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March 13, 2006

Comments

Catty

"When I spoke about these facts on Yellowworld.org for example the Asian American community does not care about women's issues. So white men are usually the most helpful to Asian women despite what bitter Asian men have to say about it."

Now, I seriously do not believe that men are the most helpful to asian-american women's issues. I actually think other asian-american women are, as well as other women in general. I hate the stereotype tossed about regarding both asian men and women. I've found socially conservative asian-american men and women to be less favorable to certain issues, and then there are socially liberal asian-american men and women that are very favorable on certain issues. However, the socially conservative ones are more vocal. I've found asian men to be my age or younger to be as supportive of women's causes than any other male of my generation. We all have our rotten apples. This goes for a lot of American families as well as other minority groups.

The thing that I hate is this preoccupation with a certain gender or race being more or less of an "ally." I think that's a negative thinking in activism as we can use every like minded human we can. There's nothing neccessarily wrong with saying that a woman's faced more sexism from a certain group, or there seems to be a certain priviledge rewarded to certain groups, etc.

Also, Hugo- I understand you're only repeating things, but I do find it slightly questionable that you would post this without comment. What's your take on this? I'm not saying that the AA community is perfect- far from so. That said, we also do face our share of racism. There are male chauvenists in the AA community that needs to be admosihed, but comments like this, when repeated to a group not familiar with AA and AA dynamics, often only further the racist stereotype of asian men being male chauvenist. It also demonized asian men who are supportive of women's rights- and there are many that I have worked with as an activist.

Hugo

I've deleted the bit about the website, as it wasn't as helpful...

catty

"I've found asian men to be my age or younger to be as supportive of women's causes than any other male of my generation."

I've found asian men to be as supportive AS any other male. Correction.

The thing is, as an example- I always am suspect when a person decides to stick up a statistic about black men raping women. Rape is a serious crime, all men that commit rape is a serious criminal. That said, often times, it's not about women or rape when many people point to these statistics- it's about pointing out an unfavorable statistic against black men that bolster their racism. I've also had the same people whip out comments made by black people to bolster their negative beliefs about back men and/or women. See, look. Black people agree with my racist notion too! They're black and they're saying so, so I must be right. In the world of sexism, we have our Gloria Steinhem but we all have our Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schafly. They are all women, but the latters are often bolstered by anti-feminists as proof that feminists are wrong- they are like, "look, your fellow women say so, and they're women, so they've just validated our beliefs!"

So, when I find non-asians post a certain sentiment about asian men, even if it's said by another asian, I'm always curious as to what you're trying to accomplish. I'm not calling you a racist- but there is the possibility that it can bolster racist argument.

anonymous

Why aren't these alarming statistics getting their due attention in the Asian American community? It's because women's issues are considered dirty laundry not worth airing in non-white communities. When you have dire statistics such as these that require immediate attention, it doesn't matter who brings attention to them. If non-white communities refuse to bring attention to them, someone has to.

catty

I have been active in the AA women's community, and we do talk about depression and eating disorder. It's difficult because asians are NOT a single culture- we are a combination of various cultures, languages and cultural dynamics.
Those factors make access and outreach more challenging.

"I just wrote to let you know about the consequences of these cruel, contradictory expectations placed on Asian American girls and women."

I think the issues that asian women have are similar to other young women, but there's also racism and race identity that can further strain minority women, including asian-americans. As an asian-american woman, I think asian-american can fare well in some respects compared to other minorities in terms of opportunities to education, for example- that are ingrained in many asian cultures- that can help asian families escape poverty. This is not to come down on asian-american women- I'm only saying that each group has issues that can be unique to them.

Asian-Americans may have a high rate of abortions, but I don't see that as indicative of a net good or bad. There's a very striking social and cultural difference, so it's not really proper to apply western ideals on asian culture and vice-versa, and assume the causes for such thing as "good" or "bad" without looking at cultural aspects. For one, asian cultures have a very different perspective on abortion. There's not a religious code for or against abortion as in non-Christian asians as there may be in Chrisitan communities, for example. I'm also sick of hearing about my "barbaric" culture, because asina thought on abortion lies in the fundamental rights of those already existing to those that are not.

anonymous

"I have been active in the AA women's community, and we do talk about depression and eating disorder. It's difficult because asians are NOT a single culture- we are a combination of various cultures, languages and cultural dynamics. Those factors make access and outreach more challenging."

