Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: isms

Intersectionality is still not a thing, apparently

I was watching an Australian woman’s video on a new paradigm for autism and was finding it interesting. At some point, she was talking about how information got passed along in an informal way. She said, “As we say, and this is probably problematic, it’s a game of Chinese whispers.”

My brain slammed shut and I could not hit the X button soon enough to close out the video. I was not expecting casual racism in my video about autism, and I was not down with it, thank you very much. In addition, it was doubly frustraton because she realized it was something that she probably shouldn’t say as she specifically noted it would probably be problematic, and then said it, anyway. That’s the part that really iced the cake for me. In addition, she could have easily just called it the whisper game and explained what it was or as we call it in America, the telephone game.

What she did not have to do was call it the Chinese whisper gome (and why is it Chinese in the first place) without a whiff of discomfort.

In the year of our endemic, 2024, this is just unbelievable. The video was fairly recent–certainly in this millennium. It underlies the fact that just because someone has something that is a minority in one way and suffers for it, that doesn’t make them automatically empathetic to others in the same position. It also shows how within dominant cultures, they can forget that racial minorities can also be, say, autistic.

Side note: Everyone loves the Maintenance Phase podcast and talks about how brilliant it is. I have listened to three episodes, and I’m underwhelmed. Not only beacuse I find it pretty basic, but also because it’s very much for white people. Which is fine. White people need help, too. But the fact that they briefly acknowledge that there are different issues for people of color does little to make me want to actually listen to the podcast.

Intersectionality was something I was aware of even before I knew the word for it. It stemmed from a selfish reason–I never saw me in anything. This was why I started writing fiction, by the way. I was going to be the change I wanted to see!

When I was in middle school, my world history teacher asked us what we wanted to learn about. I said Japanese internment and the Taiwanese/Chinese conflict. He said that we didn’t have time for that, which really annoyed me. Why bother asking then? The same happened in college in my feminism in philosophy class. I mentioned racism, and she said we did not have time to talk about it.

I’m sorry. I cannot put my race on hold while focusing on my gender. Thats’ not how life works. Again, if she wanted to say it was white feminism in philosophy, she should have said that. This was in 1992, so three decades ago. Sadly, I have not found it to have changed much in the meantime. Yes, there is awareness of more issues, but it’s still in discrete containers–and none of them include me.

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Flames on the side of my face

There are a few words/phrases that make me instantly enraged. PC used to be one of them because people used it in a pejorative fashion. If someone was crass enough to bring up diversity issues, they were admonished for being PC. That has morphed into ‘woke’, which also makes me grind my teeth. What I said or thought when someone bleated PC was, “Oh, you don’t want to treat people who aren’t like you with even the rudimentary courtesy?”

Same with woke. I saw a video on the home page of YouTube by a gamer guy titled, “No one wants to play ‘woke’ characters”. I immediately blocked him with extreme prejeudice. It’s astounding to me that white straight cis men in gaming are STILL whining about how minorities are destroying the industry. I’m trying to think of a game that is specifically minority-focused and can’t think of any triple A game. In the last year, I mean. Granted, I mosttly play From games and indie games, so I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the gaming industry.

But, I used to play casual games. Hidden Objects, Match-3, Time Management, etc. The Hidden Objects games have morphed (pun intended because there are morphing objects in the games now) into wanting to provide storylines.

Side note: Hardcore game series are often maligned for being repetitive and just churning them out every year. Your Collar Duties, your AssCreeds, etc. Which, true. But in the casual gaming world, it’s even worse. They pump out the same damn game with just a palette swap. They can do two or three a year beacuse the mechanics are the same for the series. The first one ore two are interesting, and then it gets boring. Granted, it’s only seven bucks per game, so it’s a bit more forgiveable, but still.

Anyway. Most of the stories have a female protagonists. I would estimate 75% when I played the games on the regular, which was a decade ago. More than. I figured it out that it was because it was women who played the games, by a wide margin. I used to read the reviews every now and again. One was from a guy who complained about the protags being women. It was for a game in which you could choose male or female (only two genders acknowledged back then), and he was saying it was nice to have the choice. Which is fine. But then he went on to say how horrible it was for him as a man not to feel a connection with the protag.

Which, wah, wah, wah. I will admit that my first response was not one of sympathy, empathy, or compassion. As someone who is never the target demo, it seemed a bit precious to me for a man to go into an area that is predominately for women and demand more.

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What is and isn’t self-evidence

I’m going to brag for a minute. This isn’t even a humble-brag–it’s just a brag. I have a high EQ (Emotional Quotient/emotional intelligence) and have for my whole life. I can read people in a way that most people can’t. I’m not psychic–I’m just extremely adept at picking up cues. It’s both nature (I was born this way) and nurture (my mother overtly demanded it of me and my father passively deemed it his just due), and I’m not always pleased that I can do it. Believe me, I would rather not know half the shit I do about people.

