What does Asian American feminism and then feminism as a whole mean to both of you?
Connie: We’ve been taught to be very appreciative to be here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to resist fucked up things. For example, we’re supposed to be appreciative that our parents took care of us, but if they’re abusive, I’m not going to take the abuse. I’m going to fight back.
Jenny: A lot of the women that we’ve met don’t even recognize their own power or even acknowledge that they come from the legacies of kings and queens.
Connie: They forget because it’s so traumatic to remember. And the reality is: trauma will always catch up to you. So you should sit with it and take its reins when you can. I think because we’re immigrants, we’re busy just trying to make ends meet. It’s so difficult to feel as though we have the capacity to feel powerful in this country or this world because we’re busy surviving. But survival should also mean claiming our positions, claiming who we are, claiming our history, and claiming our power.
Claiming who we are has to be a part of it. When you see all these white acupuncturists — that shit is Chinese as fuck! Like, hold up! We’re going to reclaim acupuncture! You see yoga classes, or these crystals shop, or a Korean spa — all of these things are from Asian cultures; and yet somehow we’ve become removed from that as a part of how we’re surviving trauma. It’s about reclaiming things that are so trendy; yet, they’re ours.
Jenny: We have to recognize that those things are ours. We have to move that to the forefront and take it back.
Connie: We also have to think about what’s happening in Vietnam now, and to wish for more. We don’t just have to be grateful for our histories; we also are upset about slavery, about genocide, about ongoing anti-immigration stuff.
Celine: Feminism as a whole is a bare minimum of cognizance that I think we’re obligated to have. I think we’re obligated to do emotional labor for others and the world and just work for others. It just seems really toxic to not do that.
Feminism means constantly challenging and changing and actively breaking down all the implicit and toxic understandings you have. I’s constantly working to change yourself so that you impact others more equitably. It’s always working, and it’s knowing you can’t be doing anything else. But it’s also all self-love at the same time. It’s healing to others. It’s a commitment to being your best self. I think that’s how I hold it.