9.14.2010

The Grand Narrative and AMR: Hello. I'm a woman.

Okay. There is a whole, whole, whole lot going on here, with this post over at The Grand Narrative, which has already been carried over from this conversation over at Noona Blog. Regrettably, my life is in somewhat of a hectic state at the moment, and I don't have the time to comb through it all as thoroughly as I would like to. With that in mind, I just wanted to point out that, while The Grand Narrative has done, as usual, a fantastic job representing the female voice on the issue, from both a Korean and Western perspective, I still feel like Mr. Jake of Asian Male Revolutions (a cause I avidly support, for obvious reasons, if you know me at all, and a worthy one at that) could use a little more female rebuttal.

Are you ready for a completely inappropriate-for-the-internet personal anecdote, which I haven't made public up to this point? Good. Here it comes.

Last year, I had a very close male Korean friend. My friend made friends with a gyopo, who, being that he lived exactly in the middle of my place and my friend's place, started hanging out with us a lot. I really liked the guy, and enjoyed a lot of our conversations together, even though we, both being strongly opinionated people, could lock horns over an issue every now and then. It was always friendly. Until something came up that I couldn't abide.

One night while I was sitting in the restaurant with the two, my phone buzzed with a text from Smalltown. I was overly tired and stressed out from work, and it was nearing 11 pm. I hadn't wanted to go out to meet them, but they had showed up outside my apartment unannounced, and persuaded me to give up at least an hour of my time. I knew it was a bad idea from the beginning, but I felt like I couldn't possibly end up being more bitchy in person than it would be to just send them away. Turns out, I was wrong.

I sighed in exasperation, as my phone continued to buzz. The boys questioned me about who was blowing up my phone, and I filled them in. I believe the gyopo, who we'll call G, made some off-the-cuff comment about there being some kind of romantic involvement between the two of us. I informed him that Smalltown actually had a girlfriend. Just a note to clarify, in case you don't know, Smalltown is a foreigner.

"Oh. Is she Korean?"

"Yes."

"Hm."

"'Hm' what?"

"Oh nothing. Call me conservative or whatever, but I still feel uncomfortable when I see a white guy with a Korean girl."

I should have gotten up and left right then and there. But I'm me. So that didn't happen.

"I'm sorry. What?"

"Well, it just reminds me of Comfort Women."

I'll stop using quotes at this point, as this conversation took place nearly a year ago, and I'm not sure I can be quite accurate in direct quotes. Suffice it to say, it took about five minutes for the conversation to escalate. I tried my honest best to give G a chance to make his points and have his say, but it only got worse from there. He informed me that:

  • Korean women date white men for social esteem.
  • Korean women being systematically raped by the Japanese is exactly like a white man and a Korean woman in a mutual adult relationship.
  • Seeing white women date Korean men also made him uncomfortable because
  • A Korean man dating a white woman is an indication of self-hatred but
  • It was okay for him, a gyopo, to date white women, because he was Westernized, via culture but
  • It was not okay for female gyopos to date white men, because they were only doing it because it was what the media told them to do, and the white men were using them based on somehow concurrent ideas of Asian women being simultaneously submissive and slutty.

In summary, then: White men can only date white women. Or at least, not Korean women. White women may also not date Korean men. Korean men may only date Korean women. Female gyopos may only date male gyopos or Korean men.

Somehow, amazingly, the only category that escaped his rigid system of morality based judgments about interracial/cultural relationships was the male gyopo. AKA, himself. He was allowed to date whomever he wished. None of the rest of us are free to form love-based relationships with who we choose, or who chooses us.

Isn't that convenient?

My Korean friend sat there smiling silently throughout this entire ideal. I don't know exactly how much he understood, or agreed with, but I'm quite certain the atmosphere shift would've been impossible to miss. After another 20 minutes or so of having let the subject drop, when G conveniently switched back to Korean, and trying to get the fuck over it, I informed the gentlemen that I would be going.

That conversation pretty much ended my relationship with both of them.

What got to me the most about the entire evening, upon reflection, was actually the very first moment it started. Without having ever met someone who he knew was my friend, or his Korean girlfriend, this man had equated their relationship (which he knew absolutely nothing about) with rape. Smalltown couldn't be further from the stereotypical idea of a white man charging into Asia, with his fetish tucked under his arm, ready to capture his first submissive, naive and easily charmed little victim. I wouldn't abide his company for one single second if there was even an ounce of that present in him. He is remarkably respectful to all women, extremely well-balanced in his view of gender relations, and couldn't give a fuck in the world what race his girlfriend is, so long as she genuinely loves him for who he is. And who he is, is incredibly worthy of being loved.

