Category Archives: Women

Why I Didn’t Participate in the Women’s March

This is a blog I wanted to write on Saturday. Unfortunately, I split my hand open (never use Wusthof while discussing the inauguration) and went to the ER instead.

For TLDR folks, you can skim down – to the purple part. 

So, I grew up in CA. To be specific, I grew up in many parts of California – from LA to the Central Coast to the Silicon Valley, and now I live in the East Bay.  I find it mildly amusing that given how in high school, I was the “conservative one” (comes from a typical Asian-religious family upbringing), so many of my current peers consider me as someone with more of a “liberal bend.”

I benefited from a rich, liberal education in Palo Alto. I loved it!   Well, middle school, of course, sucked (I moved in 7th grade and had to deal with kids who were dealing with their own personal demons… I guess I just was an easy target?)… but high school allowed me to branch out with different interests and I’m still super fond of my memories and friendships from there.  Honestly, where else would a poor pastor’s kid get to try rich kid sports in a fancy pool, blow glass, study film, and do labs of the same caliber as an intro college class?  Also, Paly let me have a diverse (read: not Asian-only) group of friends.

In college, God saved me.  I always knew of the hypocrisy of the church, and in my own blindness, I sought to melt into a large congregation so that I could “do my duty.”  Through people that He placed in my life and through the Bible, the clarity of what it means to be a Christian (trusting in Jesus Christ’s finished work when he died for my sins and resurrected — not in any of my own actions or my own thoughts of who He is) … finally became clear. And in His mercy, I came to learn the beauty of the word, submission.  Of course, I learned other things too — but that’s my favorite part about college.

In graduate school, I finally realized how “minority” I was.  I began to be able to put vocabulary to elementary playground experiences.  And, the Internet had evolved to the point where I saw firsthand black and brown men being killed for being loud rather than docile.

When I began working, I began to learn what people might mean by “school to prison pipelines.”  How segregation still occurred via zipcodes and high school “accelerated tracks.”  I answered questions that I didn’t even know were allowed when I was a kid… questions like, “Why don’t they mention Korea in Asian history?” or “Where is Asia-America within US history?” or even “Wait, am I black or white?” because growing up, during that weekend where we talked about Martin Luther King, there was no other.

That’s me.  What else is me?

I’m a teacher. In the last 5 years of my life, I’ve worked with groups that I think may have more of a need for me than groups who have access.

I’m a reader.  I love books and blogs and news.  Never grew up watching TV.  I love satire, I love wit, I love intelligent reasoning, I love pathos.  I graduated from college, so now I have time to read whatever I want.  (I think while I was in college, I only read books of choice between June and August… oh wait, except for when the final Harry Potter book came out and the Twilight series. Don’t discount this blog post because of this confession).

I support public radio.  Grew up with KQED programming on TV (if we were allowed).  NPR is my jam. I just discovered KPFA (more local-er news).

I am Korean-American who grew up in a rural town.  This means that as a kid, I knew what it meant to be a victim of childish racism. This means that I know what it felt like to receive only one version of history.  This means I thought I was white but was the unattractive, flat-nosed, “chingchangchong” oriental on the playground.

I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that the Bible has truths that transcend our current social lenses. I believe that as a created being, my God, the creator, knows more about who I am than I can on my own.  I can go into the logic behind this — but that would derail. I only include this because it’s a huge part of …

Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.


Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.

