Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Gender Issues

Fool me a hundred times

My heart is heavy, and I’m grieving the loss of a relationship I never had. Or rather, two relationships. Or one relationship with two people. My parents. My relationship with my father has ranged from nonexistent to frosty to cordially distant. Right now, I would classify it as parent-child–with me being the parent. His faculties have diminished to what I suspect is early onset dementia, but it’s hard to say because he refuses most testing in that area. Funny because he’s a hypochondriac who goes to the doctor at a moment’s notice, but like most hypochondriacs, if there is a potential serious issue, then he refuses to go. And if it’s something that has a negative connotation about his brain, well, forget about even mentioning it.

To be fair, my mother told me that Alzheimer’s is looked upon as a personal failing and weakness in Taiwan, so I can understand not wanting to open yourself up to that. I suggested he get tested here, but his English is nowhere near as good as it used to be, and it wouldn’t be fair to use a test he took in English as a barometer. On the other hand, the longer he goes without treating it, the worse it’s going to get.

Do you notice how I immediately started talking about my father? I meant to talk about my mother as a starter, but my father is such the focal point of the family, it’s hard to avoid, even here. Why am I grieving my relationship with my mother? Sit back with your favorite cup of tea because this is going to take some explaining.

If you asked my mother, she would say we are really close. She made me her confidante when I was eleven, pouring out all her woes about my father and her marriage into my very unwilling ears. She would cry about how he treated her (very badly), and I would listen until I couldn’t take it any longer before telling her she should divorce him. Then, she would shift to how he wasn’t that bad. I would feel like a dupe, and I would vow never to say anything again. She also told me how depressed she was and how much she hated her life. Not in those exact terms, but that was what she meant.


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Thoughts during a lovely wedding

My niece got married Friday night. I’m still digesting the fact that she’s no longer running around the lawn, screaming, giggling in glee as she babbled incoherently about whatever. She was such a happy, energetic child, and I marveled at how perfect she was. I know it’s trite, but I couldn’t believe that she had grown up enough to actually get married (just as a matter of time) even though I had seen it happen over the years. I mean, she had been living with Nick for several years, first in his parents’ house during the week, then in their own apartment, and then a house. They adopted their dog, Obi, who was their ring bearer with a pouch tied to his collar (and the groomsman using a spoonful of peanut butter to lead him down the aisle), and they both had full-time jobs–at the same place! I’ve seen her during all these stages, so it’s not as if she went from two to twenty-one without me noticing it. She told me about the wedding nearly two years ago, so it’s not like it got sprung on me.

The whole event was surreal. My brother called me up at 4:20 p.m. (bro) and asked me if we could be there by 5 p.m. My parents were sleeping, and that wasn’t doable, anyway. Apparently, they were doing family photos beforehand, and I told him we would be there as soon as possible. I woke up my parents, and sure enough, my mother freaked out. She’s an anxious type to begin with, and throwing a monkey in the wrench (heh) made it even worse. We managed to leave by 5:10 p.m., and we made it to the venue (the groom’s parents’ backyard) by 5:30 p.m.

There was only one picture taken (my mom for the grandmothers and niece pic), so it was kind of silly for us to be there so early. It was nice to snag a parking spot right across the street, though. Funny story before we left. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt with spaghetti straps (black) and a floral teardrop skirt (also black) that reached my knees. I had my hair down because I wanted to look nicer than normal. I had no idea what I was supposed to wear because I missed ‘church casual’ on the invite (which wouldn’t have helped me, anyway. I haven’t attended church in thirty years), so I decided to just do the best with what I had. It wasn’t a problem because people were dressed in everything from jeans to long dresses and everything in between.