But the highest depression and suicide rates affect all Asian ethnicities. Asian American women over the age of 65 have the highest suicide mortality rate and among these women, Chinese and Japanese American women have the highest rates due to isolation compared to other ethnicities which have stronger communities. The eating disorder statistic involves all Asian ethnicities and it is due to the fact that in the media, Asian American women are always size 2 or below, Asian American women's clothing stores only cater to sizes 4 and below and other factors such as family pressures and perfectionism which Hugh touched upon.

"I think the issues that asian women have are similar to other young women, but there's also racism and race identity that can further strain minority women, including asian-americans. As an asian-american woman, I think asian-american can fare well in some respects compared to other minorities in terms of opportunities to education, for example- that are ingrained in many asian cultures- that can help asian families escape poverty. This is not to come down on asian-american women- I'm only saying that each group has issues that can be unique to them."

Non-white communities have to deal with racism which makes it harder for women's issues to be heard. Depression and eating disorders may be discussed in your Asian American women's group, but the alarming depression, suicide and eating disorder statistics do not register in the Asian American community.

"Asian-Americans may have a high rate of abortions, but I don't see that as indicative of a net good or bad. There's a very striking social and cultural difference, so it's not really proper to apply western ideals on asian culture and vice-versa, and assume the causes for such thing as "good" or "bad" without looking at cultural aspects. For one, asian cultures have a very different perspective on abortion. There's not a religious code for or against abortion as in non-Christian asians as there may be in Chrisitan communities, for example. I'm also sick of hearing about my "barbaric" culture, because asina thought on abortion lies in the fundamental rights of those already existing to those that are not."

Since Asian Americans have the highest rate of abortions, shouldn't the possible loss of Roe v Wade be a huge concern in the Asian American community? We'll have the same amount of teenage births and out of wedlock births as other communities without it. Shouldn't pro-choice activism therefore be a big part of our community? There isn't advocacy to combat our alarming depression, suicide, eating disorder and abortion rates because women's issues do not register at all in the Asian American community.

anonymous

Forget talk about allies but tell me if you found this discussion on a mixed gender non-white community. You haven't because non-white communities still can't discuss women's issues. If you are here on Hugh's blog, my point is proven:

"Their ambitious yet culture-bound parents are extolling a crushing set of contradictory ideals; they demand daughters who can be domestically proficient, financially independent, professionally autonomous, yet traditionally demure and asexual until marriage! No wonder so many of these young women appear so damned tired!

Some of my students make it clear (explicitly or obliquely) that they are rejecting their parents' values. Some have rebelled more successfully than others; the guilt in the faces and voices of some is painfully evident. Others are still making heroic attempts to live up to all of the hopes and dreams and values of their parents and their culture. Some have internalized these values to the point that they can claim them as their own, but most -- when made aware of their unique historical status as the first generation to face this particularly brutal constellation of pressures -- get appropriately ticked off.

In so many traditionally-minded families, there is still an unfortunately explicit connection between virginity and success.

After years and years of these discussions in my immensely diverse community college women's studies classes, I've become convinced that we're dealing with a vital feminist issue here. My younger -- and not so young -- sisters are trying live up to conflicting and contradictory imperatives that ask them to have a foot in two completely different worlds. As one of my students, a 20 year-old from an Armenian immigrant family, put it a semester or two ago: "My family dreams of me as their brilliant, virginal, medical doctor daughter -- who drives her own Mercedes, makes amazing baklava, has a perfect figure and has never kissed a man until she meets her husband."

If I were teaching at Wellesley or Vassar, that young woman might not be speaking for the parents of over half of of her classmates. But here at Pasadena City College, she is -- and as a result, the feminist curriculum has to be tailored to speak to her and those like her. Before they can become articulate activists for a global feminist agenda, these young women need to find the voice to speak out against the cruel and nonsensical double binds in which they have been placed. They need teachers who will encourage them to demand the right to be full and complete human beings. They need to be encouraged to offer each other support, to build feminist community, to help each other escape the crushing and contradictory burdens that weigh upon their minds and bodies."

anonymous

This reminds me of the mental health crisis among Asian Americans in universities. It was university health administrators who noticed the great number of Asian American students with mental health problems and the need for more Asian American mental health counselors. Others brought the issue forward not Asian Americans themselves. Hugo has years and years of experience working with diverse community college students and I'm sure he sees these problems in his students. Asian Americans deny alot of their problems to keep up the model minority myth so others who have to bring our issues forward. Our most pressing issues are ignored to save face.