Minor Personal Reason 1: I don’t know what we’re protesting.  Protesting a man makes no sense to me.  Protesting the voting system also makes no sense to me.  Historically, marches and protests were in tandem with asking for something specific, and then also using the provisions in place (which I don’t deny people are doing – with the internet, it’s so easy!).  I did not vote for DT. Seeing him makes me cringe.  But who a person is isn’t his policy (although…. listening to the confirmation hearings… okay, won’t go there).  I think he’s just the first president we’ve had where we can actually see who he is.  I realized, MOST presidents have decorum.  Until now, it was almost a given that you had to have a good facade to be president.  This man is ridiculous.  But quoting Aziz Ansari, “Change doesn’t come from presidents.”  We

Minor Personal Reason 2: The Popular Vote vs. Electoral Vote issue.  Okay, I get that lots of people feel angry/annoyed that their vote “didn’t count,” and I also get how there are different views on why/how the electoral college was created.  I think what people in large cities are ignoring is the fact that if the popular vote was the only thing around, our country would be driven by policies favored by urban areas.  Major Cities-driven politics is one very likely cause of why people rallied to DT.  Sure, gerrymandering may have something to do with it — but how many of us have actually paid attention to working-class folks prior to 2015/16?  I know at least at HGSE, everyone’s all up in urban education – ain’t no one setting a foot into rural ed.  So yeah, I don’t agree with the “2 million strong” thing either.  It would suck if counties of SF, NYC, Denver, and LA were driving politics for the whole nation, no? Even if they had more people?  Groupthink is real.

Aside: Here are the older links regarding the county votes:

Major Political Reason: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights is misleading.  As a young, female teacher of Asian descent, I agree that women deserve the same rights as anybody else and that we get to make decisions about our bodies.

But, you know, given education? … you don’t get a free pass for irresponsibility especially if that free pass includes, you know, killing a person.  No thank you.

Why am I claiming that it’s irresponsibility (and dare I say, selfishness?)

A very teeny number of abortions are due to rape or incest or health of the mother. The last actual percent fact I could find on the Internet was from 1989, so I’m ignoring that… but I did go to the CDC site (to check how many are done by kids <19) and AGI (reasons for abortion) to confirm that anywhere from 75%-95% of abortions are due to personal choice, or “a woman’s right to choose.”   What was super interesting is how people aren’t asking about the rape/incest cases after the ’90s.  My conspiracy theory? It’s because we don’t want to know / acknowledge that the “must” situations don’t actually exist.

By the time we realize they exist, they’re a mini-human.  At this point, we know that an egg is an egg, and a sperm is a sperm.  When they come together, they actually make a little fetus. A fetus that, by 8 weeks has fully functioning organs.  They react to painful stimuli at 24-26 weeks (jury’s still out on whether they fully “understand” that it’s pain though). They’re genetic makeup is completely their own.  And, the earliest preemie ever to be born was at 22 weeks (rounded up).. you can abort a kid at 24!.

I teach kids. A lot of them are unwanted by society – I know this because of the reluctance to spend money on them, the reluctance to look at research to see what’s best for them, and you know, how a lot of them are being killed.

I don’t know where you would draw the line on “This is where I stop advocating for unwanted people without a voice.”  Is it when they graduate from your class?  Is it when they drop out?  Is it when they’re “only in kinder” (nevermind that their brains are probably way spongier than when I actually get them).  Do I not advocate for them because they can’t speak words?  Because they’re small?  Is it because they’re in the womb?  Is it because it’s 3 days before they have all their complete organs?  Is it when they’re only a “blob of cells” (nevermind that if you give it a few weeks, it changes?).

I mean, is it only if it will affect me and my life that we’ll advocate for them?  People are now advocating for Bumblebees.  A bumblebee is smaller than an 8-week old fetus and is less complex. Come on now!  (PS: Also, I think people are substantially more important than animals – God made them in His image. Yup! I believe that! Obvi, this doesn’t mean abuse the earth – y’all know this girl is green.)

Again, choice, to me, sounds like, “If you’re wanted, you live; if you’re unwanted or , you die.”  

I think it’s SO interesting to me to hear my friends argue in favor of IDEA and working SUPER hard to make sure that all of our students get their plans and have their needs met, when the hidden elephant in the room is that in 5-10 years, as technology increases and as we clamor for abortive rights  …. we probably won’t even have children with special needs because they’ll probably be aborted if found with an issue.  Just google that – it’s no secret. (we might also lose females and minorities – because given world-trends, they’re the main victims of infanticide anyway).

