1. Delighted about the cathartic repeal of DOMA and Prop 8, but remember that the fight goes on to protect LGBT rights in other realms besides marriage, such as in the workplace, education, housing, so forth. This is a victory, but the war against hate is still far from won. Remember how Brown v. Board, though monunental, did not end racism in the 1950s. Let’s keep on fighting.

  2. How to stop sexual harassment? Stop sexually harassing people.

    The other day, I was sexually harassed for the first time in a professional context. I have been feeling pretty severely depressed ever since. I always knew that sexual harassment was terrible, but I could not grasp the magnitude of how devastating it is until it happened to me.

    The harasser was a former professor, someone I have known, respected, admired, and trusted for a long time. This person was among the first people who really seemed to believe in me, at a time when I had long been doubting my abilities. I saw myself a mediocre student at best - passionate about social issues - but just not ‘book smart’ for some reason. Then I met this professor, who apparently believed I had an extraordinary mind. He helped me cultivate my skills and I become a straight-A student and made it to UCLA Law.

    Though my self-esteem was still wobbly, being the admittedly neurotic person that I am, my self-esteem had reached a level it hadn’t been in a very, very long time. By my freshman year of college, I had barely fully recovered from a 7-year struggle with anorexia nervosa and a long struggle with depression and anxiety. By the time I graduated with honors, a double major, and distinction in the major a year early, with two of my dream internships lined up, I was walking on air. And this professor had helped me get there.

    You can imagine how all that had been built up came crashing down at the moment of this incident. I felt betrayed and sick to my stomach. I felt terrified and humiliated. “Is my body all he ever saw of me? Did he ever actually think I was smart? Am I smart? Was this his intention from the beginning? Did he just tell me I was smart with this motive in mind this whole time?”

    I also felt flooded by guilt and shame. A knee-jerk reaction. “What did I do wrong? Was it the way I dressed? My makeup? Body language? What was wrong with me that elicited this behavior from him?” This, I am fighting against now, thanks to feminists changing the discourse around rape.

    It is never the victim’s fault. He knew better. How do we stop rape? Not by changing skirt lengths or covering women or staying at home or whatever. Rapists simply need to stop raping people. Similarly, sexual harassers simply need to stop sexually harassing people. The idea of men not being able to control their sexuality is a myth. To claim that men have the brain capacity of dogs is degrading. Humans are more cognizant than that. Men have the capacity not to rape or sexually harass. Are they not civilized?

    So, I am already slowly starting to recover, but I have cried every day since it happened. It has damaged my ability to trust people. Yesterday, I was with friends I have known and trusted for three years, and still, I felt tense and terrified … From the moment my friend picked me up to the moment I shut the door of his car when I was dropped off, my heart was racing and any instances - like a quiet moment - that anyone might have the opportunity to touch me, I felt panicked. I had a heightened sense of where people’s eyes would go, and I felt anger and fear at even conceiving them violating me - even with their eyes. I have never been this way before. I can’t believe a single second has traumatized me like this. And what is more depressing, is I’ve heard that sexual harassment is rampant in the legal field …

    Fortunately, I have been reading feminist literature for the last few years that gives me a healthy perspective on this and I will be okay. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who hasn’t looked into feminism or is very young … that single moment has left me numb for the past few days … I feel like I’m walking around with a heavy blanket draped over my body. I have turned inward. I feel damaged.

    But in Confucius’ words, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." I will rise. This may have been the moment that sets me on the track to civil rights enforcement law (instead of the other tracks I’ve been considering, such as public defense, immigration), after all. I will overcome this and be myself again. What is atrocious is how over half of the women I have confided in have also experienced this pain - from someone they knew, respected, and trusted - which hurts far more. I’m going to channel my outrage to making sure people do not have to live in constant fear of sexual violence.