"After years and years of these discussions in my immensely diverse community college women's studies classes, I've become convinced that we're dealing with a vital feminist issue here. My younger -- and not so young -- sisters are trying live up to conflicting and contradictory imperatives that ask them to have a foot in two completely different worlds."

anonymous

Finally, here are the shocking facts related to the original post about cultural conflict and its consequences:

Three decades of research on mental health show that Asian Americans exhibit high numbers of depressive symptoms as well as confounding factors such as war experiences, abuse, and stress.

Of reported data, Asian American women over the age of 65 have the highest female suicide mortality rate among women across all racial/ethnic groups. Among women aged 15 - 24, Asian American girls have the highest suicide mortality rates across all racial/ethnic groups.

Asian American adolescent girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of all racial/ethnic and gender groups.

Asian American college students report higher levels of depressive symptoms than white students.


Key Findings From A Study of Depression Among Asian American Women:

Conflicting cultural values are impacting Asian American women's sense of control over their life decisions

Feeling responsible, yet unable, to meet biased and unrealistic standards set by families and society contribute to low self-esteem among Asian American women

Asian American women are witnessing depression in their families and learning from Asian cultures to maintain its silence

Asian American women fear stigma for themselves, but more so for their families NAWHO's study also found that while mental health and support systems may be available for Asian American women, these services often do not meet their needs.

alexander

"We have to have abortions if we get pregnant, because the consequences for an out-of-wedlock birth are more devastating. With abortion, our families can pretend we are all 'good girls.'"

OK, I know what I am about to say will be miscoonstrued, but I do not see widespread abortion as bad. It shows these women are intelligently planning to NOT have children rather than destroying numerous lives by bringing unwanted children into the world. The real question is why, given that abortion is (mostly) safe, legal and easy, why more women choose to not avail themselves of this right--a right women have demanded for ages?

Catty

"Since Asian Americans have the highest rate of abortions, shouldn't the possible loss of Roe v Wade be a huge concern in the Asian American community? We'll have the same amount of teenage births and out of wedlock births as other communities without it. Shouldn't pro-choice activism therefore be a big part of our community? There isn't advocacy to combat our alarming depression, suicide, eating disorder and abortion rates because women's issues do not register at all in the Asian American community."

Political activism is something that can be a luxury for many families that are recent immigrants and struggling just to adjust to a new country, much less a new language and culture. The AA community can be politically apathetic about many, many things across the board- not just pro-choice. Mind you, I'm a very active pro-choice activist AND an asian woman. I have not encountered any more hostility or support from the AA community than any other community. I see many American women that are pro-choice activists, but there's a huge population that isn't, a large population against abortion and a much bigger one combined that is apathetic.

Oh, and check this out:
http://www.napawf.org/

Are you saying that these asian-american women aren't part of the AA community?
Thanks for dissing on politically active asian-american women, really.

Yes, the issue is brought up on AA forums and AA sites. Oh, and thank you for choosing to ignore the difficulty that the AAs DO face in terms of dealing with multiple languages and cultures, and also intra-asian conflict, esp with older and more recent immigrants. We also only comprise 5% of the population so it's also harder for us to get funding. It doesn't help that we're considered model minorities, so many ppl are surprised to hear that the AA community has any problems to start with. Every time we bring up issues, we have people telling us that we're whining and we're too successful to have problems. It doesn't help when other asian-americans are more interested in hanging onto a racist notion that asian-americans aren't capable of change- and would rather forsake us rather than build awareness.

Catty

Also, for you pro-choice asians out there, the few asian-american politicians in the US Government have been more likely to be pro-choice. Not a single asian politician of either gender is signing the most vehement anti-abortion laws in this country. Let's keep it that way.

