Through The Static

June 29, 2008

Hussein in the MemBrains: SoLidarity in the PoLarity?

Filed under: Activism,Grassholes,Idiots,Politics,Wake Up Call — bobbleheadedbob @ 11:22 pm

BobbLebot is in the process of changing its planetary address so shall be out of commission.  Humanoids, reJoiCe!  (though this victory shall only be TEMPORARY…!)

Oy(L).  Sometimes the BobbLebot can compute how humanoids have arrived to conclusions of solidarity, what their ultimate designs are, especially in the interests of electing the first humanoid of color into a White Supremacy House…and yet, the rationale is troubling.

As reported by the New York Times,

Obama Supporters Take His Name as Their Own:

Bama Supporters

Interesting.  Oh, Bama supporters,what pale skin you have!  Love how the token tan man and the one woman are pushed out off center and to the side.  It really crystallizes and drives home what this campaign is all about.

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

Auuuugh…  HolyTropicThunderRobertDowneyJr.  DammitGwynethPaltrowIamAfrica.  OhMyHeteroFratBoyWearingAThisIsWhatAFeministLooksLikeTshirt.

::gasp – !::

So this is what solidarity looks like?

::strikes a mechanized pose::

Oy(L).

Mr. Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Hussein is a family name inherited from a Kenyan father he barely knew, who was born a Muslim and died an atheist. But the name has become a political liability. Some critics on cable television talk shows dwell on it, while others, on blogs or in e-mail messages, use it to falsely assert that Mr. Obama is a Muslim or, more fantastically, a terrorist.

Let’s deconstruct this paragraph, shall we?  The first two sentences assertively distance Obama from Islam.  How?  By first asserting he is a Christian, NOT a Muslim. In the second sentence, Obama INHERITED his name – he couldn’t help it.  What’s more – ! – the person who gave him his Muslim name wasn’t even properly Muslim!  Oh, the injustice of FATE!

Obama couldn’t HELP being born with a Muslim name, just like ur best friend’s big sister couldn’t HELP being gay.  She was born with it.  She couldn’t help herself.

Third sentence: fact.

Fourth sentence: a projection of something beyond innocent indignance.  Translation: how can these bad bloggers and pundits POSSIBLY label Obama as a TERRORIST?!  This is RidiCuLous!  He isn’t even a real MusLim!  <— Oooooooooooh… hey, hold up, there, leftie-loosey — let’s not get all righty-tighty on issue just yet.

Why?  This frames Muslim affiliation as a pathogen of sorts that Obama needs to be absolved of.  To use an anaology, let’s use Nemo and his gimpy fin.

gimpy fin

Following that same logic, it’s like getting Dorrie and Nemo’s clownfish dad to voluntarily tuck one fin to the side, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity to Nemo’s HANDICAP.  Cuz that’s what Obama’s name is: a handicap.  A malfunction.  So to get (mostly) White people (though non-Muslims-of-color are involved as well) to take on the middle name of Hussein on their Facebook profiles and email signatures — isn’t that a little… no, patriotic’s not the word, what was it… oh yeah — PATRONIZING?!

“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.

And We Are All Africa.

It’s one of those things that just takes off, because everybody got it right away,” said Stephanie Miller, a left-leaning comedian who blurted out the idea one day during a broadcast of her syndicated radio talk show and repeated it on CNN.

Ms. Miller and her fellow new Husseins are embracing the traditionally Muslim name even as the Obama campaign shies away from Muslim associations. Campaign workers ushered two women in head scarves out of a camera’s range at a rally this month in Detroit. (The campaign has apologized.) Aides canceled a December appearance on behalf of Mr. Obama by Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim congressman.

OY.  So how do we solve this conundrum?  Islam’s been pathologized, so the Obama campaign responds to it like it IS a pathogen.  A virus.  So Obama supporters attempt to create a vaccine of some sort — take a portion of the germy cultures, multiply it in internet petri dishes, and then fight to innoculate the Islamophobia.  At the same time, are they the right people to do this?