Anyway, my dad looked at me and asked if I were going to bring a coat. I looked at him if he had lost his goddamn mind. It’s fucking summer. Who the hell wears a coat in the summer? Granted, it was going to be outside at night and the temperature was predicted to hit a low of 59, but that would be at like three in the morning–and I still wouldn’t wear a coat. I said as calmly as I could that I’d be fine–this is a long-running issue between us. Ever since I was a small child, he has been haranguing me to wear a fucking coat because he felt cold. This time, he said that seeing me without a coat made him feel cold for me. I said with a laugh that he could wear two coats and feel warm for me. He wisely let it drop, but it shouldn’t have come up at all. Later in the night after the sun went down, he asked if I was cold, and I said I was still hot. He refused to believe me, but I was.

It’s one of the most frustrating things about him–if he doesn’t feel/think/believe something, than he can’t fathom someone else could possible be different, especially his spawn. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it’s still frustrating.


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I am, but. And, again, but.

I’ve struggled with identity all my life. Growing up as a fat, brainy, weirdo Asian chick in a very white Minnesota suburb was all but guaranteed to make me feel like a freak. I got picked on almost every day, and the days I didn’t, it pretty much was me wandering around lost in my own thoughts and never quite understanding what was expected of me. I like to joke that I was raised by wolves, but it’s pretty true. I have an apocryphal story about how the first pop song I heard was Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant when I was in sixth grade. The first movie I remembered seeing was Star Wars (the original, whatever the fuck it’s called) when I was seven or eight, and I hated it. I also saw Superman at the time with my youth group roughly around the same time and had nightmares for a month.

I’m just going to say it. I don’t like movies and TV for the most part. I once told a professor I had in grad school that I didn’t like movies, and she looked at me as if I said I ate puppies for fun. She said it was like saying I didn’t like sandwiches, which was a bad analogy for me because sandwiches are delicious. I realized then that my opinion was objectively Bad, and I should keep it to myself.

Side note: I wasn’t going to get into why I don’t like movies and television shows for the most part, but it’s actually an integral part of this post, so here we go, the Cliff Notes version. I have a vast imagination, and I like to let it run wild. It’s one reason I can write fiction almost endlessly, and I’ve only had one serious writer’s block in my life. Tandem to that is that my brain never. stops. thinking. Worrying, ruminating, chewing over every goddamn thing. It’s exhausting, but it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life as well.

Put these two things together, and you might be able to see why I don’t really care for movies or television. The whole time I’m watching a movie, the criticizing part of my brain is chattering on and on about what is wrong whatever I’m watching while the other side of my brain, the creative side, is thinking of a dozen ways it would have done the scene differently–and better. I can never forget that I’m watching a movie or television, and I never really get into it.

To that end, most of the shows/movies I like either are based on the premise that the theatricality is part and parcel of the show (one reason I love musicals), or the writing is good enough to pull me in and allow me to override the chattering in my brain.


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Long groovy hair

why is this considered unprofessional?
Would it matter if this was four inches shorter?

Reading advice columns is my guilty pleasure (and I’m someone who doesn’t believe in guilty pleasures. All pleasure, no guilt!), and I’ve been fascinated by older posts in Ask A Manager about hair. One was from a woman whose husband had grown his hair in his last job and wore it in a low bun (at the nape of his neck). She was wondering if he should cut it for interviews, and the responses were fascinating. This was from April of 2017, which wasn’t that long ago. He worked in accounting, which is a pretty conservative industry. The responses were all over the map with one person actually naming herself ‘boys shouldn’t look like girls’ and labeled herself as a female, then had a incoherent answer about how the men in her job (she’s the only woman, the guys work in what she calls dirty jobs, but in customer-facing roles) had to have short hair and be clean-shaven because they needed to look professional. She was by far the outlier on the conservative side, but she wasn’t the only one who was hesitant about it.

A very interesting side conversation developed around whether it was more professional for a man to wear his long hair in a ponytail or a bun. Someone threw out the term man bun, which annoyed the fuck out of me. Someone else said, “Why not just call it a bun?” And, yes! I get that it was started as a way of poking fun, but there’s an undercurrent of, “Hey, it’s not really a girly thing at all–see, it’s a MAN _______.” Man bun, man purse, man boobs. None of that is needed. Someone explained that with the man bun, it was more about men scraping together barely enough hair to make a bun whereas most women have enough hair to make a big fat bun. I can see that point, but I still hate affixing man in front of things that are traditionally feminine.

