Fighting Hate with Hate: Anti-Asian Rant Inspires Misogyny

Over the weekend, a UCLA student posted an ignorant rant titled “Asians in the Library” that quickly became a viral video. In it, she mimics “Asian” students talking on the phone in the library and, “being the polite, nice, American girl that my mama raised me to be,” she asks them to go outside.

This student shows unusual insensitivity towards those with families affected by the “tsunami,” presumably referring to the horrific situation in Japan:

This sounds horrible. … I feel bad for all the people affected by the tsunami, but if you’re gonna go call your address book, like you might as well go outside because if something is wrong, you might really freak out if you’re in the library and everybody is quiet. Like, you seriously should go outside if you’re gonna do that.

I expected those who responded to this offensive video to be more thoughtful than the student who let loose with the jaw-droppingly racist rant. Instead, most of the comments used nasty gender slurs. Many derided the student’s large breasts, blonde hair and weight, and some suggested that rape or other violence be used against her. Most are unprintable, but here are a few examples:

  • “I bet her grades match her cup size.”
  • “i have big tits and gave the dean a blowjob to get into UCLA is all I hear.”
  • “EXCUSE ME WHILE I WHIP MY DICK OUT AND JERK IT TO THOSE TITS.”

The racial hatred from this UCLA student is appalling, as are the woman-hating, violent responses to the video. Imagine if an African American man posted a sexist video and commenters responded with a steady stream of racial slurs. Oppression comes in many different forms, and we need to collectively recognize and address these various forms instead of privileging some while forgetting about others.

To its credit, the Asian Pacific Coalition of UCLA issued a response condemning not only the video, but also the comments, stating that students must not “resort to the student’s tactics of throwing out divisive words, which only perpetuate a culture of racism and sexism on both sides.” It offers UCLA students various ways to take action: Click here to learn more.

Comments

  1. While the comments responding to the video are indeed appalling, YouTube is notorious for having racist, sexist (and terribly misspelled) comments. Everyone knows it's a black pit of repugnant commenters. Watch any video with more than 1,000 views involving a woman or minority, and there will be, guaranteed, offensive and hateful comments.

    • Bibliophilic says:

      Hmm- perhaps it's a reflection of society: a black pit of repugnant people? Those commentators are still responsible for what they posted. When allowed internet anonymity, internalized misogyny and racism rushes forth like a flood! I like to imagine a society when such behaviors are an anomaly; if we never address internet hatred, then it is suddenly deemed permissible! Yes, some of those people were trolling, but not all of them were. Their behavior often reflects what they truly believe. Women are called "sluts" in real life too!

      It's common for men to refer to a woman's body in an insulting manner(or at all! why is it needed?) when they disagree with her in general. If she were speaking about a non-offensive topic she still would have received sexual comments. If she were speaking frankly about a controversial topic, men who disagreed would call her a "slut" and insult her physical appearance. Such behavior is accepted, but that does not make it right!

      How about addressing her character? Why is her appearance suddenly up for critique because she is female? A man would be called a racist or an a-hole, but because she is a woman she is objectified. Since when is being promiscuous worse than being cruel, insensitive or even… evil? I judge people by their character- not their gender.

      • Perhaps as a woman, perhaps as someone with large body parts she'd like to display, she should be more cognizant of inflammatory statements about presentation.To her, we're obnoxious behavior, accent, and clearly not polite Americans…perhaps she thinks we're not American at all!

        Perhaps, this is an opportunity for her to recognize what hurtful, malicious, inflammatory language might feel like. She is recieving an expediated experiential learning experience. Perhaps she is bearing the wrath of many asian folks who heard similar sentiments as children from other white children. Perhaps she symbolizes more than her 2 minute video…and that wrath is not just for her, but also a larger message that we're not all quite so humble and quiet.

        • goldenbear54 says:

          Actually, her physical appearance should have nothing to do with criticisms about her. Her comments were racist and xenophobic. People criticizing her should be focusing on that. Making sexist comments about her appearance just makes our side, the people who are against racism and xenophobia, less intelligence.

          There is no need to marginalize one group of people to defend another.