anonymous

I'm not dissing Asian American feminists and I give you props for your Asian American feminist activism. These issues may be mentionned briefly but they are rarely discussed at length or with the respect and seriousness they deserve like they are right here. You may be unusual because women's issues and feminism are seen as a threat in most Asian American communities. I strongly believe Asian America should have cultural pride and be feminist at the same time. If I can put it another way, Frank Chin and Maxine Hong Kingston were both right. You can have cultural pride and be a feminist which seems to describe you. NAPAWF needs to be on more than American college campus. Only Yale has a chapter. More campuses such as Hugo's need progressive, feminist Asian American spaces to help young women through these issues. It needs to be in more cities also. Asian and Latina feminism are following very slowly behind black feminism like Asian American and Latino movement follows in the footsteps of the civil rights movement and NAPAWF is a starting point. To bring it back to the original post about cultural conflict, there needs to be an awareness of these issues so that young women don't feel alone. I don't believe the Asian American community has done a good job in making young women feel less alone with these issues. If a progressive, feminist organization like NAPAWF were around when I was in college, I wouldn't have felt so alone with some of these issues. In my early 30s, I felt like the only Asian or Asian American on earth having an abortion. Why did I have to be an extremely tenacious Asian American activist to learn that Asian American women have the highest rate of abortion? Why did I have to be on activist websites to learn about the depression and suicide rates? Why have I had to read every Asian American magasine out there to learn about our eating disorder rate? I believe most of Asian America and most Asian American women are anti-feminist. According to data, we are also the most apolitical and most conservative race in the United States. Props to you though, Catty, for making it work in the most apolitical, conservative, anti-feminist communities in America.

RATES: ASIANS LOWEST, BLACKS NEAR WHITE, GAYS AND JEWS HIGHEST
Common wisdom is that the low black voting rate is a huge problem. Actually, the black rate is only slightly below the white rate, it's the Asian and Hispanic rates that are really low where they are dominant in the population. Asians vote at the lowest rates of any race nationally, just ahead of Hispanics in CA, probably because Asians have the lowest rate of citizenship, a basic voting qualification. However the rate of Hispanics and Asians is comparable to that of Blacks when citizenship is taken into account. Born-again Christians also appear to have lower voter rate than blacks. Jews and gays appear to have the highest voting rates, typically near unity as a percent of group and double their population as percentage of all voters, though this is rarely documented.

CONSERVATISM
Asians are the only group that is slightly more conservative than whites. In many cities such as San Francisco more Asians are liberal than conservative overall, however the difference gap is consistent between LA and SF in that Asians are still slightly more conservative than white even when they are liberal. Asians favored NY Guiliani over Dinkins 3 to 1 when the city was very close overall. The 2000 election marks the first time Asian exit polls are firmly on the side of the Democratic presidential candidate indicating Asians may be heading towards the highly educated, affluent minorities like Jews and Gays in liberalism.

anonymous

Correction: You can have cultural pride and be a feminist which seems to describe you AND ME.

Correction: Props to you though, Catty, for making it work in ONE OF the most apolitical, conservative, anti-feminist communities in America.

anonymous

To bring it back to the original post about cultural conflict and its consequences, I, as a young college student, felt alone and completely unsupported as an Asian American woman with my issues of depression and disordered eating. I then felt completely alone as an Asian American women having an abortion. This goes back to the original post about cultural expectations and a special women's model minority myth. We are expected to be perfect in our public and private lives. When Asian Americans do not fit the model minority stereotype, they feel freaky, and Asian American woman feel even freakier and unsupported by their community if they're not virgins before marriage or not perfect, obedient, dutiful Asian daughters. For example, my mom still tells people I'm a virgin. It is even worse in England where Asian women commit suicide three times more than white women due to cultural conflict.

Suicide and race

Race and cultural background can be major influences on suicidal behaviour. Patterns of suicide amongst Black and Asian people in the UK are not congruent with patterns of suicide amongst white people. For example, one study of young people of Asian origin in the UK found that the suicide rate of 16-24 year old women was three times that of 16-24 year old women of white British origin. [23] This contrasts sharply with the suicide rates of young Asian men who appear to be far less vulnerable to suicide than young men from white British backgrounds. Asian women's groups have linked the high suicide rates amongst young Asian women to cultural pressures; conservative parental values and traditions such as arranged marriages may clash with the wishes and expectations of young women themselves.[24]


The point is Latina and Asian women should not have to hide from their families, live double lives and run to university health centers or Hugo with their crises. Why do so many young Latina and Asian women need Hugo? Why are we on this website? Asian Americans, even my feminist Asian male friends, cannot discuss feminism and masculinity in depth like we do here because of racism and the fact that our communities are not there yet. And to prove my point about Asian American anti-feminism, why are you trying to shut me up and deny our issues?

anonymous

Edit: NAPAWF needs to be on more than ONE American college campus.

"It doesn't help when other asian-americans are more interested in hanging onto a racist notion that asian-americans aren't capable of change- and would rather forsake us rather than build awareness."

You are proving my point that Asian America is threatened by women's issues. In a very conservative, apolitical, anti-feminist community, it doesn't help to deny that Asian American is conservative, apolitical and anti-feminist. I constantly bring awareness to overall Asian American issues to change things. I never forake Asian America. If anything, I try harder than anyone to work with it. The extreme denial in the Asian American community about our issues does more than anything to prevent change and awareness.

anonymous

"However the rate of Hispanics and Asians is comparable to that of Blacks when citizenship is taken into account."

