x Asian culture | GeekGirlCon

Panel Recap: Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

Image description: an image of a PowerPoint slide from GGC'17's Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling, featuring round headshots of Jo and the four other panelists with their names and twitter handles. Source: me.

Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Representation of Asians in Film, TV, and Gaming was the first con panel I ever attended, so when I heard they were bringing it back for a fourth edition, I was thrilled.

This year’s #GGCPandas included archeologist-turned-illustrator-and-costume-designer Meris Mullaley, former Japan-based sports journalist and current writer, baker, and cosplayer Tony Loiseleur, GGC Twitter Administrator and self-proclaimed media binger Kristine Hassell, blogger and gamer Sonja Marcus, and former Virginia Tech professor and current video game creator and GGC Manager of Editorial Services JC Lau.

Caitlin Foskey
“Rock On!”

November Geek About Town

Check out our amazing November events!

Saturday, October 31 – Sunday, November 1: Seattle Center Festal: Dia de Muertos: A Mexican Celebration to Remember Our Departed

Armory Main Floor, Seattle Center

From the website: Seattle Center Festál presents Dia de Muertos – A Mexican Celebration to Remember Our Departed, Oct. 31 – Nov. 1. Explore and experience the cultural roots of Mexico through live performances, spectacular community altar and cemetery, special hands-on activities, foods, face painting and exquisite rituals. Create sugar skulls and paper skeletons, explore community altars and march in a musical procession to remember the dead. The art and spirituality of Mexican culture is celebrated at Dia de Muertos. This “Day of the Dead” festival honors the lives of loved ones who have passed.

Friday, November 6: Ari Berman with Justice Steven Gonzalez: Fighting for American Voting Rights

7:30pm, Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue

From the website: In light of controversial practices in Yakima and other parts of the state, the Washington Voting Rights Act aims to abolish unfair election systems–50 years after America’s landmark Voting Rights Act was passed for the same purpose. According to The Nation’s Ari Berman this is a prime example for why the fight for full voting equality isn’t over. Voting is an important part of the democratic process and for many Americans, one that’s hard to obtain–even President Obama says the system needs work. In conversation with Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez, Berman will explore the history of voting rights and the landmark court decisions that have altered their course. He’ll explain the back and forth that voting rights have undergone throughout the past 50 years, and offer a glimpse at the future–one where, with support from Congress and the Supreme Court, representational voting rights can be achieved.

Tickets are $5.

Friday, November 6 – Saturday, November 7: Mass Effect N7 Fan Weekend

5pm – 1am, AFK Elixirs and Eatery

From the Facebook page:

In honor of BioWare’s annual N7 Day, AFK Elixirs and Eatery and Fanpup are partnering to bring you N7 Weekend! Grab your Emergency Induction Port and save the Galaxy from the threat of the Reapers… or just the threat of sobriety.

On Friday (Nov 6) come try out AFK’s custom Mass Effect-themed menu (with entries like Renegade Meatballs, Paragon Pasta, and Tequila Se’lai) host some Mass Effect multiplayer, and break out the board games. Then on Saturday, show up for the full-out N7 Day Celebration with raffle prizes, a cosplay contest, and a friendly Renegade vs Paragon competition! And don’t forget to wear your Renegade Red or Paragon Blue, there may be something special for the winning team!

Saturday, Nov 7th Events and Activities!

Paragon vs Renegade Competition
Choose your alignment by wearing red or blue, there will be more ways to earn points during the night, winning team announced at 10:00pm

Mass Effect Spirit Contest / Cosplay contest: 8pm
Dress up as your favorite character or rock your swag for a chance to win the Spirit Contest!

Activities During the Night:
Themed Food and Drink Menu
Multiplayer Mass Effect
Paper Trivia
Prize Drawings

*This is a free Fan gathering, Fanpup and AFK are not directly associated with Bioware, EA, or Mass Effect.

Saturday, November 7: Hmong New Year Celebration

Seattle Center Armory

From the website: Explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of the people from the hilltops of China, Laos and Thailand through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, games, and a lively marketplace. Gain insights into the customary courtship ritual of ball tossing and participate in flower cloth sessions.

The Lunar New Year is a time for the Hmong people to reflect on the past year and seek out new beginnings. The Hmong New Year Celebration helps preserve the unique culture of this Southeast Asian highland culture that originates in the mountains of China.

Presented in partnership with Hmong Association of Washington.

