Asian Girl Problem #144: Narrow-minded people who think they’re helpful

Here are some seemingly random anecdotes that have rubbed me the wrong way lately:

  1. I took two tv writing classes over the last few months. Naturally, I wrote a comedy pilot for a 30 minute sitcom called “Asian Bitch Problems” inspired by my coming of age as a weirdo stuck between two cultures. The remarkable thing is, in both classes, both of my teachers (and some classmates) felt impelled to make sure I knew that the family foibles I wrote about were very “universal” and “relatable”. This was an attempt to assure me that what I was writing was relevant, and post-cultural, I think? I could only smile and say “great” because I honestly don’t know the reason for their comment. A) They didn’t say that to any other students ,and B) I made no indication that I didn’t think my story was relatable.
  2. I posted a question to a public Facebook group about soundproofing my studio because my neighbor parties some weekends. I got a good amount of useful advice, but several women very firmly told me to report the noise to the landlord (anonymously) or if that didn’t work, the police. I get that their knee-jerk reaction is to support me and my tenant rights, but that has nothing to do with my point. I didn’t need to get schooled in how to stand up for myself. If I want my neighbor to stfu, I’d just tell him (we’re on friendly terms). But I know I’m the world’s lightest sleeper, and more importantly, I’ve been 24 before. I’ve had my share of loud parties, and I’m not yet driven to complain to him for not being able to enjoy my old lady bedtime of 8pm. Of course, none of this matters. The women on Facebook don’t have the backstory, but what they do palpably have is a lot of unnecessary presumptions and prescriptions.
  3. This article on why women don’t write to the editor more. Essentially, an article attributed the overwhelmingly high amount of white male letter writers to women having confidence issues and unbalanced social norms. A barrage of women responded with amazing rebuttals, such as lack of time, greater empathy, lack of interest to POVs clearly from other voices, etc…and FUCKING AMEN.

This is why I’m irked by people trying to be helpful, but coming from a completely ignorant perspective. If they’re just stop talking and drawing alarming, fake conclusions, making broad generalizations based on anecdotal evidence, maybe they’d make room for other voices and actually learn something.

Culture is based on a set of extremely narrow rules and modes that are extremely hard to look past, for anyone, but especially if you’ve never had to straddle multiple spheres. Instead of just keeping an open mind and seeing each person and situation for themselves, angry/confused people judge too quickly, doling out advice and opinions that are often irrelevant or harmful to the greater understanding of individuals.

I know it’s a tense time. There are certain issues like “gender norms” and “privilege” that rank high in people’s minds and are easy artillery in any cultural discussion. But I’m tired of inane advice from people who’d rather push their higher-than-thou beliefs on me than stop and consider that they’re clearly not for me. Whether it’s because of outlying circumstances, personal preference, or mostly likely, cultural differences they’d never fathom (aka privilege).

So I come back to the moment a girl in my college poetry class flippantly called me meek during a critique. Because apparently I’ll never got over it.

At the time, there was no time to process or refute her, but now 10 years later, I pose these other possibilities, other than meek, why I was a quiet student in that class.

  • I’m just quiet ok? I’m not scared or damaged or submissive or repressed, I just don’t fucking have anything to say to people I don’t really know
  • I place lots of weight on my comments, making sure each is thoughtful and different that what’s been said
  • I don’t think my comment will be useful for the receiver
  • I don’t care

Let’s start with those four. I have other things to do now so that’s it for this post.

Moral: Stop putting your own standards for what’s healthy and good and right on other people, especially when you have no idea where they’re coming from. Your advice doesn’t make you a do-gooder. It makes more clutter I have to cut through.

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