Addendum: Even when citizenship has been taken into account, Asians have the lowest voting rate of all races.


There's a point where maintaining the facade of model minority myth and denying serious crises is not worth it. It's one thing to be positive like you are and another to get out of denial of the numerous facts and public health emergencies I've listed in this thread.


catty

"You are proving my point that Asian America is threatened by women's issues. In a very conservative, apolitical, anti-feminist community, it doesn't help to deny that Asian American is conservative, apolitical and anti-feminist."

Actually, depending on where you live in the United States, non-asian communities can be just as, if not more, conservative, anti-feminist and/or apolitical. Since roughtly only 1/2 the eligible people show up in the US to vote, it's not just Asian-Americans. I believe that everything mentioned is an important issue that I've been aware of for quite some time. The issue I have with the original statement is I DO NOT for once believe that White Men are our most beneficial allies- it is other like minded folks of all races and genders, ESPECIALLY other asian-americans.

I guess rather than brand and further stereotypes, I'd rather work within my community to build awareness. That's a lot harder, but fundamentally more productive solution.

anonymous

I'm talking national averages here. Nationally, we are the most apolitical.

I never said they were our greatest allies. Every group, such as white feminists or Asian female feminists, has its plusses and negatives. The easiest to work with in my life have been white female feminists but the racism is starting to drive me crazy. Male feminists of any race are hard to find. I look forward to Asian male feminist political blogs and I believe they are coming.

anonymous

"That's a lot harder, but fundamentally more productive solution."

You must be very young and have unbelievable patience.

Catty

I know several feminist Asina males that are politically active. I hope to see more men and women fight against sexism worldwide, and also in my own community.

I do not see anything with critique of any community- but as asian-american community members (since we are both asian), I'd love to see more of us fight together and also find ways to improve our community by outreaching to other members and networking together. I find it extremely important to find allies outside of our community, but the most important work we can do is also to focus our energy on building strength within. If you click on my name, you can e-mail me! I'd love to continue this conversation outside of commenting here so as not to boggle down the comment page. I'd love to hear from you. We seem to have the same goal in common and maybe we can keep each other informed.


anonymous

i have to admit you impress me. you are something else, catty.

catty

"You must be very young and have unbelievable patience."

I'm 30. I'm not that young. I've been a lifelong feminist and a part time actvist for over a decade (I have to work to support myself and family, but I do stay updated and active). I'm not a patient person- that's why I'm an activist.
If I was patient, I'd just wait around for change to happen.

anonymous

There needs to be broader awareness of these issues especially for the Asian American and English suicide rates. This is not an issue that individuals or individual organizations can take on. You can light a candle in the dark instead of cursing the darkness but there needs to be broader awareness of these issues. The broader community does not know these facts.

My hope is that something similar can happen that did with university health administrators. They saw a need, hired more Asian mental health workers and are saving lives. If there had been the same rates of suicide and depression among boys, there would have been systemic change brought about by either the Asian American or English community or the mainstream community.

I ordered the study abou eating disorders because I think it said Asian American women have eating disorders at a rate three times higher than white women. I will post the study when I get it. I also got the study/tome about the abortion rate, and it said it said the high rate was due to culture, the topic of the original post.

Ultimately, it is up to Asian American and English families to change so not so many girls and women die but I know that kind of change takes a long time. Meanwhile, girls and women are dying. I ask for my family to change all the time and my dad said my mom is too old to change. She's very traditional. I've experienced alot more sexism in my life than racism so sexism cuts deeper for me than racism. I'm tired of girls feeling they are alone in their depression, cultural conflict, etc. and imploding instead of looking outward at systemic forces such as racism, sexism and classism. I remember feeling alone like these problems were my own fault and subsequently becoming depressed.


anonymous

Again, I'm not dissing your work. Props for your tenacity on the Haidl case which has been on my mind lately. The most upsetting thing to me is that this happens in most towns and no one finds out about it. It happened recently in Chicago and they guys got off because Jane Doe refused to watch the videotape of her gang rape. The only reason the OC case went forward is because the moronic Haidl left the videotape for a friend of a friend to see. The last town I lived in had a weekly anti-war rally which is great but the only way to actually end the war is through national and global awareness. You're not dumb, you get my drift...

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