I wrote about the ways male privilege manifests itself in my Asian American community in this blog post, but I have been wanting to reflect on how this system impacts the way I think about my own role as a soon to be mom. Jon and I are expecting our first baby in April and when I bit into my gender reveal burrito in front of the DMV (oh, you didn't have one?), I was absolutely thrilled to taste the black beans that signified we were having a boy!
There are a lot of things I don't know about raising boys- like what is circumcision, really? Or, how do you pee standing up? And ultimately, my bigger question is how do I prepare to raise a son in a world of Harvey Weinsteins and Brock Turners? I asked Jon what his favorite part of being a boy was and he said that he never felt scared to just be alive, and I immediately thought of every time I clenched a fistful of keys through my fingers, or pretended to wave to someone I didn't know, or locked the doors of my car the moment I rushed inside, and I thought: wow- I will get to raise a son who will not have to see the world that way.
But that is exactly the frame of mind that maintains a world of unhelpful patriarchy and abuse- and I want more for my son than for him to avoid being afraid. I want to raise my son to be brave.
I want him to be brave enough to be last.
If the future is female, I have to be honest and say that I don't know where that leaves people like my baby. For all I've been through, and for all women everywhere have been through, there is still a sliver of me that wants my son to know what it's like to be at the top- to be powerful, to have opportunity, to have the benefit of the doubt.
I hope we are entering a day where daughters are dreaming, achieving, and receiving recognition in unprecedented measures. And in that day, I hope that my son sees his own liberation wrapped up in theirs and that he knows the joy of the second seat.
I pray that the baby I carry in my belly tonight looks at the world in an upside down way. That he knows the meek will inherit the earth and will choose the margins with a bold and eager abandon.
I want him to be brave enough to listen.
One of the heaviest portions female Asian Americans carry is the ongoing tension of roles upon roles upon roles. It is the unending stream of duty, presence, apology, and demand that seem to shape the consciousness of Asian American women. Which is why I'm so confused when people think we are silent, because the myriad of voices and identities that rage in a given moment are so clamorous that other people must be able to hear them too.
And yet it is what also makes us strong, creative, and resilient. We are shaped not just by our own suffering, but by stories of our parents, our neighbors, and the weights we inherit. It is what forges beautiful things in us, and I wouldn't trade my body for the world.
I pray that the baby that is nestled in my womb feels these things in me even now, and that when he is old enough to understand, that he will truly listen to the sisters and aunties around him. That he'll trade in tired assumptions of objectification and orientalization for the gold of unique and enduring narratives. I hope he will choose to listen to the women around him because in them he will find a richer sense of self and community.
I want him to be brave enough to speak
My dad is a natural storyteller, and he is moved by stories in his profound empathy and warmth. He tells me that his dad had a thick Chinese accent, that he cursed JESUS CLEIST in his frustration, and that he was too anxious most days to have dinner time conversation. My husband sees stories in places long overlooked, and he points them out to me and invites me into his world. His dad survived Hiroshima and went on to serve as a medical assistant in the US army a few decades later- we find yearbooks and uniforms, but there is a secrecy that muzzles those stories from flooding down to us.
My Japanese and Chinese American son grows from these branches of both silence and voice, in broken inflections and dissonant shame, in striking imagination and liberated perception. I hope he knows how hard we fought for him to have words, and that he will use ordinary conversations and mighty songs to make a way for those around him too.
I pray that the baby I love so deeply will search for the hidden narratives even I am too afraid to expose, and that he will see the beloved handiwork of God not just in the heroes of his patrilineal heritage, but in every woman he comes to know.