Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Links

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by Woojae Julia Song

I hold on to fading Facebook for a few key features: a digital archive of my adorable middle school days, notifications about every event I’ll attempt to attend and updates from The Love Life of an Asian Guy (LLAG) page. With all its polarizing nature and shortcomings, LLAG is a living demonstration of intersectionality as how Asian Americans exist at the nexus of multiple hegemonies (class, 9/21). More broadly, social media platforms enable LLAG to continue online the incessant, recorded disruption of white heterosexual hegemonic norms that the creators of This Bridge Called My Back began in print years ago with increased accountability and agency enabled by technology.

Cherríe Moraga highlights the Occupy movement as a turning point for the possibility of a strategically essentialist subversion in the future (Catching Fire, xviii). A vocal feminist, Moraga strives to realize to others the importance of “a feminist of color politic in everything from climate change to the dissolution of the World Bank” (Moraga, xix), calling non-Asian American women allies for the advancement of the intertwined issue. The Occupy movement, then, paved the way for Ranier Maningding to have any political clout. The Filipino, 1/16th Chinese and 1/16th Spanish, cisgender heterosexual writer of LLAG has greater visibility than his female counterparts, positioning him to reach more people to dismantle an inequality he naturally benefited from.

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LLAG actively and repeatedly calls out fellow cisgender heterosexual Asian men to advance along with, not against LGBTQ members of the community.

Maningding also stands out for his vast intersectional agenda, speaking out with unrestrained profanity and candor about an array of issues ranging from interracial sexual relationships, intra-Asian conflicts, the Black Lives Matter movement, the presidential election, sexual assault and whitewashing in movies. He is aggressively and acutely aware of the importance of considering identity differences and unequal power relations in cultural formations that Lowe introduces, since he aligns himself with so many sites of oppression.

LLAG, like the topics it covers, has developed in response to its growing, diversifying readership. What began as a WordPress blog with the tagline, “The Ultimate Guide for Non-Asian Girls Looking For Prince ‘Charm-Ying’,” a tongue-in-cheek description for his sincere experience in interracial relationships, is now a public Facebook page with over 164,000 likes and active Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts. In a recent Facebook post, Maningding re-outlined page expectations in typical caps-heavy fashion. The space is open for all who want to gain and discuss knowledge, and LLAG is extremely forthcoming about their limits of expertise. Saying they’ve already banned 100,000 people for racist and other inappropriate comments, Maningding and his team actively work to create an open but accountable community with “an unyielding platform of equity amongst us” (Moraga).

“The Love Life of an Asian Guy will ALWAYS be a page for people of color….If you’re Black, you are the authority on Black issues and I’ll step back. If you’re Indigenous, the floor is yours on all Indigenous topics[.] A trans POC? Please, take the mic and show these cis fools what’s up. Here on LLAG, we stick up for each other’s battles. I’ll let you say whatever your want, as vulgar as you want, so long as you play nice with the other POC folks” (10/9, LLAG Facebook)

“The political is profoundly personal” (Moraga, xxi) for the informed, impassioned and frustrated activist, precisely because his platform began as an autobiographical advice blog. In 2010, Maningding responded to a reader’s question about using his real name online despite the highly personal content of his posts by saying, “I’ve already put so much of my personal life on the line that it really doesn’t matter anymore. This is my public journal. Though I do care about my readers, I first and foremost write for myself – I need a place to vent out my thoughts and creativity.”

This answer shows how Asian American influencers and consumers today can reclaim agency and navigate the largely still-hegemonic sea of media. Content creators and curators, “Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody” (The Bridge Poem, Kate Rushin), can lessen some of the burden by prioritizing themselves as Maningding did and Rushin yearned to. Readers have access to unlimited platforms that they can decide to interact with by watching, commenting or sharing with others online or in real life. Despite conversations about echo chambers fostered by ever-developing web algorithms, social media platforms allows for Asian American consumers to connect with like-minded voices they may not have access to otherwise.

 
Moraga asserts that the consumer role trumps engaged democratic citizenship in creating Asian American women’s identities–LLAG, for example, derives strength from its public transnational availability. Even though its creator is male, his discourse brings together thousands of women around shared and diverging experiences. Consumers can also produce immediate, varied responses to white normative media, expediting the rallying process. Online platforms mobilize a previously less political demographic of Asian Americans and females in particular to create room for more voices and new solutions to enact intersectional systemic social change against overlapping discriminatory practices.

 

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