Tuesday, 22 November 2005

I'm Asian.

I'm female.

I'm young(ish).

And currently, I'm also feeling like the most marginalised person in the entire world.

I'm stuck in a racist, sexist and ageist society and honestly? It's a tad unpleasant.

Yes, I realise that not everybody falls into any of the above categories. In fact, I know of amazing people out there who will not care if I've got fluro-purple skin, am a hermaphrodite and am two months old. These are not the people I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about is the patronising behaviour I get when I try to make a point.

What I'm talking about is the lack of attention to what I say.

What I'm talking about is the immediate assumption that I cannot be a skilled professional.

What I'm talking about is the waitress in the restaurant who refuses to acknowledge my presence, choosing instead to focus on the guy I'm with.

What I'm talking about is the waiter who passes the bill to my male friend, and who when he realises I'm the one paying, is unable to hide the surprise on his face.

What I'm talking about is the notice on the common noticeboard calling for immigrants to either speak only English and completely immerse themselves in the Aussie culture or leave.

What I'm talking about is the refusal to pass me or any of my female friends the ball during touch footy.

What I'm talking about is hearing from my friends about snide remarks made about Asians.

What I'm talking about is not being taken seriously.

What I'm talking about is thinking I cannot carry a decent, intellectual discussion about politics, technology or the current state of the world.

What I'm talking about is not being included in the Asian community because I'm too "Caucasian", and then being expected by the Caucasians to only be interested in activities organised by the Asian community.

I'm sick and tired of being overlooked.

I'm sick and tired of being stereotyped.

I'm sick and tired of being put into a box.

Am I really not good enough?

Not good enough to do well at work. Not good enough to advance my career. Not good enough to play sports. Not good enough to carry my own weight. Not good enough to talk about the "more important things" in life.

How do I actually believe that I can do something, when people around me believe otherwise?

How do I actually believe that I'm capable, when people around me behave as if I'm not?

How do I actually believe that I have a brain, when people around me don't think so?

And even if I'm really not good enough, why don't you take the time to teach and nurture me, instead of being condescending towards me?

Update: This article is absolute brilliant. [Thanks to Della for the link.]


Faith said...


come home. we love u here. here u're the majority. here u can be the condescending one.


no, but seriously, that's one of the reasons why i'll probably never leave singapore permanently. why i call singapore my home. the truth is, here, i'm the first class citizen. here, i'm the insider.

elsewhere, i have to contend with issues that i don't see the point of stressing myself out over. we all attach different values on opportunity costs, this is mine. i can't compromise on a sense of belonging and home, not for a permanent period of time.

Faith said...

but meanwhile, i support your quests and assure u that my prayers are with you and i sympathise and in my eyes, you're beyond colour, race and gender.


Della said...

Definitely ouch.

Although I don't have the experience with the racist side of Australia/Australians, I do understand what you mean about the sexist and ageist elements.

It's almost like you have to sacrifice some part of yourself to fit in. Admittedly, we do have to alter ourselves somewhat to fit in with society, or at least suppress sides of ourselves, or dress certain ways (put that polyester pant suit back in the cupboard!) or whatever. But that's not really about becoming a whole new person.

For women, we get ignored when we're "too young," and then we immediately seem to flip over into being ignored because we're "too old" or something like that, especially with the media. Then there are all of the stereotypes to contend with, which even though we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened society, still seem to hang around like so much excess baggage! (esp. thinking of the situation you've had with touchy footy and bills in restaurants and being patronised and not being taken seriously)

Women sort of have to develop some kind of non-femininity to succeed in some workplaces, and then they get crap over that still. If we speak up too much on our opinions, people seem to get freaked out by the fact that we a) have an opinion of our own that may/may not differ from other's opinions and b) have dared to speak it. But why should we not have our own thoughts and express them? What would make them less valuable than anything else anyone else has to say?

If it's any consolation, I think that you're a fantastic worker. I always appreciate the work that you produce (and not just because it helps me get my work done!). You are good enough, so please don't think that you're not :)

Kel said...

Hey Mel

I sometimes think when people treat others with disrespect it is because they themselves have a low self worth

if people feel comfortable in their own skin, they don't need to 'diss' others to make themselves feel better

I've been reading some great books this year and a few of them talk about Jesus being someone who lived in the margins - it's given me a whole new perspective on what's important and what is not

living in the margins is less crowded and allows one to connect with others on a more authentic relational level

Looking at a lot of people who are, or think they are, high power, top of the pile, important, many have a lot of insecurity, cos it takes constant effort to stay there

hope you feel loved and valued for who you are by some, you can count me as one

Melody said...

all I can say is thank goodness for girlfriends who are there to support and encourage you.

Kel - it's a really great thought to consider myself like Jesus, living in the margins.

I certainly agree, it's definitely less crowded! Sadly, it does get lonely sometimes...

Della said...

That's all good with the link! I think it's the best Heckler article I've ever read :)

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