In addition, I can look at an issue and instantly see it from several different sides. It’s partly because I tend to think deeply about things, and I sometimes take it for granted. For example, I had heard of Maintenance Phase, a podcast about fatphobia in America. That is a gross simplification, but it’ll do for my purpose. I had seen so many people rave about it at Ask A Manager, and they are generally a thoughtful crowd.

I listened to the first two or three podcasts and….it’s fine. I ilke the two hosts. A lot. I think they are engaging, down-to-earth, and relatable. But. And this is a big but. Their viewpoint is very white. Like, very white. Which is what they are, so that makes sense in that way. In addition, one of the hosts is not fat. Michael Hobbes. He is the son of someone who was fat, and he is very thoughtful, but it’s just strange to me. There are two hosts and one is a normie, for lack of a better word. I tend to think that if you’re going to talk about a subject, the ‘experts’ should be in that category themselves–for a podcast, I mean.

Putting that aside, the information is solid, but this is where I was surpised. it’s very basic. Like, there was nothing in the first few podcasts that made me go, “Whoa! I did not know that.” That’s not completely true as I did not know the history of fitness programs in schools, but I would have intuited that it was what the  hosts described it to be.

It really feels like Fatphobia 101, which is fine! That’s probably what it’s meant to be. I was just surprised how so many of the people at AAM were gushing over it as if it were something mindblowing. Which, to be fair, it is mindblowing to push back on BMI, overweight means bad person, etc., in our society. It’s shocking to say that someone being fat is not immoral or grotesque. It’s sad that this is true, but this is the society in which we live.

So, I should not be surprised that so many people think that the podcast is brilliant.

OK. In looking for a video to embed in this tpost, I just found out this existed:

How did I not know??????
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Flip it and reverse it

One phrase that is guaranteed to send me into an instant rage is “But if you reverse the _____ (genders, sexual orientations, races, etc.), then people would be up in arms about it!”

I hate it with the intensity of a thousand suns. Why? Because it strips all context from a situation. “A woman can catcall a man on the streets, but let a woman do it, and suddenly, he’s a creep!”

First of all, the vast majority of women do not catcall on the streets. I’ve not seen a gang of women standing on the corner and hassling random men as they walk by about the size of their package or how they would like the man to nail them hard. And, by the way, let’s assume these women are large, tough, and not the kind of women the guy is sexually inetreested in. It’s not Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, or Uma Thurman wanting to climb their rods. And there is a history of women violently attacking men who turn them down. And men in the workplace were treated like eye candy who were only there as visual decoration. And to be harrassed.

Oh, let’s not forget the sexism of women being held to a double standard at work, too. She is supposed to not be too soft otherwise she’s giving into her girly side. Too cold, however, and she’s a bitch. Women are expected to sooth men and make sure not to rile them up, but they can’t be too diffident about it either.

Then, let’s not forget dress. There are so many pitfalls a woman can fall into with dress, including makeup, stockings, nails, jewelry, hair–and that’s in addition to the clothing itself. There are so many hiddens dos and don’ts when it comes to dressing while female.

So, yeah, add all that to the equation and then maybe you’ll have a point. Otherwise, simply flipping the genders is lazy and doesn’t make the point you think it makes.

This comes into play often around this time because of Christmas. It’s a Christian holiday, but many Christians like to pretend it’s not. They say it’s a cultural holiday and not a Christian one. I’m not disagreeing that ti’s a cultural holiday at this point. But the roots of it is Christian and it’s infuritaing when Christians try to pretend it’s not. Doubly so because we the ‘war on Christmas’ is now a thing that some Christians are waging specifically because they think we have gotten too far away from Christianity during the Christmas season.

This comes up every year on Ask A Manager because of holiday parties. One year, a manager said she put up a small Christmas tree in the lab in which she worked with grad student workers. She asked ahead of time (a few hours) by Slack or Team and claimed no one saaid they had a problem with it. She admitted that she didn’t really give much time for an answer and acknowledged that maybe the students might feel uncomfortable bringing it up, but glossed by it pretty quickly.

