?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Jun. 22nd, 2011 @ 04:19 pm kevin, why don't you date asian women anymore
Current Mood: racist
Tags:
What do you see in the face of a local white American woman?

I see swaying maples. I see hazel in her irises, and hair the color of warm earth, and gentle, soft skin. I see memories of Saturday morning cartoons, of the prick of rocks and shells in the sand along a hot July beach, of the sweet tang of varnished libraries and ancient drywall. I see hands sticky with toast crumbs. I see the coppery sting of combination locks and patent-aluminum lockers, and the grassy bite of wild grapes, and the one spot on the fingerboard of an old steel-string acoustic guitar where your finger sticks to the grain.

I see a quiet moment in a convenience store parking lot, engine thrumming, stars out--a pebble of oranges and cream snow, wet on a plastic straw. I see a long, quilted scarf flapping against the bite of an ice-bright October morning. I see Robert Frost branches spidering upwards into an Annie Dillard sky. I see a single autumn leaf, woody and defiant, green with life.

I see nothing exotic. I see home.

What do you see in the face of a Taiwanese woman?

I see plaster of Paris. I see a windowless room in her cold, hollow pupils, its brutal concrete dry and cracked, searing with the spiritless glow of a white xenon tube. I see a piano with muted hammers. I see the sharp, tintinnitic bark of a furious parent over a gurgle of pink noise. I see sheets of shipping-grade corrugated steel, rusted brown and seawater grey, plated over every surface. I see Hello Kitty douche rags. I see meat sludge over hard, day-old rice, laid over sweetly with a slice of neon ginger and a veneer of raw, runny egg.

I see an involuntary twitch in her right eyelid. I see a thin paper tape of black glyphs vomiting endlessly out of a cast iron typewriter, silently churning ribbons upon echolalic ribbons onto a polished bamboo floor. I see an imagined, omnipresent bamboo switch (there's the twitch, again). I see sweat boiling in a cauldron under a canopy of rotting palm leaves. I see the sensation of falling, of forever slipping off the edge of a sand-blasted cliff. I see a piece of another woman's small intestine, clenched tightly and desperately between her teeth.

I see, caught in her lips, the pent-up squawk of a voice unused to speaking above a whisper.

I see a horrific spiked phallus, its filamented, garrote-like needles dripping with viscera. I see a schoolgirl uniform cut for a thirty-year-old woman. I see a thirteen-year-old slathered in makeup. I see an opera sung entirely in shrieking, high-pitched sobs. I see a cracked stone altar at the shrine of innocence, slick and acrid with steaming virginal blood. I see pink--pink pencil cases, pink notebooks, pink earrings, pink elephants, pink eye, pink pockets. I see a trembling, androgynous overgrown fetus.

I see thick lines, delicately painted, in black and white. I see a tall, cool cup of green tea, sweet with mint and crushed ice, sealed with plastic film, on an endless cobblestone square. I see a flock of transparent kites over the harbor, soaring quietly in place over lush, verdant hills. I see a lump of crushed sesame dough on a glass table in front of a blaring television. I see a shattered glass table. I see the long, crying trails of raindrops down a double plate window. I see a fine bone teacup filled with water. I see a red-eyed ogre in a greasy wifebeater shoveling a mouthful of boiled fish into his toothless maw with a pair of steel chopsticks.

I see, in the reflection of my eyes in hers, a dragon. Not a shimmering golden dragon, but a reptilian one, its horns migraine-hot, breathing smoke from its nostrils and drooling semen from its lips. I see a foot bent halfway to the ankle, bent so far the ligaments rip apart and the bone snaps. I see fear. I see anger. I see endless surrender, over generations and generations and generations. I see resignation.

I see a long, terrible silence in a lightless dream.

那美國女人呢?看到她們的臉, 會想到什麼東西?

