Announcements: A Rare Film About LGBT Asian-Americans, Bras for a Cause, and a Survey on Street Harassment in Korea

Spa Night(Source: Kickstarter)

Some worthy causes which would really benefit from just a little of your time or money this week:

Spa Night – A Korean-American Film about Coming Out

From the Kickstarter Page (my emphasis):


I have always associated Korean spas with my childhood, my family, and my Korean identity. As a kid, I would go to the spa with my dad. It was a cultural ritual; we would clean ourselves.

A few years ago, I discovered that Korean spas in Los Angeles are used as a space for underground gay sex. As a gay Korean-American man, this discovery felt strange, thrilling, and very wrong! It’s very easy for me to separate my identities. I can either be Korean or gay. But here is this place where I have to deal with my identities at the same time. I’m forced to be whole.

I knew immediately that a Korean spa would be the perfect setting for a film about a gay Korean-American identity. There aren’t enough films out there about Asian-Americans, let alone LGBTQ Asian-Americans. It’s important to me that I share this story so that people understand that we exist and that our community holds a diversity of people, voices, and experiences.

If this sounds like something you’d like to support, please do so soon: as I post this on Tuesday morning Korean time, unfortunately it’s still $7000 short of its $60,000 goal, with only 3 days left to go. See Kickstarter for further information, or the Facebook page.

Bras for a Cause 2014Bras For a Cause

From the Facebook Event Page:

Bras for a Cause (Seoul) is a fun event in November that raises money for the Korea Breast Cancer Foundation while promoting breast cancer awareness. According to the KBCF, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer affecting Korean women.

Please contact the Korea Breast Cancer Foundation if you are aware of a breast cancer sufferer in your community who has been unable to receive surgery or treatment due to financial hardships. They offer funding for breast cancer surgery anticancer and radiation treatment after a patient undergoes evaluation. The Korea Breast Cancer Foundation is dedicated to helping encourage patients with breast cancer to continue treatment despite financial difficulties and to helping them escape the pain of breast cancer.

Survey on Street Harassment in Korea

Via Hollaback! Korea:

Have you been to Korea in the last year? Please respond to this important global survey on street (sexual, gendered, racial, homophobic) harassment. It takes about 10 minutes but contributes in a very important way to spreading awareness of this issue. Please spread widely.

Please participate in our global study of street harassment by following [this link]. We appreciate your participation!

See the links for more information, or here for my February story about Hollaback! Korea itself.

Hollaback Korea(Source: Facebook Group Page)

As always, if any readers also have any event, worthy cause, video, or just about anything else they’d like to promote, please just shoot me an email (but please add as many pictures and details as possible!) and I’ll add it in a later post.

10 thoughts on “Announcements: A Rare Film About LGBT Asian-Americans, Bras for a Cause, and a Survey on Street Harassment in Korea

  1. Having been a longtime supporter of Hollaback! and women’s rights in general, I found their support for latest YouTube video about street “harassment” extremely disappointing; therefore, I’m leery of supporting further surveys on the topic. I’m seeing a dangerous, unethical conflation of actual harassment and benign behavior. (Not to mention dishonesty)


    1. I can’t speak for Hollaback! of course, but I have to disagree that by describing the behavior in the video as “harassment” the organization is promoting “a dangerous, unethical conflation of actual harassment and benign behavior.” Certainly some of the harassment witnessed might be well-intentioned, but context is everything, and can make things look very different from the victim’s perspective. By coincidence, a friend on Facebook just elaborated on this (in reaction to this article):

      “While I feel that catcalling can be, in limited contexts, harmless, non-threatening and even flattering, I do not believe it is so in the majority of cases.

      Like, there should be a checklist:

      1) Is the person you want to catcall in an environment where they will feel safe and non-threatened? (Is there a police officer within eyesight, is the person accompanied by friends, is it daylight in a well-populated neighborhood etc.?)

      2) Are you in a social setting wherein approaching people would be appropriate or expected?

      3) Are you prepared to not be a douchebag towards this person regardless of how much they do or do not welcome your comment(s)?

