Showing posts from March, 2010

A Chat Transcript

Which I will post in place of an actual blogpost, because even though I Tumblr'd it, it deserves to be its own post. It came on the heels of a discussion about my posts on parental cruelty, but took a religious turn:
Tariq: yeah 
I keep feeling that "accept", which is a word people use a lot in that context, is exactly the wrong word to use 
I mean... are you saying that it's right? 
Jaymee: yeah, exactly 
i think they more tolerate it 
Tariq: what does one mean when one tells another person to "accept" things the way things are? 
Jaymee: usually? 
i get the feeling of 
"Just give it up, it wont change and you'll only make yourself more unhappy by thinking about changing things" 
Tariq: except that if you think it, and you explore it, the entire premise of existence is pain. it doesn't make the pain and the injustice right. 
it means that you can't do anything about it. 
Jaymee: oh, shut up, i just came out of 10 years of telling myself that life …

200 Posts!

This is just to say that I now have 200 posts.

It's not even my blogiversary. Just sayin'. I update like, four times a week, and I've taken months-long breaks, but still, it's pretty awesome, you know?
So! I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for sticking with me so long, and to get to know you better! Feel free to post and tell me a little bit about yourselves if you so please, I would very much like that!

I Write: Steampunk Nusantara

If you haven't heard already, my friend Tariq and I recently started a new Dreamwidth Community called steampunk_nusantara. This is not a writing community, although there is writing involved.

Its genesis began here, as a discussion for a meta-setting set in South East Asia, particularly the region called Nusantara, which is mostly Malaya, the Indonesian islands and a bit of Borneo. Tariq and I had many conversations about how this would work - a collection of documents, some descriptions of stuff that could go in, something to give people a starting point if they wanted to write a SEA-centered steampunk story.

We tried using GoogleWave and it didn't work, because Tariq and I are very chatty people, and it just didn't look right as a single document. So we left it on the backburner, although I thought about it occasionally. I just did not know how to make it work. It had to be in a format where a bunch of people could work together on it, but Wave is limited in that way.


On the Little Cruelties Parents Inflict On Children

There was a time when I did not get along with my parents. I say this as an adult who has a pretty strong relationship with her dad, and a somewhat-shaky-but-almost-decent-give-it-a-few-more-years relationship with her mom. My parents are better than most. They gave me freedom when most of my peers were forced to stay home after dark. They gave me a pretty big allowance, once a month. From them, I inherited a strong, stubborn attitude which put me at odds with them but has served me well through my life thus far.

But they're not perfect. Who is, right? I'm going to talk about one of those Imperfect Times.
For context, when I was a kid, we made a chocolate drink called Milo with chocolate malt powder of that brand, milk powder, and sugar. ... OK, I still do, when my family has moved on to drinking it without the milk powder and sugar. For a while we didn't use milk powder and sugar, but sweetened condensed milk. I'm not sure if there was a reason for this shift, but anywa…

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

This is a blog about theory. You might have noticed that. It's a blog about intersectionality, and it's a blog about dreams, and it's a blog about people, particularly of women, and a blog about experiences and stories. I'm no computer geek: I own a Win 7 processor, have never bought an MP3, much less an iPod, I loathed the Mac, and never tried out Linux because I couldn't be arsed to figure it out. I only require basic functions on my cellphone: radio, text messaging, calculator, caller ID - none of that touch-screen, bajillion apps nonsense for me. 

However, none of this would be possible if not for technology. 
I would not be here today if it weren't for the internet. Hell, I think I wouldn't be half the person I am today, which isn't saying much in the grand scheme of things but saying much for myself, if it weren't for the capability to communicate with people across the world. 
I would not even be writing so much if not for the computer and the a…

High School Movies

So recently I was watching a re-mix trailer of Mean Girls using clips from various Disney princess movies.

I have friends who are also into High School Musical. There will be a movie coming out this year on middle-school. When I first came to Canada, I was introduced to shows like Degrassi, which takes place in a school as well.
I do not quite understand the American school culture. Or rather, I do understand it, but only to a certain degree in which there may be shared experiences of isolation and loneliness and awkwardness of nerds like myself navigating the whole concept of identity and self-esteem (yeah, self-esteem? What the hell was that?).

Hence, the number of high-school movies I see around make me wonder why anybody would go to watch them. The people in these movies are horrible. High school is depicted as this awful place where everyone is forced to participate, whether or not they want to. (I refused to. This is why my high school experience was worse than it should have been…

"Where Are You From?"

