Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Okay, so enough with the blogging about blogging--with this final note (that's it! I promise!). Each week seems to have a theme so far (nerdiness, free speech, blogging anonymity), which is a good thing--having a sustained discusison of Big Important Ideas. But I'd much rather go back to a little more variety in postings. In a little while, I'd like to post about two papers I'm working on: 1) a long, likely 2 year project on the federalism revolution and its impact on minority rights and interests; and 2) a much shorter piece likely finished by this summer on race and gender dynamics in the classroom, with a particular emphasis on Asian American students/teachers and representational politics. As I sort out the structure and scope of this blog, it will probably be 40% academic, 30% personal (including how the academic stuff affects me personally), 20% political/pop culture/media criticism, and 10% silly stuff.

So here's some silly/political stuff. Happy Valentine's Day. Normally, I hate this holiday, but I've come to appreciate how it can be celebrated in a myriad of ways with different people. Less pressure than steppin' up your love game with your intended. In law schoool, the Women's Law Union gave out candy grams--you know, those things you got back in high school. (They also had bake sales. Maybe this is why I never joined). Over at Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow writes about how little moments of juvenile camaderie can really help a 1L get through the hell of law school. I second this sentiment. (and bow to her law prof greatness, she actually visited this site!) I, too remember the pleasure of receiving an heart-shaped candy gram from a platonic friend (and a Thanksgiving Day Turkey-shaped Cookie Gram!) , and how it made the isolating journey through law school just a little more bearable. Someone cared! I had candy to eat! It was nice.

So maybe I'll cut the WLU a little slack for their genderized fund-raising efforts. I've toned down the disdainful perspective I had in college, when I was editor of my campus feminist newspaper and really involved in protests and stuff. I mean, I'm no "post-feminist," but I do believe that feminism can be almost anything you want it to be, so long as you don't forget the paths of your forbears and what you owe them for all your "choices." I say this to you as a very-strictly raised, very conformist to cultural and gender norms Asian American woman--who's also a feminist. I'm morely likely to sympathize with the earnest belief that wearing the hajib can be feminist, too. So, reading my Global Critical Race Feminism book, I'm inspired to be more forgiving towards all expressions of feminism, autonomy, and empowerment. I mean, I cook, bake, knit, embroider, make crafts, and am (when not studying) responsible for the childcare of many nephews and nieces while my siblings work. But ain't I a feminist? My reasons for my many activitities (and oh, how they have impacted my schoolwork and career) are personal--but they are political too. I can no sooner divorce my personal life from my professional life than I can say that the sacrifices made in taking care of a child over finishing that chapter are easy. Yet both must be done. And ain't I a feminist too?

In my first blush of political awareness and activism (ah, those heady youthful days!), I struggled between the personal and the political. It was hard to reconcile being a campus feminist when my dad made me get home by dinner each day. You kind of have to schedule those protests and candlelit rape vigils early, you know? But in that personal struggle, my fellow feminist friends never wavered in their support of me. They understood and sympathized with my plight. They let me write my feminist articles at home and email them in for publication. They never once judged me for complying with the demands made at home by my arch-conservative Vietnamese parents--they never once questioned whether I too, deserved to be called a feminist. They are also the ones who helped me through academic struggles, campus politics, and personal heartbreak. It's because of JR, and our many non-conformist "dates" with each other after she left her husband and my boyfriend left me that I grew to like Valentine's day. I liked buying myself jewelry and chocolate. Same genderized constructs--women love themselves the sweet and the sparkly, like some kind of saccharine magpie--but for once, I was doing it myself, for myself. I didn't need some man to give them to me. And that makes all the difference.

What I've learned: The personal is the political, but not everything has to be political. I can enjoy a sweet candy gram. I can admit the utility of bake sales. I can buy myself jewelry and chocolate. I can enjoy patriarchal holidays commericalized for the benefit of Hallmark and Hershey's. I can be a good Vietnamese girl at home, and a feminist everywhere.

So Happy Valentine's Day. I'm sending you all a big, cheesy candy gram.


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