Tag Archives: feminism

No Going Back

In about a week and a half I will get some photos taken to commemorate my new blonde hair. When I think about how I will look in these photos, I sometimes start to feel icky about the weight I’ve gained during the pandemic and over the past few years in general. Some of the disordered eating thoughts from my early adolescence emerge all over again. How nice would it feel to have a completely flat stomach like before? Remember that time when your face looked so much thinner and more angular? If you start cutting back on some meals, you could have your super skinny body from 2009, it wasn’t even that long ago.

These thoughts and emotions feel odd to experience because on an intellectual level, I recognize that a desire for thinness is fatphobic bullshit. Continue reading

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More Love Left

I turn 26 in a little over a month and am unsure about whether I want to raise any kids in the future. While I feel okay about not knowing, at this point I lean toward not having kids so that I can maintain my independence, a core value of mine. What frustrates me more than not knowing whether I want kids: the stigma against those who do not have kids, as well as the glorification of those who do have them.

Flash backward to a conversation I had with one of my ex-friends about two and a half years ago. Continue reading

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Queer Asian Confidence

Sometimes I struggle to honor my strengths. I have pretty high self-compassion and self-esteem, I just don’t like acknowledging what I’m good at. For example, I’m starting my fourth year of training as a psychologist. In my most recent therapy evaluation, my supervisor commended my “ability to connect with clients and make them feel safe with [me].” She also wrote that I have “an intuitive approach that is bolstered by [a] strong theoretical orientation… influenced by a multicultural lens, feminist therapy, ACT and CBT, and interpersonal process,” as well as an openness and genuineness that helps clients feel connected to me. Though I recognize my clients’ growth, I still think: am I actually good at this?

Even though I can grow in honoring my strengths, I like my modesty a lot. I think it stems from Asian values of humility, as well as not wanting to be like other men who have an inflated sense of their abilities. Instead of searching for the spotlight, I can spend more time honing my empathy, social justice advocacy, and mentoring. Still, internalizing modesty to an extreme may have its downsides. My supervisor also wrote in her evaluation, “I think Thomas is always a bit surprised at the progress of his clients, as he sometimes doubts that he is a good, actually excellent, therapist. I encourage his humility, but also think he would benefit from receiving the fact that he is very skilled and capable.”

Upon reflecting about my supervisor’s comments for the past several weeks, I feel like a lot of my hesitancy to own my strengths stems from my queer Asian male identity. Continue reading

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I Will Never Ever Date a Man and Lose Myself: A Manifesto

The other day I had a conversation with a close friend that freaked me out. Whereas in the past this friend and I used to bond over our shared feminist singleness in the patriarchy, this conversation felt more like a defense of settling for mediocre men. While I love this friend, parts of this conversation stressed me out so much I literally opened a Word doc to draft a blog post titled “What If I Date a Man and Sacrifice All My Values and Become a Husk of My Former Self.”

Imagine this: I, a queer red-haired Vietnamese man, recline in an office chair in the guest bedroom of a generous friend. A near-empty glass of orange juice sits on the turquoise desk where I stare at an open Word document, journaling about my anxieties surrounding men and patriarchy. Continue reading

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To All the Three Men Who Taught Me to Trust Men Sometimes

I have had pretty bad luck with men. From neglectful family members to abusive professional advisors to subpar dates, I often want to throw my hands up in the air, climb a ladder onto the roof of a tall building, and scream “men are trash” at the top of my lungs. I once told the therapist I saw in my undergrad years, L, that if someone gave me a pill to swallow so I could stop feeling attracted to men, I would swallow it without a moment’s hesitation – not because I dislike my gayness, just because I dislike my attraction to a gender that is socialized to value stoicism and achievement over emotional openness and caring.