I see swaying maples. I see hazel in her irises, and hair the color of warm earth, and gentle, soft skin. I see memories of Saturday morning cartoons, of the prick of rocks and shells in the sand along a hot July beach, of the sweet tang of varnished libraries and ancient drywall. I see hands sticky with toast crumbs. I see the coppery sting of combination locks and patent-aluminum lockers, and the grassy bite of wild grapes, and the one spot on the fingerboard of an old steel-string acoustic guitar where your finger sticks to the grain.

I see a quiet moment in a convenience store parking lot, engine thrumming, stars out--a pebble of oranges and cream snow, wet on a plastic straw. I see a long, quilted scarf flapping against the bite of an ice-bright October morning. I see Robert Frost branches spidering upwards into an Annie Dillard sky. I see a single autumn leaf, woody and defiant, green with life.
About this Entry
cavestory
[User Picture Icon]
From:retch
Date:June 23rd, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
That was powerful, and very disturbing.
[User Picture Icon]
From:persistent_sun
Date:June 23rd, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Now I'm curious. What do you see in the faces of American women of Taiwanese (or other East Asian) descent?
[User Picture Icon]
From:cougarfang
Date:June 23rd, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:June 23rd, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)

It depends. Sometimes I see the same thing as a Taiwanese or mainlander woman, merely one generation removed. Sometimes I see a woman of another ethnicity (not necessarily white) trapped in an Taiwanese woman's body. And sometimes I see nothing at all. Just an empty doll, filled with numbers and piano lessons until there's no room left for a person.

In any of those cases, my heart is moved but my dick is not. So deeply ingrained is my sexual aversion to Asian phenotypes that I barely even remember the last time I wanted to have sex with an Asian woman. (Probably freshman year of undergrad?) It would be like having sex with a fourteen year old girl.

Half-Asians belong to a different category entirely. They tend to look so different that I doubt I'd have any psychological hangups about dating one.

[User Picture Icon]
From:soullessthinker
Date:June 23rd, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
You're an amazing writer.
[User Picture Icon]
From:user_undefined
Date:June 24th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I'm curious as to why you specified "white." There are lots of races that aren't Taiwanese. Do you not find yourself attracted to any others?
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:June 24th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I specified white simply because that's the race by which the majority of people in America identify (and, for whatever bizarre reason, the baseline by which Asian-Americans on the East Coast are usually compared). My sexual perception of other races is not well formed, mostly due to lack of exposure. This is gradually changing, but it's too soon to say how that will turn out.

Case in point: One Latina woman I never paid much attention to at Oberlin is incredibly hot now. Another I used to find physically attractive doesn't seem all that attractive to me anymore. Neither woman has changed an awful lot, physically, nor do I know either of them all that much better personality-wise. It's me who has changed. I think my dick just still doesn't understand what a Latina woman is. It's like....second puberty?
[User Picture Icon]
From:user_undefined
Date:June 24th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
How is a Latina woman different from any other woman? I'm lost.
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:June 25th, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Unique range of eye, skin, and hair colors? A different range of body shapes? Dating scripts that are foreign to me? A very different median position on the class spectrum than an Asian-American baseline, and with it, a vastly different set of life experiences?

You might think none of those differences matter, and you'd be completely right. But I have about as much rational control over what races I'm attracted to as I do over what flowers I'm allergic to. (Which, bizarrely, has also been prone to unpredictable, sudden, and irreversible changes after continued exposure.)
[User Picture Icon]
From:user_undefined
Date:June 28th, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
That makes sense, when you're looking at people within their own cultures. I was divorcing race from culture, in my mind, but that does make a difference.
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:June 28th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
The scariest thing for me is that, being so completely disassociated from the culture and values of my race, I am now a culture of one. I am proud to be an American, a Christian, an Obie, and a geek, but these are identities that typically complement ethnicity rather than supersede it. I sometimes wonder if this is why any community built around genetic membership makes me feel alienated, even when I am welcomed in as an honorary member.

Maybe this is why I feel more comfortable around white women--in this country, and in no other, they have the enviable privilege of not being defined by their ethnicity. They are to America what the Han Chinese are to the Chinese-speaking world.
[User Picture Icon]
From:elentiriel
Date:January 12th, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I thought this was strange the first time I read it, but more than a 1.5 years later, I'm now realizing how visceral this is and so well written that it hurts. Culture is so ingrained into me that it takes a piece like this to make me realize that there are Asian men out there not interested in Asian women, even if the opposite is very well known.

