Hello! My name is Monica Manmadkar, and I am a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School in
the San Francisco Bay Area. When living in such a diverse and accepting community, my bi-annual
trip to India was definitely a shocker. I was left flabbergasted at the amount of sexism that exists in
these misogynistic communities. Seeing this type of treatment of young girls gave me a sense of
responsibility in that I should shed light on the issue of girls worldwide not having adequate
information regarding their sexual health all due to the cultural taboos that they are surrounded by.
How do misogynistic communities affect adolescent girls going through puberty? In many countries,
pubescent girls do not know enough about their reproductive health. The lack of sex education leads
to a cultural taboo surrounding the topic of women’s health. This leads to higher rates of unplanned
pregnancies, illegal abortions, and a higher mortality rate.
As girls worldwide are transitioning into the womanhood, the onset of menstruation marks the
turning point in their lives. Although this is an experience shared by women, it is still stigmatized.
Unfortunately, many traditional cultures refuse to discuss menstruation, leading to a lack of
sufficient knowledge regarding it. Cultures around the world have also developed harmful ideas
surrounding menstruation. For example, many communities, especially ones with strict religions
such as those in India or the Middle East, associate menstruation with impurities and restrictions.
Due to this stigma surrounding personal hygiene and reproductive health, women all around the
world, especially in developing countries, know little about reproductive health and their bodies.
The major barriers for discussing sexual health are the socio-cultural norms that prohibit and
condemn any dialogue regarding it. This causes a culture of silence and shame to form, which only
perpetuates the patriarchal dominance in society. There are over 3000 research cases in India
addressing how sex is viewed as culturally inappropriate and disrespectful; this unfortunately leads to
inadequate knowledge about pregnancy. For example, a research report conducted in Mumbai
analyzed how inadequate knowledge affects the generations to come. The report found that many
girls received all the information regarding their personal hygiene from either their mother, other
female relatives, or school teachers, which is good, but there is an offset of the relay of information.
The information that is passed on through the generations is usually medically inaccurate and
support the historically stereotypical comments. The survey shows that many girls were unaware of
menstruation and later were not given sufficient information. Studies conducted in other parts of
Asia reveal similar patterns in young women’s sex education throughout the continent.
Due to this taboo, many women do not know how to fight against sexual harassment and rape,
which thus causes numerous unplanned pregnancies. As a result of the cultural barriers, there are
many women who feel unable to freely talk to their partners or other people about sexual consent
and the purpose of sex. Their lack of education causes them to not have enough information
regarding sexual intercourse and the contraceptives that are used. In a study in Delhi, India, many
women reported to have been quite frightened on their wedding night and did not know what to
expect. The statistics also show that many women had misconceptions regarding contraception,
which in turn caused many unplanned pregnancies. For all survey participants, the discussion
regarding sex and other sexual rights is considered disrespectful and culturally inappropriate. Buying
contraceptives or other needs for a woman, such as sanitary napkins, tampons, etc., is considered as
jeopardizing to the woman’s and the family’s honor.
Each year approximately 125 million women get pregnant, but worldwide about 40% of all pregnancies are unplanned, which means that there are 85 million unplanned pregnancies. (Hussain) Insufficient knowledge of contraception and deficient resources in developing countries cause the number of unplanned pregnancies to rise, putting the health of hundreds of women at risk. Since the risk of unplanned pregnancies is higher than planned ones, the number of maternal deaths also increase. Among the millions of pregnancies that are terminated each year, 60% are carried out under unsafe conditions. Each year, thousands of women in developing regions die or are injured due to unsafe, illicit abortions. Several of the abortions that are conducted in these low-income countries are considered to be unsafe. Furthermore, out of the 25 million unsafe abortions performed every year, the majority of are illegal due to strict abortion laws in many countries. The risk of dying from abortion drastically increases, which causes over 68,000 women a year to die. When they are illegal, the citizens turn to unhygienic methods of abortion. The effects of unintended pregnancies are serious and need to be addressed.