      4) Are you sure you’ve run out of other, less controversial ideas for how to approach people, or

      5) Are you certain you’re not just doing this to validate your own sense of worth? (Cuz that’s really between you and your therapist/people who love you and want to help with your problems)

      Yes, there are people who do not mind. But there are people who feel threatened, there are people who feel their time is being imposed upon, there are people who really don’t feel like stopping to chat. Knowing this fact, and still choosing to impose yourself upon other people’s time or threaten their sense of safety makes you a huge asshole. Not to mention a very rude and inconsiderate person. If you’re okay with that, you have bigger problems than just the catcalling.”

      I think the video is a little problematic for editing out all the Caucasian men, which I’m sure you’ve read about elsewhere, but otherwise in light of the above considerations I still consider most of what I watch in it as harassment. I also don’t see Hollaback’s support for the video (or description of it as street harassment) as radically different to anything they’ve supported (or considered harassment) in the past, so honestly I’m genuinely baffled as to why this video has made you suddenly drop your longtime support of the organization sorry.


      1. The only issue I see here with this is that catcalling is meant as a way for heterosexual men to meet and potentially begin some kind of social relationship with women out and about in the world – it’s not. Catcalling is a public behavior that is not genuinely intended to elicit some kind of positive social interaction with women on the receiving end. Starting a conversation =/= catcalling.


        1. @Gomushin Girl Agreed, and even if heterosexual men are trying to begin a conversation if the person they select isn’t into it, there is no reason she is obligated to participate or doesn’t have a right to voice her view that she does not want or like that.


          1. This was mostly intended as a response to the camp that wants to claim that catcalling is harmless and we should leave well enough alone. So, to give the people who want to catcall as much of the benefit of the doubt as I could, I started with the assumption that they’re actually awkward, timid souls who have no idea how to otherwise catch a woman’s attention. Any other reasons given for catcalling are objectionable in much more obvious ways.


      2. I’m only just now seeing these replies, so I suppose the interest has waned. Even so, I thought I’d try to explain my thoughts, since there were questions about what I meant.

        To begin with, I think equating harassment with catcalling is unethical, in no small part because catcalling is a narrow spectrum of actions compared to harassment. Harassment could include unwanted touching, groping, surveillance, repeated phone calls, invasion of privacy, etc. Catcalling is none of those things. Much more to the point though, I’m not even convinced that all of the speech in the video is, in fact, catcalling.

        At about 40 seconds in we have two men saying “How are you this morning?” and “Have a nice evening”, respectively. That this is defined as not merely catcalling but harassment is specious. We don’t know that these men had ulterior motives. Furthermore, even if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that these men were flirting with the woman in the video, is this really harassment? It brings up another (non-rhetorical) question: is flirting harassment? I would argue that it is not, and that some catcalling could certainly be a form of flirtation.


        To answer your indirect questions (from the quote):

        1) What does majority mean? (“majority of cases”) Who decides this majority? How? What is a “safe” place? Personally, I would think a public park or restaurant would qualify, but many people don’t. Do I need a female police officer present to flirt? How about to seek affirmative consent? Where is the line drawn? I strongly suspect that if men started bringing police officers on dates (or to bars) that women would feel more uncomfortable and unsafe—rather the opposite of the intention.

        2) See above

        3) There’s a lot to say here. 10 hours is 600 minutes. Yet she found only 2 minutes worth of incredibly terrifying and abusive harassment. That’s .33% of her time spent walking around. If I spent only .33% of my life facing harassment, I wouldn’t be making videos asking for money, I’d be glad that 99.77% of my life was harassment free. If you gave me a video camera I bet I could find more than 2 minutes worth physical assault in Itaewon, let alone New York city. And of that .33% how many comments were blatantly rude or inappropriate? There’s the guy who creepily follows her, and the homeless guy who says something about “smiling,” but they are actually the exception rather than the rule. If I picked up 600 books at random out of the Oxford Public Library, I bet I could find more than 2 examples of profanity or filth.