I maintain the cultural/physical preference for Asian(-American) men, but hey, I'm probably a bit strange in that respect. Being an Asian-American woman means either fighting or accepting social norms from all sides. American women are finally getting their voices heard, but Asian women aren't, not even if they hold high political office. Being both means having to be better than everyone else, having to submit to Asian patriarchy at home yet forging your own way in the workplace. Some days I'm tied to the homeland, some days I am part of the new world. And I can see why being tied to homeland with bad memories would turn you away.
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:January 14th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I'm incredibly flattered that this entry stayed with you after all this time. I think my feelings about our ethnicity are a little different now, but I'm still not attracted to Asian women at all.

Getting back in touch with second-generation Asian-Americans from my hometown recently taught me something I didn't understand at all when I wrote this entry: Asians have their culture forced upon them; Asian-Americans get to make theirs. A few of my friends from New Jersey frequently complain about how they can't stand up for themselves because Asians are meek and weak-willed, how they have terrible social skills because they were raised to be antisocially studious, how they can't get laid because Asians have no confidence and are mediocre at the arts because Asians are tiger-mommed into being rote memorization machines, and I get fed up. I blow up at them. I tell them about George Takei, who grew up in a freaking internment camp and is now one of the most vivacious, beloved personalities in Hollywood, about Jin Tsen Wu and Deimos Chiang, about Chiang Kai-Shek's Hungarian wife, about Jay Chou and the renaissance in Taiwanese Mandopop, about Gangnam Style, about the NEHSers I grew up with in a newly post-fascist Taiwan who despite being the epitome of the unthinking Asian student drone managed to find the initiative to run our yearbook, dances, and all our school clubs ourselves. I told them about the Californasians at NEHS, how they were lively and vivacious and went to church and played guitar and did swing and improv, and how all the stereotypes New Jersey Asians have about themselves are myopically regional. Never having left their tiny Asian enclave in New Jersey, which will soon be extinct (and all its stereotypes with it), they were incredulous.

The way I see it now is this: When you're sixteen, you get to complain about your upbringing because at that point your upbringing is your life. When you're twenty-six, if you're still living with your parents and still complaining about this stuff, your upbringing is just a starting point. The torch has been passed, and you are holding it. At that age you're a grownup, even by Asian standards, and nobody gets to tell you what it means to be Asian anymore. You are elderless. You raise the next generation, not your parents. You dictate what it means to be what they are (until they grow up and challenge you themselves), not society; it's what people see in you, not your parents, that determines how your children will be perceived. It's not like being black, where widespread stereotypes based on a legacy of slavery hound you at every corner no matter how you frame yourself, or being white, where your ancestral legacy is part of the very institutions that guide our everyday lives. If you are second-generation Asian-American, you are a blank slate and a pioneer. No one in America knows who you are, so no one can force an identity on you. You decide what it means to be Asian, what good parts to keep and what bad parts to get rid of, what parts of your culture to preserve and which to relegate to the dustbin of history. You can will three thousand years of rigid Chinese patriarchy into oblivion by setting a better example. And future generations have no choice but to follow your course.

Asian Asians, on the other hand, are pretty fucked in that regard--no personal assertion of identity is going to override millennia of cultural expectations. But folks like you and I have the rare privilege of starting over. And our elders, who will soon be under our care and at our mercy, have no choice but to go along with whatever we choose. We are the elders now, and it is a responsibility we should take seriously.
[User Picture Icon]
From:erf_
Date:January 14th, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
That said, the American patriarchy is also real, and sucks. And if you ever move to San Francisco or Detroit, you have to deal with stereotypes created around previous generations of Asian-Americans as well. :/

But you do have a degree of control over your own fate over here that we could have never dreamed of back at NEHS. And with that control comes the opportunity to move beyond how we were raised, rather than perpetuate it.