Suey Park and Asian American Feminism

By Maggie McMorrow 

Suey Park is a 23 year old freelance writer and the woman behind

#notyourasiansidekick, a hashtag that trended worldwide when it first came about in

December 2013. Park’s intention with the tweet was to start a nationwide discussion

about Asian American feminism. Park planned to start the discussion with only a few

close friends and was shocked at the multitude of responses she received within hours

of posting the first tweet. Park said “Honestly I am ill-prepared for the magnitude of

what is happening and I think that’s okay because I don’t think I should be the only one

having these conversations or the only one speaking for millions of people when I’m

trying to say that we’re nuanced and not just one person,” Park is Korean American and

has found that when the topic of feminism is brought up, there is not always a place for

Asian Americans. Therefore her intention with this campaign was not to acquire a seat

at the feminist table, but to create a forum for discussion where no group is left out or

considered a “side-kick.”

 

 

In an interview with She the People, Park talked about the racism and

stereotypes she faced as a child. And it was really these experiences that were the

catalyst for her wanting to shift the conversation. She wanted to be able to reach out

to teenage Asian American girls and let them know that they do not have to fit into

the model that they are pushed into their whole lives. Another intention behind the

hash tag was to talk about the American view on beauty. Park struggled with the fact

that the model for a beautiful woman was tall, skinny, blonde, and blue-eyed. But the

western ideals of beauty are unattainable by an Asian woman, who are naturally born

with dark hair, dark eyes, and on the petite side. And for a teenage girl facing not only

the pressures to achieve academically, but also physically, can cause more pressure

than teenagers already face. #notyourasiansidekick is not only a discussion about Asian

American feminism, but why we force Asian Americans into stereotypes and the effects

that those stereotypes have.

 

I think this campaign is something that is really important to talk about, because

it is rarely talked about. Asian American feminism is a part of the movement that falls

at the waste-side and by perpetuating these stereotypes as a culture, we are trying to

fit these women into a gradually decreasing holes. As a movement it is important for us

to be united, which means allowing all types of women to be thoroughly involved in the

conversation.

“#notyourasiansidekick because I’d rather base build with fellow Asian Americans than

rely on allies, who have a history of being absent.” -Suey Park 


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