  3. 13:19 13th Jul 2011

    Notes: 5

    Great Huff Po article:

    "Self actualization is one of the highest levels of humans’ growth. It is not superior since everyone can get there, it is just a stage of being. Here are some of the characteristics of self actualized people:

    1. Real not ideal: Self actualized people have a healthy relationship with reality and are more comfortable with it and do not deny it. They accept the good and bad as parts of the same spectrum where one is in balance and the other out of balance.
    2. Accountability: Self actualized people do not get into the blame game but look for their role in a situation to make improvements.
    3. Open to making mistakes: Self actualized people give themselves and others the right to make a mistake and do not limit their life’s experience because of fear of mistakes. At the same time, they take reasonable cautionary steps not to repeat the same mistake over and over again.
    4. Acceptance: Self actualized people have acceptance of self, others and the world around them. They are objective in general but also aware of their subjectivity and how it may deceive them.
    5. Spontaneous: Self actualized people are grounded but at the same time learn to be open to new experiences, bring the inner child out and have fun with life. They don’t force themselves to be as others think they “should” be and go with what feels right to their core. At the same time, they do not try to intentionally hurt others and are sensitive to what is good.
    6. Problem focused: Self actualized people focus on the solution from a more multi-modal perspective and are open to new ideas and options. They also look at a problem from above their emotions as if they are standing outside the chaos to see what is happening to make an unbiased judgment about it.
    7. Desire for detachment and privacy: While interactive and well connected with their surroundings, self actualized people have also a need to have time to themselves for quiet time and reflection and do not always have to be with others to enjoy their time. While with other people whom they feel connected to, the presence is enough and there does not have to be any open communication all the time.
    8. Autonomy: Self actualized people are independent of their culture and their surrounding while are aware of them fully. They make decisions on their own without being conditioned toward any particular culture, religion and else. They are aware that conditioning can be limiting and illusive and need to be used with full awareness.
    9. Appreciations of simple things: Self actualized people learn to enjoy simple things in life and to connect with nature. They take time to find joy and content in daily things that come to all of us for free without any effort. A walk in the park, looking at the moon at night, listening to a bird singing are activities that are close to her heart.
    10. Honest: Self actualized people are honest but know the fine line between honesty and being blunt. Others always know where they are standing with self actualized people and relationships with them are usually drama free since they won’t say yes where they feel otherwise. In other words, they are assertive.
    11. Mystical and peak experiences: Self actualized people have regular mystical and peak experiences and have the ability to find and connect with their authentic self. During these experiences, they feel at one with the world around them.
    12. Oneness: Self actualized people become more of a global soul where their concern is more toward all mankind not just what they have been conditioned to feel more similar to.
    13. Healthy interpersonal relationships: Self actualized people have clear boundaries therefore, their relationship is free of drama and anxious attachments. They have more profound relationships with other adults on a deep level. They are capable of greater love and focus on the good few rather than a large number. Their relationships are very meaningful and positive.
    14. Equality: Self actualized people tend to believe in the equal nature of humans and believe that each person has certain strengths and weaknesses.
    15. Playfulness: Self actualizing people are playful in nature, love to laugh, and make jokes but not at the expense of others. They are open to new things in life.
    16. Creative: Self actualizing people are creative and express themselves in many positive forms like writing, speaking, playing, painting or else.
    17. Resistance to inculturation: Self actualized people resist transcendence to any particular culture and go above their culture and maintain a strong individuality while learning and at times, practicing what seems positive in their as well as other cultures. This is done by choice not any force of attachment. They can evaluate the culture objectively to see what works for them and their loved ones. They can also assimilate naturally into a new culture if they live in it.
    18. Imperfections: Self actualizing people are aware of the fact that they, like others, are imperfect because they are humans. But this awareness brings them opportunities to constantly learn new ways to grow. While being content with themselves but they never stop striving. “
  4. Fantastic news. Photoshop reeks havoc on people’s self-esteem. I’ve been loving how high-def TV makes pores and blemishes exist on the screen again. We should celebrate the real, not illusions of an ideal, or else we condemn our society to a constant state of unhappiness.

  5. downlo:

    Fawaz Ismail grew up in Texas where he asked everyone to call him Tony, a name that “put people at ease.” He remained Tony after he moved to Northern Virginia, where he helped expand his family’s flag business. But Ismail dropped his nickname after the backlash against Muslims in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Now, a decade later, his name is a daily message to his fellow Americans: They must deal with him for who he is — a Muslim who loves his country and proudly sells its banner.

    “A lot of people use a nickname to make it easier for Americans to pronounce,” he says, “but now, I don’t care. They’re going to have to pronounce my name. It’s not that hard — Fah-wahz.”

