In 2013 Suey Park raised the profile of Asian American feminism in the digital age with her Twitter campaign. In one tweet, she writes that she’s “tired of patriarchy in Asian American spaces and sick of the racism in white feminism.” In another, she writes, “I’d rather base build with other Asian Americans than rely on allies, who have a history of being absent.”
Park’s description of racism and patriarchy as intersecting concerns for her particular position as an Asian American woman and feminist reflects a marginality in feminism that sometimes fails to consider the specific subject positions of Asian American women within feminism, including among women of color feminisms.
1968 marks the beginning of the Asian American Movement, sometimes known as the Yellow Power Movement, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Vietnam War and other political developments in other parts of the world—notably China’s Cultural Revolution—sparked large diversity of Asian ethnic groups to question the nature of American democracy. “Asian American” became a unifying concept that formalized a coalitional politics among people of Southeast and South Asian descent.
Women were crucial to the Asian American Movement; their feminist consciousness sought alliances with other people of color who could not ignore ethic/racial and class identities as intersecting points for their critiques of patriarchal power. In Los Angeles, the Asian Women’s Center (1972-1976) became an important hub for health and family services as well as for feminist consciousness raising.
The publication of Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976), inspired new attentions to Asian American women within feminist studies. It also helped call attention to the lack of attention to Asian American women in history and in feminism.
Women like Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) and Grace Lee Boggs (1919-2015) were important models for Asian American feminist activisms. In 1964, Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI), became the first Asian American woman in Congress; in California Margaret Fong Eu became the first Asian American woman elected to the state legislature in 1967.
David Eng and Alice Y. Hom, Q&A: Queer in Asian America (1998)
Elaine H. Kim and Lilla Villanueva, Making More Waves: New Writing By Asian American Women (1997)
Sonia Shah and Yuri Kochiyama, Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire (1999)