My submission is my confession.
There is no other place I can unload this.
And I desperately need to extract these painful pieces out of me before they infect the rest of me.
Although I do appreciate the fusion of both Eastern and Western values within me, it has left me rather disintegrated. For the longest time, I could not find a way to peacefully reconcile the two.
The Eastern values have taught me humility, filial piety, accountability but they have also instilled a strong sense of guilt over my sexuality. The Western values have given me the courage to find my own voice, fight for my freedom and even chided me to stand firm on being true to myself. But sometimes the lines get blurred along the Western front, and I did lose myself on many occasions. Hence, I have had to rely on my Eastern values to reel me back. By default, my Eastern values have a way of suppressing my Western valour with its own brand of emotional blackmail.
I am supposed to be a good Asian girl, you see. And good Asian girls do not give herself easily over to men. She would be chastised if she dared display a carefree sexual attitude. It would be a bad reflection on her character, her upbringing, and above all, it would dishonour her entire family. God forbid that she would even fantasize about having sex with men, or women. She should not be thinking about sex, period. What she should always feel is shame. Yes, ashamed of her body’s innate natural instincts or needs. She is simply not entitled.
Good Asian girls do not allow desire to rule over us. Even if we could feel it, no matter how remote or slight, we would not acknowledge it. We must immediately spit it out like venom. Thereby, making us all feel like we are toxic to begin with.
Our sensuality is not something beautiful or wonderful. It is definitely not to be celebrated. Therefore, we must shun it. It is not respectable for Asian girls to exhibit her sensuousness in any manner or form. Because these elicit immoral behaviour and thoughts from men. From the very clothes we wear to the way we speak, we must project the image of modesty and yes, purity. By all means, we must never run around like those American girls – braless and having sex with just about anyone they like. We must have some decorum and self-respect.
What decorum teaches us to hate ourselves, and our bodies? What kind of self-respect would we end up having in reality?
These are the voices that plague my mind for as long as I can remember. They sound like my sisters, my mother, my father, my grandmother and the whole Asian social structure weighing down on me like a dreaded tombstone. I feel certain they would accompany me even in death. I’d lie in that coffin, feeling as dead as I have always been. And I’d hear those very same words screaming through six feet under. They would become my “casket muzak”.
The words carved on my epitaph would read – “Here lies the Asian girl who was always too afraid of sex, and especially her sex. She hated her body as much as she abhors her sensuality. Her breasts became an inconvenience and her vagina, a mental asylum.”
The truth is, I did not arrive into this world all messed up. That was not how I began when I took my first breath of life. When I was 4, I was molested by an uncle/family friend. At 7, I witnessed a rape. Then, everything else just made the whole process of “growing up” less normal than most.
So, I asked myself at one point, “Is this all I want to remember? Is this how the rest of my life would play out?”
The “dash” that separates the date of my birth, and my death is the sum of my life and who I am.
And I wanted my “dash” to carry the richness and fullness of my life. Even if no one else would ever come to know. But I’d know, you see.
It took decades for me to figure out who I am, and what I am all about.
It took me even longer to sieve through the murkiness of both Eastern and Western values to find what’s of real meaning and relevance to me. No doubt their influences will never leave me in its entirety. I do not want them to either. Good or bad, they have helped mould me into the person I am today. Over the years, I have learnt to embrace what works for me from both of these priceless value systems, and have discarded (with much agony) those which only impaired me as an individual.
After over 43 years and counting, I can finally stand before everyone and say this with conviction –
When my number comes up, as I am sure it will some day, the inscription of my epitaph will reflect an authentic sexual journey that was uniquely mine. There would be no shame, no guilt or apology.
It shall simply read – “She lived, she came and she loved it. The End.”