Over the past week I have spent time processing my most recent somewhat failed crush, perhaps my oddest one yet. While the support of my close friends, my therapist, and myself have helped, I still feel this tugging resentment, like a voice saying “ok, if this guy didn’t work out, I might as well declare a vow of celibacy, never try to invest in a man again, and channel all my love to the people who deserve it: Ariana Grande and BlackPink.” But, because I work as a therapist and have gone to therapy, I noticed my thought pattern (i.e., a cognitive distortion, if you want to get boring about it) and went, “wait a second, not all the men in my life have been trash, even if a large number of men do practice toxic masculinity and are subsequently trash.” I have had deep and healthy relationships with three men in particular aside from the fictional men I fanboy all the time, looking at u, Willem from A Little Life. Continue reading

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Thomas’s Top Ten 2018 Reads

2018 has been an excellent year for reading. This year I managed to get through 91 books, all while finishing my first and starting my second year of graduate school, staying connected with close friends, stanning Ariana Grande and BlackPink nonstop, and getting back into tennis. I feel kinda bad for the books both on and off this list because I read so many stellar books this year and the competition to emerge on this list was intense not like any of these authors or books actually cares about getting onto this list lol I just like to derive some vague sense of self-importance from what I put out into the world ok anyway. I chose to cut off my honorable mentions at ten per category just to keep the list a little more manageable. I included links to my full Goodreads reviews of each book as well as links to past years’ top ten lists for easy reference at the bottom. I’d love to know what you’ve read, what you haven’t read, and what you’d recommend. Without further ado: Continue reading

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A Love Letter to My Favorite Dead Writer, Caroline Knapp

Dear Caroline,

Your memoir Appetites saved my life. I first read it four years ago, at 18, the summer after my freshman year of college. You see, I had anorexia too, several years ago in my early adolescence. I starved myself for many of the same reasons you did. I wanted control over my life and didn’t have it, so I starved. I wanted to erase all the emotions I felt but I couldn’t, so I starved. I learned from my mother and the media and so many other sources that I could and should change my body, so I starved.

But I didn’t truly understand why I starved until I read Appetites. Continue reading

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Goodbye, to a Life Long Friendship

How do you deal with a long-distance friendship? I ask because one of my closest friends, A, moved away from the DC area about three months ago. Though we still text almost every day and FaceTime about once a week, I still feel sad. As I write this, I sit alone in my apartment’s living room space with all the lights on, covered in a semi-thick blanket, though I wish I were sitting a few feet across from her on her old apartment’s worn-down yet comfy grey couch. I am mourning: remembering the closeness we once had and confronting my life where I still have it in some ways, yet in other ways, no longer.

A and I met when I moved to the DC area for graduate school in August 2017. Continue reading

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An Addiction to Romance: A Relapse and Recovery

In my therapy training class last week, I said that I would rather drink arsenic than depend on a man for happiness. As an ardent feminist, I have always appreciated myself for finding deep fulfillment in hobbies, a passion for helping others, and close friends, no attachment to men necessary. Given these truths about myself, I felt quite frustrated when earlier this week I matched with this super attractive man named Robin on the patriarchal capitalist romance machine Tinder and grew kind of obsessed with him. His profile said that he enjoyed reading, writing, and helping people. I felt a small pit of despair open in my stomach. Its name: desire.

At this point, I could have therapied myself and accepted my attraction to him which may have reduced its intensity and negative long-term effects. Instead, I found his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all within the span of ten minutes. Continue reading

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No Men, No Marriage, No Problem

Yesterday, I went on a date with this really cute guy. The reasons why I decided to see him: his profile included a picture of himself in front of a mural of Barack Obama, he felt skeptical of the law because it oftentimes serves as “a tool… to uphold dominant ideologies,” and his face (I know, super shallow, please shame me.) The date itself went well too, I thought. Yeah, he may have said that he has never resolved an interpersonal conflict in his life in a satisfying way, but I put that on the back burner when he talked about his interest in advocacy work and used the term “emotional labor” unprompted because most men literally cannot even articulate any emotion, aside from anger, so my bar was low, like, beneath the ground low. Afterward, I journaled about my feelings for half an hour in a nifty D.C. cafe, and I decided to ask him out again. And, after encouraging me to add him on Facebook – I know, how odd – he essentially said no to a second date.

I feel bitter. Some of that feeling stems from the rejection of my interest and vulnerability, sure. But a lot of it also comes from how I wasted my time on this date. Continue reading

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