Greater than the sum of one’s many selves

Being an Asian woman living far away from her native land, I might have gained some experiential awareness of the ‘intersectionality‘ of identities, but to be frank it is only recently that I have started studying and reflecting seriously on the concept.

Once something registers in your mind, you realise you are in fact surrounded by it. There have been a few particularly memorable moments, personally.

# When the South Korean presidential candidate with the highest rating Moon (fashionably) declared himself a feminist but refused to support an LGBT-related bill, an activist in the audience cried out: “I’m a woman and I’m homosexual. […] Can you split my human rights into halves?

# danah boyd’s latest article ‘Failing to See, Fueling Hatred‘, which contains the line: “I grew up with identity politics, striving to make sense of intersectional politics and confused about what it meant to face oppression as a woman and privilege as a white person.

# Stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo‘s joke: “As a woman I wanted to break that glass ceiling, you know. But as a Mexican I want to clean that shit too.

# Another joke I heard in 2009, with reference to yet another brilliant xkcd strip: “Does ‘All Asians are good at maths’ cancel ‘All girls suck at maths’ in the case of an Asian girl?

# And then the very today. Conversations on Twitter around a sweet viral video took a surreal turn as the Asian woman in the clip was automatically assumed to be a “nanny“, “oppressed”, or “emotionally abused”. Blimey.

+

# Julie Delpy rules Blackness “easier” than womanhood (Lola Jacobs, Vibe, 26 January 2018) […] “as if there are no Black women”.

I don’t hate women candidates — I just hated Hillary and coincidentally I’m starting to hate Elizabeth Warren (Devorah Blachor, McSweeney’s, 2 January 2019)

# ‘My merit and my Blackness are fused to each other’ (Emma Pettit, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 January 2019)

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