The thing is, We Are Not All Africa.  Dorrie and Nemo’s clown fish dad don’t really have gimpy fins — and can untuck them at a moment’s notice.  Or when Dorrie forgets.  Gwyneth Paltrow and Lucy Liu can erase their face paint — I mean, after the photo shoot’s over with, how African are they, really?  What exactly does it mean, “We Are Africa”?  Does it mean that “We” (the privileged celebrities) all bleed the same blood?  If so, what does this all really mean, when we don’t even drink the same water, eat the same food, work under comparative conditions of labor?  Who is “we”?  What is “we”?  Can we truly be a “We” if we can readily access a towel to wipe off the face paint, if we can jet out of Zambia the second this sh*t gets too hot?

Doesn’t this come off as disingenous and patronizing to any of y’all???

Why is there a need for the solidarity of the privileged for something that’s perceived as undesireable to be legitimized in the eyes of the many?

The thing is, the middle names on the Facebook profiles can be deleted as quickly as you can log in another status update.  No.  No.  We are not all Hussein, and can’t know what it is to be a Hussein.  Unless we were born as a Hussein.  Lived as a Hussein.  Interacted with the world as a Hussein.

This is as bad as Tyra Banks living on the streets for a day.  The thing is, Tyra, you can go back home to your comfortable-arse bed and 3-million-dollar home at the end of the day.  The thing is, all you faux-Husseins can erase your names as soon as the campaign’s over, Clovers.

Solidarity?  For reals?  THIS is what solidarity looks like?  Okay, fine, then.

So what’s the point in having this breed of solidarity when the campaign can’t even swallow solid food?

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June 25, 2008

Albanian Custom Fades: Woman as Family Man

Filed under: Gargoyles,Gender,World News — disciplepete @ 6:15 pm

This is a pretty fascinating article from the NYT about a fading tradition in Albania: when there were no men around in a family, a woman would take an oath to be a virgin, dress up as a man, take on male roles, and be recognized in society as deserving the privileges of a man. The trippiest thing for me in this article is how some of these women who became men have stereotypical male chauvinist attitudes and seem pretty pleased with the choice they made.

The tradition of the sworn virgin can be traced to the Kanun of Leke Dukagjini, a code of conduct passed on orally among the clans of northern Albania for more than 500 years. Under the Kanun, the role of a woman is severely circumscribed: take care of children and maintain the home. While a woman’s life is worth half that of a man, a virgin’s value is the same: 12 oxen.

The sworn virgin was born of social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death. If the family patriarch died with no male heirs, unmarried women in the family could find themselves alone and powerless. By taking an oath of virginity, women could take on the role of men as head of the family, carry a weapon, own property and move freely.

They dressed like men and spent their lives in the company of other men, even though most kept their female given names. They were not ridiculed, but accepted in public life, even adulated. For some the choice was a way for a woman to assert her autonomy or to avoid an arranged marriage.

Looks like things are changing:

…”The Albanian woman today is a sort of minister of economics, a minister of affection and a minister of interior who controls who does what,” said Ilir Yzeiri, who writes about Albanian folklore. “Today, women in Albania are behind everything.”

Some sworn virgins bemoan the changes. Diana Rakipi, 54, a security guard in the seaside city of Durres, in west Albania, who became a sworn virgin to take care of her nine sisters, said she looked back with nostalgia on the Hoxha era. During Communist times, she was a senior army officer, training women as combat soldiers. Now, she lamented, women do not know their place.

“Today women go out half naked to the disco,” said Ms. Rakipi, who wears a military beret. “I was always treated my whole life as a man, always with respect. I can’t clean, I can’t iron, I can’t cook. That is a woman’s work.”

Angry Kids Protest Gas Prices After Mom Cancels Cable TV

Filed under: Economics,Gas,Humor,OMGZCUTE — disciplepete @ 5:56 pm

Fox News:

SALT LAKE CITY – Sadie and Pyper Vance have had just about enough of high gas prices. The sisters are still years away from being old enough to drive, but that doesn’t mean the $4 per gallon price tag isn’t hitting them as hard as anyone else.

Cable TV was one of the family’s budget-cutting casualties, leaving Sadie, 9, and her 7-year-old sister without their favorite cartoons and shows.

“Gas prices are too high,” Sadie said. “I just decided to come and protest so they’d go down.”

The girls marched through downtown Monday chanting and carrying signs made from old campaign signs.

