2 years ago, I quit my 63 thousand dollar paying job in advertising because it made me feel small, useless and stupid. About 40% of this was due to the tight crotch on my Banana Republic slim-fit work capris designed by the patriarchy, which literally separated my labia lips and entered my vaginal canal, as the patriarchy tends to do. Ten hours wearing those is straight up unsanitary. The other 60% was my clients talking to me like I was a fucking idiot saying I didn’t understand branding or copy, telling me constantly that I, in fact, had a lot to learn. I punished myself by working in advertising for 3 more years.
7 years ago, I quit my college sketch comedy team. At first, my team made me feel alive, worthy, and sparked a fire that I would turn into my career today as an actor, comedian and writer. I wrote sketches about eating penis sandwiches, about being Asian, personal, honest weird shit, but nothing was good enough to get in to our white male dominated semesterly shows. I consistently played walk-on-hot-secretary, a vehicle for a dude’s lame joke, that usually relied on a white dad musical reference, ie Van Halen, Tom Petty, someone else you don’t know if you are a woman POC. I understood 40% of our shows jokes, but I punished myself by saying that I, in fact, had a lot to learn. I started listening to this new genre (it’s called “Classic Rock”) which I was learning was crucial to be one-with-the-boys. I dated a guy whose favorite band was Phish, because then I could hopefully get in on the jokes. I played the best goddamn walk-on-hot-secretary I could. I leaned in, when I should have really gotten the fuck out. Eventually I did. It was tearful, embarassing, and a dude told me he was offended that I had called him a misogynist. I cried some more in front of him.
8 hours ago, I quit my 2nd sketch comedy team. Yeah it’s almost 2017 but I saw the same misogyny plus some unexpected (yet expected) racism from team members. I joined because I thought it could mend the wounds from 7 years ago, re-validate me, but nah, it doesn’t work like that, unfort. A dude told me Asian people don’t fart because all we do is eat rice…I think: what is this, 1980? But no, I can’t undermine hate by relegating it to an anachronism. This is today. This is every day. I called him out in front of the team, broke down crying while doing so, and stormed out of the room. I punished myself for another month on the team, thinking I’d get over it. During that month, I met some great people. During that same month, I read for “hot dumb bitch” several times at table read. Individually, my teammates were talented, kind. But as a team, dudes would get the last word. Dudes would get third beat laugh lines. Dudes were the ‘given’ comedy, unless a woman could prove him wrong. It’s like innocent until proven guilty, but Dude Until Proven Woman. Never the other way around. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t feel relief. What was the big fucking deal SJ? Thick skin! Backbone! Rightrightright??? Still couldn’t sleep. Maybe this is a personal problem…?
I, in fact, have learned. Sometimes there are things bigger than you. You can choose to persevere but a lot of times that is a thinly veiled punishment. I am done trying to make the best of shitty circumstances in a field where you are literally in charge of what you make. This is why I no longer have 63 thousand dollars. But this also why I will never have to listen to Bob Dylan. This is why I’ll sleep better tonight.