I feel like I cannot help but to write up about social issues I become aware of and ones that I know not many know. As a Chinese-Canadian who grew up in a good neighborhood and who has also had what she wanted, it is extremely easy to put aside the world's problems and focus on my own. I tend to complain about the most superficial things that happen to me and it would be a lie to say that I did not take my blessings for granted. Yes, first-world problems are problems but we cannot use that notion as a reason to neglect what is happening in the world.
Many of the issues I grow to learn and to care about are issues in Asia, specifically in China, most likely because of my cultural background and attachment to my native country. I am one of many, many immigrant children who moved to Canada after living in China for a few years, therefore I am aware of the difference in the cultures and lifestyles. Other Chinese children grow up in the bigger Chinese cities, where running water and public transport are the least of their worries, and that is the part of China that is portrayed in most Western media outlets. 101 East, a series I follow on Youtube and adore, released a documentary on a topic that I think the world should be made more aware of, but judging by the number of views on the video, it seems like I am wrong.
(One of) The other groups of Chinese children is the one whose parents' have left them to work and support their families financially. These children are called the "left-behind" generation, as they are left in smaller, rural villages to tend for themselves and often their grandparents, while their parents move to cities and work labor work in order to supply for the family. I can imagine that many of these children hope to one day go to university in the bigger cities and make a living for themselves, essentially catching up on the childhood they lost. These children live in horrible conditions, often with abusive grandparents or families, are crammed into small and unsafe schools, all because the national budget is unequally distributed, as it is done in most countries. Many NGOs have been created in order to help bring awareness and support to victims of this "leftover generation", however it is, first and foremost, a cultural issue, and resocializing a group of people who have been taught to live a certain way all their lives is near-impossible.
Like I have mentioned countless times, awareness is the first step to help, and the reason why it took China years to admit to their left-behind generation problem is because they, alongside many countries, have an image to maintain, or to build. It is true that being aware of these things does not necessarily mean we can change these children's lives, however it means that the problem has been acknowledged and therefore the next step is change.
Writing, this I know that I will go back to being an ungrateful 18 year old tomorrow, but I do know that bringing to light a problem as severe as this one to a Western society who might not be aware of it means that although there is work to be done, there are people who will be willing to help.
"New Arkansas Law Lets Men Block Wives' Abortions" is the title of the article. First of all, is it Arkansass or Arkansaw?
Second of all, excuse me?
We are in 2017. Yet another bill (law? listen, I'm not sure of the legal terms here but I know for a fact that this is misogyny in a nutshell) that proves the existing hatred of women is written. This one specifically has a clause that allows, and I am as baffled as you are as I am writing this, men to sue the doctor of his wife if she is trying to abort a child (if he is the father). But wait, there's more. Even in cases of spousal rape, he can sue the doctor which would put a stop to the abortion. Only he can't get money from it this time. Ooh! What a change! BUT THERE'S EVEN MORE! The woman's parents or legal guardians can ALSO sue the doctor for monetary rewards if the woman is a minor. Which is basically saying: Hey, women! You have no rights over your own bodies! We decide these things for you!
I am appalled at the idea that men are still the ones making decision for women, even in 2017, but what enrages me the most is that these men have no connection whatsoever to these women they are taking a fundamental right away from. These men, the ones who will sign these bills and who will pass these laws, have probably never or will probably never EVER meet the women they are endangering and belittling. It is common sense that they should have NO right or say in what a woman they do not even know can do with her body. It's HER BODY! Period! She knows it best, she knows what's healthier for her, what's safer, and most importantly: what's better. She knows it more than anyone else, men or women, because you know what? It's her body. Did I mention it was her body -- not anyone else's?
To whoever says sexism is over, this is one of many proofs that, guess what, it isn't. Whoever tries to pass this law as a "pro-life" law and thinks that sexism has nothing to do with it has their head in the clouds -- this is sexism. This law is a firm example that men still, in this day and age, give themselves the right to decide what a woman can or cannot do with her body. A woman he will never even meet, meaning that he not only puts himself above one woman, he (the man behind this bill I mean) puts himself above every single woman out there. That's not equality.
