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Why I never identified myself as a feminist and why I do now

Being a woman has always been my core identity. I grew up first as a native Vietnamese woman in Vietnam before I grew up as a foreign woman of color in America. I’m not sure if that means any difference to you, but it’s a whole new world to me. And the difference is, simply, that intersection where sexism meets xenophobia and racism.

I love everything about being a woman, but I’m also not blind to the fact that I can come across as more assertive than how a woman ‘should’ be in traditional beliefs, especially for an Asian woman. When I was a little girl, I looked up to and was influenced a lot by my dad — he has always been a strong, powerful, loving, and trusted figure in my world. Many people who know both of us say that we share a lot in common, and though I’m not sure how the same characteristic combo would be perceived differently when it’s carried in the body of a man versus a woman, I always take it as a compliment. Growing up, it’s also naturally formed my own definition of femininity: equally powerful as masculinity, yet elevated by a higher sense of sensitivity, empathy, stamina, and with a sexy twist.

So I’ve always known what it’s like to be a woman, but despite the fact that I’ve been living overseas for more than a third of my life by now, what it’s like to be a foreign woman of color is still quite a new concept to me that I’ve only started to comprehend lately. Sexism is real, but in all honesty, it never made it to my priority list. If you ask any female foreigners studying or working in America or any women of color what issues they are most concerned about, chances are they will always pick the battles against racism and xenophobia first. It’s not because we don’t care about sexism or we are not impacted by it, but because while still being impacted by it, we are impacted much more directly by xenophobia and racism issues. So I didn’t understand what it meant to be a feminist enough to even consider myself a feminist, but if there’s anything that I know about feminism, is that in order to solve sexism issues, feminism must be intersectional to address a diverse spectrum of women’s issues across all origins, ages, races, ethnicities, classes, and religions — including trans women’s issues.

Like many other women, I watched AOC’s recent response to Ted Yoho’s verbal abuse when he called her a ‘f*cking bitch’ last week and felt every word in her speech. Not only did she speak up for all of us that this was what women were dealing with on a regular basis while also just trying to do our job, but she also said it perfectly: “[my parents] did not raise me to accept abuse from men.” Seeing her as a woman of color fighting yet another battle just on top of everything else and still rising is like seeing a true living masterpiece of art.

I’m not a Congresswoman so here's what I'm going to say: Men who use the “b” word to insult women or disrespect women by any means do it because they don’t have these two Bs: balls and brain. I’m also saying this unapologetically because men who have both would not be offended, but men who don’t have them would, and that’s already understood by default. Men who have these two Bs, though, need to step up and continue taking action to fight sexism until women don’t have to demand equality anymore.

If being a feminist means advocating for gender equality and women’s rights for all women of all backgrounds, then count me in as a 'feminist'.

And if you still don’t believe that intersectional/racial sexism is real, then why aren’t JONATHAN MATTINGLY, BRETT HANKINSON, and MYLES COSGROVE arrested when it’s already 136 days since they killed BREONNA TAYLOR?!


P.S.: Don’t ever let a man gaslit you. In fact, no one has permission to gaslit you. Your body, your mind, your heart, your soul are yours and not anyone else’s to manipulate.


Fun fact while I was writing this post earlier today: I was sitting by the river quite late at night and typing down my thoughts in full tunnel vision, then a Black woman approached me and said: "You look so familiar, you remind me of my daughter's friend Daisy — is that you?" (I was wearing a mask). Thinking it must be a mistake or something was off, I immediately said "No." However, she looked straight at me in the eyes and quietly whispered to me: "Please say 'Yes'. There's a man sitting on the bench next to you and he's been watching you for the past hour. I think he may be stalking you." When I realized why she approached me in the first place, I changed my 'script' to play along with her dialogue while gathering my stuff, and then walked away with her and her husband who was standing nearby. The man turned out to be stalking me indeed, as he still kept his eyes fixed on me while walking past us and even lingered around but we kept talking and showing no sign of separation. When the husband noticed that the guy finally left, he told me I should be safe then and we said goodbye. I couldn't thank them enough for trying to rescue me when I wasn't even aware of the situation; but more importantly, I was so moved because the woman who came to save me was a Black woman who already had been fighting tirelessly her entire life, especially during this time, and still, she watched over me.

Imagine how beautiful our world becomes when we all watch over each other.



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