As a result of cultural taboos, many women worldwide, especially in developing countries, do not
have access to information about their sexual health and personal hygiene. In order to provide a
safe environment for the women, schools in third-world countries must place more emphasis on
sexual health education. As a part of the school curriculum, it should be mandatory for teachers to
educate the girls on personal hygiene, puberty, pregnancies, and abortions. The shame and silence
within the community already harms women and limits them to learning more about themselves,
therefore providing better education and understanding of menstruation was key to improving
health outcomes for women. These taboos exist globally and are especially prominent and relevant
in developing countries. A 2014 study by Femme International in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum
found that over 75% of girls had little idea what menstruation was before they got their first period,
causing them to feel scared, confused and embarrassed.
Whether it be mothers not telling their girls about the birds and bees of life, or girls feeling
uncomfortable to have the “talk”, these cultural taboos causes them to have a lack of knowledge,
leading to an increased amount of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe, illegal abortions. Believing
that everything is linked to education, schools around the world need to have a place where they can
educate the girls on puberty and on how menstruation is a natural process. Nations also need to
raise awareness about female health issues by supporting NGOs and other organizations, such as
Girl Up and WHO, whose main purpose is to help out these nations by providing funds to educate
females. This would result in the next generation of females having the knowledge they need to be
safe when they are ready to have sex and for starting a family. By teaching sexual health to girls at a
young age, we take a step forward in ensuring their safety in the future and ultimately, equality
between men and women.
Post written by guest writer Monica Manmadkar
Find more of Monica at her blog: http://daysofmylifebymgm.blogspot.com
Hi! My name is Nanki Grewal, and I’m a college student currently studying computer science in
the San Francisco Bay Area. You can imagine how exciting it must be to be studying something
in the world’s capital of that very industry. Sometimes, I swear I can hear the engine of Silicon
Valley churning away, generating new technologies (and profits) previously thought impossible.
It’s undoubtedly thrilling to be lucky enough to be here at this point in history, when the tech
industry is moving faster than the speed of light and with new world-changing technologies
coming out every few years. But sometimes, even as I witness the huge benefits of Silicon
Valley’s work and as I wait in anticipation to one day work for these corporations, I sit back and
think about the actual implications of modern technology. I get so caught up in being a “tech
bro” that I forget that sometimes, Silicon Valley ignores its moral responsibility for making
technology an equalizer across a global platform, rather than the elitist culture it currently
I strongly believe that computer science is the greatest way to create a far-reaching change in the
world. Nothing can go as far as efficiently as technology can. But sometimes, it seems that
companies forgo that possibility in return for profit made off those who are already relatively
privileged. For example, it’s much more difficult to create a tool that brings actual, useful
education to rural villages in India than it is to create another app for getting food delivered to
your home. Problems of the unfortunate are more complicated, and it seems as though the tech
industry has settled into improving lives of those who don’t actually need that much change
while ignoring the largest market they have: the globally disenfranchised.
Don’t get me wrong – I think innovation for the sake of innovation is great! Artificial
Intelligence research is fantastic and will have far-reaching implications in a few years when the
rest of technology catches up. That’s actually the field I’m most interested in learning about and
working in myself. But we, as a collective, need to reshape Silicon Valley (which I use as a
metaphor for every major tech hub in the world) to have objectives which also include the poor,
the oppressed, and the forgotten around the world. We need to start thinking about how
technology can help education in communities where that is not usually financially feasible, help
deliver clean water to drought stricken areas, do soil analysis on farms in even the most rural
areas of the planet in an understandable and usable way for farmers, create apps for medical
diagnoses and maybe even treatment in places where doctors are not readily available, and even
It has been made abundantly clear throughout the years that Silicon Valley is reluctant to let
women engineers through the door. A strong culture of toxic masculinity has permeated a space
which should, in theory, be the most forward thinking and inclusive space in the entire world.