It's also important to stress that feminism does not mean the fall of men. It means equal rights for everyone. If you are a man, you won't lose any of your privileges, your power, or everything else that you cherish so much. If you are a woman, you will gain the fundamental rights that you have always deserved. That is what feminism is, and should be, about. If you think of feminism as loss; you are so, so wrong. Feminism is about women having the same happy rights as men. No one loses. So why would you be scared of it?
As we are currently going back decades in time, I believe we can only do what has been done before: protest, educate, and not give up for our rights. Women have made it so far, and we will keep the fight going. Because equality shouldn't even be something that should be fought for, and we will continue standing up for our rights and beliefs for as long as it'll take for the world to understand that women and men are equal.
The evergrowing anxiety that comes with choosing a career path is inevitable, especially at my age, where everyone around you seems to know what they are doing. The deadline for university applications for most of my friends and I is in less than two months, meaning that in less than two months, we will have decided what university program we want to enroll in. But it's way more than just a program; it's our entire future.
The fear of making a mistake now is probably nothing compared to what might happen in three years, yet no one seems to be able to wrap their heads around the idea that it'll be just fine. If we take a few steps back, and dismiss this whole "university" thing, and simply look around, it is obvious that some people seem to be ahead of others. I found my first internship at 17, while others were incredible participants of Model UN. Others were focusing on their grades, while others were working exorbitant hours a week to pay for a 6 months trip that would change their lives forever. But we're all 18 now, and it seems to everyone that everyone else is ahead of them.
I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to know what I want to study, because I know many people who are still thinking of what they are going to do tomorrow. It's given me more time to prepare myself, like starting a blog and working with journalists around the province, but it doesn't stop me from envying the person next door, who, at my age, is enrolled in one of the top universities in Canada, studying a major that will most definitely make more money than mine later. It also seems like some people my age are achieving so much more, and despite knowing that I am doing the best I can, it is impossible to not acknowledge their success.
But that also brings me back to the point of this piece, which is that there is no "one size fits all" career path for anyone. In ten years I might be a lawyer, the same way as a law student now could end up being an Oscar-winner in 10 years. Everyone moves at a different pace, experiences things differently but most importantly, reacts to these experiences differently. One person's failure might be another's goal, and that's totally fine. The day you stop comparing yourself to people who are seemingly "lesser" than you is the day you've really matured; but they day you stop comparing yourself to people completely is the day you'll finally start focusing on yourself and yourself only. These are things I've learned from attending McMUN 2017 this weekend. It was a stimulating and enriching experience, and I've learned so much from the world, from other people, but I've mostly realized that all of us who were sitting in that General Assembly room were of different ages, backgrounds, and will have totally different futures. Yet, we were all sitting there debating over the same topics and moving at the same pace.
There is no blanket solution for environmental issues the same way there is no blanket career path that will fit everyone. Moving at your own pace is the only way you will let your future unfold rightfully. If you have the feeling that you aren't doing "enough", you are either comparing yourself to everyone else too much -- or maybe you are right. Do what you feel like you should be doing, whether it is that you feel like starting a website for your photography, to step up your Instagram game, or maybe it is simply that you feel like you should go to the gym more often. Things happen, and you have to let them happen or else you'll disrupt this mysterious force that is pushing your life forward, or so I believe. Surround yourself with inspiring people, and not ones that make you want to stay home all day. And stay true to yourself! Don't get a job you hate and that will bring you no experience just because "everyone else is doing something" and you aren't!
Maybe there is a blanket solution actually: follow your own rhythm and not someone else's.
Constance Wu, leading lady of incredibly funny TV Show Fresh Off The Boat and all around great actress has earned my respect even more today -- by speaking up against Casey Affleck.
