I had a boyfriend not so long ago who, whenever we got into an argument, would accuse me of “going soap opera.” “Here comes Telemundo!” he would shout. His (clearly gendered and vaguely racist) insult was supposed to make me feel like my anger wasn’t valid—that it was frivolous and silly, that I was being overly dramatic. This was his not-so-subtle way of trying to shut me up—by accusing me of being emotional. (Unlike men, whose anger is always logical, of course.) Unfortunately, calling me out like this often worked. It felt immobilizing to be called dramatic. Even if you know you’re being reasonable, we’ve internalized sexism so much, sometimes we even begin to doubt ourselves.
from Jessica Valenti’s He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.
I wish I had read this a couple years back because this was my life.
Beware of any health professional - especially in mental health - who uses the same tactic. I saw a psychiatrist once who diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and recommended a particular therapy “to help with [my] dramatic tendencies”. I was in an intensive outpatient therapy program, which is a half-step from being hospitalized, and had the gall to question their techniques, which were based on outdated research and not up to current DSM standards - but what do I know? I’m an undergrad, they’re licensed professionals. They know better than me, right?
The therapy she recommended was, unsurprisingly, useless, but more to the point, I went home and cried for three hours after she made that little comment. The implication was that my life-threatening illness, which had put me and my family through so much pain, was a result of me being needy and attention-seeking. That is the entire point of this strategy; to make you believe that your hurt feelings are baseless, invalid, and entirely your fault.
If someone does this to you, cut them out of your life and sterilize the wound.
As Black History Month ambles on, the heroic contributions and monumental achievements of black Americans take center stage. We remember these champions and the bouts they fought, but they’re presented as extraordinary human beings—legends whose anomalous stories don’t neatly translate to everyday interracial encounters. As I move around the country, the behavior that greets me is usually more influenced by the black faces that fill crime-ridden local newscasts than the exceptionality of Charles Drew, James Baldwin, or Thurgood Marshall. The great black women and men who populate Black History Month celebrations feel like characters in a novel—a world away from the black guy a few steps behind you in a barren parking garage.
In short, exceptions tend to prove the rule. A detached appreciation of Harriet Tubman and her Underground Railroad does not change the way drivers react when they pull up alongside a car full of black teenagers at a stoplight—or the purse-clutching that occurs when I pass women at the train station.
What gets lost in the gleam of these once-in-a-generation personalities and tip-of-the-iceberg events is the dull ache in the glacier below. A closer examination of those hidden feelings always seems to elude the nation, even during this month of spotlight. It’s the genesis of the uncomfortable silence that hangs in the air whenever someone attempts to begin a conversation on race. The prerequisite for honest dialogue is an admission that blackness is uncomfortable to others, and that this fact influences the behavior of us all.
Combating this harmful notion is hard work. The threatening caricature of blackness spans hundreds of years. It dates back to the laws that prohibited large gatherings of slaves, out of an irrational fear that any such congregation would lead to a dastardly plot to kill white men and rape their women. It carries through the subtle implications in the “analysis” of a dreadlocked black football player’s post-game exuberance. The public face of black America is dominated by the tragedy porn of male criminality and recidivism, welfare mothers with babies by multiple men, and dilapidated neighborhoods with shiftless neighbors. All of this reinforces the notions that make blackness threatening to Americans of other cultures.
Establishing Black History month was a significant achievement, but the next step is to snatch history from the wind and plant it in the personal narratives of black Americans. The names subjected to rote February recitations intersect with personal, everyday stories. Black Americans should use the month as a time for deeper, and more public, exploration of their own journeys in an attempt to combat the lazy labels plastered on the black experience.
In my mind, America’s culinary scene was premature with the whole fusion jump-off. Most Americans don’t even understand the differences between Shanghainese, Hunanese, Sichuanese, or Cantonese food. Even in New York, where these cuisines are readily available, people are just now starting to understand and identify the nuances. A lot of chefs are in a hurry to profit off of appropriated versions of ethnic food without any respect, recognition, or understanding of where these flavors came from. There’s a double standard, too. When my dad had a steakhouse, everyone questioned whether a Chinese person was qualified to open a steakhouse. We had to have white people front like the chef and owners. It was not OK for my dad to sell steak, but white people cooking Asian get more attention than the people in Chinatown who actually know what the fuck they’re doing.