Every other year I teach a course entitled “The History of Asian Women in America,” which focuses on the experiences of East, South and Southeast Asian women as they journey to these shores and resettle. Using autobiographies, poetry, journal writings, interviews and academic texts, the students learn from the women what political, social, cultural, economic and ecological conditions prompted them to leave their homelands and why they chose the United States. We learn of their rich cultural backgrounds, their struggles to create a subculture based on their home and host experiences, and the cultural gaps that often appear between the first and subsequent generations. And we also learn how patriarchy affects their lives transnationally. In spite of all this information, inevitably one student always asks “why are Asian cultures so oppressive to women?”

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