Rather, Silicon Valley is surprisingly conservative, both socially and financially; it’s especially
surprising considering it is located just a few miles south of downtown San Francisco, the crux
of liberal culture. That’s why I think most start ups and mainstream technologies today fail to
help globally disenfranchised communities – because people who might understand that struggle
are never let through the door during the hiring process.
Women who might understand the needs of working mothers worldwide are less likely to be
hired in a space where their engineering ideas and feedback might lend to a solution that helps
mothers everywhere; someone whose parents have immigrated from India and have witnessed
and maybe even lived in extreme poverty are not given the same chance as their white American
counterparts to maybe help those in poverty; those who are LGBTQ+ are rarely, if ever, heard
from in the engineering room, never able to give feedback on AI algorithms filtering hate speech
on Facebook; the examples go on. Thus, I think Silicon Valley’s path to worldwide success
begins with major corporations being more inclusive towards women, minorities, and the
historically oppressed. It’s only when you hear from people with different perspectives that you
can create a solution for a problem that an entire group of people might be facing.
There’s a joke in start-up culture: create a problem, sell a solution. I think that’s the loop that
many corporations today have found themselves in. But there are so many examples of actual
problems around the world that it is inexcusable for the tech industry to continue pretending
otherwise. Financial liberation of women worldwide is a huge one. That’s something that really
drew me to Ladki Love. It is a simple idea that concentrates on an issue much bigger than
“which fast food we could have delivered to our doorstep today?” We need more ideas like this.
Technology is meant to be a simple way to do what was before a huge task. There are plenty of
huge tasks in the world, and I think we need to use technology to its greatest possibility.
What makes me a #STEMinist isn’t just the fact that I think there needs to be more women in
tech, but that I also think the solutions created by technology need to be geared towards people
who have been long ignored, and who have been dealt a tough hand in life. The company’s
culture needs to be equalized, but so does the actual tech it produces.
Post written by guest writer Nanki Grewal
Find more of Nanki at her blog: www.nankigrewal.com
Many women and some men deal with severe food eating disorders such as Bulimia and Anorexia. Bulimia nervosa is when a person excessively binge eats and follows up with a method to avoid weight gain. Such methods include purging, exercising or fasting. Anorexia is diagnosed when someone is typically underweight from starving from fear of an obese body shape. Teenagers and young adults are primarily affected by these disorders. Though this problem is not as recognized as smoking and drinking, it still impacts our society negatively.
Approximately 3 in 100 women and 1 in 200 men suffer from Bulimia nervosa. These people often have severe dehydration and fatigue. Bulimia is considered as a life threatening disorder. Many people exercise or purge themselves until that are completely out of energy. 4% of people with Bulimia die from extreme weight loss methods. 1.5% of our population suffers from Anorexia and 10% of them starve themselves to death. Generally people suffering from Bulimia and Anorexia die in their sleep, so they never wake up after going to bed.
The facts clearly show that bulimia and anorexia are much more prevalent in females compared to males. While women try to shape up to a model’s photoshopped body, men try to bulk up to a bodybuilder’s figure. Very rarely, males try to starve themselves to maintain a low body weight. Because our community focuses much more on sexualizing a woman’s body, female teens and adolescents are much more likely to end up with a food eating disorder. Research shows that young women in Fiji are encouraged to have round and thicker bodies; however, ever since TV’s appeared on the remote island , young girls have been developing eating disorders. These girls dream “of not looking like their mothers but the slender stars” in Hollywood. Within more industrialized societies, girls and women are much more likely to develop bulimia and anorexia.
