Asian Women Carnival launches

// 7 April 2009

The first Asian Women Carnival has been posted on the yennega community LiveJournal.

It’s a massive collection of posts, mostly from LJ, and I haven’t had time yet to read through everything, but some of the great posts I have read include bossymarmalade on cultural appropriation and ambientlight’s post about how the fact she’s Chinese Singaporean affects her experience studying at Oxford.

Yennega ciderpress says:

We, Asian women, cannot be defined solely by simply geography, from east to west, north to south, nor history nor culture nor ancestry. Different groups of people lay claim to and define themselves as “Asian”, Women who identify as and are identified as Asian may never set foot outside the Asian continent or indeed set foot on Asian soil. In the same way, different groups of Asians are excluded under this umbrella term I find so hard to define because of the way “Asian” is defined by dominant majority groups. In the U.S., Asian means East Asian. In the U.K., Asian means South Asian. The various different identities resulting from the multiple diaspora cultures and native cultures in South East Asia makes “Asian” a far more complex concept than it is in an overwhelmingly mono-ethnic Korea.

As an East Asian woman who grew up in the U.K., I know that my Asian-ness is not the same as my British-Sinhalese friend Anuka’s Asian-ness — I still hesitate to call myself Asian without heavy qualifiers when I am with British Asian friends. I know that my Asian-ness is not the same as my cousin’s, who has spent her whole life in Japan and I know it is not the same as my mother’s Asian-ness, even though she came to this country so many years ago. I look at the shortlist of women in this year’s Asian Women of Achievement Awards and I know that all of these Asian women have come from different backgrounds and negotiated the spaces around them in different ways to achieve excellence.

In order to know myself and to know others, in order to separate out the cultural expectations from the west and the east on who we are and how we should be as Asian women, in order to shrug off the responsibility imposed by being presumed to be representative of all Asian women, in order to see other Asian women as they are and not how I think they should be, I think it is important to hear from other Asian women’s voices from all over the world, in various different stages of their lives talk about their identity and how it touches on various aspects of their lives. I think this is essential to truly understand the cultural heritage that is part of me and how to respectfully find and perhaps rebuild a cultural identity that belongs to me instead of accepting the consensus that I am a perpetual foreigner in every land. I believe that listening to and talking with as many Asian women as I can will help me not feel so alone, unknown and isolated, it will help me define who I am as an individual Asian woman, rather than be defined and it will help me to preserve what has been handed down to me in blood and bone and song.

Comments From You

siriana // Posted 7 April 2009 at 7:56 pm

A small correction re: attribution. Yennenga is the name of the community/shared journal in which the above post was made. The author of the post you extract above goes by ciderpress.

Q // Posted 8 April 2009 at 3:08 am

I really like that this issue is being addressed, especially reading it in combination with the latest article on racism. I myself am America, and my mother is of East Asian Descent (Chinese, my father is Italian and French Canadian, but American born. I feel this is also relevant simply because I don’t think any ethnicity should be ignored) and there are major problems in identifying myself, and having to identify myself. I identify differently with white kids(it’s mostly white kids), [East] Asian kids,and South Asian kids. Especially for young women (and all other aged women) being able to find people to identify with socially is crucial to surviving, and ethnicity most definitely plays a part in this. I think it’s rather unfortunate that there has to be all of these judgments based on race, but it happens. Even within my family, on my mom’s side, it has been made obvious that I am the “whitest” and so many people I meet ask me if I’m really sure I’m Asian. They then ask, “oh wait, are you Chinese or Japanese?” …because apparently all East Asians are interchangeable. No matter what happens, race ends up being a big part of social identification. I have friends that think it would be cool to have to check off the “other” box when applying to college, but they don’t understand how degrading it really is, to not have a box, to have it so “mixed” is not recognized as a possibility. Ethnic identification is something that ends up either crating or impeding understanding between friends, making it harder to find more acceptance if you’re not the norm, and this, I feel, is something that applies to all women because finding social acceptance is hard enough as it is…then race just makes it that much harder.

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