 

June 24, 2008

Rockin in India

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Music,Musings,Race,Randomness,World News,WTF — disciplepete @ 12:15 am

This article from the NYT is about some musicians in Northeast India who play Western music (rock/blues). The article talks about an annual celebration of Bob Dylan’s birthday, and talks in general about the musicians. I have a larger observation about this to make in a minute, but here’s some of the article:

This annual incantation is more than one man’s act of madcap devotion. It is also a peephole into the love affair with Western music that goes on every day in this pine-wooded outpost in India’s northeast. Shillong, a British-era hill town that is now home to dozens of boarding schools and colleges, is its hub, especially when it comes to rock…

…Many theories are offered for Shillong’s fascination with rock and the blues. Some argue that the area’s indigenous Khasi traditions are deeply rooted in song and rhyme. Some credit the 19th-century Christian missionaries who came from Britain and the United States, introduced the English language, hymns and gospel music and in turn made the heart ripe for rock. Some say the northeast, remote and in many pockets, gripped by anti-Indian separatist movements, has not been as saturated by Hindi film music as the rest of India.

Others speak of that ephemeral quality of rock ’n’ roll, able to seep into young, restless bones anywhere…

…The blues, he [one of the musicians] concluded, came closest to the music of his people, except that the blues, as he is fond of saying, began only 150 years ago. “Our folk is a thousand years old.”

What trips me out is that I have seen more Indians in India who play rock/blues than Indians who are from the U.S. What’s up with that?? Only one Indian person that I went to college with is a rock musician, and I’ve met one other drummer I can think of. Then there’s me. I know there’s more out there, but the numbers seem to be disproportionately low in my experience.

On the other hand, I see rock bands and crazy ass guitarists rocking out on an Indian religious channel my mom watches. They even do reggae shit. There’s one guy who I wish I could link to but can’t find much of his stuff on the internet, his name is Alphonse Joseph, crazy rock guitarist and he throws some classical Indian singing in the mix with his English (Christian) lyrics. In the Indian worship services I’ve been to here in Cali, on the other hand, motherfuckers can barely play the tambourine.

I notice the same phenomenon with pro atheletes and East Asians. What’s up with all the folks straight from Asia who play American pro sports, with so few Asian Americans? I guess I’m talking primarily about baseball here, but examples from basketball also come to mind.

My bro and I were talking about this a bit ago, I think after we saw some of those Indian folks rocking out via satellite from India. I asked him why we never saw Indians here rocking out like the folks in the motherland, and he goes, “They’re too busy becoming engineers.” Lolz, but that’s probably part of it.

June 23, 2008

Some Muslim Americans Feel Shunned by Obama

Filed under: Elections,Politics,Race — ausaydong @ 3:05 pm

Interesting take on Obama and the Muslim community. The NYT writes about how Obama’s campaign attempt to distance itself from Muslim Americans may have backfired:

When Mr. Obama began his presidential campaign, Muslim Americans from California to Virginia responded with enthusiasm, seeing him as a long-awaited champion of civil liberties, religious tolerance and diplomacy in foreign affairs. But more than a year later, many say, he has not returned their embrace.

While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those organizations say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.

In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them.

“This is the ‘hope campaign,’ this is the ‘change campaign,’ ” said Mr. Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota. Muslims are frustrated, he added, that “they have not been fully engaged in it.”

Aides to Mr. Obama denied that he had kept his Muslim supporters at arm’s length. 

Ever notice how aides are frequently blamed for mishaps? Is this a good political technique? Do you accept that as a viable excuse for mistakes?

Mr. Ellison, a first-term congressman, remains arguably the senator’s most important Muslim supporter. He has attended Obama rallies in Minnesota and appears on the Obama campaign’s Web site. But Mr. Ellison said he was also forced to cancel plans to campaign for Mr. Obama in North Carolina after an emissary for the senator told him the state was “too conservative.” Mr. Ellison said he blamed Mr. Obama’s aides — not the candidate himself — for his campaign’s standoffishness.

RIP George Carlin

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment — disciplepete @ 11:42 am

One of the most awesome people I ever knew of died yesterday, comedian George Carlin. 

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — George Carlin, the influential comedian whose routines used profanity, scatology and absurdity to point out the silliness and hypocrisy of human life, has died. He was 71.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, died of heart failure Sunday, according to publicist Jeff Abraham.

George Carlin, here in 2007, kept up a busy schedule, performing as recently as last weekend in Las Vegas. 

