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Vol. 3 (2022): Reverting the Gaze: Resisting Humanism & Hegemony in the West


December 17, 2021


This piece refers to a recurring dream about not being able to speak, not being able to be heard, and therefore, not being able to push back against threats of violence. I created it after having conversations with other Asian women about how we are constantly trying to speak out against systemic violence in organizations that claim to be anti-oppressive, and yet, are almost entirely made up of white folx at the managerial level. Our words momentarily capture attention – perhaps people are shocked at the assertiveness and articulateness of Asian women who are stereotyped as passive and politically apathetic – and we receive acknowledgement, apologies, and offers of help. But over time, we realize that not only has no meaningful change been made, but that we are now no longer invited to the table for discussions. The polite responses always drown out the calls for change, or the offers of help are conditional, requiring us to conform to a white middleclass standard of social respectability that erases our very ways of being and the agency of choice. At the same time, my conversations with friends remind me that we can still draw on each other for strengths, inspirations, and creative strategies to persist in our various spaces; to find small ways of resistance against what bell hook (1995) calls “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” (p. 17); to continue to keep alive the dream of a less violent future.