Raising This Bitch: A Thank You to My Mothers

This bitch wouldn’t exist without my amazing role models and inspirations

In all my talk about representation and empowering female role models, I haven’t mentioned the incredible women in my family who made me who I am today. It seems the right time of year for such declarations of love, and I certainly owe them more than a box of chocolates or a nice card. Because really, I owe them everything.

In my life, there are a number of women in my family I look up to, both step and non: my mom, step-mom, older sister, a number of aunts, cousins, and my grandmothers. I don’t remember ever learning the words feminist, empowerment, or strong female lead, but I embodied those things because it was always something they taught me to be. Everything I know about being an indepent young woman is because of these women in my life. I learned it from the best.

My mom, step-mom, sister, and paternal grandmother (and middle name namesake)

As a kid, none of them ever told me the ways I “had to be.” I never had to be girly, or quiet, a doctor, or stay close to home. I could dress in monochrome colors, protest for what I believe in, major in a dying media, and go to school in Boston, or LA, or Shanghai. They’ve always let me take on and explore my myriad of strange interests — wizards, vampires, Korean pop music, anime, cosplaying, etc — with no judgement.

And that’s so important for anyone growing up to know that they can explore everything, and they’re going to be accepted for who they are. I always knew that no matter what happened, someone had my back. This mattered to me the most when I started taking an active interest in my identity as an Asian American and Chinese adoptee. I could figure out where I fit into the AAPI community without the guilt other adoptees sometimes feel as they explore their heritage or biological roots. Part of the reason I don’t feel a need to do a birth parent search is because I never felt like I was in want — of anything.

There’s a very special feeling in knowing that you can call a person for any given thing at any given time, and they will be there for you. For me, there’s a special feeling knowing that I’ve got more than one. Looking at the examples each of them leads, and the ways they always take care of me, makes me grateful everyday to have them in my life (…even if I never call them enough to tell them.)

My mom, step-mom, and sister all make me want to be the best kind of role model for other women, and that’s part of the reason I started this blog. And not many parents would hear, “Hey, I started a feminist blog in class — you know, that really costly private liberal arts school? — called This Bitch,” and respond with, “Good for you!” But these women did, and I only hope that my weekly rambling makes them proud.

And to my birth mother,
I’m okay. I hope you are too.