      • Of course it's a reflection of society. As long as commenters can hide behind anonymity, there will always be racist, sexist comments. Do we have enough energy in our bodies to respond to and criticize every single one, when the person who posted the comment won't care or change? No. Of course it's wrong to counter racism with sexist remarks. It's unfair and a bad argument strategy. I also judge people by their character and not gender or race, but trying to curb offensive YouTube comments is not very effective. You have to pick your battles. Has anyone seen the message boards at 4chan? Because they are at least 1,000 times worse than YouTube.

        • Bibliophilic says:

          Yes I have. Sometimes I even visit those forums. I've actually spoken with many young intelligent feminists on those very same boards.

          If the UCLA wants to address the misogyny of internet culture, I will not tell them to shut up or to choose their battles. When I see comments like this I don't always ignore them. Women make up a substantial number of internet users- we have the ability to affect internet culture at large.

          It's still not okay to make sexist jokes just because it's on teh internets!

          • Oh I definitely wasn't saying that UCLA should shut up. However, is someone who posted "EXCUSE ME WHILE I WHIP MY DICK OUT AND JERK IT TO THOSE TITS” going to engage in a thoughtful discourse or apologize after being shown that their reaction was wrong? Will this person feel bad for offending women? I doubt it. I totally support challenging sexism/racism with people who have the mental capacity to understand why it's wrong. Yes, it's sad that comments like these exist on the internet, but it's not surprising.

    • rockjianrock says:

      Which means that we've stilll got a long way to go. :(

  2. Her little rant is a bit on the ditzy side, but it doesn't exactly strike me as hateful nor "anti-Asian." As far as her speech being "ignorant," perhaps these are behavior patterns she has, in fact, observed. People from different cultures often exhibit different behaviors. So what?

    And I also don't see what's so horrible about imitating how other languages sound. My native language happens to be German, and Americans frequently regale me with their German impressions. Or take at Jay Leno and his goofy Schwarzenegger impressions. Never occurred to me to take offense to those, even though I'm Austrian myself.

  3. Sorry Ms. Magazine…the things she said were awful. She doesn't get to play the victim card here. This article is pretty biased and the first paragraph makes her sound a lot more polite than she actually was, and overlooks about 3/4th of the really offensive things she actually said. As an Asian feminist, I don't feel any sympathy towards this hateful white woman.

    • Zen,

      I tried to explain the same thing to Ms. Magazine Facebook members, but with their indignant Feminist ideals they refused to acknowledge how wrong it was for Ms. to even spare an entire page for this racist, bigot. It is like trying to defend KKK just because you are white. They are telling others to be not so "misogynistic" towards this person who obviously does not care about anyone else's feelings. These are the knee-jerk reactions giving Feminism a bad name in USA. Must we support everyone just because they are a female? Even their abhorrent behavior is beyond acceptable…

      On top if another Asian lady, -she mentioned it so- told me to basically shut up, because I was not Asian…So let me get this straight; we are to support ALL women when they are subject to sexism and/or misogyny, regardless of their horrific actions, but not have the right to speak up for other races if we don't belong to that race…None of it makes sense…

      Ms. should be ashamed of themselves for getting behind this person. Please raise your standards! and don't waste your resources on hateful, bigots. If she has problems with misogyny she can answer it back herself…I am not fighting for this one!

      And everyone else was "oh, but Ms. is not supporting her just pointing out the sexism." Really? Sparing a whole page and plus Facebook post is not supporting this person…I don't care what you call it, if not support, defense..e.g. whatever else…She should have never been news for Ms…

      • So, sexism only matters if it happens to people we like, support, or agree with?
        I think this girl is a racist idiot. Her rant was disgusting, ignorant and very very angering. I really hope that it comes back to bite her in the ass when she tries to get employed after her undergrad.making bigoted, racist comments should not be without consequences because the acceptance of these statements helps to entrench inequality and racism. The things she said have consequences for society. They should have consequences for her.
        But the comments that were made about the video had absolutely nothing to do with how idiotic her statements were. Instead they talked about her tits and threatened to rape her. This is misogyny! It is the same way that intelligent statements by women are derailed! It is relevant to ALL women!
        If this was a guy who went on this rant you can sure as hell bet they wouldn't be commenting on his sexual promiscuity or threatening to assualt him sexually. Chances are they would call him what he was– A racist asshole!
        Calling her a "slut" is sexist, and it speaks to the general attitude society has towards ALL women, not just this particular woman. It is entrenched in an ideology which not only states that women are defined by their sexual desirability, but that the greatest cause for their shame is their sexual agency. There is NEVER a time when calling a woman a slut or defining her by the size of her breasts is NOT a sexist act!