That just came out of nowhere for me; I just saw him doing his new HBO special on TV a few months ago. But he did look like he had aged 10 years within just the last couple of years.

Carlin was my favorite comic, he was more versatile than any comic I knew. He went off on the absurdities of government, religion, race relations, and so much more, plus he was a genius with his wordplay. As someone told CNN, “He could play with words and phrases in ways that would put the most highly regarded English professors and linguists to shame.”

I really wish I had gotten a chance to see him perform. Well, he’s been doing comedy for like 50 years and I am mostly just familiar with his stuff over the last 20 years, so I guess on the bright side I have a lot of his earlier material I can spend my time catching up on.

Here’s some of my favorite clips of his that I could find on Youtube:

Religion

Saving the Planet

Education & The Owners of America

White People & Blues

Expressons and Sayings

Abortion

RIP George. Thanks for all you’ve brought to my life. You are missed!

Brown Peoples Grey Hounded by Border Patrol

Filed under: Immigration,It's Too Punny!,OMGZCUTE,Race,Uncategorized,WTF — bobbleheadedbob @ 5:26 am

Apologies. BobbleBoT’s hard drive has recently been sucked into overdrive and is currently running on pirated battery juice. BATTERY JUICE. Charger not included.

freedom bus

Yay, it’s the freedom bus, yayyyy~! Oh wait. ::ga-DUNK!::

Some people apparently have ethical insomnia. Urgh. ICE needs to invest in some Lunesta. Bleh.

BobbLeBot disapproves.

When Riding the Bus Turns into a Ticket to Jail (Alternet):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also known as the Border Patrol, confirms that its agents in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo check the citizenship status of travelers passing through by bus and train every day. These three cities are within 100 miles of the US-Canadian border. But more important than the border zone is the location of these cities on a major transportation corridor linking the Northeast (New York City and Boston) with the Midwest (Cleveland and Chicago). Border Patrol agents use Syracuse’s location as the functional equivalent of the border to police people traveling within the interior of the country.

Agents check for citizenship in the bus and train station — often waiting at the Greyhound ticket counter, or watching people as they disembark for food — and onboard buses and trains already filled with passengers. People who have witnessed or been subject to Border Patrol agents questioning describe two practices: agents explicitly target a group of people or ask everyone on board about their citizenship status.

Ooo, what KIND of peoples? What KIND???

According to reports from the Detainment Task Force, a Northern New York group, people routinely singled out for questioning include those who appear to be Mexican, Central American, South Asian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, or Middle Eastern. Border Patrol officials deny that the agency racially profiles, insisting that they look for suspicious behaviors and, “question people with blond hair and blue eyes as much as anyone else.” But common understandings of race in the U.S. fuse nationality and ethnicity so that some groups are permanently deemed to be “foreign.”

BROWN people! THAT’s what KIND! As for questioning “people with blond hair and blue eyes as much as anyone else” — BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Humanoids, this is a hiLAirious article. HiLarious! The capacity for ridiculosity never fails to entertain ze bobbLebot.

In July 2007, Tomas and his friend Salvador were driving to a doctor’s appointment. As they pulled out of the toll plaza from the I-90 throughway in Syracuse, a state trooper stopped them. Tomas has a valid U.S. driver’s license and a properly registered vehicle. The state trooper gave no indication of why he had stopped the vehicle, but he did ask Tomas and Salvador about their immigration status and then called Border Patrol agents. “The police officer stopped us because we have Hispanic faces,” Tomas said.

Tomas has had the same experience traveling by bus. Last October he was traveling to Syracuse on Greyhound when Border Patrol agents boarded the bus at the Rochester bus station. “The Border Patrol agents questioned all the Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Asian passengers,” he recalled. “They did not question any of the white passengers except some women who were wearing veils. Border Patrol had dogs with them and checked the whole bus. They even looked in the bathroom.”

A separate incident occurred in December when Tomas was at the Syracuse bus station with another friend. They were speaking to each other in Spanish as they approached the ticket counter where a Border Patrol agent was stationed. “As soon as the Border Patrol agent heard us speaking Spanish, he asked me for my papers,” he said.

BobbLebot doth not know whether to LOL or WTF. Or mebbe BobbLebot should LOLWTF. So many letters!