After Affleck's multiple nominations and recent Golden Globes win for Best Actor in the 2016 movie Manchester By The Sea, people have spoken up about how outraged they were, following the 2010 sexual harassment accusations made against him by two women who had worked with him. Despite these disturbing accusations, his career has continued on, as we can see with The Academy Award for Best Actor nomination with his name written on it. Tell me how that "ruined his career"?
Constance Wu has received support from many, but also backlash, from people -- even WOMEN -- saying that this is the reason feminism is useless and that the female race isn't progressing -- because she accuses every single man of sexual assault. But dismissing women's voices and silencing their cry for help by ignoring the problem adds onto the problem of rape culture we are faced with. In this day and age when a country's leader has openly mistreated women and in this day and age where everything seems to be moving backwards, how can we allow a sexual predator to even rise to fame, by granting him one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of cinema?
It was also argued that The Academy celebrates talent and that despite his morals, Affleck deserves to be honored for his talent. But The Academy should be celebrating art, talent and hard work, but also humanity -- the purest form of art. As Wu said, this situation is once again one of which the media implies that people -- in this case men -- can get away with anything if they have the money, and if they are famous. It is implied that a career is more important than women's bodies. And this can go either way also.
This also brings the topic of problematic Roman Polanski's nominations alongside many more. And citizens of the internet, defenders of Affleck want "proofs" that he did what he was accused of. But doubting victims' cry for help fuels the constant problem of rape culture we are faced with, and "innocent until proven guilty" puts more people in danger than you think. Constance talked about her career being at stake for speaking out about this -- and that statement should tell you something about the corrupted industry that Hollywood is.
Constance, thank you for using your platform for talking about things that many would not have the courage of talking about. The C in your name stands for courage.
Songs like One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" are songs that I, as a 13 year old teen going through puberty, listened to and fell in love with, thinking that these boys were the greatest influences and confidence-boosters there was. However, I've recently come across an article titled "What If I Knew I was Beautiful?" and immediately clicked. No one needs someone else's permission to feel beautiful.
Songs like this teach young girls that their insecurities make them beautiful, and people who think likewise believe so also. I do think that sometimes, the most "clueless" people are incredibly beautiful, despite not knowing, but the way these songs put it as is that you must feel insecure so that someone else's validation will make you beautiful. Nothing wrong with it? "Cute"? Then how come the second someone is confident, and thinks of themselves as beautiful, the same person will be seen as vain, conceited, or self-centered? I understand that there is a difference between being cocky and being confident, and I understand that the line is blurred by an array of "it depends on the situation". But how can one be expected to love themselves when the hidden message behind "you are beautiful" is actually "don't feel beautiful unless I tell you to or else you will be considered full of yourself"?
I've asked many of my friends their thoughts on this quite controversial topic, and I've been told by one too many girls that guys who once complimented them on their looks have also told them to "stop being so vain" after they've acknowledged the compliments. There is nothing more hypocritical than a friend telling you how good you look, but telling you to "stay humble" the second you start feeling good in your own skin. This idea of being validated by society, or men, is actually a bigger problem than it seems, because not only are young girls vulnerable to being influenced by these so-called "empowering" songs, they are taught that social validation is actually more important than their own perception of themselves. Yet, true confidence comes from your own heart, and once you've accepted yourself, anything anyone says doesn't matter anymore.
Promoting insecurities is a topic that seems to be approached rarely in the media, yet Tumblr is full of quotes like "sad girls are the best" or "i might be ugly but at least my music taste is good". Are we agreeing that being insecure makes you desirable? Is this what girls who roam the internet daily, like I used to, will grow up thinking? Because it shouldn't be. Being humble is a character trait that everyone should have -- right after knowing your self-worth.
After coming out of one of the best humanities class I have ever taken, in which we analyzed deeply the roots and reasoning behind violence and the nonviolent alternative, it breaks my heart to open up my Internet browser to articles titled “Fear in Aleppo” or “Berlin men push woman off stairs”.
I then get a text from my friend, who has seemingly read the same articles as I did, stating “Why do you think human nature is violent?”