        If you want to call her names, go right ahead- Call her an idiot. Call her racist. These are the most relevant to what she said. Better yet, discuss WHY what she said was wrong.

        • If a man did the same thing, he would get beat up and yes would get called all kinds of sexist names like "small dick" or "fagot"…e.g Women are not the only ones subject to sexism.
          Yes, there has to be a limit to who I would support. I would care less if this bigot is subject to sexism or other forms of hateful language. I don't wish her harm but she is not a woman I am fighting for. It is an insult to millions of women here in USA and around the world whose being subject to unbelievable oppressions, violence and marginalization to put this bigot into same category with them…Of course I will distinguish who I think I will spend my effort, time and other resources to support…For me female pedophiles, racists, corrupt politicians, corrupt executives, female Nazis, female war criminals..e.g are out…I don't care if they have a vagina or not…I will not support these people and would not divert my resources to eradicate sexism or misogyny to be utilized for these people…There are enough innocent victims out there that I do not have to spend one once of effort to protect this person…
          It is also ridiculous to say call her all the names but just not the sexist ones=) does not even make sense…Pick and choose your insults…This is the kind of illogical one size fits all ideology is what is hurting feminism not just here in USA and around the world. People enraged by this person read Ms. dedicating a page for her and basically saying "you can be mad but don't be sexist" do you guys even realize how ridiculous this sounds?
          Ms. just gave her an extra platform and more spotlight, probably while she was trying to cover and hide=) Good job really…

          • Erm, yeah, exactly, you CAN be mad but don't be sexist. That is kind of the point and I sort of fail to understand what is wrong with that. Why is it not enough to comment on what she ACTUALLY did. Racist is not a nice word to be called, but it is exactly what she is.
            I didn't say call her any name except the sexist ones- I said insult her for what she is! Racists are disgusting. What on earth does her being a slut have to do with her being a racist? What did she do wrong- sleep around, or act like an ignorant bigot all over the internet? She acted like an ignorant bigot! So that is what she should be called!

            And faggot IS an insult rooted in the same misogyny that causes people to call this girl not a Racist, not a Bigot, not an Idiotwhoreallyshouldpaymoreattentioninclass, but a SLUT. Faggot is a way of insulting a man by saying he is less than a man, since masculinity is defined in such close relation to heterosexuality. Should calling someone a faggot be acceptable given it's homophobic, sexist connotations? (And complete lack of relevance to the conversation.)

            Words have meaning! They can reinforce the way we think about men, and women, and sexual agency. And by saying that the use of threats of sexual violence and insults like "slut" ( or faggot) are acceptable for women (or men) who piss you off, is to legitimize them. It is to say that "Slut" should be an insult, that threats of sexual violence are acceptable consequences for women who step out of line.

            Does it not occur to you that this kind of misogynistic language distracts from what was actually WRONG with what she said? What she said wasn't wrong because she has tits, or may or may not give blowjobs to professors… it was wrong because it was racist, stereotyping and pretty freaking ridiculous! If you think that her racism is disgusting then call her out on it. Misogynistic insults completely miss the point!

          • I mean, it may be arguable whether or not it is a compete waste of time to write an article about youtube comments, given that 99% of youtube comments make me fill with a bubbling, uncontrollable, rage at the stupidity of humanity. But I think it's ridiculous to say that sexism is EVER a logical or justifiable response to racism.

          • Are you reading my posts or are you just responding? Where did in any of my comments I said sexism is logical or justifiable? All I am saying it is a waste of time and resources to get behind a person who is a racist bigot. There are so many untold stories of suffering, so many innocent women being subject to unbelievable sexism and misogyny and Ms. chooses this idiot to cover??? Really???

