8Questions: Dr. Sophia Yen of PandiaHealth.com, a new online birth control prescription service


I’ve blogged about my friend Dr. Sophia Yen in the past. She’s probably the most politically active person I know (and her brother served in Iraq and her mother Sandy Yen was in the Taiwan legislature.)

But by day, she’s not only a doctor but also recently launched her start-up, Pandia Health – “The easiest way to get birth control.” I caught up with her recently to learn more about her startup and her motivations.

John: Today we’re talking with Dr. Sophia Yen, a physician with a passion for making women’s lives better with improved access to birth control and prescription acne medications via her startup PandiaHealth.com

Dr. Yen: Thank you for having me on 8Asians.com! I love sharing my birth control knowledge with people to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.

As Asian Americans, I think many of us have gone under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” regimen about our birth control with our parents. I’m here and happy to answer anyone’s questions about birth control, sexually-transmitted infections, and acne. I hope our generation can be more open with our children.

Why did you start PandiaHealth.com?

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How to NOT Objectify Asian Women

Recently, Kristina Wong was featured in New York Times in a video series called “Off Color”, and I visited her artist website and also discovered her satire dating site about the objectification of Asian women, BigBadChineseMama.com, where she and volunteers basically make fun of the fetishization of Asian women.

Wong cracks me up, and her way of throwing apple pie in your face and then having you realize it’s actually a pie full of turd is definitely attention grabbing. It’s a good approach for the dense folk out there who hopefully are brought to question some of their own assumptions and unquestioned desires.

I also know that there are a lot of people out there, men and women, who are not really sure what “objectification” actually means, what it is like to be an objectified Asian woman specifically, and also how to avoid objectifying Asian women. So, I thought maybe I’d try my hand at presenting a simple-to-understand explanation and guideline on the objectification of Asian women and how to avoid it.

1. What does “objectification” mean?

Simply put, “objectification” means treating a human being or a group of human beings as an object instead of a human being. For example, let’s compare a table with an Asian woman.

A table is clearly an inanimate, non-living, non-sentient object. If you love a table, it will not love you back. If you paint it your favorite color, you don’t have to worry about the table’s feelings, and if you break or hurt the table, it will not feel pain.

An Asian woman, however, is a living, sentient being. If you love an Asian woman, she may love you back. If you paint her your favorite color without her permission, she may get very very angry at you. If you break or hurt her, she will feel great pain and suffering.

Basically, you don’t have to worry about the table’s thoughts, experiences, emotions, and desires because the table has none of the above.

An Asian woman, however, does have all of the above, and if you treat her like an object, objectify her, then you DO NOT CARE about her thoughts, experiences, emotions, or desires.

You are objectifying an Asian woman if you are prioritizing your own thoughts, experiences, emotions, or desires over hers.
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Video Showing Asian Women As Victims Of Sexual Violence By White Men Goes Viral

Courtesy: flickr/epSos .de
Courtesy: flickr/epSos .de

A video went viral in South Korea showing two western men harassing, insulting, and threatening a local woman. The video is only 78 seconds long, and it’s definitely one of the most disgusting, gruesome and horrified vidoes that I have seen. Due to its disgusting content, YouTube has taken it down [Editors Note: We tried to provide a link, but they keep getting taken down].

To compound the issue, comments and reactions to this video tend to focus on the victim, blaming her for getting herself into the situation for being in a club and getting involved with western men, indicating that she deserved to be treated like that because she is actively seeking white men.

According to the Washington Post, a Jagei.com commenter said “She went crazy over white guys, lived at a club, and ran into trouble.” Another wrote, “After that, I think she’s going to go clubbing to meet white guys again.”

As a woman grew up in Asia, sadly I am not surprised by how many Korean men, or Asian men, perceived issues like this. Women are often to blame for falling victims of sexual violence. It’s always her fault, either the way she dressed, the way she talked, the place she choosed to be in, the group of people she chooosed to be with. It’s all her fault. But is it really?

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How Do You Draw Asian Women?

Here’s a list of the reasons why this video is so wrong:

  1. There is no one way to draw an Asian woman.
  2. Upturned eyes? Small nose? Beautiful, big and full lips? Really?
  3. According to eHow, people were genuinely asking how to draw Asian women.
  4. She’s not even wearing a kimono.
  5. I’m kidding about that last one.
  6. This guy is a horrible teacher. He doesn’t even describe what he’s doing or why. There’s a small glimmer of hope in me that perhaps he doesn’t explain what he’s drawing because he’s realizing how racist it can sound. Instead of “slanty eyes”, he just calls them “beautiful”.
  7. This guy is even worse at drawing. If that’s what he thinks Asian women look like, then he’s never met one of us before.
  8. Unless that was his point: there really is no way to teach someone how to draw Asian women.
  9. Then why did he agree to do this video?
  10. Now I’m confused.

(Via: TheAwl)

“Do something Asian plz”

This week, Yahoo launched a beta service called Y! Live, a site that lets anyone with a webcam create their own live web video channel. On a lark, I decided to try it. I mean, what harm could it be, right? Not ten seconds after I started broadcasting, I had a few guests come into the chatroom. And as one might expect, one of them appeared to be a guy who wanted me to take off my clothes. But that’s not the hilariously offensive part. The part that really got me was when he actually told me to “do something Asian plz.” That’s when I started taking screenshots and then promptly left the channel:

Do Something Asian chat

This had me thinking. First of all, what the heck is he asking me to do? Eat rice? Do the peace sign? Giggle incessantly? What exactly is “doing something Asian”? Then I remembered to the first days of the dot-com era when I used to have an actual webcam, to display on my blog. Don’t ask me why; I was an innocent tech-curious girl who wanted to know what the hubbub was about. So I went to this random QuickCam site that was suggested with the software, and started to broadcast. Within minutes, if not seconds, I had people chatting me up with really crude pick-up lines. And almost all of them referred to me being Asian as one of the key points.

Of course, I’m not saying I’m unfamiliar with the idea of the Asian fetish. But it was still a shocking and surprising thing to someone who a) didn’t get a lot of flirtations in real life, and b) wasn’t used to being so readily stereotyped.

All of which led me to these questions: Do Asian women, just by the nature of being Asian, appear more submissive to people in general? Are we more coveted as sex objects compared to white women? The answers are probably “yes” but I would love to hear what people have to say about this, and what Asian women in particular have done to deal with this kind of stereotype.

PS. And yes, I know I was naive in expecting actual civility on the Internet with the webcam. My bad.