While I agree with nearly all of the points in theory that Jake has made, and I see where it all is coming from, the point is, categorizing people's relationships with other people based on race is not okay. It's not okay from one end, and it's not okay from the other. And I find it disturbing that it seems this "revolution" in the Asian male's image of himself has to come at the cost of feminsim, in his view. Not only has he placed Asian women in a shockingly condescending box with his characterization of their relationships with white men, he has also shown a shocking ignorance of how the Korean media treats the image of white women. To say that it's the pot calling the kettle black is an understatement of epic proportions. And you can argue that Korean media influence is not as prevalent and wide-reaching as Western media influence until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't remove the facts of the situation, or what those facts mean for those of us who are living this life. Just as nothing can remove the reality of his experience as an Asian-American male.

You don't have to negate the one to validate the other. And if his revolution is to be a successful one, he'd do well to acknowledge the fact that Asian men are not the only ones who have ever seen the short end of the stick. In fact, you might call it a ripple in the overall scheme of things, considering what it is women, both white and Asian, have had to overcome (and are still overcoming) in both Western and Asian society and media.

Welcome to our world, Jake. Thanks for being part of the problem. So long as you promote the idea that you have the right to categorize the choices that women make in regards to the race of the person they choose to love, and why they are making those choices, you will only be enforcing what it is you are supposedly taking a stand against. This is not a male issue -- you don't get to have all the control. I suggest a little self-examination and consideration of the powerful allies women can be, given that we've been doing this for a lot longer than you have. At the moment, you're coming off as a bit of a scorned frat boy. Not attractive, regardless of ethnicity. In the meantime, and in the case that you don't see it in your best interest to adjust your views, please keep in mind that you don't get to speak for us, and our relationships, or our motivations. We are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves.

26 comments:

Burndog said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I love my girlfriend...not because she's Korean...nor in spite of it. I love her because of who she is. She loves me very much the same way. It has nothing to do with skin colour. Nothing at all. I don't have 'yellow fever' or any of the other semi-retarded frat boy terms. She isn't some self esteemless 'banana' yellow on the inside but white on the inside. We're just two people who like each other. Why is that so fucking difficult for some fucktards to understand?

gwern said...

> "Oh nothing. Call me conservative or whatever, but I still feel uncomfortable when I see a white guy with a Korean girl."

It seems to me that this fellow's problem is attempting to come up with rationalizations for this gut feeling. If he had simply stopped there, there's nothing to end the relation over.

It would be as if he had said he feels uncomfortable when seeing spiders and feels an urge to smash them flat, although objectively he ought to like spiders because they eat all the insects that bug him.

The take-away lesson, I think, is to not lie to yourself & everyone else by pretending that every emotion/belief/thought is 100% correct and justified. Most aren't.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, some guy who's been rejected a few too many times cutting down women and denying the idea that they could ever possibly make their own choices. That's always good for a laugh, thanks INP. Sigh. It's the media! Colonialism! That's why women don't like you, Jake. It's not because you're an asshole or anything.

Angela said...

I'll have to find this dumbass when I get to Korea and kick him in the face...what a retard. What I want to ask these close-minded people is...what about us half Koreans, half Americans. Who are we supposed to marry? I doubt I will be able to find a Half Korean/Half American that's ancestry comes from Whales with a little bit of scottish...in his eyes I guess I'm fucked...lol

Jimmy said...

This is a very well written argument. Anyone who sides with 'what's-his-face' needs to think twice.

Also, I can't help but agree with ananymous, clearly he's experienced one too many rejections.

Tom said...

Angela, marry me! We can make half korean, welsh scottish german french-canadian mutts together!

The Sanity Inspector said...

Whenever the subject come up--which thankfully is quite rarely--I'll acknowledge that yes my Korean wife and I are a mixed couple: I'm Methodist and she's Presbyterian.

Won said...

You cannot agree with Jakes' points and still say that this issue is restricted to the feelings of individuals. Relationships between Koreans and whites, "friendships" or otherwise, are inherently oppressive, since they are founded on unequal positions, as Jake explained. This goes beyond what whites may feel, or think they feel as individuals. There is simply no way a white/Korean relationship can avoid being harmful to the Korean side. Suggesting that any Korean would honestly want to enter in to such a relationship is the height of racism.

If the South Korean government was really concerned with the well-being of its citizens, it would make mixed relationships illegal and drastically restrict the number of foreigners allowed to live there. This would allow far less opportunity for confused Koreans to get into destructive situations. There is quite a lot of public support for such measures already.

This should also apply to Koreans living in america. The best possible thing would be for them to form their own institutions within their communities, particularly schools. This will help to reduce mixing as well as exploitation by whites.