 

 

Sunday, November 8: 7th Annual Seattle Slack Key Festival

2:00pm, doors open 12:00, Town Hall

From the website: Always a favorite on Town Hall’s calendar, this festival celebrates Hawaii’s famed Slack-key guitar tradition, referring to the style as well as the ways an instrument is tuned. This vibrant, finger-picked music showcases Hawaiian stories of feelings, aloha, nature, and more. This year’s performers include Grammy Award-winning Cyril Pahinui, George Kuo, Hiikua, Ikaika Marzo, Jeff Peterson, Nathan Aweau, Steven Espaniola, Patrick Landeza, Jeff Au Hoy, Peter Moon, Sean Olanui Robbins, and other masters of the style. The evening will also feature emcees Skylark Rosetti, Braddah Gomes, and Hula Halau Pulamahi I Ke Liko Lehua; Hawaiian tropical flowers; and some surprises. Explore the traditional, lilting sounds of this unique musical art form.

$125 VIP (includes center front seating, Artist meet-and-greet); $50 front/center back seating; and $35 side seating. Doors open: 12:00pm for Hawaiian-style food and crafts.

Monday, November 9: #NerdNightOut, an Evening of Music and Comedy featuring the Doubleclicks, Jackie Kashian and Molly Lewis

The Triple Door, 216 Union Street, Seattle

7:30pm, doors open at 6:00pm

Tickets are $20 advance, $25 day of

From the website: The Doubleclicks are a nationally-touring, Billboard charting nerd band with a cello, a meowing cat keyboard, and songs about dinosaurs, Cats & Netflix, space and Dungeons and Dragons. Their YouTube videos boast over 2 million views and have been featured on Gawker, BoingBoing, io9 and more. Find out more at http://thedoubleclicks.com

Jackie Kashian’s comedy has been described as “like listening to a really racy episode of All Things Considered.” She is a national touring comic with a new hour standup special “This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux” which was one of the top five comedy specials on 2014. This year, she’s been on the Conan O’Brien show, @midnight and plays a podcaster on IFC’s Maron. Her weekly podcast is The Dork Forest, where she interviews people about their obsessions. It is available on iTunes and at her website: www.jackiekashian.com.

Molly Lewis (patreon.com/molly) is a Seattle-based singer-songwriter writes ukulele tunes about beards, heartbroken astronauts, presidential assassinations, and Stephen Fry. Her original songs and covers, accompanied by her masterful ukulele playing, have earned her over 4.5 million views on YouTube. Her new holiday musical ‘Thanksgiving vs. Christmas’, featuring The Doubleclicks and Joseph Scrimshaw, will be available this fall.

Friday, November 13: GeekGirlCon Board Game Night at Wayward Coffeehouse!

7:00pm – 10:45pm, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle

Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge!

Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers, Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!

Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee.

There are also local pastries and vegetarian/vegan treats, if you get hungry during all that gameplay. Their pastries are delivered daily from local vendors including donuts from Mighty-O Donuts, croissants from Le Fournil Patisserie, bagels from Blazing Bagels, and the rest of their tasty treats provided by Little Rae’s All Natural Bakery. There are even GF cookies from WOW Bakery!

Friday, November 13: Hello Kitty Supercute Opening Party

7:00pm – Midnight, EMP Museum

$25 ($20 EMP members), $10 youth 5-17, free for children 4 and under

From the website: Join us for the opening party of Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, a celebration of fun, friendship, and happiness.

Welcome Hello Kitty to her new home at EMP Museum by saying “Hello!” and joining the festivities!

  • Snap a photo with Hello Kitty herself
  • Show off your favorite Hello Kitty attire in the Supercute Fashion Parade in partnership with UNIQLO
  • Find the beat with a taiko drum performance brought to you by UNIQLO
  • Share something special in the Hello Kitty-shaped Time After Time Capsule
  • Play a round of Friendship Bingo and other Hello Kitty games in the game center
  • Test how well you know Hello Kitty with Superfun Trivia, or watch Hello Kitty animation
  • Sip an Appletini with a piece of homemade apple pie turnovers (Hello Kitty’s favorite food is her Mama’s apple pie!)
  • Enjoy kawaii (“cute”) crafts like origami and jewelry making, or make a special someone a Thoughtfulness Friendship Bracelet
  • Cuteness Manicure by Julep
  • Collect little stars and stickers for your Super Sweet Sticker Book, or write a letter to Hello Kitty or her sister, Mimmy
  • Taste Japanese-style fare at the Tokyo Dog (hot dogs) and BeanFish (Taiyaki, classic Japanese comfort food) food trucks
  • Enjoy a J-pop dance party featuring DJ Hojo of JK Pop, Seattle’s J+K-pop dance night, with visuals by Sweat Jordan
  • featuring MC Rachel Belle, talk show personality and reporter for KIRO Radio Seattle

