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A disclaimer: These are my thoughts only and do not represent those of my co-moderators, or fellow Asian women, or anyone else with whom I am vaguely affiliated. What I am about to describe using terms such as Asian Women and Asian Men should only be taken in the context of Reddit (and really only the corner that concerns Asian American subreddits) and are not meant to be read in the general sense. I will not answer any questions about moderation as we make decisions as a group and not individually. Please message /asianamerican
for that. TLDR:
This is the story of how an Asian american feminist woman began moderating /asianamerican
in 2013 and became bullied and harassed into no longer participating in the subreddit in any meaningful way beyond basic moderation duties. In the Beginning
I considered /asianamerican
a breath of fresh air compared to larger Reddit which I found extremely misogynistic and racist. I had thought I found my version of /blackladies
. By invitation from quadshock
in 2013, I applied to become a moderator of /asianamerican
and to my surprise, I'm invited to become one. Earlier in my time as mod, I was more open about my personal life and more willing to engage in conversations about my current and past relationships
. However I begin to notice the unfortunate trend that the sub is unfriendly to any posts that called out misogyny. Posters would frequently downvote articles, report posts, and claim that feminist posts were unrelated to Asian American topics. As a self-identified feminist and Asian American, I try writing about the way feminism informs my understanding of racial justice and am always downvoted
About three years ago, I start receiving harassment in regards to my relationship status as an Asian woman dating a white man
. These are coupled with multiple messages to Quadshock that he was letting me run the show, alongside messages demeaning tripostrophe about their gender identity. Postings to the subreddit that are just naked obvious hating on Asian women
not dating their race start happening with disturbing frequency. My fellow mods try to convince me that these are just a handful of trolls or one singular troll, and not indicative of a disturbing misogynistic trend. At this time I contemplate leaving the mod team, but on their advice and the promise that we would add more female mods, I stay.
Around the same time /asianmasculinity
pops up and /hapas
shortly after. Both these subreddits were disgustingly red-pill, misogynistic and homophobic. They nakedly demeaned women and gay Asian men and spoke of them derogatory ways and showed no signs of slowing down. We decided as a mod team to disassociate ourselves with them. Meanwhile they egged on their users into harassing us, breaking site rules like circumventing bans, and talking shit about us 1 2 3 4
. Here's an album of posts from their users taken in early 2015
that show a slight taste of what subreddits like these discussed and condoned. They invented new terms to denigrate in their minds traitor Asian women--Mentally Colonized Geishas, pigchasers, Anna Lu. Any woman perceived to even somewhat struggled with internalized racism, either in the past or in the current gets painted with this same brush
. The ironic thing is the representation of "Anna Lu" is a real woman whose likeness was stolen to fuel this hatred
by a white dude, and all the trolls looking for a woman on the internet to hate fell for it. Even more deeply troubling, they openly discuss methods of passing their bigotry off as social justice and using less obviously slurs
to gain more widespread mainstream acceptance. Despite the hostility, we the mod team had ambivalent feelings about the direction these subs might go in. We thought, perhaps naively, that /asianamerican
will become calmer while all the bigots can have an outlet and be contained in the more "edgy" subreddits. Over time, we've learned these are not just a few bad apples and that their behavior only would breed more like them over time. Fighting a losing battle of 2 years
Fast forward another year. We bring on new mods to stem the tide as our subreddit grows popular. More new subreddits such as /aznidentity
pop up, their rhetoric mirroring and even going further than that of /asianmasculinity
. We hold strong in our policy to give these trolls no attention. /Aznidentity
, despite our best efforts to ignore them, try desperately to recruit from us. They buy ads targeting our subreddit, using the "sponsored" posts
to circumvent our rules. (We engage with the Reddit Admins and they eventually take it down after several rounds of prodding.) The /aznidentity mods actively tell their members to pm individuals in our subreddit inviting them to join their sub
. They hint at reddit rule-breaking behavior to circumvent Reddit’s rules
against creating alt accounts to circumvent bans. Just like in the masculinity subreddit, the more "moderate" users encourage couching their woman-bashing in less misogynistic language to keep their hatred under the radar, but have no problem letting it fester in their communities
As a mod team we try to keep rule-breaking posts like the ones highlighted in other subs to a bare minimum but there's always an undercurrent of misogyny even among our regular users. Even though she initially reached out to us, we struggled to get Jenn Fang of Reappropriate to do an AMA because of hostile reactions to her articles in /asianamerican
. They overlook her years of dedication to Asian American blog activism due to her perceived bias against Asian men riding on a single post of hers about Elliot Rodger. We had a podcast about Yellow Fever featured once in our subreddit, and one commentator stalked the social media of one of the producers because her dating history seemed suspect. She deleted her comments defending her relationships out of disgust
. In response to her comments asking for men not to stalk women online and blame Asian women for yellow fever, we had responses like this
. Meanwhile, severe downvoting of anything from a woman's perspective
or calling out rape culture
is on par the regular course.. Here is an example of a thread featuring Anna Akana speaking about the hypersexualization of Asian women
, with the deleted comments from a Asian man
making generalizations about Asian women, while the downvotes are reserved for voices trying to persuade Asian men from dominating the discourse about Asian women. Meanwhile a lot of the comments we remove are variations of disparaging and generalizing Asian women, celebrities or not, for having a white partner or referring to them as whores and sluts
. Of course, I'm not exempt. In the meantime, I've had multiple women message me
or state publicly (exhibit 1
) they will no longer participate in /AsianAmerican
because of the way they condone generalizing Asian women and not taking criticism of rape culture seriously. Bonus: a user of ours getting harassed via PM by a /hapas regular
Most of our mods just spend their days removing rule-breaking comments, chasing down trolls, petitioning admins to stop the ones who are using alts to get around their bans, get messaged hatefully, and are burning out. A lot of the messages are misogynistic in nature, targeting Asian women dating white men , and assuming the other moderators are also or at least "emasculated" men who are being led astray by me. You can see a lot of these accounts, if they weren't already deleted or suspended, are from regulars at AznIdentity and Hapas. Here's an album
. The subreddits we avoid continue to get featured on SubredditDrama
and other drama subreddits, and anytime this toxic discourse is brought up
it brings even more drama.
