What they never tell you about being Asian and female in London

People all over the world come to London, mesmerised by its sheer rawness of the passion, the love, the spirit.  They are blended into the traces of history and tradition lingering in every gesture of the English people and at every corner of the English streets.

But sometimes we forget the diversity of cultures, minds, and voices that are interlocked in the community. Some are constantly prodded and probed to provide an explanation for their Asian looks, with basic manners and personal space hardly respected.  

Women aged 18-23 from Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese heritage currently residing in London were interviewed to share their experience of living in London under these conditions.

While the women did not hesitate to share their love for the city’s international cuisine and administrative efforts to make everyone feel at home, on speaking about the blind spots of racism, they remained uneasy. But once I shared my personal experience and struggles, they were able to find mutual ground and open up? they got to open up by sharing my personal experience and struggles I have faced, they were able to find a mutual ground.

They, too, were facing the catcalls in Mandarin, the unwanted interest in cultural background, sexual stereotypes embedded generously offered in the form of bellowing across the street.

Claire points out the irony of Chinatown as the area is generally understood to be the “dodgy neighbourhood of London,” but for her, it’s where she “get[s] to immerse into the crowd and not get noticed – or called out – about how [she] looks.”

“Sometimes I get so angry that I just want to leave everything here and go back home, but then,” adds Hannah, “I have learned to live with it now.”

Jackie, too, has “gotten over” the point of rage  in her daily commutes around the city.  “I’ve just accepted that London is just the way it is,” says the 22-year old in her third year at the London College of Communication. After a quick, exasperated laugh, she chimes, “perhaps London should adopt the idea of personal space and mutual respect from the Confucius teachings.”

And perhaps London does not have to be the way it is. Perhaps we can all just live in peace at the metropolitan heart of the world. And one day, we will not have to feel like the target everywhere in one of the most culturally diverse city in the world.


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