5/30 – I believe other people have had a similar experience as a female entering the weight room at a gym. Sometimes you can find yourself as the only female in the room among a sea of men. Although I am a firm supporter of gender neutrality in the realm of weight lifting, I couldn’t help but feel intimidated. More than intimidation, I couldn’t shake off the absurd feeling of being scrutinized, watched, and judged by everyone else in the room. I had an experience long ago where I overheard the conversation of two guys while there was a lull in working out. One of the guys commented on how “flabby” a girl’s legs were. I was already feeling uncomfortable but to hear that made things worse. It’s not our place to criticize other people’s bodies when they are so vulnerable. But after becoming exposed to many eye-opening perspectives in this course, I felt I no longer wanted to perpetuate and sustain the cultural gender ideologies that we cling to. As an athlete and individual who valued a healthy lifestyle, I had every right to lift weights alongside men in that room. I finished my workout feeling more confident about my abilities. I hope women can continue to break the old gendered social relations that embody the social world of the weight room.
5/31 – I was talking with my roommates during our bible reading time who are coincidentally Chinese natives. One of my roommates is a PhD student who will constantly unload to me on the stresses of her workplace in the lab. Today to my utter dismay, her professor had called her a horrific, demeaning, and derogatory name in the Chinese language. I was surprised as I assumed He would treat his graduate students with more respect and support being that Chinese natives practice the theory of collectivism in their society. Shouldn’t they support and encourage one another? The graduate students under him were also Chinese natives like himself. However I did not consider the societal construct within Chinese culture. Being that I was not raised and immersed in a Chinese culture, my understanding is limited. I may have the obvious physical appearance of a Chinese native, but my roots are absolutely grounded in American culture. I sometimes find myself at a crossroads with my roommates on even the smallest details because of our difference in upbringing. My roommate has been educating me on the societal hierarchy of males and females in Chinese culture. Men are clearly given preference over females in their society. While she did not react in the same way as I did, nonetheless she was also appalled at the professor’s behavior.
6/1 – I love coffee shops. I’m also very observant of people. Some may call it creepy but I know that everyone to a certain extent “people watch.” It’s all good fun. I sometimes wonder what kind of life an individual has as they pass me by. I was sitting in Starbucks today wearing basketball shorts and a basic gray t-shirt. An elderly man sat down in the table on my right. A group of students, that were Chinese natives, sat down behind me. My speaking ability in the Chinese language is fairly poor unfortunately but my comprehension is alright. As I finished my Chai tea latte and got up to leave, I heard one of the students say in Chinese: “Why is she wearing basketball shorts? She’s a girl right?” By nature, I am usually not a confrontational person unless the situation or behavior absolutely calls for it. You would be disappointed to hear that I did not try to shine light on the situation.
6/2 – My car was in bad shape today so I brought it to an auto shop for a checkup. After a thorough check up on my car, the mechanic gave me an estimate for a new battery. He also suggested that I change my tires. Having a car mechanic as a friend back in Nova, I had been forewarned about mechanics potentially selling me more than I actually needed for my car. Not trusting myself, I called my friend to get his opinion on this estimate. The price quote was significantly higher compared to what I could get in Northern Virginia. I also had no need for new tires until the next year. I had read a study a few years ago that men charge women more than men for the same services. But I never dreamed I would experience gender bias in real life.
6/3 – I was home for the weekend visiting my family. My parents usually have a loose but enforced curfew for me that ranges from 11:30 pm-12:00 am at night. I always abide by this curfew no matter how old I have gotten. I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me earlier but I had always noticed that my little brother would come home anywhere between 12:00 pm-3:00 am. His late night excursions were not applauded but certainly went by without a glance or concern. I finally confronted my mom about this only to hear this one reply: “He’s a boy.” That simple statement set me on fire. My maturity and life experience became nonexistent in the echo of that statement. Did it matter that I was 5 years older than him? Not one bit. I was female in her eyes and by default I was weak and defenseless to the horrors (real and/or imaginary) of the night.
Intersectionality is complex by nature. Now that I have a better understanding of the definition of Intersectionality, I can see the journey I had already taken to navigate among the gendered, raced, and class-based dimensions of life. Compartmentalizing these categories that were present in my daily living helped ease some of the stress I had when I was younger. I grew up confused and frustrated by my identity in certain situations. Was I Taiwanese? Was I American? Or was I a Virginian? Am I an athlete or musician? I struggled the most with identifying as an Asian-American woman. Due to my ethnicity, I was faced with racial stereotypes since I was born. This was not only limited to the public sphere in school and work but also extended to my family circle as well. My mother was the matriarch of the family but my father maintained a sense of authority and discipline among the children. As I grew older, I began to voice my opinions and thoughts to my parents. The cultural expressions from my father’s Chinese heritage began to show. If we got into an argument with each other, it wouldn’t matter if I gave the correct answer or best opinion. The fact that I spoke out would be considered disrespectful before my father (especially if it was in front of others). I was faced with overwhelmingly stereotyped expectations from my own family. On the other side of the coin, voicing your independent thoughts was a trait highly admired and respected in American culture. How was I supposed to reconcile the two? I look Asian but my roots are American. Would I never be accepted by either world? It took years and years for me to finally accept who I was. I am who I am. I am a proud Virginian. I love and respect my Chinese heritage. I am a Jesus lover. My family and I are thankful that the faith we have in Christ implicates some gender norms that we don’t have to consider and some norms that we do. My parents are learning to see past their own upbringing and express their love outwardly. This is uncharacteristic of Chinese natives as they do not express their feelings candidly nor outwardly. But the religious beliefs taught in the Bible teach verses such as in the book Lamentations 3:22-23 which says “It is Jehovah’s lovingkindness that we are deserted place, and there He prayed. not consumed, For His compassions do not fail; they are new every morning.” These biblical teachings provide a pattern for our family to follow in our everyday lifestyle. I’m finding solidarity within intersectionality.