Plus, be the first to visit Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty as it debuts in Seattle. Hello! explores Hello Kitty’s colorful history and influence on art and culture through a showcase of rare and unique pieces from Sanrio’s archive, as well as mixed media works from international contemporary artists inspired by Hello Kitty and her world.

Saturday, November 14: Kabuki Academy

11:00am, Town Hall

$5 for adults, free for children

From the website: Kabuki–Japan’s traditional art of singing and dancing–is a skilled, colorful representation of the nation’s heritage. For Tacoma-based Kabuki Academy, bringing this traditional culture to modern audiences is essential for creating the next generation of culturally-aware individuals. They’ll showcase these traditional arts in their engaging–and interactive–performance. The academy’s Mary Ohno (who studied classical Japanese dance for more than 60 years) will instruct children in this classical dancing, the complimentary shamisen music, and other Kabuki arts.

Tuesday, November 17: All Geeks, All Games at Mox Boarding House

6:00pm – 10:00pm, Mox Boarding House, Bellevue

From the event: Join GeekGirlCon and Mox Boarding House in Bellevue and help us continue to expand our community of diverse and inclusive gamers to the East Side! We want to fill that beautiful Tournament Room with folks enjoying our favorite games in a safe and accepting atmosphere. Why mess with the headache of traffic when you can come and play games with us instead.

Staff from both organizations will be on hand to help facilitate gameplay for the shy to the extroverted, from the expert strategist to the board game neophyte. With a huge lending library of games on hand, there will be something for everyone!

Wednesday, November 18: Homeschool Day: The Science of Sound

Noon – 4:00pm, EMP Museum

$20 ($17 EMP members) includes one student and one parent registration.

From the website: Join us in November for a super-sonic Homeschool Day focused around the Science of Sound. Led this year by ethnomusicologist, Ph.D., and rock guru Rob Carroll, this workshop, designed especially for homeschool families, will delve into the science behind how sound is created, transmitted, and perceived by our ears.

The day will feature a two-hour hands-on workshop, a gallery activity in our exciting Sound Lab space, and free time to explore the EMP galleries.

Parent participation in workshop classes is strongly encouraged. Classes are suitable for students 6–14 years of age.

Registration includes museum admission for the day and is required.

Friday, November 20: Whiri Tū Aka

8:00PM, Great Hall, Town Hall
$20 advance/$25 at the door/$20 seniors/$17 Town Hall members/$10 students. A limited number of $5 day-of-show Teen Tix for those 18 and under also will be available.
From the website: Four women, four representations of Maori culture–and one stunning a Capella collaboration. Based on the desire to share their country’s traditions and values, Whiri Tū Aka was formed in 2012 by producer Mina Ripia. With the group’s other four members–Gaynor Rikihana, Kirsten Te Rito, Betty-Anne Monga, and Lisa Tomlins–Ripia has expertly drawn together their individual stories for a musical reflection of their true Wairua (spirits). Inspired by love, motherhood, and the power of the female voice, Whiri Tū Aka’s Maori performance will cross language barriers and speak to the soul with its heartfelt harmonies.

Friday, November 27: GeekGirlCon Board Game Night at Wayward Coffeehouse!

7:00pm – 10:45pm, 6417 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle

Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge!

Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers, Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!

Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee.

There are also local pastries and vegetarian/vegan treats, if you get hungry during all that gameplay. Their pastries are delivered daily from local vendors including donuts from Mighty-O Donuts, croissants from Le Fournil Patisserie, bagels from Blazing Bagels, and the rest of their tasty treats provided by Little Rae’s All Natural Bakery. There are even GF cookies from WOW Bakery!

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

Celebrating Asian-Pacific Heritage

Written by GeekGirlCon copywriter JC Lau

Did you know that “ketchup” is a Chinese word? Or that the first female gunnery officer in the navy was a Korean-American in 1946? Or that the current Chief Justice of California is a Filipino-American woman? Or that a Chinese-American biologist co-invented the oral contraceptive pill and pioneered in-vitro fertilization?

