Assumptions

by guest contributor eliaday, originally published at Kimchi Mamas

Last weekend, one of my old college roommates got married. My daughter and I attended the wedding, and had the chance to hang out with some of my old friends from college. For the most part, they are still single and childless, so when the groom (my old roommate) came to hang out at our table, he wanted to make sure that I met the other young parents who were at the wedding.

“eliaday,” he says, “I want to set Tae up with my friend’s son.”

“groom,” i say, “Tae might not be straight.”

… at which point there was an audible collective gasp from the table. It wasn’t that my table-mates were homophobic, I think they were just kind of surprised at what I had said.

And it’s not that I have any reason to believe that my daughter is a lesbian or that she’s straight. I know there’s a chance that she is not straight (say, 10%), and given that chance or any chance, I don’t want to put her in any boxes. I will probably end up placing enough expectations on her that this is one area where she should just be herself and never feel like she has to be anything but herself.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of times when she is boxed in, and we can’t always control these. People will ask us where we are *really* from, people will say hello to us in any variety of Asian languages, people make assumptions about her gender, her sexual orientation.

To me, these are all equally problematic. Sometimes they are just assumptions. Sometimes they are blantantly racist, sexist, heterosexist. I want to raise Tae to be able to challenge all of these assumptions – whether someone is asking her about where she is from or someone telling her about a boy she should date. I know that often issues of race and gender play out most prominently in how we experience oppression in the US. But, I think there’s an understanding to be gained from looking at -isms from all different sides. I thought I understood racism and sexism, but my perspective totally changed when I realized the privilege that I have as a straight woman. Learning how to be an ally to the LGBT community has given me a lot of perspective on what I should expect from white allies to communities of color or men who consider themselves feminists.

And for me, the best way that I can pass this on to Tae is to be a role model, to not make assumptions about who she is.

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