When Tomas finally boarded the bus and arrived in Rochester, Border Patrol was there as well. “I saw them [Border Patrol] on the platform questioning two Hispanic men. The men gave them permanent resident cards. The Border Patrol agent didn’t believe them. He took the cards and called somewhere else. The men had to wait for twenty minutes.” The two men were eventually released.

Well, gotta hand it to faux-police in uniforms. Cuz there’s nothing like the smell of racial profiling in the morning that motivates them to git off dar arses. I wonder if Brown People = Brain Coffee.

I mean, their work ethic is really commendable. If BobbLebot could have 3 words to describe Border PatroL agents, they would be listed as such:

1) Hard-working
2) Alpha-maLe
3) Jackhammer
2) Merciless

1) InsatiabLe…

ICE

June 22, 2008

JK Rowling to Harvard grads: ‘Some failure in life is inevitable’

Filed under: Culture,Higher Education — ausaydong @ 5:27 pm

I’m a fan of college commencement speeches. My all-time favorite has to be Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford University in 2005. But this one by J.K. Rowling (one of my favorite writers) definitely falls in the top three. Go ahead, be inspired:

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Paying Out the Ass for Gas

Filed under: Economics,Gas,Government,Politics — disciplepete @ 4:31 pm

This is a cool article on Alternet, talks about several factors contributing to the gas price insanity.

Shortly after taking office, George W. Bush undertook a sweeping review of US energy policy aimed at expanding the nation’s supply of vital fuels. The “reality is the nation has got a real problem when it comes to energy,” he declared on March 14, 2001. “We need more sources of energy.”…

…With these trends in mind, many energy experts urged the White House to minimize future reliance on oil… But Dick Cheney, who was overseeing the energy review, would have none of this…After three months of huddling in secret with top executives of leading US energy companies, he released a plan on May 17 that, in effect, called for preserving the existing energy system, with its heavy reliance on oil, coal and natural gas.

Because continued reliance on oil would mean increased reliance on imported petroleum, especially from the Middle East, Bush sought to deflect public concern by calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other protected areas. As a result, most public discourse on the Bush/Cheney plan focused on drilling in ANWR, and no attention was paid to the implications of increased dependence on imported oil — even though oil from ANWR, in the most optimistic scenario, would reduce US need for imports (now about 60 percent) by just 4 percent.

But this produced another dilemma for Bush: increased reliance on imports meant increased vulnerability to disruptions in delivery due to wars and political upheavals. To address this danger, the Administration began planning for stepped-up military involvement in major overseas oil zones, especially the Persian Gulf…  Then came 9/11 and the “war on terror” — giving the White House a perfect opportunity to accelerate the military expansion and to pursue other key objectives.

But the invasion of Iraq — intended to ensure US control of the Gulf and a stable environment for the expanded production and export of its oil — has had exactly the opposite effect. Despite the many billions spent on oil infrastructure protection and the thousands of lives lost, production in Iraq is no higher today than it was before the invasion. Iraq has also become a rigorous training ground for extremists throughout the region, some of whom have now migrated to the oil kingdoms of the lower Gulf and begun attacking the facilities there — generating some of the recent spikes in prices…

Then there is the dilemma posed by Iran…To restrain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Washington has imposed economic sanctions on Iran and forced key US allies to abandon plans for developing new oilfields there. As a result Iran, with the world’s second-largest reserves after Saudi Arabia, is producing only about half the oil it could — another reason for the global constriction of supply.

But the Administration’s greatest contribution to the rising oil prices is its steady stream of threats to attack Iran if it does not back down on the nuclear issue. The Iranians have made it plain that they would retaliate by attempting to block the flow of Gulf oil and otherwise cause turmoil in the energy market. Most analysts assume, therefore, that an encounter will produce a global oil shortage and prices well over $200 per barrel. It is not surprising, then, that every threat by Bush/Cheney (or their counterparts in Israel) has triggered a sharp rise in prices. This is where speculators enter the picture. Believing that a US-Iranian clash is at least 50 percent likely, some investors are buying futures in oil at $140, $150 or more per barrel, thinking they’ll make a killing if there’s an attack and prices zoom over $200

…What can be done to reverse this predicament? There is no realistic hope of substantially increasing the supply of oil — drilling in offshore US waters, as favored by President Bush and Senator John McCain, will not reverse the long-term decline in US production — so it is only by reducing demand that fundamental market forces can be addressed. This is best done through a comprehensive program of energy conservation, expanding public transit and accelerating development of energy alternatives.

