Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Don't See Skin Color or Eye Shape

Growing up, I never really felt a sense of my Asian-ness. One time, when my sister told my parents she wanted to be a journalist, my mother pulled us aside and started crying and screaming that as long as we live "the white people" will never see us as one of them. My sister ended up studying human biology. I never really made that connection until now.

Society (at least in DC) has never made me feel different for being Asian and I never felt a strong societal pressure telling me that being gay was anything but ok. Ironically, gay society (which I have only recently been immersed in) has made me keenly, and at times painfully, aware of both. To be gay and Asian in DC is to be discriminated against. And this is obnoxious because gays bitch a big game about how they want to be treated as equals and cry to Lady Gaga about acceptance, but gay men are some of the most prejudiced people I've ever met.

In terms of a preference towards Asians, men typically fall into three categories. There are guys that just come out and say it. Per the essential question on OKCupid, "Would you strongly prefer to go out with someone of your own race?" they answer, "Yes" unabashedly or "No, not strongly..." They say things in person like "no offense, but I'm not into Asians." Even so, the honesty can be refreshingly efficient. At least I know not to bother. 

The second group of guys like to point out "I taught English in North Korea and I built village pumps in East Africa... I'm not racist." In light of their service, it's probably true that they aren't racist. But not being racist and being able to see [love] somebody beyond their race isn't quite the same. In the end, they are colorblind only in principle. In practice, they never go out with ethnic guys and usually fall for that tall, lanky white guy that makes clothes out of hemp and plays in a kickball league.

Lastly, there are the guys that actually are into Asians. But in typical gift/curse fashion with them it doesn't feel natural or organic. They don't see you as just another person that they happen to like and happens to be Asian. They like you because you are Asian. They want to speak to you in Chinese and discuss anime and K-pop. I don't even listen to K-pop. Will somebody please tell me what the fuck is K-pop? Does K stand for Korea?

I sometimes talk to white people about my racial qualms because it's interesting to get their perspective and, because I know it's there, I kind of just want to get them to admit they are the tiniest bit racist. They usually just laugh everything off and tell me that racism in 2012 is unfathomable. "Oh my god shut up, don't say that! You just need more confidence." I don't really know how to dignify a blatant attempt to sweep a legitimate issue under the rug but it's safe to say that white people don't want to discuss race issues because, for them, when nobody talks about it, it doesn't exist. 

I realize these are blanket statements about race that do not necessarily hold true in all cases. Maybe guys don't avoid me because of my race. Maybe it's because I talk too much about Mariah Carey and Desperate Housewives and the lingering racial issues of the 21st century. Maybe I do, in fact, lack confidence. Maybe, just maybe, I say "maybe" too much. I'm also aware that I'm presenting a very limited perspective: scorned Asian challenging the oppressive white man. There are plenty of other ways to look at this, like, why am I so obsessed with white people?

My roommate's parents recently came to visit from New Hampshire, where they've lived all their lives. Their curiosity about my "culture" was kind of endearing but it also spoke to a lack of exposure that is probably the culprit behind all of this unpleasantness. They asked me if I "liked being Asian in America." Not knowing how to answer that without bawling my eyes out and reciting a paragraph from The Joy Luck Club, I told them it's had its ups and downs. 

This is when his mother said, "How could it possibly be bad, you have all that incredible food." And then his father asked me why there isn't a word in Chinese for love.

Friday, February 24, 2012

But Really My Main Issue Is His Mouth

Remember when the Jonas Brothers came out and everyone thought they'd be as unsuccessful as The Mofatts but then they were actually kind of successful but then they faded back into Mofatt-level obscurity? That's the presidential campaign trajectory that I envision for Santorum. 

The first time I saw Santorum, he was last on the left in a long line of circus acts engaging in one of the early republican debates. I only recall two things about him. 1) He looked like my genetics TA, but considerably less confident. 2) His stage presence was so shrinking that he actually made Ron Paul not look like Estelle Getty for once. I wrote him off immediately, like I wrote off Adele when she guest starred on Ugly Betty or when Rihanna had a concert in the ghetto ass shopping mall in my hometown whose anchor stores include Marshalls, Wet Seal, and Ruby Tuesday.

Inexplicably, he's created a viable candidacy since then. Well, it's not completely inexplicable, given how weak the republican field is and the inherent stupidity of Americans. But seriously, do people not see his weird fucking mouth and his smarmy smile. He does this thing where he purses his lips and his chin disappears into his neck. I haven't seen something so disgusting and tight since I took that picture of my asshole with my iPhone. Just kidding, I've never done that and there is no evidence of it anywhere.

There are more substantial reasons why he belongs on a soapbox in a Power Ranger costume on the corner of the Chinatown Metro station instead of in the oval office. Most of it has to do with his religious zeal, which I feel like he thinks is really endearing and cute. But actually, it's like, not.

He touts his obsession with the "ideal" family/society/government like some cracked out whore trying to sell his utopian concept that exists under the freeway bridge. In reality, his ideal is just a rehashing of 1950s values repackaged with a doomsday ultimatum. He would have us all living in Pleasantville before Tobey and Reese show up. He's Kirsten bitch mother from Mona Lisa Smile.

Santorum has religious blinders on. He wants everything and everyone to be a certain way that would give him, (and the rest of the rich, white, catholic men in society) a sense of power and security. "Put women where they belong and gay people where we can't see them!" Don't let his damage-control backtracking on Fox News fool you, he wants women out of the army and into aprons. He wants black people to stop being so poor and gays to stop being so gross. But all of this conversation is baffling to me because who is the president to tell us how to live our lives? For somebody who so readily vilifies the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khoemeini, he sure is acting like him - even more offensive in a country where church are state are supposedly separate.

All his interviews have done nothing but allow him to flesh out the haughty contradictions in his platform. Like his unwillingness to acknowledge the needs of the poor, even though their tax dollars paid for his lobbyist salary. Like his argument that global warming is concoted by the government to get their hands in our lives, even when he wants a hand in every woman's uterus. Or his readiness to welcome every last baby that is conceived, which is tempered by a lack of  support for a stronger welfare system and universal healthcare for all the little miracles born to poor and neglectful parents. "Uh, it's a bit much," I imagine him saying, right before he flashes his trademark smile.