“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they’re untrue but they are incomplete.” — Chimamanda Adichie
Let’s play a game. It’s called Guess The Race.
Gentleman A was a hard partier. He did a lot of drugs and drinking in his youth. He almost failed out of college. He had a tumultuous relationship with his parents. He was in tremendous debt. He had a huge sense of entitlement. As he got older, he rarely exercised and gained weight. He cheated on his wife.
Gentleman B never drinks or does drugs. He prefers an evening at home programming or watching TV. If he stays out late, it’s to see a movie, listen to music, or talk about computers with his friends. He graduated from college in three years. He’s extremely fit. He always carries heavy loads. He cooks.
Which one is Asian? Which one is white? Keep reading »
We haven’t always gotten along. There have been some wicked fights over the years, starting in the sixth grade when I didn’t want to wear my ripe-for-teasing plaid shorts to school, or in ninth grade when you insisted a C minus in trig warranted summer school (it didn’t), or that visit during college when I threatened to leave and never come home again (though I don’t even remember what we were fighting about).
But this Mother’s Day, I wanted to tell you those three little words moms everywhere love to hear.
You were right. Keep reading »
This month marks the six-year anniversary of my divorce. A lot has changed since then. I’ve lived on my own (no parents, roommates, boyfriend, or husband). I dated again for the first time in a long time (how long? there was no internet the last time I dated). I changed jobs, got another degree, changed careers, moved across the country. Fell in love again.
I’m happy, extremely so. So why do people still act sorry for me when they hear I’m no longer married and the reason why? Keep reading »
When I first saw Wendi Deng Murdoch spike that foam-pie-throwing comedian-protestor’s head like a volleyball, I giggled with glee. Then I sighed with relief. Here, finally, was a portrayal of an Asian woman I could embrace. No timid China doll or obedient geisha, no mere trophy wife, Deng was the tiger wife, defending her assets – er, I mean husband – with a single, long-armed swipe.
But now I’m torn. While positive, tiger wife is still a stereotype, “a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals,” in this case Asian women of a certain age, and a tidy media invention banking on the popularity of Amy Chua’s tiger mother, and perhaps the Chinese phrase, lao hu, old tiger, said of ferocious older women. A stereotype with international appeal, and yet another one I’ll have to battle sooner or later. Keep reading »
I screwed up royally recently.
My boyfriend Alex and I needed to get a signed lease to our landlady who was having some legal troubles. I left it in the lobby for her to pick up, but before she could, it disappeared. I called new management, but they said they didn’t have it either.
When Alex came home, I told him what happened. “You made a copy though, right?” he said.
Crap. “Uh, no,” I admitted. Keep reading »
This is not a story of how abortion is right or wrong. Nor is it about what other people are doing with their bodies, or what I think about that (as though it’s any of my business). No: this is just my story of how Planned Parenthood made some hard times a little easier for me, and how “real” healthcare (i.e., via insurance plans) can make things difficult. Keep reading »
When we were kids, my younger brother Greg drove me bonkers. His favorite activity was lying like a corpse on my bed while I screamed, “GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” until I finally dragged him into the hallway. He also liked hiding, then jumping out and scaring me. He wailed like a cat in an imitation of my singing in the shower. I found out he read my diary. (How? By reading his.)
But we were still fiercely protective of each other, especially as the only Chinese kids in a neighborhood rampant with racism, and as we got older, we became more friends than squabbling siblings, banding together against our nagging parents and their disapproval of our non-traditional pursuits (book writing for me, screenwriting for him). But it was when I was going through the toughest time in my life that Greg became not just my ally but my voice of reason, my Cassandra, the one person I knew who was unafraid to tell me the truth. Keep reading »
I’d always been told my engagement ring was special.
“Very high quality,” said my mother-in-law, who bought only high-quality pieces for her collection. “You’re very lucky.”
“You don’t want to know how much I paid for the resetting,” said Joe, my fiance-then-husband.
I didn’t care how much the ring cost, whether it was a hundred bucks or 18 G’s like at Tiffany’s. All I cared was that Joe was finally taking that final step, that after years of disapproval, his family had accepted me. I was finally good enough in his mother’s eyes, and had one of her prized baubles to prove it.
Or so I thought. Keep reading »
I still don’t know why June* stopped talking to me.
We had been friends for over 10 years when she suddenly stopped answering my emails and calls. We hadn’t argued. She was OK. She simply disappeared from my life, and now five years later, I’m still obsessed with why. Keep reading »
I knew that I had gained some weight in the past few years. While I wasn’t 100 percent happy with my extra pudge, I didn’t feel motivated enough to lose it. Ten pounds wasn’t really that much. My boyfriend accepted me no matter what, and even my mother couldn’t tell I wasn’t as skinny as I once was. Besides, maybe I could find security somewhere besides my appearance, and as long as I was healthy, who cared about my chunky arms, the extra roll on my belly, and my bulbous hips and thighs?
Then I went for a check-up. “I need to talk to you,” my doctor said, “about your cholesterol.”
My breath caught. A shadow seemed to fall over us. Keep reading »