The fundamental issue is this: Koreans should _not_ be lovers with whites. They should _not_ be friends with whites. Ideally, they should have as few relations with whites as possible. Koreans dating whites should end their relationships. Koreans married to whites should divorce them. Moreover, they should end any so-called friendships they have with whites. This is the only way for them to stop being exploited and oppressed.

I'm no Picasso said...

Won -- While your idea is not a bad one, I have to say that it may not entirely align with Jake's. While he seems to be quite understanding of the need for Asian women to be protected from white men, due to their inherently vulnerable position of child-like stupidity, just one quick glance at his site will make it clear that he's quite in favor of being able, as an Asian male, to have a white woman draped around his neck like an accessory.

Furthermore, as far as the harmful relationship between whites and Koreans in South Korea, it's important to remember that part of being a white woman in Korea is having to quickly climb out of a taxi late at night once you get in and the driver (who is a man you are now alone in a car with) asks you if you are from Russia (ie, if you are a prostitute), and suggests that perhaps you would like to make a stop by a love motel. When you get out of that car late at night, you may then have to walk down a street past drunk men who call out all kinds of lecherous comments in your direction, while also at times trying to physically touch you or follow you home. They do this because of television shows such as Misuda (Chatting With Beauties) where they've been taught that white women living in South Korea are not only cute and stupid, but also fawn over the idea of Korean men while denigrating white men as obvious sexual predators.

All of this is part of a necessary process in which women of both races can be successfully put in their places, so that Asian men may reclaim their superior position. White men in America have been able to be superior, condescending and objectifying toward women for as long as anyone can remember. Asian men must fight for the same rights, if they are to be considered equals, in their own minds. Therefore, a certain amount of mixing is necessary. But only in the specific ways that Jake defines it.

Anonymous said...

Won- The segregation you call for in the SK and America sounds racist to me and undoubtably many others.

I'm no Picasso said...

Anon -- I believe Won was being just a tad tongue-in-cheek.

gwern said...

I sure hope he was. I would point out that Poe's law (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe%27s_Law) is as operational for racists as it is for creationists.

I'm no Picasso said...

Well, he many not have realized how much that bit about reducing the number of foreigners in South Korea may have hit home, given how we constantly hear flutterings of that variety (whether based on genuine public opinion or not) out of the press and many other sources here. He did basically take part of what Jake actually said and carry it to an extreme. But I think the website he links to, which is quite extraordinary, makes a bit of a point for him.

Anonymous said...

Won - Sorry, just for clarification. When discussing racial separatism and "Korea" -- your use of the word "Korea" refers to "North Korea," right?

I'm no Picasso said...

Haha. Thank fuck that last anonymous commenter deleted his comment. He was about to get torn a new one. Fucking clown....

Roboseyo said...

gwern: dammit you beat me to "Poe's Law" - that "Without a smiley or other sign to ignorate humor, it is impossible to differentiate a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing"

my favorite example: "Gimme That Christian Side Hug"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_Oj0-splZw

Korean-American said...

I understand the frustration.

Yes, Koreans can be an indecent, intolerant lot. Mitigating factor? Peoples all over are xenophobic. Here in US, we're building several hundred miles of scalable fence to prevent the illegals (code for dirty Mexicans who ruin things for hard working Americans) from crossing the near 2000 mile border. Ask the French how they feel towards Muslims...or Brits...or Americans...or everyone. Egyptians want to erase Israel from the map.

Yes, Koreans misplace their anger. They get upset over the fact that a white boy from Kentucky with broken English is preferred over a qualified Korean-American graduate to teach promising young children. Subsequently, they blame white people generally as opposed to addressing the problem, which is that Koreans hired the country boy to begin with. Mitigating factor? We all blame what's convenient, especially when the culprit is ourselves.

Racism is everywhere all the time; how it pervades through all cultures is an indication of its force. Perhaps one way of combating it would be to refrain from playing the blame game by painting Korean males as insecure sexists with broad strokes.

I'm not accusing you, blogger of I'm no Picasso, of having played the blame game. Other bloggers who referred to you did. I actually enjoyed your anecdote, though it seems to me unclear just what exactly was the reason for not seeing the boy you took a fancy to again. Something to do with guilt by association? Mitigating factor? Smiling and nodding does not necessarily mean "I agree." It can also mean "Holy shit, I can't believe what this guy is saying but I should be polite."

Dunk said...

"Koreans misplace their anger. They get upset over the fact that a white boy from Kentucky "

Digression:
One of the best ways to know you are talking to a black or white bigot is the word "boy".
It slips by the notice of most, but has anyone else ever noticed the frequency of white men being referred to as "boys" by non-white men? A bigoted Chinese-Canadian I worked with was in the habit of this, and I always made a point to work the word back into my answer, like 'Well, you Asian boys... etc etc' back to him - just to point out to him how demeaning, patronizing and bigoted it was.