 

June 20, 2008

Asian Americans & Interracial Relationships

Filed under: Culture,Race,Sex — disciplepete @ 12:54 pm

Article from SFGate, takes a look at interracial romance and Asian Americans. What I found most interesting is that there are websites for lovers of Asian men (fetish sites?) which seem to be a response to the cultural stereotypes which emphasize the undesirability of Asian men. Anyways here’s some of the article:

Statistics support the notion that interracial relationships are on the rise in the Asian American community: Mixed couples represented over a quarter of all marriages among Asian Americans in 1980, and over a third of Asian American marriages in 2006. And interracial couples with Asian partners are increasingly depicted in movies, TV and other popular entertainment, to the point where their racial differences are often not even germane to their characters’ storylines.

What many commentators have pointed out, of course, is that both the numbers and popular culture reflect a reality in which only half the Asian American community – the female half – are players. Call it the doubletake test: Seeing an Asian American woman with a non-Asian man is no longer noteworthy, but an Asian American man with a non-Asian woman still turns heads. That gender gap is reflected in interracial marriage statistics as well: According to the U.S. Census’ 2006 update, 19.5 percent of Asian American women outmarry, compared with 7.2 percent of Asian American men. And that, to some, speaks volumes about the sexual desirability and social status of Asian men in America…

That’s what makes it so intriguing that a small but thriving subculture has emerged (where else?) online, of non-Asian women whose expressed romantic preferences are for Asian men. They’re represented by communities like AznLover.com, a social networking site dedicated to celebrating “AM/XF” relationships – romances between Asian men and women of any background…

… For Asian American men, AznLover feels like a kind of parallel dimension, where their status is inverted: Rather than being exiled to the margins, Asian males are at the center of this particular universe; not just “accepted,” but revered. “I love the fact that people on the site acknowledge the beauty in Asian men,” says Harry Li, a Malaysian American member living in Texas. “Society still makes women feel self-conscious about saying they like Asian features, or particularly, Asian guys, so even if they do, they won’t let their attraction out in public. At AznLover, we all know why we’re there – we share a common bond, in that one group has the qualities, physical and otherwise, that the other appreciates.”…

Appreciation can be a double-edged sword, of course. Being rejected is problematic, but so is being objectified. “There’s a type of privilege in being sexually desirable, but that can come at a cost,” says Carmen Van Kerkhove, proprietor of Racialicious.com and host of the podcast “Addicted to Race.” “Asian women have been dehumanized by being put on a pedestal, and I’m wary of the same thing happening to Asian men. Some guys may roll their eyes and say, it’ll take a long time to get to that point, but there’s a fine line you have to tread in not trading one set of racist assumptions for another.” (That’s something that’s long been an issue in the LGBT community, where activists have long protested the exotic imagery that pervades the depiction of Asian men – imagery all too similar to how Asian women have historically been stereotyped in mainstream media.)

And objectification, meanwhile, is a two-way street: There’s also the question of whether some Asian men who seek to level the romantic playing field are less motivated by racial justice than male entitlement: the desire to jump to the top of the social totem pole by bagging sexual big game. “I do find it disturbing that some of the more extreme views I’ve seen are focused less on social equality than on Asian men attaining the same set of privileges as white males, whom they see as having the pick of women,” says Van Kerkhove…

Ultimately, however, it’s hard to see these disparities as being anything but temporary – and local. Any sexual imbalances that exist due to the unique alchemy of sex, race and class in the United States fade in the face of a globalized world; one in which the playing field is different…

…There are, after all, billions of Asian men in Asia, and in the pop culture coming out of Japan, Korea, China and India – the pop culture that increasingly rules the universe – their sexual desirability is hardly in question. As the balance of economic and social power shifts outward beyond America’s borders, the political aspects of race and romance inevitably become secondary to the personal. Which points the way to a new Grand Unified Field Theory of Dating, if you will, which I’ll have ready for my sons when I send them off to college: Date whoever the hell you want, and stop worrying so much about what it means.

 Whew, that was a lot of quotage.

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