October 7th, 2003

Privacy, Racism and Sexism


I have another interesting discussion with Steph and Antoin in #joiito on privacy, racisim and sexism yesterday. Yep, how much more difficult can it be?

The symbols for privacy and racisim is “1984” and Rosa Parks respectively. But not many Asian could relate to these primarly western concepts. For example, Chinese have an internal/external views on privacy (washing dirty linen in public) which is very different from the Big Brother Watching in 1984. Secondly, big brother aren’t the only one watching. In Japan, almost everyone keeps an eye on everyone else (an habit from feudal time).

[Reminder to self: Read about Michel Foucault]

Asian don’t have the same sensitivity to racial issues as an American either. It is assumed that one race is superior to another, depending who you speak to. And we could joke about it openly, e.g. I could say ‘Korean? Oh boy, they drink like fish!’ and people will laugh heartily without realizing I just made a very racist comment.

In another occassion, I was arguing against these undesirable behaviors and I got a curt reply “but these are what make us Chinese! Why should we embrace western concepts?”. And you know what, he has a point! These western concepts are barely 300 years where as Chinese culture goes back 3,000 years.

Steph also reminded me that growing up as a Chinese girl can be pretty tough. There are so many assumptions about what a girl should do or should not do. Asian man also often made sexist remarks even though they may not meant to be. (At least I did the first time I spoke to Steph…*sigh*)

I related a story about a Korean girl I met on the flight to Steph…

jseng> we were chating fine…she mention she is getting married so i congz her and ask her whats her plan after marriage
sniffles> and then?
jseng> she gave me that strange look and ask me fiercely ‘What do you mean?’ i was confused so i say, well whats the plan.. u know like u going to work or going to be housewife?
jseng> oh man..tts a mistake..it is downhill from there
sniffles> hm. what was she saying ?
jseng> ‘u sexist pig..what makes u think woman must become housewife?’
sniffles> she’s got a point you know :)
jseng> yes, she does…but u know, it never cross my mind

Men! How oblivious we are…Is there any hope for us, Asian men?

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