Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Con Moments: Asian Dolls

SPWF was very much an overdose of stimuli for me in many ways; Jeff Mach likes to put on damned good spectacles. This might not be so bad if it didn't mean panels where we get to talk about also get sidelines and even the musicians get kind of pretty awful deals. 

The cool thing about SPWF 2012 though was that we had two bands come in, Victor Sierra from France and Strange Artifact from Japan. Victor Sierra had very unfortunate set problems: fuses blown due to incompatible voltages on their technology which meant their playing time was extremely limited. It was really a shame because they put a lot of effort into their live show and Anouk sang her heart out, plus their music is actually hella delicious.

Strange Artifact had put together a Kickstarter to help them get to the States, and it was their very first time visiting the U.S. Their first show on Friday went well, and though Mary and Yuki don't speak much English, they had two translators, one of whom was Dan, an energetic manager who doesn't actually manage for work, but shoots punk shows in Japan. I got a picture with them, plus Allison Curval, because I was quite determined to record the presence of Asians at this SPWF. 

Then on Saturday night, while I was recording one of their songs on my camera, well, this happened, check 1:10:

Firstly, who the fuck does this? Don't talk to me about drunkenness; that doesn't change who you are fundamentally, it just loosens your inhibitions and all the shit you would normally not say nor do just gets suppressed because you'd care about the consequences and how it looks like.

It was incredibly shocking, because although I know that this happens, well, no one ever expects objectification to be enacted in such a public way, especially in this context. I've been to many live shows, but I've never seen anyone try to pull the performers off the stage the way this white woman did. (She was later taken aside by a security guard. I think she was then escorted out the room.)

The terrible thing is, I can see why she would be moved to do that. Mary is adorable! She's small and cute and has the cutest frilly dress, plus she wore bouncy dreads.

Also, Mary is Asian.

That is the cold feeling I get inside whenever I re-watch this video. As much as Asians are the Model Minority, that's simply another way of dehumanizing us. Within the larger context of Asian fetishes, stereotypes of Asian women as submissive, traditional, conservative and biddable (here, have an eHow on how to marry Asian women for shits and giggles), Orientalism, and anti-Asian racism, this wasn't just a benign drunk.

Granted it is already problematic if when drunk you feel yourself entitled to touch anybody without their express permission, but the way this woman just up onto the stage and starts pulling Mary off shows that she didn't see Mary as a person, who is volunteering to perform. In that moment, Ms. Drunk White Person treated Mary like a doll she could pull off the shelf, a singing doll she could dance with. She dehumanized Mary, who had flown all the way from Japan to sing and meet people and have fun.

Sadly, this was not the only time this happened that night.

After the show was over, I sort of attached myself to Strange Artifact to talk to them and introduce them to people. Dan very much wanted them to watch the Emperor Norton Stationary Marching Band. We were about to leave the Radisson courtyard for the lobby entrance (because obviously that is the logical and appropriate place to look for the ENSMB) when suddenly, someone yelled at us, "wait! wait, don't go! COME DRINK WITH US!" and stumbled up to us and grabbed Mary's arm.


Was it the same Drunken White Woman? Maybe. It would make a lot of sense. Who knows? Who cares! She basically pawed at Mary, saying, "you're so cute, omg, come hang out with us."

Dan said very firmly, "I'm sorry, but we have to go watch the ENSMB and it's getting late."

Drunken White Woman looked super disappointed. "OK but you have to promise you'll come back, OK!" She even swung around to me, "you too! You're all so adorable!"

No one fucking comes to hang out because you think they're adorable, OK? What is the line of logic in this, even? "They are adorbs, therefore they must come hang out with me at my table!" If you think they are so awesome then maybe the smart thing would be to tag alone? No, that wasn't what was going on here, you see. Drunken White Woman didn't give a lick of concern about our possible agenda; what was important was HER enjoyment, and we ought to be accessories for the night so she could say she made friends with Japanese people or something.

I'm used to this kind of attitude from men; I really should not have to witness it in white women. But it happened. Maybe she was just Not A Steampunk, but I don't care, because it happened at a steampunk event. When I say we are a subculture and we are not impervious to this kind of shit happening in our spaces, I mean it, and I'll keep giving you examples that demonstrate it, many times as possible until it fucking stops or until everyone gets a god damn clue and stops excusing it. 


  1. I had a similar incident happen to me at goth club. I was dressed in casual lolita, and this woman approaches me in bathroom and asks for a picture "because [her] daughter loves Asian..." Now I was expecting "fashion" so I said "yes" before I heard the "s" at the end of the sentence. Then the lady adds, "It's a weird fetish of hers". What the fuck?! What gets me is that I have friends who think this kind of behavior is flattering, but like you said, the person is just saying nice things to fit their agenda.

    1. Eeeewwwww! She actually thought her daughter's "Asian fetish" was OK enough to enable by creeping on strangers in public! Ugh, people are terrible. People who've never really been on the other end of objectification always think it's flattering =(

  2. I hope that this didn't incident make Mary decide never to come back to the US. OMG, what a voice! A professional that didn't even miss a note when it happened. I want to be able to hear her live!