But my answer was that it isn’t. We aren’t born violent, we just grow accustomed to it. It seems like it is the only option and that nonviolence is useless. We are violent out of fear, think about it. If you walk alone and you feel like someone dangerous is following you, you’d probably grow incredible suspicious and on the edge of committing something violent — you wouldn’t think to turn around and tell them politely to leave. Or maybe you would, but you’d probably think, in the back of your mind, that it wouldn’t work and that it might incite an even more violent reaction. But maybe they weren’t intending on doing anything dangerous, and now that they think you think that of them, they start having violent intentions.
Living in a developed country, even though I am a minority, is one of the things that I am the most thankful for. My problems stop after “did I fail that test?”, or, on the bigger occasions, “Am I going to get into my first choice university?”. And I look around me and I see that some people don’t have these problems, and I’m immediately cursing the world, thinking that it’s unfair. But then I take a step back, and realize that my problems are so irrelevant that spending time thinking about them is a waste of my time. But the worst part comes next: once I acknowledge the hardships others go through, I realize that there’s nothing I can do about it. And the things that I can do, such as donating money or raising awareness, get lost in a sea of other things that seem more relevant.
And that’s the hardest thing to do. Living with the knowledge that horrible things are happening, yet being aware of my minimal importance in this world. Which is why I have a blog, and why this blog comes in handy at times like this. I don’t think that I’ll change the world with my 700 words typed on a meticulously-chosen background. I just want more people to be aware. Because everything starts with awareness. If you aren’t aware that something is wrong — something like violence — how can you ever think of a solution? I know people who say racist slurs and sexist remarks all the time and it drives me absolutely insane. Yet, when I tell them, they say “chill”. “They don’t mean it” is what people tell me in order to appease what they say, but isn’t that just letting it happen?
Awareness, and acceptance. The two As that we need — an A in English class would be nice too, though. Accepting that what is happening is happening is the first step, but it can’t stop there. It’s like buying a notebook to take notes, but never taking them. What’s the point? Be aware, and accept that you are wrong, right, that there are other solutions or that things CAN be different. Be aware of the fact that there is an alternative to violence — nonviolence. And that if we put the amount of faith we put in violence, but into nonviolence, we’d have much better solutions. Don’t think that it’s “useless”, because it’s not. And nonviolent movements have worked greater than you think. If you want some great talks or articles about these, please send me an email in the contact section!
I hope you enjoyed this short piece of me letting out everything I want to say. It’s been a rough week and writing destresses me, so whether or not this made sense, at least I got it out there.
In my Writing Lab class I've been writing up a proposal for a documentary covering one of the most important topics to me: Sheng Nu.
A sheng nu is immediately translated to a "leftover woman" in Chinese, and it is this Asian belief that if a woman is above 25 years old and unmarried, she is "expired". It's incredibly derogatory and puts obsene amounts of pressure on young women to get married, even though they don't want to.
This is one of the topics that touches me because 1) I already feel the pressure to get married as my close cousin just got married and had a kid, all at the age of 25, but also 2) because I think it touches upon more than simply getting married. Many other issues can be explored within this problematic, such as the issues of homosexuality in Asia (which can explain why some women remain single), the issues of the "plastic surgery culture" as well as simply the issue of being an independent woman who wants to focus on herself, and not on getting married and having children.
As I pitched my idea in class, I came to the realization that many people had absolutely no clue that this was a thing and I think it is so important to draw attention to this topic. As China is a rather conservative country, many Chinese citizens don't even know or think about this condescending title as an insult, because they don't know better, and I think that as a Chinese-born-Canadian, it is my job to draw attention to this issue.
Women should be allowed to do what they want with their lives, and society has no right to tell them what age they should get married, or if they should get married at all. This weigh-in from society and especially from the elderly is understandable, as they believe strongly in family, but they dismiss the fact that this is a complete other generation, and that what we go through as millennials alters the way we see life. We are more open to a life of being single, and being on the job market. We are open to the idea of not having kids and we are totally OKAY with not getting married. It is a personal choice; not one that a country should dictate.