        4) Less controversial? Like buying women flowers? (Harassment) Serenading them? (Harassment) Pick-up lines? (Harassment) Compliment them? (Harassment) It’s incredibly hypocritical that women want men to make the first move, and simultaneously choose the one thing that is flirtatious, flattering, and socially appropriate at the same time. It is easier to define what is criminal or outrageous than it is to define what is “normal” or “pleasing.”

        5) Does being complimented validate one’s sense of worth? Does praising a child validate the child’s sense of worth? Does buying a hand bag validate one’s sense of worth? There are many things that human beings do to feel better about themselves (or help other feel better) and not all of them deserve to be condemned. Again, conflation.


        The video is problematic because of the editing, and I’m glad you feel comfortable owning up to that, James, but race is hardly the only problem here. As I’ve said above, the editing implies that this abuse is a constant threat, which isn’t supported by the video’s own evidence. .33% is not “all the time” by any reasonable definition of the idea. This is cherry-picking of the worst kind, especially considering that the people that made this video were looking (very hard, and for 10 hours) to find the worst “harassment” they could, and wound up with less than 2 minutes worth of footage. If I went out into Germany looking for footage of men snorting crack and spent 2 days to grab 6 minutes of footage of the same 4 guys, I’d hardly call that a ringing condemnation of German society, but that same proportion of footage is used to “bring attention” to infrequent, if inappropriate, behavior.

        Do I think harassment against women exists? Of course, and I think we should focus on actual harassment of women to find solutions to it. Wasting time focusing on other things takes time (and in this case, money) away from those solutions. By way of analogy, murder is a problem as well, but I don’t advocate painting guns orange. Maybe it would—improbably—decrease shootings, but I think money could be better spent elsewhere. That’s the reason I don’t support the video, and it certainly has me rethinking my support (monetary and otherwise) of the organization


      3. It was pretty late when I last posted, so I forgot to clarify my comment about why I think the video’s implied narrative is “unethical and dangerous”.

        The dangerous part is easier to explain: people only have finite resources. That goes for everyone, not just me and James. Police officers, social workers, politicians, parents, etc. have choices to make about where, when, and how they focus their resources, including time or money. (It’s like that old analogy of “guns or butter”.) I think it’s dangerous to take people’s attention away from real crimes in order to deal with situations that are not crimes. By obfuscating the distinction between harassment and flirtation society is literally wasting resources, which is dangerous for victims of crime.

        That is part of why it’s unethical, but I included “unethical” separately in my original post because I also think that Hollback! and the makers of the video are intentionally trying to cloud the issues. This hurts not only their case, but also the cases of people with legitimate complaints. Just as false crime allegations make it harder for real crimes to be punished, making specious claims or implying falsehoods makes it harder for those who are trying to tell the truth to be heard.

        Even setting aside the argument of what is (or isn’t) harassment, the incredibly small amount of very specifically focused footage implies many messages which aren’t true, and provides actual criminals or harassers a flawed example to tear down. Rather than address criticisms, however, Hollaback! et al. have simply cried “mysogny!” and refused to look at ways to make the video better (or to make a better video.)

        These are some of the reasons why I think their behavior is unethical *and* dangerous.


    2. @T.Fraser Two things I offer for your consideration: #1 I wonder why you say it is a dangerous conflation? Are you similarly concerned with the deaths of women and particularly transwomen who are harassed on the street. The stakes in street harassment are actually pretty high because violence escalates and we need to make public spaces safe for everyone. #2 If this behavior is all benign, why don’t men treat other men that way in a genuine matter on the street (of course some men sarcastically say such things to homosexual or transmen, but that further proves my point)? This shows why it is not a conflation of of benign behavior and harassment, it is clearly targeting women, gay and transgender people. Check out some examples here if you need help imagining what that might look like:


      1. In consideration I reply:

        1) I am concerned with people who are harassed on the street. Dangerous to admit, I know.

        2) I didn’t say all the behavior was benign; I’m not creating a false equality. There are some who would like to do just that, which I why I felt there was a “conflation” going on in the video. I’ve asked before on this blog why saying “hello” is a criminal activity, and I have yet to receive a logical answer.


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