I know, I know, there are plenty of Asian female athletes out there — especially in Asia. A quick google search comes up with a chess player (huh?) , a poker player (I love poker— but again, not a sport), and other “sexy” and “hot” ice skaters. But what of Asian American female athletes? Please don’t tell me Michelle Kwan and Jeanette Lee (The Black Widow) in billiards (again, sigh). Even with a search for Asian women stand-up paddling I instead find a stock photo of SUP in Hawai`i (whoo hoo!) and guess who— yup, a blonde woman.
On a hopeful note: Brunei who has never sent a woman to the Olympics before is planning on sending Maziah Mahusin to the London Games—who runs the 400 and is a hurdler!
When I did search ‘women SUP’ a few days ago I found only white women athletes. Yes, all power to them, they are still my role models and I still envy their chutzpah and want to learn their training regimen. (I am now aiming to race a couple events this summer— yes stand-up paddling on the East Coast!) But where are my Asian female comrades? If you find anything, please let me know.
I was doing some thinking though about the whole idea of being a woman athlete and how it really goes completely opposite to what the oppression says of how women should be. That we should be good housewives and mothers and be productive or even be good activists and heads of nonprofits or something.* Especially as Asian women, we still get passed down the patterns from our ancestors from one generation to the next, that we should caretake others at the expense of ourselves (yes, strong, independent Asian women I know, we still carry this and fight daily to stave it off).
And what is being an athlete—or professional athlete—anyways? It’s being extremely selfish. What is the point of winning races or competing and not winning—you’re not cleaning and not raising any kids! And, you are using your body —not for cleaning or working or making money (unless you have rare moment of winning prize money) — but to mold your body into a strong, lean, machine. And for what? To feel good about yourself and your body! Who does that benefit? No one but yourself.
It’s all extremely revolutionary, completely against capitalism’s ends, and takes privilege (to have the time and money freedom) and determination and discipline to decide this is one’s goal for oneself. Training for a race or simply working out regularly is not just the physical aspect but also builds confidence that one can and gets to pursue one’s dream and will fight to achieve it, whether one ever gets it or not. It’s an exhilarating, liberating feeling and I am grateful and will keep fighting for.
P.S. One of my models is also Bethany Hamilton— you go!
*Activists perform hugely important jobs that are especially valuable and often thankless jobs. However, they can often be co-opted and our caretaking patterns can be used to the organization’s advantage as well for us to work more.