            First, you can't teach people anything while they are already enraged and outraged, so telling people "be mad but don't be sexist" in this situation is counterproductive, nobody will learn any lessons here; second Ms. did not help this girl other than bringing more coverage of her abhorrent behavior, third we/feminists do not have to get behind/defend/support, whatever else Ms. was trying to do here, every woman just because they are a "woman."

            No actually her hateful ignorance was so blinding that I don't think people cared if she was being subject to sexism, no it did not distract from what actually was wrong which was her remarkable bigotry.

            Like I said, this is the one size fits all, let's defend all women kind of feminism giving feminism a bad name…According to your argument we should cover all sexism incidents regardless of who is subject to it, even if she is a murdering Nazi, a war criminal, a pedophile, or a KKK female member….You can't undo sexism or misogyny this way ladies…People will not respond kindly to your appeal…

  4. michigan student says:

    I'm confused about a couple points here. What is the point of the reference to African Americans? Why does the story need some sort of strange comparison which attempts to parallel bigotry? It's that sort of move that undermines these kinds of arguments. Particularly, since it really adds nothing to the entirely valid argument Heldman is making.

    Also, I don't understand the statement "To its credit, the Asian Pacific Coalition of UCLA issued a response…". Does Heldman mean to suggest that the APC is somehow at fault here? Why does it need "credit" for responding in the rather common sense way it did? There seems to be some assumption here that I'm not clear about, although if I had to guess it seems to assume the APC would only be concerned about issues of discrimination and therefore is inherently suspicious in such matters.

    Just a thought…mostly about semantics. But words are everything.

  5. Read my response to Zen (below) I completely agree with you!

  6. This is a strikingly weak analysis of the sexist backlash against Alexandra Wallace and her racist video; as other commenters have pointed out, it almost reads as a defense of Wallace in its hasty attempt to point out that misogyny is just as harmful as racism. This article was not written with any kind of interest in or sensitivity toward the one group affected by both Wallace's racist remarks and the sexist, violent language that followed–Asian American women at UCLA. Instead, it veers dangerously close to engaging in the tired, useless game of Oppression Olympics via the author's insinuation that people are more concerned about racism than they are sexism. I really hope that Ms. can do better than this in the future.

  7. Hate is hate…sexist is sexist..racist is racist…why can't we accept and assist….always derision and denigration of sexes and differences in race, religion or dogma..politics…please give it a rest..what ever happened to agree to disagree without hate and threat?

  8. racheal says:

    Interesting article.

    I viewed the youtube video rant and yes, the young woman uses unfortunate language to state her complaint about noisy, thoughtless and insensitive Asian students yakking on their phones while in the library. But she says nothing seriously disgusting or offensive- nothing like what was unleashed on her in response. Are we to be politically-correct to the point that we pretend such problems don’t exist?

    The way she stated her complaints was obnoxious yes, but don’t kill the messenger. There are some pretty serious culture clashes when international students come to study at US universities, and then refuse to respect the different social rules for public behaviour. That’s a problem, and that was the gist of her rant. Get some perspective, people.

    What this has done is reveal to americans a very uncomfortable truth about asians and asian culture- there is a huge amount of hatred and resentment of white women, coming from men AND women of those communities. Just take a look at the comments here- from presumably educated asian women purporting to be feminists- “this white woman…” “…(she has) large body parts she would like to show off…” and etc. I think this girl’s rant presented a rare opportunity to give full expression to that hatred, but within a socially accepted context. It’s very ugly, but very real.

    To those who will inevitably start screaming “Racist!” let me mention that I have spent the past decade living in Asia, and I know what I’m talking about. As a single white woman living outside the sheltered expat compounds, unpartnered and trying to just earn an honest living, everyday routines like riding the subway to work, buying groceries and even walking down the sidewalk become fraught with risk of physical intimidation and verbal abuse.

    I have had insults screamed at me in public, been knocked off the sidewalk by larger men who deliberately veered off their path toward me (leading to full- body collisions that left me shocked and gasping for breath) and other very hateful behaviors. These also happen to other white woman here who happen to be alone and vulnerable without a large and intimidating “protector”. I wish I were making this up.

    Make of my experiences what you will, but please don’t make excuses for the nasty threats and verbal abuse this young woman has received.

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