Dear Asian-Americans: I am so sorry that I didn’t warn you about the GOP.

Or: The GOP – they really don’t seem to like much of anybody!

Last week, I wrote a post asking the GOP to just shut up about black people, a post which got a surprising amount of attention across the web.

In the aftermath of that, I found myself wondering: “Huh. Who is the GOP going to demonize and belittle next in this election cycle?”

And I knew: Asian-Americans. A post began to form itself in my head, one I intended to write sometime this week.

I mean, they’ve demonized and belittled gay people already:

Michele Bachmann: “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.” (She said this 2004, but it got a re-airing this summer).

Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus: “We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road.”

Rick Santorum: Families headed by gay parents lead to “great dysfunction.”

So ok. They hate the gays. Check.

And they’ve demonized and belittled Latinos:

Newt Gingrich: “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.” (He said this in 2008, but again, it’s been re-aired).

Mitt Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act (a bi-partisan effort to resolve the issues facing the children of undocumented immigrants).

All the candidates have completely waffled (and Romney threw in disdain for good measure) on the question of Puerto Rican statehood.

So. Latinos? Good for what are considered their generally conservative social views, but otherwise: Bad for America! Check.

And of course, women, of all colors.

Rick Santorum, regarding wanting to ban abortion even in cases of rape: “We have to make the best out of a bad situation.”

Ron Paul: We should differentiate between “honest rape” and, you know, lie-y rape.

Rick Santorum (again – he’s a peach, ain’t he?): “Look at the political base of the Democratic Party: It is single mothers who run a household. Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two parent families, you eliminate that desire for government.”

The entire GOP field: “Among the major GOP candidates… not a single one has handed over the title of campaign manager to a female.”

Women – lying bitches who don’t deserve compassion in the face of rape, who foolishly buy the lies peddled by Democrats because they’re so needy with their slutty single-parent families, and don’t really need to be in politics. Check!

AND BLACK PEOPLE – omg! So not-working and gullible and that one in the White House is so worthy of being strung up! Not American. Check.

After all of this (and the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-poor people, anti-union, anti-anyone-not-white-male-straight-and-wealthy palaver as well) clearly, the Asians were next up.

I was going to call the post forming itself in my head:

“Dear Asian-Americans – Look out, I think they’re coming for you.”

I will admit, however, that I was stymied by an inability to figure out just what the slurs might be. It’s the burden, I suppose, of being the “model minority” — you face discrimination and othering and bigotry, but it comes wrapped in words that are meant to sound like compliments. “Good at math” being one example. “Tiger mom” being another.

AND THEN THEY FREAKING CAME. And good lord, how could I have been so stupid?

I refer, of course, to the ad run not by a Presidential candidate, but by Michigan candidate for US Senate Pete Hoekstra, during the Super Bowl.

Of course! Asians are, first of all, Not American. They are Chinese, and they Want Your Economy.

They are Chinese, but in a really oddly Vietnam-y way, one which will remind you that not only are they Not American, they are Inscrutable, and Peasant-y, and Very Very Dangerous.

They are also oddly interchangeable, because the scuttlebutt is that the woman featured in Hoekstra’s ad (in which she says she’s Chinese in pidgin English while bicycling along a rice paddy in a conical hat) isn’t even Chinese-American. It’s just scuttlebutt at this point, but I would be willing to bet that Hoekstra’s campaign didn’t necessarily make a point of looking for an authentically Chinese-American person to use for race-baiting purposes.

Soooo, it’s been a super long walk to get here, but:

Dear Asian-Americans: I am so sorry that I didn’t warn you about the GOP. I could see it coming — I just had no idea how fast the Racism Train was running.

Oh, and PS: To anyone wanting to suggest that Hoekstra’s ad can’t in any way reflect on the Presidential campaign, as he’s not running for President, I say that unless and until the GOP’s Presidential candidates publicly condemn the racism (and homophobia and misogyny) in their midst? They own it. Simple as that.

The daily barrage of insults.

Update below.

Every day of my life — all day long — I have to ignore insults in order to partake in pop culture, general conversation, and/or intellectual pursuits.

If I am to enjoy the music on the radio, or the jokes in a movie, or a conversation among like-minded political animals, I have to close my ears and numb my senses on a regular, sometimes hourly basis. I have to pause and think: “Is that bad enough for me to have to not like this righteous beat anymore? Or can I carry on bobbing my head without being a traitor to myself, my daughter, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and about 80% of my friends?”

I know I write about this a lot, but it’s only because it makes me want to tear my hair out. Or move to a distant planet. It’s only because it really, really matters and very few people who aren’t women (and not a lot of them) seem to notice or, more to the point, care.

For instance:

Yesterday morning, the boy was telling me about what transpired to be a very funny animated video providing a literalist interpretation to the lyrics of an entirely enjoyable stupid song, the wildly popular “Party Rock Anthem” — and thus I heard my 12 year old say the words “so when they say ‘I run through hoes like Drano’….”