At around this time, /AsianFeminism
is formed as a response to the lack of moderation in /asiantwox
. I'm encouraged by the strong mod team they formed, but the toxic atmosphere that has developed in Asian reddit begins to rear its head. Even when I try participating
as a neutral party, users attempt to circumvent the rules there to personally attack me
. While there has been some encouraging discussion around the toxicity of the more lax Asian subreddits, /AF
still suffers from being brigaded and its users disparaged just for sharing their views. Close to Present Day
For the most part I'm pretty hands-off in day to day moderation in /asianamerican
. The most active mods there are Asian men and they do the majority of removing rule-breaking comments and posts. While I do have a voice in shaping policy there, my fellow moderators can back me up when I say that I tend to advocate on the side of giving leniency to users, even those who may have a history of posting in /hapas
. Hence, this next instance of harassment end up being surprising:
Meanwhile, our mod team is still pretty beleaguered. Exhibit 1
of the type of content we remove, and an album of our most current modmail
. We all deal with abuse, but some of these are definitely more personal in nature and for some inexplicable reason targetting me. Aside from the modmail and the things we have to deal with in our subreddit, we're still gossiped about regularly
in other subs. Where do we go from here?
There is a real problem with misogynist Asian men on Reddit and the Admins have allowed it to fester. While Reddit as a whole has been put on alert of spaces like /TheRedPill
, they're given a platform to recruit others and that holds true in /asianmasculinity
. These Reddit spaces dominated by Asian and half-Asian men are the ones shouting out everyone else in spaces like /asiantwox
, and why /asianfeminism
still struggles with activity. My 3 years of being a mod only cemented this reality further. These are also not just a few bad apples or dedicated white trolls. There are lots of them who share the opinion that any Asian woman in a relationship with a white man is a traitor to her race, and they are seeking to normalize this idea by appropriating the language of social justice to bully their way into the mainstream. Most of the comments and messages I've linked from the past year, and whose users we subsequently banned and now complain incessantly about our censorship in those subreddits, are those like these
. (For context, this article was submitted about a bullied girl who commit suicide, and this poster chose this moment to focus on her "preferences" for dyed hair instead, an obvious dig at Asian women with "preferences" for white men.) This is not to say that every single poster from those communities are hateful. In fact, some of them do end up realizing how hateful they become and how unfounded most of their accusations against Asian women are. But by and large, those subreddits condone this behavior. If these spaces cannot and will not police their own members from harassing others, this problem will simply continue to grow.
I am tired of dealing with this. I have come close many times to quitting, but at the beginning of this year I started reading more posts from Asian women and felt inspired to document my experience. I don't think staying silent helps anymore. So here's my call to action:
- Join your efforts with people of all genders like Cheeserole, Blub, and xin05 who have talked back against the vitriol directed at Asian women in the Asian American subreddits. I'm so thankful for people like amyandgano, desolee, and notanotherloudasian for becoming fellow female moderators and trying to salvage the spaces we have left for Asian women, or just spaces that are safe for Asian women as participants in general. If you're an Asian American man and you see men speaking over women in women-focused spaces, ask them to consider dialing it back. Don't just lurk or assume that the mods will take care of it, because we're tired too.
- Use this subreddit as a starting point for shining a light on the incessant harassment that people receive for being on Reddit and daring to voice their opinion as a woman. /asianamerican will remain focused on building community and will not be polluted by meta-reddit and subreddit "drama" posts like this, but there needs to be an outlet for people to discuss and vent. Let's keep joining our efforts in calling harassment out, while keeping our existing spaces more open to positive content and fostering community.
- If you find you can't help but be a participant in toxic subreddits, do your best to convince other participants that doxxing, threatening violence, harassment, and forms of misogyny and extremism are not the way to unite and strengthen the Asian American community. Find ways to build bridges, not to burn them. Consider asking subreddits you participate in to make a stand against hate speech and follow it up with actions.
I have always been
and remain dedicated
to providing a safe online community for Asian Americans everywhere to have a place to speak their thoughts without being attacked personally or fearing for their safety, regardless of how unpopular this makes me. My experience has made me way more sympathetic to those being harshly attacked on account of perceived self-hating behavior. More than ever I think if we as a community truly believe in destroying white supremacy at its core, we need to start by taking care of and not eating our own
. We need like-minded people to help speak out against this form of "social justice" that is nothing more than bullying. I call upon our community leaders, especially mainstream activists, to reject spaces that condone this harmful behavior. I want to give a hefty warning to anyone searching for community to be careful.
We can do better. Reddit can do better.
Edit to add responses to this that further prove my point: Part 2
You know who I'm walking about -- and it's a complicated issue, determining what and who is for the greater good of the community. I personally have decided that any person that turns on another brothah or sistah is a blackstabber (you know like whoever draws first blood).
What I respect the most about white people and aian societies is that they are always focused while we are often not willing to bite the bullet for compromise and consensus. Is it the inherent competitiveness of our people that makes us unkind and irreverent to our fellow man and brothah?
Personally I have too many things on my plate to try to deal with 'blackstabbers', but I understand that some of my partners feel that minor infractions,attacks on other Blacks, like the famed "niggah moment" are acceptable, but do others feel as I do, that those who cannot 'get with the program' should not be welcomed into the fold?
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