Anyway, one person said that a topknot was unprofessional in general which was news to me. There was some regional difference as to whether a ponytail or a bun on a guy was more professional. Top of the head vs. nape of the nap. It was a robust argument, and all I could think was, “Who the fuck cares?”

There was another post about women and long hair and how it had to be pulled back to be considered professional. This was straight from Alison, and there was a lot of robust discussion in the comments. I have hair that goes past my butt–

Side Note: My hair has been waist length for nearly two decades. I cut about three inches off the ends every year or so and I’m done with it. However, in the last year or so, it’s grown about four inches and is now past my flattish yellow ass (used to be completely flat, but now there’s some ass, and it’s all in thanks to taiji). Initially, I attributed it to taiji because why not? But it makes more sense that it’s diet-related.

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Oh for the confidence of a mediocre white dude

all locks simultaneously slam shut.
My key will open one of these locks, surely!

A few months ago, my taiji teacher and I arrived at the studio at the same time. The door was already unlocked, which was weird. We went in and there was a guy doing something in the corner. It’s a kettlebell studio, and he presumably was a teacher if he had a key. Or someone who was in a position of trust, anyway. He had KQ blasting (classic rock station), and he didn’t stop when we went in. My teacher informed him in a very icy voice that we had a class, and he said he would be done soon. Which he wasn’t, btw. He did magnanimously inform us that we could change the music to anything we wanted. My teacher told him we didn’t use music in our class and turned off the radio.

As I was watching the exchange, I was thinking, “I wished I had a tenth of his confidence.” I mean, he never even questioned that he had a right to stay there during our class which takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah, but that’s one of the hidden benefits of being a white dude in this country*. What you want, think, do is the norm/acceptable, and you don’t even have to think about it. As a weird example, most medical studies are aimed at white dudes. That’s a gross simplification, but it’s basically true. When I tried sleeping pills, for example, the low end of the standard dosage was still too much for me. One pill knocked me out for fifteen hours, which, as you can guess, was not optimal. I cut it in half, and it didn’t help. A fourth, and it still kept me asleep for more than twelve hours. I finally gave up. I still haven’t found an answer to my sleeping problem except taiji, and that’s a long-term solution.

I was listening to a Dr. Nerdlove podcast about who has the power in a relationship/dating, and one of the points the good doctor brought up was how some men** whine about women having all the power in dating because we get to say yes or no to being asked out. We are the gatekeepers, and we can cruelly break their hearts by saying no for no good reason!*** Why can’t we just give them a chaaaaance? They think they need to figure out the code to unlock the dating lock we’ve wrapped around our pussies, and it’s one reason PUAs have such success when they claim they know how to gamify dating (and by extension, women). If you’ve never gone down the rabbit hole that is the PUA mindset, consider yourself lucky.

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The Politics of Art

So, I love to write. A lot. Prolifically. Garrulous. It’s the equivalent to a chatterbox who cannot keep her mouth shut. I can’t keep my fingers from banging away at my keyboard, and I have many broken keyboards to prove it. In fact, this one (on my laptop) is on its last legs, and I should replace it pretty soon. The problem is, people are reading less and less. Rather, they’re reading less of actual longform pieces and novels. I’m old woman shaking my fist at the clouds, but I also acknowledge that it’s probably not going backwards any time soon.