Why have eating disorder like these impacted our youth so much? Many blame it on the standards our society has set for our children. Expectations of young women and men have inspired unrealistic body goals. In order to achieve these body goals, adolescents and young adults take radical measures to control their body weight. Movie stars and super models use Photoshop to create a different portrayal of themselves. “Our media’s increased obsession with the thin-ideal and industry promotion of a ‘perfect’ body may contribute to unrealistic body ideals in people with and without eating disorders”; because of this, a majority of teens and adolescents have thoughts about body weight and some develop food eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. With less discouragement and impractical body images from our society, much more citizens would be confident in their bodies. Another factor behind bulimia and anorexia comes from family problems or even abuse. Troubling relationships can lead to unhappiness and depression. Also, those who have a history of sexual and physical abuse have a higher tendency to be diagnosed with a food eating disorder. In order to compensate for all the difficulties, many strive for perfection in other areas such as their body images; this leads to bulimia and anorexia.
There are a number of methods to treating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Visiting group therapy and support groups help with coping. Specialists like psychologists and nutritionists help monitor a patient’s health and diet. In patient housing is used for intensive care. Patients have a 24/7 access to a therapist and a nutritionist. With a more extreme form of help, many recover quicker than usual. Less intensive care, such as outpatient living, allows the patient to continue living independently but is required to be checked on frequently by nutritionists and physicians. As our society’s standards become illogical, our youth develop disorders such as bulimia and anorexia; helping them should be our primary goal. While healing current patients, we should also be working on ways to prevent eating disorders from developing in the future.
Some countries in the world focus on preventing eating disorders by labeling the very few photoshopped pictures as “retouched” and requiring models to be at a certain weight before entering a competition or runaway. As a country, we can easily follow similar footsteps in order to prevent this disorders from happening any further. By treating current patients and averting future cases we can help our youth grow in a positive environment without worrying about their weight.
Post written by guest writer Medha Dandamudi
I feel like most of us have a mental image of what we think poverty looks like, or what tragedy looks like. When Ladki Love was first created, we moved forward with that preconceived image in mind.
Around a week ago, I visited one of the shelters that an organization that Ladki Love is donating to, "Homes of Hope," helped to build. In the days leading up to the visit, I began to feel inexplicably nervous. It wasn't until I was met with a room full of girls sitting in neat rows and over a minute of silence, that I realized why. I felt like I needed to say something profound and prophetic to these girls–– but I didn't know what. As the girls gestured to the row of plastic chairs lined up in front of them, I began to come to terms with the fact that nothing that I could say to these girls could make their situation any less unfortunate. Rather I sat on the floor and began to ask them some questions, eventually asking them who their first friend at the shelter was, and what they talked about. One girl raised her hand and pointed at the girl sitting beside her. She told me that the night she arrived at the shelter, her new friend asked her two questions: what her name was, and why she was crying. "I only told her my name," she told me.
Regardless of the fact that these girls had likely gone through more than most could ever fathom, that answer was the first and only time during my visit that anything of low-spirit was discussed. Even the former was not necessarily negative. It was heartwarming to hear that the girl did not want to dwell in the past; rather she wanted to move forward with nothing more than her name and hope for a better future. We then began to talk about their hopes and dreams, and their talents. Many of the girls aimed to be teachers and nurses, while others told me about their goals to become a police officer, a social worker, and even a fashion designer. What's incredible about organizations like Homes of Hope and these shelters is that they allow for these hopes and dreams to become very plausible; two of the girls I spoke to were already well on their way to becoming nurses. I asked one of these girls if she knew how to sing or dance. She excitedly told me that everyone in the shelter knew how to, and that they could show us.
The rest of the visit consisted of almost every girl in the shelter dancing. Each time a new song came on they'd yell as if they were at a party and it was New Years Eve. As they tried to teach my uncoordinated self to dance, I noticed how incorrect my preexisting image of tragedy had been. While I'm sure it was accurate in different settings, it wasn't universal. With each minute that we danced, I further began to appreciate this experience, the new friends that I had made, and the closing gap between us Indian girls like myself, and those that were not as fortunate.
Ladki Love is a non-profit organization focused on selling meaningful chokers and stickers, and donating all proceeds to support underprivileged girls in India, in their pursuits for a prosperous, enriching education. The word ladki translates to “girl” in English, so the club name is essentially “Girl Love”.