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Queer Eye has not aged well

I finished watching the most recent season of Queer Eye after I had fallen off it for a while. Why? I’ll get to that in a minute. It was set in Philly where my BFF lives and it had all the calculated emotional notes that the series is known for. Did I cry once an episode? Yes. But I knew going in that I would. Is it emotionally manipulative? Yes. But I also knew that going in as well. Here is Captain Awkward’s spoiler-free review for every episode of Queer Eye, written as she watched the third season, and it remains true to the end. There’s a very predictable format and I’m not here to argue for or against it. What I am here to say is that many of the things that caused me to flinch the first time I watched it has induced a full-body cringe this time around. I re-watched the first season and while it’s still generally heartwarming, I’m also very aware of how normative it is in so many ways. Even heteronormative in some ways. Not in a anti-homosexual way, obviously, but in a ‘everyone must be paired up’ way. There was an unusual amount of attention paid to whether or not the participant was getting shagged so let’s address the sexual harassment elements first.

I know that it’s a reality TV show, but I couldn’t help thinking of all the ways it’s an HR nightmare. The participants had to have signed a waiver form because there were several times when if it had happened in an office, the Fab Five would have been hauled into HR so damn fast. One, and I distinctly remember this from the first time I watched the show, Neal, the Indian guy. I did a full-body cringe when they forced hugs on him. Some people do not like to be touched and it was clear that he was not enjoying it at all. Then, they forced him into a group hug and I was SCREAMING inside. This time watching it was even worse and their rationale that he was ‘shut off’ and needed to be open to people did not fly with me. First of all, there are cultures in which people are more reserved. Secondly, some people have personal trauma that means no touching without consent. Thirdly, it’s ok not to want to hug people you just met.

Another episode is the firefighters one. Yes, they were all thirsty in that episode. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for Karamo to sexually harass one of the firefighters whom he nicknamed Superman. Micah, I think his real name was. He took it in stride and with a smile, but it was uncomfortable to watch. I commented at the time that it would have been unacceptable if it were a straight dude doing that to a woman so why was it acceptable for a gay guy to do it to a guy? I mean, no one should be sexually harassing anyone, ideally! Jonathan does it all the time as well on a lowkey level, but that’s more just a generic ‘I’m going to fake-sexualize everyone to make them feel wanted’ thing that wasn’t as gross.

Again, I know that these people agree to be on camera and maybe they were fine with it in the end. However, it’s really uncomfortable to watch as someone who has experienced sexual assault.

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The Identity of Politics

My taiji teacher and I were talking about our food allergies today. She’s allergic to dairy (and maybe casein and/or whey). I am lactose intolerant (and perhaps have issues with casein and/or whey), and I have gluten sensitivities. It morphed into a discussion about why are some people assholes about food sensitivities to the point of not believing the person who says they have them. This led to a discussion about how people can be such jerks to vegetarians/vegans, and I pointed out that to be fair, there are some vegetarians/vegans who are assholes. She agreed, but pointed out that the vast majority are not. She gave the example of bikers. Yeah, there are some asshole bikers, but they would be assholes if they were drivers or pedestrians. In other words, they were just assholes in general.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s actually what I wanted to write my post about today even before the discussion. I have an issue with someone who’s a minority saying, “I’m ________, therefore I am the expert on this issue. If you disagree with me, then you’re ______ist.” This might be true. It might also be that you’re an asshole and/or wrong. I have made a truism: You can be a minority AND an asshole; the two are not mutually exclusive. It’s hard for me to be coherent about this because I have many conflicting thoughts. One, it’s good to include a diversity of opinions. In the past, the automatic default of straight white bio-male meant that a lot of people were being overlooked. One example relevant to me: most medical studies in the past were done on white men. When I had trouble sleeping, my psychiatrist at the time suggested I try sleeping pills and gave me the lowest dose. I took a pill and didn’t wake up for nearly twenty-four hours. I cut it in half at her suggestion, but I still slept for far longer than I wished. I cut it into a fourth, but it still knocked me the fuck out. I gave up and stopped using them. Many years later, I learned that Asian people need a smaller dose than white people, and, of course, women in general need less than men. Had I know that at the time, I would have been  lot less frustrated.

Two, experiences as a minority vary widely. Growing up Asian American in a Minnesota suburb in the eighties is very different than growing up Asian American in LA ten years ago. My experience is valid, and I’ve run into many Asian Americans around my age who grew up in similar environments and had similar experiences. However, it would be a dick move on my part to insist that my Asian American experience is the ONLY Asian American experience,  and anyone who said anything different was invalidating my experience AND a racist to boot.

Three, pointing out problematic behavior/thoughts/words is the beginning of a conversation, not the end. There are some things that are definitely, say, racist. Let’s take the obvious extreme–being a Nazi/white supremacist. Oh, wait. That’s apparently not so obvious these days, but that’s beside the point. Most rational people would agree that thinking you’re a better person just because you’re white and explicitly stating this is racist, so let’s move on. The problem is, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to social issues, and not everybody agrees where the line is drawn. There’s a lot of talk about microagressions these days, but one person’s microaggression is another person’s hilarious joke.

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