Saturday, September 27, 2008

a list of excitement for the (so-cal or) san diego-centric

1) The San Diego Asian Film Festival

2) Filipina/o American History Month!

3) Stop the Traffick Jam!

4) The San Diego Fil Am Fest

5) The Pacific Islander Festival in San Diego

6) For everyone! What with all of the lovable (anti-)Sarah Palin commentary, I had to encourage others to read her blog, too.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Finally! Sheesh

It's about damn time that the Bay Area Railroad Transit (BART) extends to San Jose! Friends and cousins woulda been a lot more accessible growing up as a South Bay Area Pinay teen without a license or car. Freedom wouldn't have been as coveted and rebelling wouldn't have been as instinctive. Well, maybe. Do you know about how many times I wish I could have just hopped on the BART to explore the rest of the Bay? San Jose is a part of the Bay Area even though folks try to say otherwise (I've never run into that kinda mess, but I know some who have). It would have been a hell of a lot easier to seemingly escape or at least be physically absent from my present if the BART in San Jose was around when I was younger. The stigma of public transportation probably wouldn't linger with me still. It would have been fun to learn about how to operate the BART in addition to the VTA in elementary school. 

The point is, this promise to invest in public transportation aids and positively impacts communities that seek alternative means to get to work (especially since a large population of the people you rub elbows with on public transportation are from poor and working class communities). Now people can foresee a tangible backup to the increase in gas prices. Also, a BART extension into (a) San Jose stations(s) would alleviate traffic, present more traveling and commuting options, offer a unique experience in terms of the interpersonal interaction and accessibility to the rest of the Bay.  If we're talking about diversity by mere representation (which shouldn't always be the case), then tell me where the hell else people could see an old Asian man with his farmer's market goods sittin pretty and comfortable next to a white woman in a business suit? Where else can you see a Cal student casually conversing with a high school teacher taking his students on a field trip? Backyards get bigger and worlds become smaller with this $239 million project. Talk about sprawl; San Jose is an urban city that can seem disconnected to the rest of Bay, but now, and most importantly, the rest of the Bay can revel in San Jose's greatness. 

State approves $239 million for BART extension to San Jose

By Gary Richards
Mercury News
Fulfilling a promise made nearly a decade ago, the California Transportation Commission on Thursday unanimously approved spending $239 million to help build the BART extension into Santa Clara County.

The money will be parceled out over the next five years. The state has now committed $760 million to the $6.1 billion project, matching the amount that Gov. Gray Davis pledged in 2000.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Breaking Down the Sexualization of Asian Women Stereotypes

This is a re-post from another blog. Forgive me for the hiatus - I'm getting [re]centered.

When you say, 'I like Filipinas'
Um, how should I reply?
Do you expect exotic booty (cough) beauty
Or do you respect the proud Pinay?
When you have a thing for Asians,
What is it that you seek?
China Doll, Geisha Girl, Comfort Woman
To be subservient and meek?
Uh-uh, get off your Oriental fetish
Sexist, racist mentalities
Another time, another rhyme
I'll break down these complexities
- excerpt from "Come On"
by Joy De La Cruz

The complexities of understanding the hypersexualization and exoticized image of a Pilipina woman stem from a very gendered and racialized history rooted in practices that have treated women (of color) unfairly and unequally. Looking at historical events in Asian American history and highlighting Western stereotypes help explain the cat calls and holleration that many women experience today.

"The Orient" alludes to a physical location which actually serves as the site of mens' sexual fantasies over women. It is also an imagined space that was created and seen as mysterious. Because European countries and its explorers were fascinated with the idea of a 'New World' and were seeking to expand their empires, the desire to learn and know about newer lands such as Asia constructed what is Orientalism. This fascination brought about exaggerated recalls, where explorers were able to paint their images of Asian peoples as strange attractive, or exotic. Orientalism entails 'othering' people by seeing them as not the same, not as equal but of a different kind (in this case, people) and therefore inherently inferior.

In colonial Asia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for example, female sexuality was a site for colonial rulers to assert their moral superiority and thus their natural and legitimate right to rule. The colonial rhetoric of moral superiority was based on the construction of colonized Asian women as subjects of sexual desire and fulfillment and European colonial women as the paragons of virtue and the beaters of a redefined colonial morality. - Professor Yen Le Espiritu in her book Homebound

The China Doll stereotype portrays Asian women as subservient, compliant and eager to please. It also implies that all Asian-identified women are ethnically Chinese and like dolls for children, they are meant to be seen and played with; their value and worth relies solely on their appearances. This is problematic because it does not recognize an Asian woman's intelligence or personality and it allows people to assume (i.e. judge based on looks). People may specify Chinese due to the fact that the Chinese were among the first groups from Asia to migrate to the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Geisha Girl stereotype is reduced down to that of a prostitute or sex entertainer in Western culture. This indicates that women are valued and used for their bodies for aesthetic pleasure. On the contrary, a Geisha in Japanese culture is a type of social status similar to an artist. They are trained in developing certain social skills such as dancing, singing, tea-making, conversing and serving. It is easy, as a Westerner, to overlook the art, diligence and hard work that goes into certain tasks and make erratic comparisons. It is even easier to mistake said tasks for things of lesser value - we have to remember that the meanings are not the same in Japanese culture and in American culture.

Comfort Women were forced into prostitution and into Japanese military brothels during World War II. Comfort Stations were sanctioned by the Japanese Imperial Army and were sites of forced sex and rape. Comfort Women were sex slaves, sometimes kidnapped or taken from their own homes to "comfort" military men during wartime. The way that governments then seemingly viewed and utilized womens' bodies mirrors the way that some men view Asian women, as dehumanized commodities for "comfort" or "release."

There are circumstances where third world women must (as a result of societal forces and not individual choice) sell themselves to men for marriage or to work to financially support themselves and their families. For some, this is extreme, but really, it's a matter of survival. Pilipina women are the number one export of the Philippines. Rice, fruits, and unfortunately, skin-whitening products are exports, not women. Not Pilipina women, and not deservingly. Pilipina mail-order brides are not just a stereotype, they are real people who have to provide for others. They experience a reality built from imperialism, Orientalism, colonization, Americanization, pain, and poverty. The thing about hustling is that it is associated with survival and a do-what-it-takes attitude.

The hypersexualization of Asian womyn is one result of a sexist and racist mentality that can be historically traced as a phenomenon that lingers in our society still. It is evident in our everyday experiences (as Westerners) and has penetrated our own minds. Stereotypes that we know, hold, believe, use or laugh at can be broken down and reveal truth. Historically, there have been ways in which womyn have had meaning, men and situations forced upon them. In many situations, as simple as dropping pick-up lines or mentioning a fetish for Pilipina womyn, these womyn are silenced, left unheard and without a voice to defend themselves.

So my request
And expectation then to all nice guys and real men
When your boy is acting like an ass hole
Call out and correct your friend
- excerpt from "Come On"
by Joy De La Cruz

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