I think this short blog post was simply to get my point out and to get my idea out, as I would definitely love to work on my proposal even more and seeing it come to life. Anyone wanna fund me?
School is great. Education is awesome. I love learning.
That was 100% honest, and there was absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever in those three sentences. However, I'm so close to giving up on school, and the scary part is that I'm not joking.
My education has always been something I've taken very seriously. Elementary school was a piece of cake, so it wasn't until high school that I realized that good grades are things you have to work for. My first two years of high school were disastrous, to say the least. I can barely think about them because they are two years I want to fully forget. I wasn't working hard, I had no mind of myself, I was so uncultured and easily influenced, I was going through weight troubles which led to even more problems later, and I had issues with people. One good thing that came out of those two years was my discovery of the internet, but that's another story.
Grade 9 was the year I realized I had to focus on school. What for? To get good grades. It seemed so obvious at the time, and it still is now. It was the year I realized that I had to choose a path for myself, and the first year I experienced endless nights studying and doing homework. Simultaneously, that was the year my parents started being pussycat asian parents.
There's probably a bad connotation with that word, but I mean it in the best possible way. You know the term "Tiger mom"? Well what I mean is the opposite. Tiger parents put insane amount of pressure on their children in the hope that they become doctors, lawyers, or whatever "asian" jobs there are out there. My parents didn't do that, and I'm eternally grateful for them. They let me explore the classes I wanted to take, and from that, I was able to find out what I love to do; not what they want me to do. I have friends my age who still have no idea what their passions are, and are simply following the status quo. I could never imagine myself being in that situation.
Now you must be wondering, if my parents didn't put so much pressure on me, why am I so anxious and stressed out about grades then?
That's because I became my own tiger mom.
Having "little" guidance pushed me to do my best and to study hard. And that's a good thing. And it was a good thing for a while, until it became unhealthy. I clearly remember crying my eyes out in the locker aisles in my last year of high school when I received my transcripts. I had an 88 or an 89 overall average, yet in my mind that was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I was applying to college (I live in Quebec so it's 2 years of "college" and 3 years of uni) in a month with those transcripts and I thought that I wasn't going to get in the school I'm in today, because I genuinely believed that an 89 average meant that I was an idiot.
To this day, my friends laugh about my way of thinking, and about the fact that to me, "failing" means anything under an 85%. No one really understands where all this pressure came from, seeing that my parents are the most supportive and understanding parents in the world. I'm so thankful for their guidance, because all they needed to do was simply to tell me to figure out what I liked and to find a way to make a job out of it. Which I already did, and that was the most rewarding experience ever. And I had a great time, but now it feels like high school all over again.
But now university applications are coming up soon, and I'm in my 3rd semester, which means that in 2 weeks, all my grades will have been officialized, and those are the grades I will be using to apply to university. I tell my friends that I'm "stressed out" all the time, but that's an understatement. Having put myself through 2 and a half years of pain and constant stress, I'm definitely not just "stressed out". I'm incredibly anxious, I had developed an eating disorder that none of my friends knew about (sorry if you're finding out now), and I saw a professional for my OCD behind my parents' back (again, sorry mom and dad if you find out like this). And the root of all of this was just grades. And now I sound like a ridiculous, crazy person who is probably too weak to deal with these things. But I'm not; the proof is that I'm here today, putting myself through the same thing because I have a goal I want to achieve.
The more I write about it, the more I see how ridiculous it was. My good friend Sabrina Jarry just posted a Youtube video talking about her experience and why she's not going to university next year, and it opened my eyes to the fact that everything we're told about life is distorted. University and education are important, but if your health is in peril because of it, there's something wrong. These are rights and privileges, and you should access them when you want and the way you want to, not by following the norms we've been told by our parents and by society.