A common question raised by students not affiliated with the club is: Why is your organization only helping Indian girls, and not Indian boys? Shouldn’t all underprivileged children living in developing countries such as India receive an education?
Well, of course all children deserve an education. In India, the fundamental concept of education is considered sacred and mandatory for all boys, who are thought to be the primary breadwinners for the family. Parents from even the lowest castes slog day in and day out as servants in the slums of India, sharing a small 10x10 sq. ft room with five other families, in hopes of saving every bit of money that is necessary for their children’s education. However, these servant families may have numerous children to support.
If impoverished Indian parents give birth to two children, one being a son, and one being a daughter, they will only be able to support the education of one of these children. Since the patriarchal society signifies that the daughter is naturally inferior to the son, the parents will choose to educate the son.
What becomes of the daughter? If she is lucky, she will be permitted to stay at home to help her mother. Otherwise, she shall be sent to an orphanage, accompanied by other beautiful, insightful, curious young girls who have been stripped of the opportunity to procure a basic necessity we take for granted in the United States: education.
Another reason that girls are not permitted to attend school in India is the parents’ fear that their daughter will be subject to potentially harmful eve-teasing (violent catcalling, sexual slurs, molestation, rape) either while walking/riding the bus to school, or when coming back home. If there are episodes of sexual harassment or violence performed to a young Indian girl, she must remain silent, and not tell her family. If she tells her family, she will be banned from attending school, and blamed for somehow promoting or encouraging men to act in such a manner to her. She will be shamed for her choice in clothing, mannerisms, or weight.
It is our mission to sell chokers with empowering symbols (Venus charm, Lotus Flower charm) and stickers showcasing the Venus symbol merged with the globe, in order to empower Indian women to not only have the financial means to acquire an education, but to also empower them to embrace their own beauty and grace.
It is to bring awareness to the problems unique to girls in impoverished parts of India that our club is specifically named “Ladki Love” instead of “Children Love.” It's a cultural issue, but it is also a gender issue- we must never undermine the latter.
Post written by guest writer Mridini Vijay
In today’s society we are flooded with dystopian novels that characterize the persona of a strong female lead: Hunger Games, Divergent, Wonder Woman, the list goes on. Minds are filled with stories of heroines, creating a microcosm of the prevalent issues in which active voices of fierce women are vocalized on a global level in times of upheaval. The popular media and entertainment culture reflects the increasing desire for women to speak and act with courage. It’s alarming that just a few decades ago, a man would be filled with bewilderment and disdain if a woman were outspoken, as if being an assertive female is something undesirable. The number of women who have displayed courage and spoken up for themselves and for others is definitely increasing, but it is nonetheless overdue. It is the result of an ache for change, and a longing for equity. It’s foundation is built with the bricks of oppression and stereotypical expectations. Movements such as #metoo are empowering many to raise awareness. However being a strong, outspoken woman is not a hashtag, and it is not a trend of our modern society. In any instance of injustice, rights must be verbalized through a catalyst who is willing to run against the current and fight for change. That catalyst can mobilize and rally many to stand together.
We need to take a closer look at areas with a large gender disparity and campaign for changes at the youth level. Young women need to be better supported in pursuing a career in STEM fields, sports, and obtaining leadership positions. All facets of life (work, relationships, society, politics) must demonstrate gender equality on a global level in order for women to truly be respected for their contributions and treated as powerful individuals. Then only will our fictional heroines be replaced by the real life characters who inspire all and move us toward change.
Post written by guest writer Sejal Govindarao
Sexism is heavily ingrained into the English language, whether we notice it or not. On the daily I hear people say, “Hey, guys!” to a group of girls. While this isn’t outwardly offensive or demeaning, it shows that we have a long way to go and how important it is to be conscious of our word choice.