 I feel like our solutions are ultimately, not out of a care for people, but out of what holds most utility.  This is why we have a tendency to overdrug kids rather than offering support in the form of people and time.  This is why the way we care for our veterans is so horrible — all the “new” innovations to help people overcome PTSD by engaging with other people is not new. It’s just time consuming.  Back to abortion – I know, it’s easier to terminate a pregnancy rather than deal, as a society, with unwanted children or low-income families.  But imagine if we spent all our time and money on that rather than on killing.

Planned Parenthood? Please. This is a HUGE money-making industry.  Out of every 8 people they serve, 1 gets an abortion (in addition to their other services).  They count abortion (with its cost) as equal to giving someone a pregnancy test.  That 3% number is a myth… and this was where I got SUPER disappointed in the reporters I follow… how they are willing to get into the nitty-gritty of other facts, but not into this area. They know better – it will tank their careers because PP has a huge lobbying group.

Anyway, at the end of the day, we have science – we can see the craziest 3-D ultrasounds ever. Doctors have been prolonging life and saving life in times and places that our grandparents never even dreamed of.  So, this issue? Is mainly an issue of “my body mine” without concern about the risk you take.

How does your body make a baby? Sex.  There is a risk involved. There are also PLENTY of ways to mitigate that risk.  If it doesn’t work out – don’t just kill the baby because it’s smaller than you or an unwanted responsibility. 

Lastly, I don’t need to hear from people telling me to then put money into safe-sex programs because that is not the only other solution.  There are SO many things that affect this issue… and also, it’s again, really condescending, to assume that I’m not.

PS.  I did not know of any of the “exclusion” things that happened with the march until a few days later… I’m trying to sort of.. pause on my news intake until they calm things down over at the white house.  smh…. just saying this isn’t a response to that.


Social Justice, Entrepreneurship, and Fashion?

A small hobby I picked up last year was perusing fashion blogs.  (Having just come back from Asia with its quirky fashion choices and being a big fan of Tim Gunn, it was only a matter of time.)  I don’t read them much but today, through one of the blogs, I found out about Radiant Cosmetics.

It’s a cosmetics line started by a girl named Nicole who loves fashion and makeup.  She was working in New York  City at a fashion house, but realized that such dreams in themselves were empty.  You can read more about her on the Radiant Cosmetics website.   My main point of bringing this up is because of this little caveat: 20% of the profits from this for profit company goes to Free the Captives, an anti-human trafficking organization.

Granted, I don’t know much about how this is done or what the quality of the organization is.  However, what excites me is the simplicity in that this girl took her interests and mixed it with something greater to start a company that plays to her strengths and has utility.  Raising awareness and money in itself isn’t going to change things in the short run.  But it is much better than living life as if things are going well.

Finally, on a personal note, I guess examples like this reminds me that it’s not hard to start something!  I keep on coming back to this point.  Relatively, it’s not easy either.  However, it’s not impossible.  In fact, it’s very possible.  I’m not just spouting tautologies, I just want you to know that starting something and doing it well is not impossible. (Okay fine, maybe I am.)

[But also, it’s not like I’m “saving the world one student at a time” as one classmate put it.  In all of this “do-good”-ing, it’s always good to be aware that in the end, these are but temporary fixes to the more pervasive issue, which is sin.  “As for me, [the only reason I’m not desperately hopeless is because] I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth” (Job 19:25, NASB).]

You should think about this.

Everything they say about the difficulties of a rape trial is sadly true. One’s word is not enough in these days of C.S.I. and DNA. Even if people believe you, you are tested beyond what any crime victim should have to endure. While on the witness stand, the defense attorneys seek to shame and humiliate you for hours, even days, with deeply personal questions about your body, your intimate life and your social life simply because you dare to come forward. How saddening, how utterly disheartening.

