I think as far as perception goes, people assume that Asian women are passive and submissive because they are expected to respect their men. Here’s the thing about that respect: Western ideas always look into just that one side, therefore ignoring the fact that the men are expected to respect the women too. It’s a mutual arrangement.
And the thing is, people’s idea that Southeast Asian women as weak is the biggest bullshit ever. Power, in history, was divided between the two groups (trans is another story altogether): financial and politics. We didn’t have suffragette because women’s historical position was always good until Western influences came in. Our fight in feminism has always been about stopping abuse and harassment, and only when the divide-and-rule colonialism came in did this changed our social structure.
Here is something I wrote for a website, but they failed to publish it when it was meant for International Women’s Day, despite my having to work on this for five days, asking various people from various parts of Southeast Asia about what female figure from their country inspire them. Some people have asked, “Where’s the article you made us help you with?” It wasn’t published, guys, so I’m sorry that I can’t spread the coolness of these women on a standard that isn’t localised. Maybe these women don’t deserve the attention they would have garnered, maybe some people still don’t give a shit about Asian women, or maybe, you know, who gives a fuck about what Teah writes. Feminism is supposed to be white women’s game, right? Only they can lead, remember? Am I going to wait for an explanation why it wasn’t published? Nope, not when I feel like i’ve been marginalised since I first joined the publication (a woman of colour from another part of the world, guys, what value do I have?) Also, like, time difference. It’s so wonky and weird and it makes my little female brain scramble.
But here’s the article for you guys who helped me, and thanks for giving me these amazing selections of women.
Era Al-Sufri, Expeditionist, Brunei
Era Al-Sufri is a petite woman who kicks major ass. Having lived in a tropical country all her life, she was Brunei’s first ever person to reach the South Pole. Have I mentioned that Brunei is a tropical country?! With sand and no winter?! Do you realise how the transition from living your whole life breathing in hot air to skiing in the snow every single day for thirty-eight days can be a feat to your body?! Being a small country, having Era planting a Brunei flag in the Antarctic is almost like sending someone to the moon (until Brunei actually sends someone to the moon) which is why Era has been given the adorable national title of ‘Polar Girl’.
All of these were made possible when she participated in the Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition in 2009, where she was later honoured with the Young Woman Achiever in 2010 by AsiaInc Forum and the Excellent Youth Award by the Brunei government. Era is not stopping there and hopes to do more in the future, claiming herself to be an adventurer. Era is currently studying for her Masters Degree at Cornell University under the prestigious Fullbright scholarship.