May 22, 2008

Pin the tail on the Asian male: Asian American Feminism Part 3


Jenn from Reappropriate posted an article about an Asian American male criminal (forwarded to her from her Asian American feminist friend Carmen at Racialicious), and then she went on a rant about how this ONE criminal's behavior is a symptom of Asian American malehood. Check out the the original post here regarding this article, followed by the discussion here. You can see from the discussion that the blog post is so out of line that even Jenn's strong supporters like "Ramona" have their doubts about whether the assertions and stereotypes are fair.

The story is this: some crazy Asian guy had a girlfriend who left him for a black man. He was crazy and angry, and he started writing threatening letters to black men married to white women, including (half-black) Derek Jeter and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He posed as an angry white woman, sending threats to black men for two decades. Finally he was caught.

This guy Tuason (who is of Filipino descent) is clearly mentally deranged, but according to Jenn:

Perhaps most damning about this story, however, is how some Asian American men might find in Tuason a kind of twisted martyr to the emasculated Asian American male struggle. Tuason is no hero: he is little more than an overgrown Kenneth Eng, hateful and bitter because life has handed him lemons. Tuason’s actions are not noble, they seem foolish, like the ranting of a child. Clearly, not all (or even most) Asian American men act like Tuason (or Eng). But some (including some readers of this blog) seem to follow his line of thinking (albeit far less extreme) [Jae's comment: How does she presume to know his "line of thinking?" All he said was that he was angry his girlfriend left him for a black man.]. I modestly suggest that perhaps Asian American men should consider how their own rantings on Asian American male sexuality might be perceived; in this case, Tuason does nothing to win the argument that he is more masculine, or more virile, than his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. [Cuz obviously he's Asian and is just like the rest of those Chinamen who can't get any! And who said he was trying to be "more virile?"]

The “masculine” thing for Tuason to do would have been to move on past the rejection of his former girlfriend, live a successful life, and prove to himself and the world that he is as masculine as he needs to be. The “masculine” thing to do would have been to redefine what masculine is, and in so doing, love the embodiment of masculine that Tuason could be. But Tuason could not overthrow the mainstream paradigm of American masculinity that disadvantages him and men like him [Whooaaa...again, presumption on the part of the blogger. How does she know what he's thinking? And since when is it about Tuason's race? Since we played the Kingstonian game of pin-the-tail-on-the-Asian-male!]. Instead, he wrote angry anonymous letters by email to men he did not know, threatening to prove his own virility by castrating the men who had threatened it. The look in Tuason’s eyes are like that of a child, defeated and thus embittered, petty, infantile and foolish.

Call me old fashioned, but I think Asian American men are better than that. So, stop acting like you’re not.

Whhhooooaaa. So basically she blames us for what this ONE guy did. Or she links him to us as if we have some kind of cultural foible that makes us do this kind of thing. True to the traditional Kingstonian paradigm, we're guilty before the trial even began, despite the fact that we weren't even at the scene of the crime! You can see why even her supporters are a bit uncomfortable supporting her on these obviously biased statements. Even though this guy has nothing to do with me or any of you, somehow we're responsible for him. It would be like hearing of the D.C. Sniper and saying, "Oh look, what that black man did! Why can't you black men behave!" But of course people don't say that, because unlike black men, we Asian men lack media and cultural power. Jenn recognizes individuality in black men or white men, but somehow we Asian men are all part of the same faceless Mongol horde where we're all guilty of something. It's the method of Kingstonian Asian American feminism: Pin the tail on the Asian male. If you gotta blame someone, blame someone who can't fight back. Pin it on the Asian guy.

Let me quote Xian from the discussion:

Why are white crazies treated as individuals, and minority crazies are used to tar-and-feather their identity group? Why do we have to watch the news and respond to any negative actions committed by a non-white person with "Oh shit, tomorrow's going to be challenging!" while a white male would never face the same?

I don't blame Jenn. Everyone attacks the Asian man. It's like a sport for these Kingstonian feminists, and she has acknowledged that she comes from that school of thought. But I do think we have to realize: Kingstonian feminism is not a good thing.

This is why I originally said that Asian American feminism needed to be eliminated. As maogirl and nightshade said, it's just a movement to make it socially acceptable for Asian women to fuck non-Asian men--which I guess is a fine and noble goal according to some people's values, but it's a piss poor version of feminism, and it's an insult to real feminists. Xian and Catty debated with me, and I then modified my position in Part II to say that a good Asian American feminism might be possible, but it would have to differentiate itself from Kingstonian feminism. Now I'm going to refine my position once again--I think we NEED Asian American feminism, AND I think it NEEDS to take aim at eliminating Kingstonian feminism. This game of Pin-the-tail-on-the-Asian-male has got to stop. Otherwise, how else will Asian American women empower themselves? How else can we ever come together as a community? (and yes, I realize that that's not necessarily the goal of all the players)

Quite simply, there is no room for two feminisms with one based on un-truth, and the other based on truth. You can't have this double standard where one "feminism" has the chief aim at pinning the tail on the Asian male for every crime under the sun, while another is seeking truth for Asian women. They just won't work together. Historically, Kingstonians have been too busy attacking Asian men to even devote time to their own empowerment goals. These two feminisms can't live under the same roof. One will eventually kill the other, and the one based on truth will overcome the one based on stereotypes. So why waste our time? Let's just get rid of the lies and stereotypes NOW.

I just want to point out a few more things. In the discussion, Jenn wrote:

To jaehwan and xian,

*rolls eyes*

Whatev. My post clearly denotes that I am talking about how I have more respect for the Asian American identity -- as a whole -- than Tuason's actions done in the name of the emasculation stereotype. That last line is all about how Tuason is an embarassment to his community.

But James is right. I'm not writing for you. It took a hiatus to realize that your brand of sanctimonious, blind sexism will never change and I need to stop caring about it.

It's almost ludicrous how a post like this, that's about sexism and racism that comes from an extreme form of fundamentalism that has victimized me and my relationship, still can't generate a reasoned discussion regarding how you -- jaehwan and xian -- might be helping to feed a sexist and racist beast.

1. I'm not "embarrassed" by Tuason. He's not me. The only thing we share is race, and unless I come from a race of gods (or unless I'm a white guy in an Amy Tan novel), there will always be bad people within my race. Most Asian men don't act like Tuason. In fact, it's the first time I've heard of an Asian man doing this.

2. Xian? A sexist? I don't have to comment on this--you've all seen his writings on compassion and empathy. I challenge anyone to find anything on that he wrote that is sexist. Calling Xian a "sexist" is like calling Gandhi a violent thug.

3. Tuason, though I disapprove of what he did, didn't demonstrate sexism either. How is it sexist to write harassing letters to black men? Unless Clarence Thomas and Derek Jeter are actually women in reverse-drag AND Tuason was aware of this fact AND he harassed them based on their female gender, there was no sexism. How could there be sexism if there were no women involved, either in person or in speech (other than "she left me")? I don't defend what Tuason did, but someone has to point out the irrational charges of sexism. Oh, that's right--Tuason is one of those Asian guys. Guilty when charged! Sexist Asian pig!!! I guess that would incriminate me too...

Anyway, I'm now convinced that we need a new Asian American feminism. But this time it has to be different. Let's channel those local activists and create a BIG movement. Let's empower ourselves together.

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