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Asian Women Have Bad Days, Too

Asian Women Have Bad Days, Too

The Atlanta shootings on March 16, 2021 make us wonder, how does a person get to react after “a really bad day”? As Asian women, we have no lived experiences that teach us to treat homicide like therapy. On our absolute worst days, we respond to infinite not-so-micro-aggressions in ways that never make headlines.

Like when people can’t pronounce my Asian name,
I do not kill the people who make fun of my name.
Instead, I repeat my name s-l-o-w-l-y and LOUDLY over and over, only to be called “Mai-Ling” the next time I see them.

When my professor asks, “Can you bring rice to the potluck?”
I do not kill her.
Instead, I bring the damn rice because I do not trust white people and their “rice.”

When the new dean introduces himself with a wink and says, “You’re from Guam? I was stationed there. Best time of my life!” and starts to rub my thigh,
I do not kill him.
Instead, I pretend that another administrator is calling and quickly make my way to the other side of the room.

When he asks me, “Do you shave down there? I hear Asian women don’t need to shave,”
I do not kill him.
Instead, I politely block him and continue swiping.

When a random stranger says he is impressed by my “big for an Asian” boobs,
I do not kill him.
Instead, I pretend that I do not understand English and walk away.

When I’m in labor and the anesthesiologist asks my husband, “Can she speak English?”
I do not kill the anesthesiologist.
Instead, I focus on pushing this human watermelon out of my pinhole of a vaginal canal.

When kids from my all-white kindergarten class bully me over a spam and egg sandwich,
I do not go ham on a bunch of six-year-olds.
Instead, I ask my mom to please pack me “white people food” from now on.

When I am learning how to disarm a shotgun in Krav Maga, and a French classmate pins me with the fake weapon and starts groping me,
I do not kill him.
Instead, I freeze and start to dissociate from this familiar violation.

When that same French guy announces that he has just returned from Vietnam to do “so many things to young girls that would be considered illegal here,”
I still do not kill him.
Instead, I follow everyone else’s cue and ignore his comments. Eventually, I stop coming to class on those nights.

When I’m in my early 20s, I go to my first gynecology appointment to get a prescription for birth control pills to help address painful irregular periods. When Dr. G. asks me, “Are you sure?” after I reply, “Yes” to the “Are you a virgin” question,
and then says, “If you’re still a virgin, why do you need birth control? It would be easier if you didn’t lie to me,”
I do not kill him.
When Dr. G. proceeds to conduct my first pap smear, by sticking two of his sausage-like fingers into my vagina to feel my ovaries, and then follows the two-fingered prodding by shoving a girthy probe into me, causing me to squeeze the nurse’s hand so hard she winces and violently lets go,
I do not kill him.
When after the painful prodding, Dr. G tells me that being overweight causes my irregular periods, and he will not prescribe the birth control pills I need until I lose thirty pounds,
Instead, I sit alone in silent tears in the changing room. I wipe my tears and leave his office, still without the proper care my body needs.

When people assert, “Go back to your country!”
I do not kill them.
Instead, I respond, “Only if you go back to yours, haole!”

When white women tell me that I’m so lucky to have such gorgeous skin,
I do not kill them.
I do not remind them that this gorgeous skin has been used to justify global imperialism, genocide, and rape.
Instead, I respond with a lovingly sympathetic, “Sucks to be you.”

When neoliberal activists tell me, “I need you to teach me how to use my privilege as a white person to save and protect people like you,”
I am too exhausted to even consider killing them.
They know exactly what they need to give up.
Instead, I respond: “You’re not Jesus and I don’t need saving.”

But when a white man claims to have a bad day and is “fed up” with his sexual addiction, he shoots Asian women to eliminate future temptations. How does a person get to react this way after a bad day? Racism, misogyny, and sexism surely have something to do with this. But so do his lack of imagination and inability to be an effective problem solver. If he is really trying to eliminate the source of his sex addiction, logically, he would have taken his gun, pointed it at his dick, and pulled the trigger. Theoretically, he would have survived the penis shooting. Eight people would still be alive today. And Asian women would continue having bad days, too.

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