By Jenny Yang
Dear Little Sister,
I was quite young when I realized my own parents weren’t the most emotionally supportive. I wish we didn’t have to be so young to learn that sometimes our own parents can let us down. I knew they loved me, but so many things get in the way of kids getting the love that we need.
Most of these things are totally out of our control. In my case, I was the youngest of our immigrant family. I got better at speaking English and “being American” than the rest of my family. A lot of times, my own parents relied on me to figure out the world, even when I was very young. Sometimes our own parents are not the best place get comfort when we are being mistreated by the world—especially if this is a world that they don’t understand. And sometimes, sadly, grownups just think that our life is so small when we are little and young.
I was the only girl and youngest of three kids. When I was six years old, I was new to the block and finally playing with the neighbor kids on a regular basis. This one day, a boy from the next street over showed up. He was this jagged-toothed, sandy blonde white kid with a mischievous grin.
He interrupted our freeze tag and started making fun of me. I didn’t quite speak enough English after only being in America for less than a year, but I could see that his face was mocking me. Maybe he knew that I didn’t understand his words so he had to make himself perfectly clear.
After laughing at my face for what felt like forever, he reached underneath my flouncy knee-length skirt and flipped it up. My face got hot and all the other kids started laughing and pointing. They saw my underwear and I knew the kid was being mean.
He tried flipping up my skirt again but I ran away just in time. I escaped to my house with hot tears streaming down my face.
As I heard the sound of the screen door slam behind me, I realized I had interrupted my mom who was deep in conversation, speaking Mandarin Chinese with a neighbor lady. I screamed in Chinese, “Mom! The boy down the street. He was laughing at me and he flipped up my skirt.”
While I cried and clutched fists full of my skirt in anger, all I wanted was a hug or an “I’m sorry this happened to you.” But all I got was laughter. Their laughter echoed the sounds of the kids who mocked me just seconds ago.
“Oh, Jenny! Is that all that happened? He flipped up your skirt? Hahaha.” She turned to her friend and shot her a glance that said, “Oh look at this silly girl.” This friend of my mom also started giggling. Grownups can be so mean sometimes.
“Jenny. Don’t worry about it,” my mom insisted. She was about to turn back to her friend to continue their conversation but I stood there and screamed louder. Something was wrong. Harm was done.
“Mom! He just came up to me and flipped up my skirt! Everyone saw my underwear!”
My mom laughed some more.
"Oh, look at my daughter. Isn’t she funny getting so upset? It’s fine. It’s just your underwear. It’s over.”
My mom laughed even harder.
“Look how upset you are. Don’t get upset over this. Nothing happened. It’s nothing.”
In Chinese, the words “mei shi” literally translate to “not a big deal” or “not a thing.” No thing. Nothing.
My mother would go on to contradict herself when it came to how I was supposed to carry my own body. When I got just a few years older, she told me to close my legs when I sat down because “a proper girl didn’t show her underwear.” So when is it okay for a girl to show her underwear? Only when a strange boy forces you to show it?
After feeling rejected by my mom, I ran into the bedroom and cried. I knew there was nothing I could do to get the reaction that I wanted. I wanted my mom to understand that what this boy did was not okay.
From that day forward, I vowed in my heart to never wear a skirt again. I learned that to wear a skirt was to be laughed at and to feel vulnerable. That to be a girl was to be weak and ignored. That life was better to be just like my two much older brothers rather than the silly, youngest girl who was never really seen for how I felt and who I was. That this was just the beginning to learning all the ways that life was so unfair to little girls and young women. That our own parents can love us so much and work really hard to clothe and feed us, but that they might not protect and nourish us in very important ways that help us to grow up, and feel whole and safe.
I am here to tell you all of this because it’s okay. I will believe you when somebody mistreats you. I know it matters to you so it matters to me. You know when you are not being treated well. I’m here to tell you that you are right. You do not deserve to be mocked and bullied by anyone. You deserve to have grownups believe you when you say that you were harmed and violated. Your body is yours. What you wear has nothing to do with other people’s bad behavior.
I see what happened to you. I know exactly how you feel. It was not your fault. I believe you.
I feel this is very important.
It’s been apparent to me for a while that most men can’t really imagine “equality.” All they can imagine is having the existing power structure inverted.