Firstly, I want differentiate between those who are ignorant versus those who are clueless. People who are inherently sexist understand the effects of their words and believe in supremacy. Those who are clueless simply do not realize that their words have power and those are the people who can be educated. We shouldn’t yell at these people for their mistakes, but calmly point out the impact of their words. Shaming someone for their potential misunderstanding will only make them embarrassed, angry, or frustrated and make them less likely to listen. I believe cluelessness is a result of sheltering or a lack of exposure. Many people have a hard time understanding things that they have never experienced.
On another note, a common word thrown around by people is p*ssy. In English, calling someone a p*ssy is synonymous to calling someone weak. This is problematic because it implies that female genitalia is “weak” and therefore women are weak. The usage of a vulgar term that pries on supremacy is and can be offensive towards women as it reduces women to being incapable.
So, how do we combat this issue of “innate sexism”? In simply being aware of the words we use, we can start the conversation. It’s okay to trip up, we all do it, but acknowledgement is a step in the right direction.
Post written by guest writer Rianna Mukherjee
Fast fashion. The exact definition is an approach to design, creation, and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers. Industries like Forever 21 and H&M are notorious for trendy clothing at an affordable price. This approach to the industry is not only harming the environment with over 15.1 million tons of textile waste created in 2013 alone, but it is also creating an unhealthy “disposable” culture within the fashion industry. How do companies like the aforementioned manage to churn out so many garments at such a low price? One word: Sweatshops. These factories function under inhumane working conditions with hundreds of workers, a majority of them women, making barely livable wages. These industries continue to keep women in developing countries oppressed and dependent on these jobs, which keeps all the stores around the world affordable and in business. Cheap labor jobs is something that continues to plague women in struggling economies and causes a lack of growth and opportunities within their own communities. It is an industry that thrives by taking advantage of women who are at a financial disadvantage and in need of work. Our current fashion industry is built on the backs of women across the world who barely make ten cents a garment. Fortunately, there are many ways to dismantle the fast fashion industry and continue to support these women who are struggling to survive in their economic states. The most frustrating part of this major issue is how simple the solutions are. Buying second-hand, quality clothing lessens the strain on the environment and also creates less of a demand for cheaply made clothing. Donating unwanted clothing, recycling damaged ones, and buying from fair-trade, locally-sourced companies will not only support local business owners, but also help end the ways of cheap fashion and help create a dialogue to defend these women’s rights to a safe, fair, and rewarding work environment.
Post was written by guest writer Sofia Hughes
My first day of second grade, was the day I walked away with something more than just homework. I had just moved to San Ramon and was beyond excited to make new friends as well as see all my new teachers. I walked into class and sat next to a girl who I thought seemed sweet and gentle. I was wearing a green princess Jasmine T-shirt, it was my most favorite one, I thought everyone would love it. Then suddenly, the girl who was sitting next to me turned to meet my face and said, “Why are you wearing that shirt, what are you, a baby? It’s so ugly, just go sit somewhere else.” I was devastated. Did everybody feel this way, was I just some loser? I was 7, and like most 7 year olds I did not know how to react or how to feel about the opinionated comment that was made. When I went home that day, I pondered about if everyday at my new school would be like this, people talking and judging me. I then came to a conclusion, why does it matter?
This moment was one that really did shape me into the person I am today, regarding the moral of self love. No person should have to take away the happiness that you get by wearing a shirt, or have an interest in something you find appealing. Today everyone is torn between what they think is exceptional and what they think others will find acceptable. Loving yourself, loving music, clothes, and who you are should not be jeopardized by anyone’s opinions or expectations. Furthermore, a person’s opinion should not change yours, or your amazing personality. Shattering a person’s self love is the quickest way to lower a person’s self esteem as well as tear them down. Instead of letting those punches get to you, fight back by loving yourself and embracing every ounce of unique qualities you have. As long as you walk out the door with a smile, a deep breath of confidence and a big helping of self love, no one can take happiness away from you.