What’s the new big thing? Videos. Streaming. It’s all the rage with the kids these days, an it’s something I’ve thought about doing myself. The problem is, first of all, I hate the way I look on camera. Now, of course, I could stream a game without face-cam, but from what I’ve seen, you get more views with the face-cam on, especially as a woman. Which, therein, is my second issue. The world of video games is still a man’s world with a very bro-y culture. I don’t watch streams on Twitch (except Ian’s! twitch.tv/eenbou) because the chats are fucking toxic. I don’t use that word lightly, but it’s sadly true. Anything over ten viewers, and it’s ‘fuckbois’, ‘faggot’, and ‘i’d fuck that ass’ all the damn time. There’s a streamer I did watch occasionally when he wasn’t too big yet, and I already felt not included by dint of being a woman in my forties. I watched a vod of a recent stream, and he’d changed from being low-key and lovable to low-key and ‘fuckbois’, and it really disappointed me. I’m not naming  him because it’s not him–it’s the ethos of chat. I’m stil working on my Theory of Dudes in which the more dudes you have in one place, the grosser the culture becomes.

Anyway, I watched a podcast with four female streamers, and they were emphatic about not being just boob jigglers, but one of them is known for that, and another is known for being bro-y in her chat. They were all young and conventionally pretty, which is another double standard for women who stream. Dudes can be any age, shape, size, or look, but the women have to be young, not fat, and hot. In addition, most of the female streamers are even bro-y-er than their male counterparts as a way to overcompensate. It’s the same with streamers girlfriends/wives. They put down women, make sexual innuendos, and are pretty jerky. They also feed into the stereotypes of the nagging wife, which is annoying as hell as well.


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Reflection and Projection

One of the frustrating aspects of all this predatory men bullshit is how ardent and vigorous randos will defend a man they don’t know. It’s not just with the famous predators, either. It’s in real life, too. Many women have had the experience of trying to explain why they’ve uncomfortable around a man they know for maybe inchoate reasons, and the man they’re explaining it to gives a hundred reasons why the guy is acting the way he is. The reasons may make sense on the surface, but there’s a ‘yeah, but’ feeling inside the woman as she’s listening that she can’t squelch no matter how hard she tries.

I realized a long time ago that the reason some guys are quick to defend questionable behavior is because they can put themselves more easily in the shoes of the man than they can the shoes of the woman. It doesn’t matter if the woman is wearing pumps, flats, or heels, they’re still shoes the man has never worn. Even sneakers, as they’re smaller and tighter and–OK, I’ve taken this metaphor as far as I possible can. They hear about a man catcalling a woman on the street, and they think, “Hey, I’ve talked to a woman on the street before. I’m not a bad guy. Maybe that random guy isn’t a bad guy, either.”

There was a post at Ask A Manager by a woman who was pretty sure a coworker was hitting on her, but wasn’t sure how she should turn him down since he never actually issued an invitation. He didn’t work in the same division (if I remember correctly), but he was above her in rank. They were out of town at a conference, and they had gone out for drinks with coworkers once and another time with friends of her (it was her hometown, I think). The letter writer (LW) includes texts in which the coworker pushes to do things in private and she gives him ‘soft’ nos in various of ways. Reading the texts, it’s clear to me he’s hitting on her, and she’s politely declining.

Predictably, some people picked apart what the LW texted and did (going out to drinks with the coworker and her friends) without concentrating on how he escalated his requests despite her soft nos, even to the point of suggesting she change her flight to a later time so she could watch a game with him! She said no, she was going to stick to her plans, but it shouldn’t have had to come that far. There was far too much focus on what she should and shouldn’t have done, but thankfully, there were people also pushing back on it. They said it was a shame that women couldn’t be friendly to men without being taken as flirtatious.

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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part Three

This is post three on my David Cage screed, and we’re getting deep into it now. Here is part two so you can catch up. Heavy Rain is the game that pushed me from thinking David Cage is a creeper to feeling revulsion every time I see his name. He is lauded in some circles for being innovative and a creative thinker, and I firmly reject that on all levels. His story-telling makes no inherent sense, and his characters don’t act in a way that is logical. I’m not talking about logical in general because people often act in ways that look illogical to outsiders, but they don’t act logically for themselves. I said before it’s because David Cage is a raging narcissist who cannot empathize with how other people feel, so he just projects onto them and believes that’s how they would act. When we left the last point, I was going on a rant about ow David Cage is shit towards women, and I feel I have to at least note that he’s also shit towards men, but in a different way.