For me, public opinion will be the ultimate verdict.

An excerpt from the victim of the NY rape case I wrote about a little under a week ago.

Here’s an older article about reactions from the verdict.

What might this have to do with ideas, words, and education (ie: my blog)?  Well, this has to do with people, and I’m still “in uffish thought” as I write about this.  I’ve written about rape before, and it still overwhelms me.  I can’t completely explain it, but I believe that it’s connected with life and death, in the sense that to violate someone’s sexuality is the closest one can get to violating a person’s soul.  (The aftermath is also connected with life and death since rapes can result in unwanted babies or their termination).  Regardless of rhetoric, of the facts of the case, and legal terminology, this brings up a flurry of thoughts, and ultimately, the bottom line is this all matters.

I’m upset

This is like an episode from Law and Order: SVU.

Two New York City Officers Acquitted of Rape

So basically, a woman claims that an officer raped her while the other stood guard after they helped her home while she was drunk.  The article’s tone was pretty careful and neutral, but to me, it just seems like the officers used clout and loopholes to get out of this.  I mean, his behavior was scandalous.  He admits to cuddling with her while she was in a bra.  He says she came onto him (but even if she did, he’s a public servant and she is drunk).  She claims no such thing; despite the hazy details, she believes that she has been raped.  That’s not a claim to be taken lightly.

The evidence is weird.  There are times where the officer in question said and did some things to the woman that indicates that he did rape her (such as reentering the building 3 times and later claiming to have worn a condom during a private conversation with her.  That conversation was later brushed over as “lies” the officer fabricated in order to prevent the woman from making a scene.)

What frustrates me is rather than looking into the misconduct of the policemen, the defense focused on the “prosecutors’ theory of rape” or “whether the woman was too drunk to consent to sex.”   Regardless of whether the two had sex or not, “they had to prove that the woman was physically unable to consent to sex, meaning that she was either unconscious or unable to speak when she was penetrated.”  Okay, sure.  Fine.  But then it gets shady.

Defense lawyers pointed to surveillance footage of the woman walking on her own as she entered the building in front of the officers as evidence that she was conscious and able to communicate. They also contrasted what the woman told some friends shortly after the alleged rape — that she thought she was raped — with the certainty that she was expressing on the witness stand. Her spotty recollection of that night, the defense said, was enough to raise reasonable doubt over whether she was raped.

And just like that, they’re acquitted of everything except for “three counts of misconduct.”  A slap on the wrist.  And that’s the central point for their acquittal, which surprised me, because for some reason I thought DNA evidence would free them.  I guess I’ve watched too much TV.

But you know, who knows?  Maybe she did make the entire story up.  Maybe she’s a great actress and it’s easy for her to break down on the stand.  Maybe her memory was all messed up.  Only the two officers really know the truth behind her claims.

Lastly, another reason I’m saddened and upset is because the way the headlines seem to have put it, the officers were “innocent” of the charges.  But they’re not.  They’re not innocent at all.  Maybe he didn’t rape her, but he most definitely did not perform in a manner worthy of his title… and if the defense had any inkling of foul play, they should not be defending these men.  AT ALL!  I mean, isn’t that obvious?

I guess though, there’s so much more wrong with this whole picture.  That this had to happen at all, that this situation even existed, that it is American custom to get wasted in celebration, that people use drunkenness for intimacy (and consent vs. non-consent is determined the next day), that modesty and propriety is seen as fuddy-duddy and not as a protection mechanism, that it’s “every man for himself”, that one doesn’t think to protest in the face of wrong, that the idea of justice, right and wrong, is all muddled — it’s all wrong.  You should know that.  You do know that.  Don’t you?

Rape: An Ugly Reality

As I snuggle down with my Google Reader to get started on scanning blogs and news headlines, I happened to come across two NY Times articles on the topic of rape.  I can’t gather my thoughts.  If anything, I’m reminded of my pastor’s sermon on Judges 19 (will be uploaded soon)…  Anyway, I still wanted to post this dose of reality; perhaps it will jerk you out of a media-induced reverie.