There's been a big of talk going about around the question, "Where are you from?"

It's ordinarily asked by well-meaning folks, usually to PoC, and when the PoC replies with a relatively mundane answer, such as, "from Detroit" to another American, they are queried further, "Where are you really from?" and if that answer doesn't satisfy the (usually white) querant, they are asked, "where is your family from?"
Perhaps it is to Halifax's credit that I rarely get asked that question. Most Canadians I meet tend to assume I'm from Canada - often due to the way I speak (that is to say, flawless Queen's English punctuated with Americanisms) - so I don't get the question very often. Even when I do, it's often with the air of "New Glasgow maybe?" that I've seen them ask each other.

I'm not sure about this phenomenon here and why I don't get it. I used to get it more, though, especially in my early univers…

Patrilineality Does Not Require Name Changes

People, tell me this: why is the name-changing debate so fraught in North America?

I just read BeckySharper's takedown of this ridiculous defense of making women change their names, in which Dudely Dude makes the case that it should happen, and it's right that it happens, because society tends to be patrilineal, and it's useful to... what? I don't even know anymore. 
I really do not understand it! In Malaysia, most of the cultures there are strongly patrilineal. This means, to me, that the father is always acknowledge within the name of the children, and the mother is not. Chinese children take the surnames of their fathers (as I do). Malay and Indian children are "son of" or "daughter of" their father, in their names. 
Wives do not have to change their names. They just don't. There's no point! Besides which, the structure of our names do not necessarily lend themselves to name-changing. Siti Kamariah binte Kamaruddin does not have a last name …

I Write: Terrible Fiction & Good Fanfic

A while back, I was going through some old fanfiction I had written on Final Fantasy VII. I wrote it back between the years '97 and '02 (oh, adolescent angst) and I was quite shocked to see that not only did I write decent fanfic, but I also had actual plots! Like, plots with people doing stuff, rather than just plots filled with people ruminating about stuff!

I'm not sure how I lost this as time passed. But it seems that the more I think about the writing process, the less quality I produced. And I don't just mean like, thinking about writing - it's more stuff like plot, and characterization, and theme, and other good stuff that I should not be writing about before the story gets under way.

When I was still at SMU, my writing prof, Dr. MacLeod, would say, "If the paper about the story is as long as the story itself, you are putting way too much effort into thinking about the story, and not enough into the story itself." I'm sure those weren't his…

Ally Issues: On Being Mean

I had to be mean the other day. It was not something I wanted to do, because usually I'm pretty generous and charitable, or at least I like to think so (despite many exhortations and declarations that I am a terrible human being, but people are always a work in progress, you know), so having to be really stern with folks on the internet does not come easily to me.

Unless like, they're not around, in which case, I let it rip.

Wannabe allies always make a big deal about how you attract more flies with honey, so taking an abrasive approach to dealing with continual questions and a lot of FAIL is counter-productive. And in certain cases, it certainly is.

What wannabe allies don't get, though, is that when one is at the receiving end of the continual, neverending barrage of FAIL, patience wears thin. Kindness gets overpowered. And then you get the Mean POC who just won't understand that people are trying to help.

The thing is, and I said this while I was being mean, I do, a…

Cultural Appropriation: The Illusion of "The Line"

Recently, I wrote a piece called Countering Victorientalism, which has garnered quite a bit of attention. It does, of course, deal with cultural appropriation, because that was what the Orientalist movement was all about - commodifying Asian stuff and bringing it to Europe to prettify the lives and homes of Europeans who may or may not have visited "the Orient." 
Yes, it is a fascinating topic, which is why I'm talking about it here! Because I am both victim and perpetrator of the systems that support cultural appropriation. I can't advocate for either side, because like, you, I don't know enough, and like you, I, too, have questions!
.... Except the questions I foresee getting, repeatedly, is this: Where is the line between appropriation and appreciation?
Short answer: I don't know.
Longer answer: There is no line. There are reasons why this is a debate and why it is tied into systemic racism and other forms of oppression. There are reasons why we talk about thi…

On Self-Segregation and Lack Thereof

macon d at Stuff White People Do discussed self-segregation, and he asked PoC if they ever felt the need to self-segregate when they spend a lot of time in white-dominated spaces. He also asked if there were certain things white folks do that cause this desire to self-segregate.