The problem is that David Cage thinks in stereotypes. People aren’t real to him, and it’s exceedingly clear in his games. His main characters if they’re male are ciphers with tics. In Omikron: The Nomad Soul, the protagonist literally has no body. Your soul jumps from NPC to NPC, which is interesting in concept, but not well-utilized in the game (a recurring theme with David Cage). There’s nothing to know about the main protagonist because of this conceit, so David Cage gets away with this shortcoming in this game. In Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit), the main male protagonist is Ethan M–er, Lucas Kane, is a mopey, slim, depressed man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. That’s the extent of what we learn about his personality. David Cage seems to think the fact that he’s a good-looking dude (with dark hair because David Cage only likes dark hair. I mentioned it with the women in the game, but it’s the same with the dudes. Most of the important male dudes have short dark brown hair. They are brooding intellects with mental health issues. One of the times David Cage broke his self-imposed rule, the result was Tyler, a cringe-inducing stereotype of a black dude with swagger, so maybe it’s best he sticks to what he knows) is enough to make women drop their panties for him. There are no queer relationships in David Cage games, which, quite frankly, is for the best. I shudder to think what he’d do with it.

In Heavy Rain, two of the male protagonists, Ethan Mars and Norman Jayden, are basically the same person in two different roles. They look the same, and they both have psychological issues. Scott Shelby is different with a graying buzz-cut, a florid face (he’s an alcoholic) and being overweight–and older. Oh my god. I just realized that David Cage’s type–slim, white, short dark brown hair, dark eyes, gaunt face–holds for everyone of importance in his games. The fact that Scott Shelby was radically different looks-wise should have been a big red flag that he was the killer. Side note: I really like the idea that any of the main characters can die, including Scott Shelby, except he can only die at the end. I know at least Norman and Madison can die during the game, and I know Ethan and Scott can die at the end. Again, it’s a fascinating concept, but it’s not really well-executed in the game. In fact, Woolie had Norman die in his game, and that’s when he was done with the game. The controls for keeping him alive is way too fucking complicated, and Woolie was infuriated by it. Not to mention, in that scene, the guy who kills Norman is the epitome of black gangster thug. David Cage has never met a stereotype he won’t gleefully embrace.


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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part Two

I wrote a post detailing some of my issues with the self-impressed video game auteur, David Cage. I have so many thoughts on him because I’ve watched Let’s Plays of all his video games, and his thinking, while grandiose, is sadly common in the video game industry (which is still heavily male-dominated), so here is part two. Hopefully, we won’t need a part three, but I have a feeling we will. You can read part one here. Lessee. Where were we? Oh, yes. David Cage’s inability to imitate real human emotions, which is a theme throughout all the damn games. It’s especially egregious with women, but he does no favors to men, either. He also doesn’t do nuance, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit). One thing I should point out is that while David  Cage prides  himsel on his plots, they’re shite. Look, I’m down for convoluted and complex. I like labyrinth-like plots with twists, turns, and time jumps. I like multiple viewpoints and multiple protagonists. I like psychologically-driven media, and so, I can see why on first blink my ex-friend thought Heavy Rain would be a good fit for me. On paper, his games check all the boxes. In reality, however, it’s all skin deep and poorly-done. Side rant: Video games are great at a lot of things. Telling stories isn’t one of them. I’ve seen video game  reviewers trip all over themselves for how great the story is in a game, and all I can think is, “I read better stories on this same subject when I was in grade school.” Granted, I read The Scarlet Letter and tried to read War and Peace in grade school (on my own, both of them), but that’s not  the point. It’s difficult to convey a complex and intricate story in a video game because you also have to have good  gameplay (if you’re going to do a traditional video game). Even if you’re not, you still have to use visuals rather than text unless you’re doing a visual novel, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