I just wanted to get these words off my chest. I will be applying to my #1 choice university in a few months, and I will be going to university. Because it is my choice, not because everyone else says I have to. And after all of this, I'm not going to put myself under all the pressure I've put myself under these past 3 years. No one should go through all of that. I'm literally shedding so much hair and eyebrow hair because of the stress it's ridiculous. I'm going to do things my way and with the right timing. Whatever happens happens, but I've decided that I can't let this weird, irrational idea of "grades" and "r score" make me fall back into the place I never want to be again.
In case you missed it, Trump won the 2016 Elections, which means that by January of 2017, he will officially be sieging in the White House, with wife, FLOTUS Melania Trump.
The elections were incredibly close this year, despite what everyone thought. I, as well as millions, were sure that Hillary would win, and that the US wouldn't have a misogynist man as the ruler of the United States of America, one of the biggest, most powerful nations in the world. His presence destigmatizes rape culture, normalizes oppression against minorities, and creates fear amongst women, Muslims, African-Americans, refugees, and much more. Yet he is there, in power, to the deception of many, and sadly, to the content of even more.
I've spent the entire day talking with Trump supporters about why they think that he deserves to be there. I also spent the entire night last night panicking, because as soon as Trump won Florida, we knew it was over. Having this man leading a country with so much power is unsettling, to say the least, but as of now, what can we do?
I am not American, by the way. I'm from up North, and even I know that even we are incredibly affected by this win. He is the president of the United States of America, and as much as I hate to say this, there's not much we can do. We can wait for his trial next month, but do we really want Pence taking his place? I don't really want an extremely homophobic cisgendered privileged white male taking the presidential seat either. But us, as a continent, as a world, we are united. Through love and peace. Trump's presidency restricts many different groups from many different basic human rights, however, he does not prevent you from loving, from caring, from respecting others and from spreading peace and awareness. Your president might be blatantly racist, but you don't have to be. Nor do you have to believe that men are superior to women (which they aren't, we're equal), nor do you have to believe that all Muslims are terrorists (which, again, they aren't). You don't have to agree with Trump's views, and you really don't have to think that violence is the solution to anything.
As a nation, powerful like they are, the people of the United States have the power to make a change, whether it's Trump, Clinton, Sanders or even Kanye taking power over the White House. These elections can be an eye-opening experience to all. Look around you, and understand and accept that violence and hatred is everywhere. But resist violence, choose love over hatred, and respect over oppression. You have the right to do that, President Trump can't take that away from you.
I am the first to say that until last semester, I didn't know what rape culture really meant. I thought I knew, but I was so wrong. And I'm happy to be wrong.
Rape culture is, to many, the concept of victimization and the idea that we put the blame on the victim. Most people will talk about it a bit, share an article here and there on their Facebook page, or simply acknowledge that it exists. But it's way more present than what you'd expect, and it shouldn't be.
Rape culture is journalists qualifying rapists of athletes, instead of calling them rapists.
Rape culture is laughing when someone says to your friend that they have a nice ass, even if it makes your friend uncomfortable.
Rape culture is thinking that a victim's alcohol consumption and them being sexually assaulted are connected.
Rape culture is thinking that "boys will be boys!"
Rape culture is when the media uses euphemisms to qualify rape. "Having sex" does not mean rape.
Rape culture is using the expression "We got totally raped" to qualify the loss of a sports game.
Rape culture is silencing sexual assault on campus, for the sake of the university's reputation.
Rape culture is the popularization and destigmatization of songs that objectify women and that dismiss the idea of consent. "I know you want it", maybe she doesn't want it?
Rape culture is the use of the word "slut" to describe clothing, makeup, or people, in general.
Rape culture exists, and is everywhere. Tt wasn't after two semesters that I finally understood that it was more than just the idea of victimization. There's no way to stop rape culture unless you inform yourself of what it truly is. So don't normalize the use of the word "slut". Don't normalize the silencing of sexual assault on campus. Don't think that a victim's testimonial is fake, or think that he or she deserved it. #EndRapeCulture.