Asian-Pacific Americans have long since been a part (albeit understated) of the American landscape, and May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s a time to commemorate the contributions that they have made, and to celebrate the ongoing relationship and cultural diversity that Asian-Pacific Americans provide to American society and culture.

May was chosen because it was both the month that the first Japanese immigrated to the United States (in 1843), as well as the month that the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, where the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

JC Lau
“Rock On!”

The Asian Geek Girl: A Study in Stereotyping

By JC Lau, @drjclau

It can be hard to be a geek girl.

It can be harder to be a geek girl of color.

Once, in my freshman year, I went to a meeting of my college’s anime club. There were a few other girls there, but I was the only Asian in the room. When I walked in, the president of the club greeted me with “Konichiwa!” Perplexed, I thought everyone was greeted that way at the Anime Club, so I just sat down. As others came in, he simply said “hello” or “welcome” to them, in English. He didn’t say “Konichiwa” to anyone else. After the meeting, I explained to him that I wasn’t Japanese; I’m Australian but of Chinese heritage. He looked disappointed. Feeling awkward about that interaction, I never went to another Anime Club meeting.

That was over ten years ago, and I still think about that incident. In retrospect, I’m sure that he wasn’t intending to be racist or to pick me out as being different. But unjustified assumptions and misguided intentions do not make for good relations, nor do they promote for understanding and tolerance.

Assumptions, otherness and stereotyping

As an Asian Geek Girl, I occupy an uncomfortable space where I am the subject of multiple conflicting stereotypes. Obviously, I was female and Asian before I even knew anything of geek culture, but, at this particular intersection of race, gender and geekdom, there’s not a lot of material out there specifically on how Asian geek girls fit into overall geek culture. I find this curious: there’s plenty of information on geeks, girls and Asians separately (or even Asian girls, geek girls, and Asian geeks), but getting the trifecta is much more elusive.

Perhaps part of this is due to the fact that who counts as Asian will vary according to cultural and geopolitical lines: even though my Chinese ancestry typically drops me squarely in the “Asian” category, British census forms, for example, consider “Asian” and “Chinese” to be separate categories. Also, there are distinctions within the realm of what counts as “Asian”, each with their own heritage and contributions to geek culture. Speaking Japanese to an Asian person at an anime club meeting makes assumptions that just because anime is Japanese and that a person who is interested in anime may look (in some sense) Japanese that they are Japanese. On another level, however, it also suggests that the speaker doesn’t care or appreciate the difference between Japanese and non-Japanese Asians: they’re pretty much the same, so you can speak the same language to them.

There’s also the notion of otherness: within geek culture (and society, more generally), there’s an expectation that the norm is a white male. As someone who is neither white nor male, the assumption is that I don’t fit in. Here’s an example of such otherness: Cosplaying is an area where stereotyping becomes quite apparent. Although I’ve not personally experienced anything as insidious as Chaka Cumberbatch’s experience with cosplaying outside my race—which is almost inevitable since there are so few Asian female characters in video gaming (the pocket of geekdom that I’m most familiar with), I have come across several cases of awkward—if not mistaken—identity.

Once, I cosplayed as Lara Croft, and nobody called me Lara Croft. Instead, I got “Asian Lara Croft”. When a (white) friend cosplayed as Lara Croft at another event, nobody called her “white Lara Croft”. She was just Lara Croft. If I had dressed as Chun-Li, nobody would have called me anything other than Chun-Li. Because Chun-Li is Asian, and I’m Asian, there’s something obvious and “natural” about my playing Chun-Li, which would be absent from my playing Lara Croft. I’m the “other” Lara Croft. I can’t be the real thing because I’m the wrong color.

Schoolgirls and ninjas

Like the President of the Anime Club, I’m pretty sure that people who call me “Asian Lara Croft” aren’t doing it maliciously to point out that I’m not white like Lara Croft. After all, I’m pretty aware of the fact I’m not white already. Why, then, does this sort of thing happen?

This is where implicit bias comes in.

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Since you’re not aware of these biases, you can claim to not be racist or sexist, and believe that you are acting in ways that reflect that, even if your actions say otherwise—there are several tests you can take to examine the strength of your mental associations of a race or gender with positive or negative attitudes.