David Cage confuses esoteric, confusing, and implausible with complex. He seems to think if you just make everything about the occult/supernatural forces, then anything goes. He doesn’t realize that even with outlandish ideas, you still have to have internal consistency. Trying to explain the plots of his video games is pointless, and let’s not even mention motivation. No, wait. Let’s DO talk about motivation. David Cage doesn’t realize what makes people act. Or rather, he doesn’t care. One of the guys (in the Let’s Plays) said something about how David Cage has certain moments he wants in the game, and then he writes the plot around them. It’s true that he does everything back-asswards. In Indigo Prophecy, there’s a scene in which the black cop, Tyler, challenges his white coworker to a basketball contest in order to not pay the money he (Tyler) owes him (the other guy). It’s clear that David Cage had the scene of the white guy practicing hoops while the black guy saunters in with rap music playing in his head, and he was going to have it in the game no matter what!


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Let Me Out of This (David) Cage (Video Game)!: Part One

Backstory: Many moons ago before I was into video games, I had a friend (emphasis on had. He was a hot mess, and I haven’t talked to him in years) who prided himself on finding the prefect game for every person (read, woman. It was one of his pickup techniques). He listened to what I liked in other media, and he pronounced that the best game for me was Heavy Rain by David Cage. I didn’t have a PS3 so it wasn’t an option, but I watched the beginning of a Let’s Play, and, let’s just say I wasn’t impressed. It was slow and plodding, and the *spoiler for a seven-year-old game* death of Ethan’s son felt cheap and unearned. I know it was meant to have the player bond with the protagonist, but because I knew little to nothing about the either of them or the rest of the family, plus it was set up so ludicrously, I just felt annoyed. I’ll get to that later when I discuss the game itself. I dismissed the game from my mind and moved on with my life.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. I decided to watch The Super Best Friends play Omikron: The Nomad Soul, the first and worst* of the Cage games. I don’t remember why I decided to watch it, but watch it I did. A quick primer on the Best Friends: they started out as Two Best Friends (Matt and Pat) for Machinima, and they’re huge. They’ve expanded to Super Best Friends which included Liam and Woolie, but is now just Woolie after Liam decided he needed a break from Let’s Playing. They’re Canadian, and Woolie’s family is from Jamaica. This is important because there are very few black Let’s Players. I didn’t like Woolie when he first stared joining Matt & Pat because he didn’t really seem to add anything to the gang, but he’s really blossomed, and his and Pat’s Let’s Play of Dark Souls II really sold me on him being added to the team.

The guys are rude, crude, and often juvenile. They have some questionable material, but they are also really fucking hilarious. It’s usually best when it’s just two of them because of my Theory of Guys**, but sometimes, the three of them can be pure gold. I think Pat mentioned the Omikron Let’s Play in another playthrough, and I was immediately intrigued. I’ve tried to play Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit), widely-praised as an innovative game (Cage’s second game), but after an hour or so, I got frustrated by how stupid it was and gave up. It starts with–you know what? We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, we’re talking Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

When I started the Let’s Play, I was anticipating the game would be terrible and the banter funny. I love Let’s Plays of awful games. For example. I was obsessed with Quick Looks/Let’s Look Ats of Ride to Hell: Retribution, which is widely regarded as one of the worst games of all time. It was so bad, it was yanked from Steam, and you can no longer buy the PC version. I watched all the videos on it I could find, and I was seriously tempted to buy it to play it, but I waited too long, damn it. Anyway, I thought it’d be more of the same with the guys and Omikron. Another note: this is the last of the David Cage games that the guys played, even though it was the first chronologically. That means the guys knew all of Cage’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, which they made fun of relentlessly.

Matt*** joked that all the women would be short-haired, white, slim brunettes because that’s what ALL the women in all David Cage games are. Seriously. Most of the women who speak in David Cage games are slim but busty, have angular faces, and have short or shoulder-length dark brown hair. In fact, I’m pretty sure David Cage (and yes, he’s David Cage. Not David and not Cage. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know) wanted Ellen Page for Beyond Two Souls because she’s the physical manifestation of his MPG**** fantasies. It’s creepy how obsessed he is with this type of women, and I’ll talk more later about his even creepier ideas of how women think/behave later on.

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