I cannot decide whether this shows how unimaginative they are, or shows how aware they must be of what they do in order to so deeply fear having it turned on them.
parenting tip: talk to your kids about mental illness. tell them they might have a hard time. tell them they can ask for therapy and medication. tell them they aren’t alone. tell them if your family has a history of mental illnesses and which ones. just fucking talk to your kids and be there for them.
Yes please please do this it could save a lot of suffering
And don’t make it out to be a problem with a fix. My parents did that to me and I got even more anxiety because the therapy and medication wasn’t ‘fixing’ me. It’s an ongoing process. And that’s ok.
YES. If you’re a parent and don’t know where to start - this might help: Mental Illness (kids version). And great advice from spontaneousregeneration - I hadn’t thought of that before.
Three extracts from tonight’s conversations with my atheist coworkers:
1. The funny thing about the LDS Church is that it claims that discrimination against blacks was never an inspired doctrine, despite it being reiterated over and over in official statements and declarations; this means that black discrimination was only ever as “official” as the “Proclamation on the Family.”
2. God sending “trials” to test people is terribly amoral. If you have to create problems in order for people to need you, then you are the problem.
3. Severe birth defects are the most cruel aspects of a pre-planned existence or an omnipotent god. Imagine all the women who gave birth to anacephalic babies (warning: do not look up this term if you are the least bitsqueamish) before modern technology could reduce the horror a tiny amount by explaining it. “It’s all part of The Plan, ma’am!” Truly horrific.
If you have to create problems in order for people to need you,then you are the problem.
If you have to create problems in order for people to need you, then you are the problem.
If you have to create problems in order for people to need you, then you are the problem.
For an imaginary “friend,” this god really sucks.
I should have been more clear, huh?
With someone else’s kid, especially with a 10 year old kid from a family of Republicans, I would not have painted things quite so starkly. Republican policies often reflect what the author was trying to convey, but Republican beliefs often do not (and herein lies the endless frustration attempting to reason with my Republican relatives).
The “Us vs Them” mantra of the Republican platform is one of the most insidious ideas in American politics right now and I hate to see the Left go there. All of the author’s points were valid, but implying “Republicans don’t value education” and “Republicans only want to help rich people” simply isn’t true (though, again, their policies often seem to reflect just that).
His explanation of homosexuality was fantastic, as was his narrative of criminality. I was only slightly disappointed by the group think mentality which just fosters hostility. If this kid does eventually lean Republican (which is likely, given what the author says about his upbringing), emphasizing commonalities and ways of co-operating might have been the better way to proceed.
Does that help?
"My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….
First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”
But here is what I think you should know.
You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.
You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.
You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).
You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.
In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.
In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”
Like it really is so tiring as a woman to constantly have to be aware of your looks and how it’s being consumed by the world around you and if you’re constantly meeting all these ridiculous standards of acceptable beauty it’s literally so fucking restricting and I feel like it took a huge chunk of my life to realize I don’t have to do any of this shit
Instead of waiting in her tower, Rapunzel slices off her long, golden hair with a carving knife, and then uses it to climb down to freedom.
Just as she’s about to take the poison apple, Snow White sees the familiar wicked glow in the old lady’s eyes, and slashes the evil queen’s throat with a pair of sewing scissors.
Cinderella refuses everything but the glass slippers from her fairy godmother, crushes her stepmother’s windpipe under her heel, and the Prince falls madly in love with the mysterious girl who dons rags and blood-stained slippers.
Persephone goes adventuring with weapons hidden under her dress.
Persephone climbs into the gaping chasm.
Or, Persephone uses her hands to carve a hole down to hell.
In none of these versions is Persephone’s body violated unless she asks Hades to hold her down with his horse-whips.
Not once does she hold out on eating the pomegranate, instead biting into it eagerly and relishing the juice running down her chin, staining it red.
In some of the stories, Hades never appears and Persephone rules the underworld with a crown of her own making.
In all of them, it is widely known that the name Persephone means Bringer of Destruction.
Red Riding Hood marches from her grandmother’s house with a bloody wolf pelt.
Medusa rights the wrongs that have been done to her.
Eurydice breaks every muscle in her arms climbing out of the land of the dead.
Girls are allowed to think dark thoughts, and be dark things.
Instead of the dragon, it’s the princess with claws and fiery breath
who smashes her way from the confines of her castle
and swallows men whole.