Post was written by guest writer Nina Shenoy
You can’t say you understand because you’ve never experienced the kinds of things that we have. The slurs, the jokes, the appropriation, and the erasure. As an Asian American I’ve never seen myself properly represented the way that white people have - in school, movies, books, on TV, and social media. We make up six percent of the population in America, which is a total of nineteen million people whose heritage is ignored and overlooked in our society today.
Now, it’s wrong to say that Asian Americans are the only ones who face this silent oppression. All minorities shoulder a burden as well, regardless of whatever race they are. But I speak of my own experiences; the experiences of my brothers and sisters, and what all of us have been forced to endure throughout our lives. Our cultures have a long history and are not to be mocked and degraded. We value them as much as you value your own, and they deserve nothing from you but respect.
There are many stereotypes surrounding Asian culture, most of which are rude and insulting toward the people they’re aimed at. I’m sure that not a single one of us has gone through their lives without hearing some variation of these things that people say.
“Of course you got an A on that test. You’re Asian. All Asians are smart.”
“Are you sure you should be driving? Asians are terrible drivers.”
“It’s so Asian of you to do what your parents say all the time.”
And of course, my personal favorite: when you pull out the corners of your eyes, laughing hysterically as you do your best impression of a broken bell tower- “ching chong, ching chong!”
You have no idea just how much damage one small action, one short phrase, can do. Racist comments like these are extremely offensive to such a large group of people. When these stereotypes are enforced, it not only creates a negative depiction of Asian people, but makes them feel as if they’ll never be “normal” in the eyes of the American people. As long as this discrimination continues, it will always set us apart from everyone else. Wouldn’t it be better to live as a united, accepting community rather than groups separated by bigotry? And just imagine what it feels like to the people who have to hear these things themselves. It’s so indecent of you to make fun of someone based on their ethnicity. They’ve earned good grades because they have a good work ethic, not because they’re Asian. They make mistakes on the road because they were distracted by something, not because they’re Asian. And maybe the reason they listen to their parents is because they actually value respect, not because they're Asian. We need to dispel these harmful stereotypes so that everyone can be treated with equality and respect.
On a much larger scale, your discrimination toward Asian people is augmented through their portrayal in the media. Asian Americans make up a mere five percent of total speaking or named roles in movies and only one percent of lead roles. These characters, if there are any at all, are almost always of an East Asian background or origin. You reduce them to a stereotypical archetype such as the nerd, the dragon lady, the karate master, or the submissive love interest. You may not even notice this because there is so little representation on screen. But when there is, it’s so wildly inaccurate that millions are led to believe in this warped depiction of what Asian culture really is.
The degradation of our cultures isn’t something to be brushed off. Before anything else, we’re people who don’t deserve to be objectified. There are Asian countries that exist outside of the East - sixty-two percent of Asians are from South, Southeast, Central, or West Asia. It’s an extremely diverse region with so many different kinds of people, and yet we receive such a poor characterization in the media. You throw symbols of value to the ground when you use traditional clothing as costumes or “exotic” fashion. Cultural appropriation isn’t in style and never will be. This twisting of values includes having white people play Asian characters, more infamously known as whitewashing. With this action, there are even less Asian Americans in film and more inaccuracy and erasure. You have so many opportunities for representation in so many ways; it’s unfair for us to give up what little we have left. We deserve just as much diverse, inspiring, and positive publicity as you do.
I want to live in a world with equality for all. I wish for you to understand and accept our people. I hope to take pride in myself and my family for who we are without having to face your laughs and insults. I know this dream is near impossible with the way things are now, but every little effort has a great effect for someone. Don’t make fun of the boy with broken English; the girl wearing a hijab; the people who work to style your nails. Learn about the different kinds of people in the world and what can be done to support them. We’re all facing the same obstacle together, and we’d love to have you standing by our side, facing and fighting it with us.
Post was written by guest writer Lauren Sabater