In Tripoli, Libya,* a Libyan woman, Eman al-Obeidy, struggles to get the story out about how she was raped by 15 of Qaddafi’s men.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to read of the frenzy where security officials struggled to contain Obeidy and prevent the journalists from recording the details of her reported abuse.

“They say that we are all Libyans and we are one people…But look at what the Qaddafi men did to me.” She displayed a broad bruise on her face, a large scar on her upper thigh, several narrow and deep scratch marks lower on her leg, and marks from binding around her hands and feet.

She said she had been raped by 15 men. “I was tied up, and they defecated and urinated on me,” she said. “They violated my honor.”

She pleaded for friends she said were still in custody. “They are still there, they are still there,” she said. “As soon as I leave here, they are going to take me to jail.”

Yet at least she has the courage to speak out (a course that even women in America hesitate to take).

Heading almost directly east to New Delhi, India,** the article covers more of the general range of rape and abuse cases that occur in response to the rapidly changing culture.

The victims are almost invariably young, educated working women who are enjoying freedom unknown even a decade ago. The accused are almost always young high school dropouts from surrounding villages, where women who work outside the home are often seen as lacking in virtue and therefore deserving of harassment and even rape.

The article opens with a recent case, proceeds to give some statistics and other analyses concerning the rising rate of violent crime.  I initially skimmed all this until I came across a more detailed description of the opening story.  Basically, a senior police official, Vijay Kumar Singh, suspecting funny business when a man walked in to report a theft in an isolated area, pressed the man for more details.

[E]ventually the young man admitted taking his girlfriend to the secluded area so they could be alone, and that five men had beaten him and raped her.

Based on the description, the police quickly identified one attacker as a village tough named Tony from Raispur with whom the police had tangled before. When they picked [him] up… he was still drunk…“He was so shameless he narrated the whole thing without any sense of remorse,” he said. Tony later denied that he had raped the woman, according to the police report.

Tony had apparently assumed that the rape victim would not come forward because the shame would be too great.

Mr. Singh feared that he was right. “I realized from the beginning that the girl would not help us,” he said.

The police arrested the five young men and charged them with rape and robbery. They tried repeatedly to get the young woman to come forward. The city’s police chief sent her an e-mail asking her to cooperate and offering to protect her identity.

She sent a curt e-mail reply, the police said: “The police will not be able to restore my honor.”

The police approached her father, and he urged her to cooperate…But the next morning her brother found her trying to hang herself, Mr. Lal said. The police decided to stop pressing her to cooperate.

So, what do you do in cases like these?  It was only three weeks ago when a brutal gang rape of an 11-year old took place in the States. And how many unreported cases are passing under our noses right now?

I remember in high school, whispering about so-and-so’s recent sexual exploits, feeling that hushed mixture of awe, disapproval and curiosity.   Some of my friends had begun experimenting sexually as early as 7th or 8th grade.  They appeared more confident and mentally superior back then; after all, they “knew” and “experienced” more than I had.  Then, I remember 11th and 12th grade, different run-ins with those selfsame girls.  I remember during a sleepover, one friend crying; her first boyfriend basically raped her.  But she didn’t know it.  We didn’t know it.  I didn’t know it.  By the grace of God, He kept me safe as I clumsily navigated my way through that blind maze of dark adolescence and blatant sin into His light, where He fulfills His promises to make me new, to cleanse and to cover.

For me, rape is an overwhelming topic.  In the face of such sin, in this world where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, how can there be hope but in God alone?  By myself, a 5’2″ girl, I can’t possibly do anything of eternal repute. Honestly, I can’t figure out how to end this post in a concise way.  It’s just, I had to share these articles and my thoughts.

*Libyan Woman Struggles to Tell Media of Her Rape

**Rapes of Women Show Clash of Old and New India