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Manifesto for Young Asian Women

shiuan butler

The following is an excerpt from Manifesto for Young Asian Women by Shiuan Butler

I wanted to share the introduction to my book, Manifesto for Young Asian Women, to all of the young women out there who have ever doubted themselves or questioned their own self-worth. As a Chinese girl and immigrant to this country I felt it so much I was numb to it. This is a reminder that it will not always feel that way. It will get easier with time and the time to start is now:

I am writing this book because this is the book I needed when I was younger. Even in the womb, I had already begun to care take. I learned to worry and think about somebody else. I must have sensed the chaos around me and learned to be good and quiet. While my Mom’s life was in turmoil, her pregnancy and my birth were very easy.

I essentially learned there was no space, attention or resource for me to verbalize my needs (i.e. cry). All this, I learned before I was born. This is how I was bred—to be a good, obedient, little caretaker. Sound familiar? I didn’t have my feet bound, but I might as well have. I was extremely good at taking care of others and yet horrible at taking care of myself. And this was the 21st century. In America. How was this possible? It may sound shocking to some, and yet I’m sure many of you can also attest to very similar experiences.

And so, this is a manifesto to all of my Asian sisters out there to unlearn those lessons, to see them for the confusing oppressive traditions that they are and to just say “No.”

No, I am not putting others before me ever again.

No, I am not constantly care-taking others at the expense of my own health and happiness.

No. No. And No.

And yes, I am going to be selfish. I am going to be self-centered. I will focus on myself and my dreams. And this will change the world. I don’t believe in experts. I don’t believe that just because you have a couple letters or three after your name that you are smarter than me about what I should be doing with my life or that you should tell others what
they should be doing with theirs.

I do believe that we all learn from our own experiences, and that we all can learn from each other’s experiences and thus move forward faster than if we did not hear those stories. It is my sincere hope and belief that when we hear someone’s story we keep it in our mental database so that when we come upon a similar situation in the future we can pull up that story and apply those lessons learned to our current situation. I believe that we can benefit from each other’s success stories, and especially from the mistakes.

These are some of the lessons I learned the hard way. I pass them on in hopes that when you come to the difficult times in your life and are unsure of what to do, these principles and stories will help you figure out what is best for you. That is not to say you won’t make mistakes (of course you will and should), or that you should choose the same paths I did. Not at all. But I hope you stand on the foundation of my experiences and glean from them the tools and wisdom that I didn’t have.

And I hope you too pass on your lessons and stories to those after you.

The above is an excerpt from Manifesto for Young Asian Women by Shiuan Butler

About the author: Shiuan Butler is an Asian American feminist and blogger. She's a Taiwanese immigrant and loves yoga and surfing--the ocean, that is. Last year she published her first book, Manifesto for Young Asian Women (still available as a free ebook). Check out her blog on feminism, food, and flirting at

Also by Shiuan Butler: 'Tiger Lady' is a Racial Slur: How Wendi Deng Murdoch Fights the Stereotype of the Meek Asian Woman (Alternet)


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