I'll be honest and admit that I never understood the purpose of self-segregation. In fact, I used to be extremely critical of international students at my university, because they spent so much time together, even as they were there to learn English. It seemed rather counter-productive. This is not to say all of them did - I volunteered as an ESL tutor to three lovely students, two Koreans and a Japanese, who were all about going out to do stuff with me like hang at the Art Gallery, or listen to music, or mess with vocabulary. But in general, I would see huge groups of students sticking together. (A friend of mine refers to a hallway in the university as "mini-Lebanon". I don't know if they…

What in the What?

So, someone on racebendingpointed out to me the Occidental Quarterly, which is, according to the Wikipedia article, "devoted to the ethnic, racial, and cultural heritage that forms the foundation of Western Civilization". It aims to defend "the cultural, ethnic, and racial interests of Western European peoples" and examine "contemporary political, social, and demographic trends that impact the posterity of Western Civilization".

Because I'm a sick puppy like that, and it was very late at night, I decided to poke around the website of the web edition. The tagline reads, "Western Perspectives on Man, Culture & Civilization." 
Because Man embraces all, oh no, it doesn't exclude women at all, not historically, and we really need more Western perspectives on Culture and Civilization. I guess all those philosophers stemming from Socrates aren't good enough for these fine fellows!
It looked innocuous enough , although I could feel the micr…

Equal Rights for All!

Hi all! It's International Women's Day! 

This year's theme for International Women's Day is "Equal Rights For All", which I imagine does not just extend to women only, but also men. 
One of the things which undermines feminism is the idea that rights are a zero-sum game: if women get more rights, then men will lose rights. It's as if rights are finite things which are arbitrarily distributed. Like apples. I just bought some. Which means I deprived someone else of the very same apples! Oh nos, that poor person! There are only so many apples in the world! Except, whoever it is I "deprived" of the apples I bought could buy them somewhere else. 
Even that analogy fails, because there are some people who cannot afford to buy apples! Fortunately, though, rights are not concrete things like apples. Which means they are exponential! Which means they can reach out to apply to everybody! 

Everybody means women of colour, transgendered and transsexual folks, …

Meeting Jaclyn Friedman

For those who have never read Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, I have to say, you are missing out. When I first read the book, I was deeply moved, and in its own small way, although it states truths that most of us already knew, having it all in one place distilled the facts and tendrils of knowledge into a revelation of its own. 

Yes Means Yes! was edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, both famous names in the feminist blogosphere. Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, performer and activist, and has received several grants, done a lot of cool things, like found the WAM! conference. You can totes look her up. Her main site is, which is very flashy, but if you can read it, it's got really neat stuff.

Although the talk was on rape prevention, how rapists operate, rape culture and other awful stuff, Jaclyn Friedman was upbeat and cheerful, presenting her argument with pop culture references, using really vernacular language to pres…

Welcome to Canada, Have Some Jackets

Via Womanist Musings, I came across this commercial for Tim Horton's. Timmy's is iconic in Canada. Given the choice between a Tim's and Starbucks, I'll pick the Tims. The hot chocolate is nice, and the donuts are okay. I've never had a meal there, although I've had a bit of soup. I think some of their advertising is misleading (like, advertising sourdough bread bowl, and the branch itself doesn't have the bread bowls. If your product isn't consistent with ads, don't show the ads).

Renee makes a great point that most of Tim Horton's advertising is heavily white, although I've seen a couple of commercials with a token black man. She also points out that in this ad, the minority characters are portrayed as newcomers to Canada, and how in the history of Canada, not all PoC are newcomers.

I can see her point. PoC shouldn't be portrayed as newcomers, or new immigrants all the time. It's not fair, and it does a great disservice to PoC who hav…

Because We're Not Just Nice

Because I'm boring and ever so slightly obsessive, I listen to some certain songs almost every day, depending on my mood. For a while it was Reise Reise by Rammstein, and for another while it was Disney songs in Arabic, and so on, so forth. Sometimes I share these songs, sometimes I don't. When I do, though, I get pretty interesting conversation. Let's call my friends E and M.

Eurovision intrigues me. Everyone I've spoken to about it laughs at it, or mocks the acts. It's true that many of the acts are cheesy. Anyways, last year's winner was Alexander Rybak, from Norway. "Oh yes," E said, who's from Belgium, "that cute Norweigen fiddler." Let's make no mistake, he's absolutely, utterly adorable

Then I show them a song like this:

Most of it's the usual typical moony bordering-emo of Young Dude Seeking Love, but the chorus took the cake:

But I know a magic dolphin swimming above the world
And in my dreams he promised me that someda…