Yesterday afternoon, the same boy showed me a delightful, funny, and in fact quite interesting video made by a young video blogger named Charlie McDonnell, someone who is part of the so-called “Nerdfighter” community (all part of the Vlogbrothers phenomenon, about which I posted earlier). The Nerdfighters take as their goal in life “to increase awesome in the world and decrease suck” — by which they mean: Be the change you want to see in the world. They’re good people, led by good people. And there’s Charlie, in a “Fun Science” video, teaching us all about the nature of sound — making it fun and clever and amusing and generally increasing the awesome — and at the very end, he makes a small, silly, throw-away joke, referring to a man who had failed at something as a woman.

Then last night, during the Republican debate, folks on my side of the political map were getting justifiably angry about the ease with which the GOP candidates dehumanize undocumented workers by constantly and consistently using the phrase “illegal aliens”  — and one gentleman tweeted (in all caps, which, given the anger, makes sense to me): “BITCH YOU DON’T OWN THE EARTH NO ONE IS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN WE’RE ALL HUMANS!!”

So.

Yesterday morning, I said something to the boy before he even got to the point of explaining how the animators had interpreted “running through hoes like Drano” (it’s a can of Drano, running under an honor guard of garden hoes — click here to watch, it’s actually pretty good). I said something to him in the afternoon, once Charlie’s Fun Science had faded to black and I’d said how much I’d liked it (it’s decidedly great — click here to watch). I almost said something in the evening to the stranger on Twitter, but I was fairly certain I would be seen as derailing, or missing the point. So I didn’t. And frankly, one gets so tired of always having to say something.

But you know what English-speaking world? When you call women hoes, or sling “bitch” around, or insult men by calling them women? You are telling me, my daughter, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and about 80% of my friends (and 50% of the English-speaking world) that we are less.

Less than human, less than men, less than worthy.

And it is not derailing, or humorless, or missing-the-point, to point it out. Because I am not less than human, less than a man, or less than worthy.

But some days (most days) I don’t point it out. I don’t even let it register. Because it wears me down, and wears me out, and I am just fucking tired.

*****

UPDATE: And then in the course of my afternoon, I learn that there is a new book out that is actually titled: Becoming China’s Bitch. In interviewing the author about it, a writer with Foreign Policy (!) posed the following questions: “When did you first realize we were in danger of becoming China’s bitch?…What can we do to prevent becoming China’s bitch?… How do we make China our bitch?” Yes, fucking really.

…like a girl. (Re-up)

It’s spring vacation in these parts, and that means I’m spending a lot of time with the kids — today involved, among other things, a trip to MagiQuest. It also means I’m having no little difficulty focusing on/completing anything longer than a 140-character tweet. So I decided that today I would re-up a post I wrote a while back but which is, sadly and entirely unsurprisingly, very much still relevant.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, about the ways we use words that mean “female human” to insult each other.

There’s “scream like a little girl,” of course, which, you know — ok. Little girls are high-pitched. It’s meant as an insult, but there’s some grain of reality to be found in it. Perhaps I will someday “scream like a linebacker” or “like a South Pacific Islander.” Or something.

But once you get past “scream,” there’s:

  1. Throw like a girl.
  2. Run like a girl.
  3. Hit like a girl.

Not to mention:

  1. Pussy out.
  2. Be a pussy.
  3. Be a little bitch.
  4. Be X’s bitch.

And so on.

In the largest, broadest sense, I believe that these kinds of insults hurt us all, male and female alike. The recent bullying-related suicides of several gay-or-maybe-gay boys have their roots deeply buried in our fear of males behaving in anything but a society-approved-manly fashion. Witness the clear discomfort experienced by adults when five year old boys choose to wear girls’ clothing.

Witness that, and then think about women in pants suits, or girls in jeans. When women adopt and co-opt a traditionally male form of dress, we are empowering ourselves. When men adopt and co-opt a traditionally female form of dress — they get beat up. Because we do not value women as we value men, and we are frightened when men choose to give up the prerogatives of their gender. So, yes, everyone suffers when we continue to maintain and perpetuate misogyny.

But women and girls suffer more. Because we are the ones you shouldn’t be like.

I’ve known this for years, of course. I’m not new to noticing misogyny. I’m not new to feeling its sting and pushing at its edges. But it’s suddenly struck me how powerfully we telegraph our contempt for women merely by opening our mouths and starting to talk.

You throw like a girl. Don’t pussy out on me, bro! I’m gonna make that job my bitch! Close your eyes for a moment, and substitute any other person-naming noun/pejorative for the words “girl,” “pussy,” and “bitch.”

You throw like an Asian. Don’t Hymie out on me, bro! I’m gonna make that job my nigger!

Suddenly, the mind reels a bit.

Good lord, like most non-racist white people, I had a hard time just typing the n-word — but absolutely stand-up folks, men and women alike, without an otherwise bigoted bone in their bodies, will insult each other with words that describe me and my body, with nary a second thought. They will do it loudly, among friends, in print, on television, in movies. It’s just, you know: The way we talk.

