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  • Hillary Bakrie

On Intersectionality and Understanding the Resilience of Asian Women

Writing #VulnerableJournal again on the topic that is very personal to me as it is based on my experience and how I identify myself:



"Haven’t been speaking a lot on the topic of #StopAsianHate for the past few days because I can't quite put the right words in my mouth.


It is devastating to learn about the lives that were lost in the recent tragedies, but it is definitely not a strange feeling. We've seen how hatred transforms to discrimination and discrimination transforms into harm, far too many times. And yet, it took this long for the world to wake up, and sadly it has always been at the expense of BIPOC lives.


As a South East Asian woman myself, I felt very disappointed to see how media coverage failed to capture the complex lives of Asian women and the struggle that comes with it, especially those who identified as immigrants. Being Asian means so much more than the stereotype that we too often have to associate with: hard-working, tender, soft, or polite. Being Asian, for me personally, is an experience that can't be simplified under an umbrella term as it will undermine the intersectional challenges that we have been facing.


For me, being an Asian woman means having to understand the fine balance between fighting for our rights to occupy space and to be treated equally, while also understanding that our contextual privileges often put us at a certain advantage. Being a South East Asian woman on the other hand often puts me in a position where my competence is often overlooked compared to women from other parts of Asia simply due to the ongoing stereotype that our part of the continent is seen as less advance.


Thanks to colonized beauty standard, being a South East Asian women with darker (or in my case, slightly toned) skin often means having the same risk of exposure to harassment on the street while having less chance of receiving help from people compared to fair-skin women, in case you haven’t noticed many cases of harassment and abuse simply remained "unknown" and forgotten just because no-one is interested in bringing the story of these women to light because they weren’t considered beautiful in the first place.


Lastly, being a Moslem South East Asian women, for me, often feels like there is a double expectation to follow a patriarchal and collective culture that most of the time put me in a box of either daughter or wife, and I’d have to repeatedly remind the world that my existence is beyond the genes that shaped me and the genes that I carry.


Seeing a strong solidarity for the Asian community has been nothing but uplifting. But while we are at it, I really hope that we use this opportunity to also look deeper.


It is impossible to truly understand the resiliency of Asian women without looking into the intersectionality of their identity.

The perseverance of Asian women in carrying all their contextual burdens, their strength in enduring discrimination, and their courage to brave through countless harassment, are all forged and shaped by their complex identity.


So hope in addition to our fight against racism, we are also called to look deeper and empathize better."



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HB

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