Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘break it down!’

Harassment: A Definition?

[NOTE: In my last post, I mentioned composing but then shelving a response, which I described as being “not a defense of the men who harassed [UnWinona] but a limited critique of how she and some of her commenters have framed the issue.” This is that piece.]

What do we mean when we say “harassment”?

With the current political climate being what it is, I’m reluctant to say anything that could put me on the wrong side of the debate over sexual violence and women’s rights, but this tumblr post by UnWinona and the reaction it has received brings to light a shift in how men and women interact that I think may have broader social implications than we recognize. Read more


I debated whether or not to share this critique

A week ago, a blogger going by the name of UnWinona told the online world about the harassment women face on a regular basis. In her post, she described a particularly bad train ride: a group of boys in their late teens boarded the train, approached her, invaded her private space, hit on her, and then, when their advances were rebuffed, began a campaign of catcalls and verbal harassment; after the teenagers disembarked, another man boarded the train, approached her, invaded her private space, hit on her, and then, when his advances were rebuffed, flew in to a violent rage. Read more

A Scrub at the Jjimjilbang, Or: How I Got to Third Base With an Ajeoshi

Personal space is of course culturally determined, but it isn’t until a masseur crosses the “bathing suit line” that the truth of that statement really hits home.

Say what you will about regulating a cottage industry like massage therapy, but in this case, regulation has definite benefits: by standardizing the certification process, the customer has something to lean on as he is stripping down to underwear or less. I’m naked with a stranger, but this is a professional environment. Nothing weird is going to happen. Massage therapists employ a long list of comfort-bolstering rituals—all geared at preventing that molesty vibe—but the sine quibus non of the professional massage are as follows: anything not currently being massaged stays happily hidden beneath a drape or towel; going much below the waist requires permission; and genitalia, inner thighs and butt cracks are all OFF LIMITS. Read more

Visa Vacation: My Second Country in Asia!

Were I a tourist used to hopping from country to country and not an American immigrant invested in establishing roots in my new homeland, I would have been more well-equipped for Japan. Not that I’m all that ill-equipped or anything. It’s just that for about 55 minutes, as I navigated my way from the customs desk at the airport to the seat on the train that I am currently occupying, I experienced a flutter of the vertigo that comes from being F.O.B. I can only imagine the wide-eyed-ness of my stare as I hunted my way through the Fukuoka Prefecture Subway Station. I must have looked permanently baffled. Read more

Climbing Insubong

One week ago, I completed Sanirang’s beginning outdoor climbing course by summiting Insubong, the second highest peak in the Seoul area. As I’ve mentioned here, here and here, SAN’s classes have totally changed my life in Korea, so it would be an understatement to say that I was looking forward to this climb: for the 48 hours beforehand, I was a giddy, squirming embarrassment to myself and the people around me. Read more