The key point in no-Picasso's post is her observation that what Asian men who hold these views are actually angling for is for all to acknowledge their superiority. All this talk of colonialism/racism/blah blah is just a tool, a word club trying to make those stubborn inferiors BOW DOWN TO ME ALREADY!

I'm no Picasso said...

Dunk... no offense, but based on what you've read here, I would really suggest not getting me started on exactly how much discrimination *white men* have suffered at the hands of other people expecting to be treated like and thought of as people. You haven't quite crossed that line, but you're definitely tap dancing on it. I'm sorry somebody once referred to you as "boy" and that hurt your feelings. But maybe you should stop and think about why a Chinese-American man might feel the need to occasionally make a small barb such as that. Maybe because the only time he ever sees himself mirrored in any kind of media image, it's as an accented, smelly, backwards, impotent, horny, small-dicked, athletically challenged, wok-yielding delivery boy.

Does it excuse him referring to you as a boy in a possibly passive-aggressively demeaning manner? No. But a little perspective on your part might not go amiss.

Dunk said...

No. I refuse to think of myself and other people as collective groups, "with perspective" as you say. It amounts to the thesis that a group of people were awful to another group of people in some other place and time, therefore certain individuals in the here and now get their behaviour and views privileged, get a different set of rules than everyone else.

I reject that entirely and nothing anyone can say will make me accept it, so save your breath "before (you) get going". I reject group responsibility entirely.

The media argument doesn't hold up to scrutiny, by the way. I see strong, capable intelligent Asian characters all over the media, from Law and Order to Lost to ER to Grey's Anatomy to every movie Jet Li has ever made to the woman who reads the news on my City news every night. Are they all over North American media, in every show? No. As 5-8% of the population, it's unreasonable to expect that.

The beef seems to be that EVERY Asian male roll should be heroic, noble, and inspiring acknowledgement of the wonder that is Jake. That even one Long Dong Duc or whatever his name was in 16 Candles is evidence of horrible racism. Well get used to life because that is not going to happen and no group is above comedy. Every group gets its share of clown characters - you think Kevin James isn't ridiculous? Do I consider him an affront to my some bs theoretical concept of 'white manhood' ? Pshaw. Get over yourselves, Jakes of North America.

I don't suffer discrimination for one minute, and my feelings are never hurt by people I don't respect, so put that snideness to bed. I refuse to shut up and allow it, and I hold everyone I meet to the same expectations of behavior with - start with me and you'll get it right back, that's the best policy.

Anything else is a kind of weird "dhimmitude" of ethnicity, if you ask me. Why you buy into this concept when you have seen where it practically leads to (the original event related in your post)is beyond me.

Dunk said...

Sorry, got my blogs mixed up a bit. Jake is a poster in another forum spouting "the media hasn't been nice to us therefore I get a free pass to mouth any hateful nonsense about whites I want".

Korean-American said...

Just to clarify:

What I meant by "white boy" was just that - a white male under the age of 21. If you haven't reached majority, you are a boy/girl or teen or adolescent. To be sure, I refer to 19 year old Koreans as Korean/Asian boys sometimes. It was not my intention to have one read "boy" as code for some insult.

Furthermore, the point of mentioning the "white boy" was to remind Koreans to consider the consequences of their actions before blaming innocent folks.

Dunk, you misread what I wrote and labeled me a bigot in the process. You appear to be hypersensitive to cues of slight committed by others on the basis of color, ethnicity, or race. You know, such things actually occur, right? I daresay, a self-respecting person would acknowledge the reality and refuse to participate.

I'm no Picasso said...

No, you're right Dunk. The only problem there is in the world is Chinese-American men referring to you as 'boy', which you totally have the right to write a three page rant about. Everything else is over-exaggerated and a result of people making victims out of themselves. I don't know what we would do without people who have suffered such things as you have to set all the rest of us straight on this account. We'll all follow your example and just suck it up and deal with it from now on.

Dunk said...

"No, you're right Dunk. The only problem there is in the world is Chinese-American men referring to you as 'boy', "

Oh yes. The point of my post is that someone personally calling me boy is the only problem in the world. My rejection of collective guilt and collective responsibi0lity is a canard disguising that.

3 pages? - I'm a very fast typist, is all. Same stream-of-consciousness, more words on the screen...

Dunk said...

Korean-American, you seem to be telling me you think high school boys are taking jobs in South Korea teaching English.

Korean-American said...

Dunk, this may tax your credulity, since it appears you're bent on believing what you wish to believe, but, in 2007, I met a 19 year old American from Kentucky who taught English in Korea.

Wait for it... wait for it... GASP. You mean an individual with a GED who is old enough to vote, leave home, attend college, or even join the military to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan can teach English in a foreign country? No. Get over yourself.