    This article resonated with me. I have an ‘ethnic’ name and my parents never bothered to give me a western name/nickname. It never occurred to me to rename myself until I got a lot older and it was too late.

    My name has always been a source of angst for me because it’s tricky for westerners to spell and pronounce. The written form of my name also lends itself to a really ugly-sounding pronunciation, which I abhor.

    When I’m asked my name at doctors’ offices, etc. I just give the spelling right away rather than just saying it. I’ve often thought about printing up business cards with a guide to spelling and pronouncing my name correctly. It would probably be perceived as odd, but would save me some wasted moments discussing my name for the umpteenth time with a bemused American.

    These stories resonate with me too. During my childhood, I learned to resent my parents and despise my “foreign-sounding” name. I suggested to my parents an assortment of English nicknames they should consider calling me instead of my given name, but none of them stuck. Today, I love my name. It means ‘beautiful life’ in Korean (somehow, not literally). Its distinctiveness makes me more memorable. People don’t usually forget my name, and I’ve become more assertive through my life correcting people who’ve gotten it wrong. It’s an English physics term, the way we translated it anyway, and it’s pronounced just like ‘Dine’ like ‘to dine.’ When people get it wrong or struggle with it, I know it’s their ignorance. There is no reason they should have a problem with it, but they can’t get over the face they are looking at. I also enjoy that it’s not clearly gendered. I don’t like, however, the statistical disadvantage I have in terms of being called back for a job interview against a person who has identical qualifications as me but has a more ‘Americanized’ name.

    Anyway, ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri is a great book on the topic of a non-Americanized name being a source of angst amongst children of immigrants (or people who decide not to assimilate that aspect of their lives).

  6. Stop begging politicians and start ordering them

    Writing to Congress, Dyne-style (from today): “If you do not speak out against the Patriot Act, I will do everything in my power to make sure you will not see another re-election. I will organize for a candidate who will defend our civil liberties.” 

  7. Look at what an ideological trainwreck Ron Paul is. Grotesque, isn’t it? 



    Ron Paul:

    Abortion is murder.
    Define life at conception in law, as scientific statement.
    Voted NO on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

    Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.

    Civil Rights Act was more about property…

    (Source: ontheissues.org)

  8. My comment on the Chinese bride suicide attempt

    Just pause for a minute and consider the suffering she was going through when she decided she wanted to end it all. Just put yourself in her shoes for a minute. Maybe you have never been in love. Maybe you have never felt heartbreaking disappointment. Maybe that’s why some of you have posted such callous comments. If you don’t even try to understand, you will be less prepared for when something devastating (it’s a matter of when, not if, because when you’re old, you’re going to lose people you love) happens in your life. Perhaps then, after being so heartless, you will experience a tragic irony in that you will be as overwhelmed by pain as what she was experiencing in this moment. I don’t wish that upon anyone. But anybody at some point in their lives can feel hopeless and overwhelmed by depression. Do not dismiss this as an anomaly or just one person who had character flaws. Do not mock people for their pain and suffering. Everybody who has made a joke out of this is cruel. I feel for her as a human being with a pulse.”

    It was in response to a HuffPo news article. I read it yesterday and was disgusted by some of the comments and couldn’t gather words at first. It’s amazing. I’ve read several news stories about suicides and deaths and suffering for the past few days, and people are so cruel as to joke about it or accuse the victim of being stupid or irrational. This has gotten me to believe that people really must experience different levels of challenges at different parts of their lives. When I was young, I used to think that maybe it’s all relative - happiness is all relative depending on what people are used to experiencing. It’s true to an extent - people who have had to deal with bullshit all their lives do get hardened by it, but they never become immune to pain - they just develop more sophisticated mechanisms of dealing with it … (all that practice, after all) … anyway, because of my group of friends in high school almost all had divorced parents, self-mutilated, were in therapy, just going through a lot of shit - in my world, I thought everybody understood how serious depression and suicide can be. I thought everybody knew how it felt to feel hopeless, wanting to end it all … but it turns out, no - not everybody goes through that during their teens. It’s going to happen to them later, or maybe they won’t experience something like that until THEY get a divorce, until THEY have somebody they love die. But it’s coming. I think it’s impossible for a person to go through life without experiencing some serious pain. I thought that was something humans shared together. But maybe some people really do get incubated from that just by lucking out. Maybe the only pain they experience going through life is not getting into Yale and having to go to Harvard or Princeton instead, or having their grandparent pass away of old age. Who knows. 