Stereotyping is a form of implicit bias. Psychologist Paul Bloom suggests that stereotyping is a convenient way to make sense of the world when you don’t have enough information about a particular instance. We can use our prior experience of the world and extrapolate in cases to make certain judgments. However, if someone has limited experience with a particular race, then there’s a higher risk of being mistaken in the extrapolation. I think Bloom also assumes that we revise our judgments as we gain information about the world, so that once someone knows that a stereotype is too general, they learn how to not make that mistake again. That said, I’m not sure if that actually happens as frequently as Bloom seems to envisage.

Further, stereotyping results in the oversimplification of complex issues. As Lindsey Yoo pointed out, Asians are often overlooked in the black-white race debate, but oddly fall onto the “white” side of the issue despite being a minority.

And then on the few occasions when they are included, Asian women are commonly separated into two (presumably distinct) categories. Of this, Yoo says:

“My body is constantly orientalized and hypersexualized by people who are more comfortable seeing me on television as a giggling, sexually repressed schoolgirl or whip-carrying dragon lady/tiger mom than they are with seeing me as an empowered individual with a dynamic history and voice.”

Agent Melinda May of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Thinking about how Asian women are portrayed in geekdom seems to reflect this. From anime schoolgirls (although, note that the schoolgirls need not be Asian; it’s just the fact that anime is itself Asian) to the ass-kickery of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent May or Thuy Trang’s Yellow Ranger, the stereotype is there. What geek culture tells me about people who look like me is that if I’m not wearing a school uniform and looking cute, I’m going to parkour up the wall and karate chop you in the throat. Or, maybe like Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill, I could do some combination of the two.

Thuy Trang as Trini, the Yellow Power Ranger

Thuy Trang as Trini Kwan, the Yellow Power Ranger

Where do we go from here?

It’s all quite disappointing, if it turns out that we stereotype because we’re all operating under some innate need to generalize. So, how do we fix this problem? Happily, implicit biases are malleable, and we can unlearn some of the associations we have between our attitudes and certain groups. While there are many strategies available for overcoming the problems associated with stereotyping, here are two which I think are reasonably straightforward:

Firstly, the need to stereotype and generalize comes from not having enough experience or information. One way to overcome (or at least minimalize) the stereotyping would be to increase the exposure of Asian women in geekdom, in roles besides schoolgirls and ninjas. How about we have more female Asian athletes, engineers, and artists out there? Making Asian women more visible in a broader range of roles would go far to encourage the idea that we can do other things besides giggle and do martial arts.

The second way to overcome stereotyping is to be personally accountable for instances of it. Call it out if you see it and it’s wrong. Ask people why they think that certain claims about groups are valid. Encourage them to examine their own implicit biases. Understand that we are fallible, and we will make mistakes. But even if we wrongly attribute certain features to a group, so long as we revise our beliefs once we discover that they’re mistaken, then I think that we’re on the right track. If it were easy to change stereotyping, we would have done it already!

The latter approach is simultaneously easier and more difficult time than simply increasing the presence of Asian women in geekdom. It’s easier because it’s something that each of us can do, as individuals, with little effort. However, it’s more difficult in that doing so challenges existing views about types of people, and there’s of course the risk of social awkwardness in calling someone out. But I think that overall this strategy allows for people to become more reflective of their beliefs and attitudes, which in turn can reduce the frequency and degree of stereotyping.

I hope that, in the future, I’ll see better, more accurate, representations of people who look like me in various facets of geekdom. To that end, I’d like to consider an ideal from one of my favorite shows.

I am a huge fan of Firefly. I love the idea that, in that universe, parts of my culture which are currently exotic and strange become part of the mainstream. It doesn’t dominate the culture, but it contributes to it. (That said, in my idealized future, people have better Chinese accents than the Firefly cast.) But the crew of Serenity also symbolize something else: they’re a group of misfits from different backgrounds who choose to stay together. Even though they have their differences, they put those aside to work and live together, and actually strengthen their friendships along the way.

Inara Serra in Firefly

Morena Baccarin as Inara Serra in Firefly

Likewise, in the far-flung reaches of geekdom, we are often branded as misfits from the norm. Although that’s now changing and historically geeky domains are now becoming more mainstream, we should still recognize and revel in our differences, not use them to alienate each other. By doing so, we would gain more understanding and compassion for people of different races and genders, and I don’t see how that could be a bad thing.

After all, we’re in this together.

Photo provided by JC Lau

Photo provided by JC Lau

Guest Contributor
“Rock On!”

Join The Discussion #GeekGirlCon

Skip to content
x  Powerful Protection for WordPress, from Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security