweet deal in a culture that privileges them, rather than the White Man. I’ve explained before that in the Asian countries that I’ve lived in, there is a persistent, stubborn, pervasive nostalgia for pre-colonial Asia – which is fair enough, because colonialism fucked up Asia pretty good. Unfortunately, pre-colonial Asia was literally in the Middle Ages, and with this nostalgia for the good old days comes a nostalgia for medieval gender roles. Asian men really need to up their game in supporting women’s rights, especially the rights of women of colour. Instead, a lot of them fall back on it. Most guys are not into my feminism; but the few who have, have been white in the overwhelming majority. Yeah, they have a massive advantage on numbers, but I suspect that colonial patriarchy has worked its sick magic here.

I’m not pointing fingers here – it’s part of a colonial patriarchal narrative that fucks us all over, but fucks over women of colour in particular. Asian men, like all non-white/cis/het men, are ‘subordinate masculinities’ in a system that privileges white cis-het men. A reflex action that exists in a lot of subordinate masculinities is lateral violence and rampant misogyny against the women/queerfolk in their communities; sadly echoing the patriarchal structure of which they are also victims.

In racially diverse countries like America or Australia, there is a tendency for different ethnic groups to view women of their ethnicity as ‘our women’. The idea of a man dating a woman of a specific ethnic group as ‘stealing’ her from men of her ethnic group is utter horseshit, but remains permanently fixed in the racial politics of the post-colonial world.

A woman of colour doesn’t experience racism in isolation to sexism. Often the racism we experience is sexualized and the sexism we experience is racialized. In non-Asian men, this manifests in yellow fever. In Asian men, this manifests as entitlement. Either way you would expect, being who I am, that I would turn my nose at the slightest whiff of misogyny. This means I have rejected quite a few guys in my time. Some of them have been Asian. It is a racial thing, but not how you might think.

4. Bias.

I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve grown up in a society that has taught me to see white beauty standards as the ideal, and that has probably impacted my split-second, very drunk decisions a lot.

But, hang on – aren’t Asian men also conditioned to view white women as beautiful? Yes, but the way that colonial patriarchy works is that they have been conditioned to view them as beautiful, but unattainable – they belong to the white guys. Another way of looking at it is that a relationship between a subordinated masculinity and a privileged woman causes conflict in this power structure; who is more superior? Who has the upper hand on privilege? But for women of colour, we are taught that both white men and men of colour are superior to us. It’s all kinds of sick and twisted and *mostly subconscious, I am aware very few people explicitly and actively think like this*, but that’s how the world works right now (which is why, Asians, you should back up my feminism because *I am trying to fix this*).

But a lot of Asian men seem to be of the belief that the white washing of beauty standards has doomed them all; because white women are unattainable and women of colour are too busy humping white guys. I’m sorry, but get your head out of your ass.

Society has given me a lot of weird ideas about who is superior to whom, and I’ve largely ignored most of it. I have a snobbish bourgeois disdain for the working class beaten into me by my middle class upbringing and education, but that didn’t stop me from hooking up with a bricklayer. I have overlooked and ignored all sorts of physical and other ‘inadequacies’, both genuine and culturally constructed. In the end, we are not our skins, we are not our bodies, we are not our ethnicities, and we are not what society tells us that we are. Romance and love and sex is just people colliding and sparks flying and we can all be part of that.

All of us have to learn to be nice for the sake of being nice; especially men, who are dealing with that pesky male entitlement. Asians do get a shit deal, and I acknowledge that – the odds are stacked against us. But don’t become the fedorable mra or the trolling video game dick; don’t be that guy who whinges endlessly about how bad they have it and accidentally becomes the biggest dick in history that nobody would ever touch with a ten foot pole even if they looked like Ryan Gosling. I acknowledge that cultural indoctrination is probably putting a lot of women off the scent of most Asian guys; but if you finally do manage to catch someone’s eye and you’re a total misogynistic cunt, then any chances you have go completely down the toilet completely of your own accord.

A lot of people also seem to think that the negative sexual stereotypes of Asians only apply to men, and because there are heaps of white guys just dying to fuck yellow women, that Asian women magically don’t have any dating problems. Firstly, of the men who want us, very few of them turn out to be decent human beings. I’m sure most women say that, but most women don’t have to deal with the fact that they are fetishized, objectified, and dehumanized for the colour of their skin, which is something I dealt with from the second I became ‘on the market’. And before that; I was a sexless Asian, too. I was involuntarily celibate throughout grade school and it was frustrating and humiliating; trust me, I get it. But every time I try to be conscious of the fact that the world that I live in is pulling me away from the men that share my cultural heritage, I end up eyeball-deep in a toxic mix of misogyny, entitlement, and a stubborn worship of patriarchal ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’, none of which is called out and remains stagnant and resistant to change. It is a sad and frustrating state of affairs for all involved.

I live in hope that this trend will change, or at least that there are enough exceptions to this rule. I often feel alone and isolated; I am often the only Asian in the room, and sometimes I think it would be good to have someone who gets it. But I am not property. You are not entitled to me. And it is a mark of respect to you that I refuse to let you cower behind the same system that oppresses you.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Bricklayers

In my backyard today I saw
Your future without me
You seemed happy.