    But damn, thinking about human nature is really fucking me up these days. I’ve been a fan of Maslow’s hierarchy as a way of thinking about people … but I’ve never denied that people have the capacity to be cruel and evil. Psychology is fascinating. I do prefer to analyze the cognitive element as to why people are cruel … I wonder … so much to think about. 

  9. Discrimination in the USA

    (part of an email I wrote:) 

    "Today, I was treated disrespectfully by someone [—-omitted—-]. After walking out of that building, I don’t remember my walk to the gym and the first few miles because I was burning with such fury. It sent me back through memories of encounters with racism I’d had growing up in Texas. I thought about my mother, who would, when treated in the manner I was just treated today, demand in her broken English to speak to the manager right away. When I was young, I thought her anger was unjustified or a bit over-the-top. Now I understand what she was going through. In Korea, my mom was treated as a first-class citizen due to her socioeconomic status. When we arrived in the United States, she was treated as a second-class citizen - something she had never experienced before - because of her race. Having been treated as a full human being (and then some) in Korea, she knew her rights and demanded to be treated with respect as an equal. She would not bend over to the mistreatment, the subtle attempts to subordinate her. She would fight back. Sometimes I would feel embarrassed by the display, and it would hurt me to see how distressed she would get and how she would shake with anger all the way home. Now I know. How dare they. Despite spending most of my youth in the US, I’ve learned my rights and through this new consciousness, I’ve increasingly refused to tolerate this kind of mistreatment. 

    These subtle forms of racism are hard to see, but they are deeply felt. It’s the way people look at me, the tone in their voices when they speak to me, these subtle forms of condescension. I feel like this is why we need more civil rights lawyers who are people of color, who have experienced this themselves. These subtle forms of discrimination are hard to identity, hard to articulate, and even harder to prove. But perhaps to start, we need more people who have felt these things first-hand to be in the courts. Anyone who thinks that race and racism aren’t issues today is just so full of shit. A White American at the lowest socioeconomic level with the lowest level of education can assert themselves as superior to a Person of Color at the highest socioeconomic level with the highest level of education. Race still has power. And anybody who says otherwise is living their lives with their eyes and ears closed. 

    This is why I have to be a lawyer, [person I am writing this email to] :( I just need to find a way to prove discrimination. I know it when it’s there, I feel it. Maybe having felt it, I have some more authority - maybe the jury can ‘get’ me. But I know it’s not enough much of the time. I just want to be able to deliver a legal slap on the wrist to racists rather than just having people like my mom arguing with a store’s manager, who also turns out to be indifferent to discrimination. I feel like the kind of bullshit People of Color have to encounter on a day-to-day won’t be taken seriously until law and social policy re-identify racists as criminals.” 

  10. thetart:


    Click to read the whole thing. It’s really good. Here’s just some excerpts with my emphasis added.

    1. Just as Pat Buchanan did with Justice Sotomayor, the Birthers have sullied President Obama as being an unqualified, “affirmative action” candidate. His academic and professional accomplishments are irrelevant. The fact that he won an open and honest election are unimportant. We should know at this point that the life successes of people of color (and to a lesser degree some women) are always questionable and suspect when viewed through the gaze of Whiteness (and sexism).

    2. Naturally, the President should be White. Of course, the leaders of trade and industry should be White. The natural order of things equates being White and male with having natural authority and ability—a set of traits which exist without question or doubt regardless of competence or ability. Whiteness deems the inverse for people of color. As President Obama has learned, by mere fact of his birth, and coincidence of the color of his skin, his legitimacy will always be in doubt.

    3. Whiteness equals authority. Thus, any White person, at any time, can question the accomplishments of a person of color. The most mediocre of White people, the sum total of whose life has amounted to 1/100th of President Obama’s successes (or that of other people of color) can feel legitimate in questioning how the latter came to find their “unnatural” position in the social hierarchy. Whiteness is an advantage in the marathon of life.