But I cannot help but believe that we hear these things, we women and girls, we hear them, and we steep in them, and they go in and down and twist and burrow into us, and they damage us. They leave vapor trails in our thoughts and scars on our hearts. They tell us, day in and day out, that we are weak, we are not worthy, our bodies are the stuff of mockery.

When you’re someone’s bitch? You’re under their violently-wrested control. When you’re a pussy? You’re untrustworthy. When you’re a girl? You are just plain weak.

And who the fuck would want to be any of that?

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

The assault on Lara Logan & the reality of rape.

I’ve never been raped.

Why? Because I’m lucky.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

I’ve been groped on more than one occasion. I’ve been followed by men in a car late at night. I’ve been harassed on the street, and more than once not been certain it was going to end at “harassment.” A friend and I once found ourselves in a shared taxi with two men who tried to convince the driver (in a language they shared and we barely understood) to take us somewhere they could attack us (the driver physically pulled them from his car). I once discovered that my gynecologist was no longer in business – because he had raped several patients.

I am a woman, and I live in the world. This is what living in the world looks like, if you happen to be a woman. If none of that becomes rape? You’re lucky. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And while I might not have been raped, I know many women who were. Some more than once. Some when they were children. Some by people they believed loved them. Rarely, but occasionally, by strangers. And this is just the people I know.

I also spent five years as a rape counselor at the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center, where I learned just how tenuous my status as someone who had never been assaulted is. One of the most famous cases we handled involved a young woman and her date — a well-known musician. They got to his place, and after saying yes, she said No. She said no so vehemently, with such certainty, that he had to tie her up to complete his rape. And yet some people still wanted to blame her.

The other day, as all of Egypt poured into the streets to celebrate their victory over tyranny, CBS correspondent Lara Logan was separated from her camera crew, surrounded by a large group of men, and then brutally and repeatedly assaulted. She was saved by Egyptian women and Egyptian soldiers, and CBS reports that she is still in an American hospital.

When Twitter got wind of this, folks went nuts. Some want to blame Middle Eastern culture, or Egyptians generally. Some say the rapists were hired goons, unrepresentative of anything remotely related to those who participated in the Egyptian uprising. Some have actually managed to blame Logan, and one man who should have known better made light of her fate and suggested it would have been “funny” if Anderson Cooper had been raped, too (he’s since apologized, so I won’t link).

But the simple truth is that the only culture that is responsible for this is human culture.

In far too many minds, all over the world, a female human is little more than an outlet or repository for male wishes or power. Rape is regularly and consistently used as a weapon of war. Rape is regularly and consistently used as a method of control.

But rape is also just regular and consistent. Men rape for no reason other than that they think they can get away with it — all the time, every day. Doctors rape, clergymen rape, husbands rape, boyfriends rape, employers rape, “dates” rape. Sometimes they employ tricks and ploys and intoxicants in order to convince themselves that what they’re doing is not (as Whoopi Goldberg so memorably put it) “RAPE rape” — but if she said no, or couldn’t say no, or was too afraid to say no? It’s RAPE rape. It’s all rape.

And lots of times, rapists don’t even bother to convince themselves. They wanted a vagina, and there was one in the room. They wanted to bond with their boys, and a vagina walked by. They wanted to show that bitch, or prove their worth, or relieve themselves, or take what any man in his right mind would take. RAPE rape.

Like most crimes, rape is a crime of opportunity. You don’t drive across state lines to pick-pocket — you go down to the corner. You don’t get on a bus to find women to attack — you attack the ones who are there and handy. Most of the time, those who commit sexual assaults do so within their own communities. Often within their own families.

Men and boys are also raped — every day — and that is at least one reason why that one tweet was so beyond-the-Pale wrong. No rape is ever funny, and the particular suffering of male victims is one with which we as a society have yet to grapple.

But men and boys, as a class, do not grow up and live with this fear, this threat, across the world and across cultures. This is women’s lot, and it falls on all of us.

Every.single.one.of.us.

I feel such pain and sorrow for Ms. Logan — not only did she survive this horrific attack, but her story is now public property, to be analyzed and picked over by all and sundry, people who have never met her and never will.

But her story is not as rare, or as easily dismissed as random violence, as so many would like it to be. Would wish it to be. And until we — humanity — admit that, millions upon millions of women and girls will be raped and assaulted year in, year out.

I’ve been lucky so far. I pray to God my daughter will be, too.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

 

UPDATE: Melissa Bell, a blogger at the Washington Post, wrote a very good, brief response to the reactions to the attack on Ms. Logan, including some important statistics. Please click through and read the whole thing.

A 2008 study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women experience public sexual harassment, from groping to assault.

Here’s why this story is not just about Egypt, either:

In 2000, in New York’s Central Park, an assault similar to Logan’s occurred during a parade. Seven women were attacked. In the United States. Attacks occur everywhere, every day. Again and again.

The assault did not happen because Logan was a reporter in a dangerous country. It did not happen because that country happens to be Muslim. It happened because sexual assault occurs every single day to women everywhere in the world.