by Bobby Kim
I haven’t always been the best to women.
In the second grade, I teased a girl after I found out she liked me - this girl Michelle, with bright green eyes and bangs. I didn’t like how she made me feel (vulnerable), so I crushed her along with my emotions (guys never quite grow out of this). I’ve broken up with girlfriends outta nowhere – one on her birthday, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day (she cheated on me, but still). I also built a life in skateboarding and streetwear, which is constituted and dictated by men. The few times women are represented in our space are: sexy tradeshow booth girl, sexy T-shirt graphic, or sexy girlfriend. I admit, I’ve reduced women to body parts to sell tees, without purposeful context or message. I’ve dedicated swaths of my blog to provocative pictorials without consideration of the subject and her contributions.
Which, is why I hesitate in identifying as a “feminist.” What does that even mean?
I was first made aware of feminism as a teenager. The riot grrrl movement was underway in the ‘90s, and as a punk that fawned over Kathleen Hanna and Lori Petty’s Tank Girl, it was hard to resist the allure and mystique of an outspoken, barrette-haired pixie. Girls with tattoos, girls with armpit hair, they were unlike anyone mom would approve of. Clearly, I wasn’t really hearing their voice, though. I was just admiring the view (not their views). Plus, as an Asian American growing up where and when I did, I had my own obstacles to overcome.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the women’s struggle was inextricably my struggle too. Across gender, sexual orientation, race, and class lines, minority issues stem from inequality and lack of representation. The more people I meet, the more I travel, the more I grasp that there are systems in place, deeply embedded for millennia, that favor specific people in this world. Asian-Americans in this country are not those people. Women, universally, are not amongst these people. The harder I defended and fought for my cause, the less I could ignore other underrepresented communities, especially that of women.
The irony being that women comprise 51% of the world, yet they still fall in the minority of media visibility, workforce, and pay. Their bodies are afforded less protection than that of men, in regards to both sexual violence and reproductive rights. We’ve never had a woman President, and just elected an admitted sexual assaulter. Our moms are women – don’t they deserve the utmost respect and care?
This Saturday, I will be joining 60,000 others in the Women’s March in Los Angeles. Worldwide, there are over 600 official marches planned. “What’s the point? Will anything change?,” I hear doubters ask. The symbolism alone is enough to move mountains - to put the people in power on notice, to comfort the voiceless, and remind the world that women are the 51% minority. If you’re an immigrant, a child of one, not of the popular faith, or underprivileged, you should be there. If you’re LGBTIQ, a PoC, or in the 99% that’s not the 1%, then you should march with us. I know the majority of people reading this are not any of these things, and that’s cool, dude. But, we could use your empathy and show of support most of all.
(And if you’re a billionaire, straight, white man who is about to take office as President of the United States of America, you should be leading this charge.)
I still wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but I’m trying hard to be one. Maybe one day we won’t even have to clarify what that means, as we march together and celebrate “Equality.”