The earliest memory I have that isn’t prompted by a faded photo from the 80s with smiles frozen in perpetuity:

Hiding under a desk and peeking through as I watch a drunk man spit in my dad’s face.

Calling him a chink.

Yelling to get out of HIS country.

Go back to China.

My mom asking me afterwards why I hadn’t said anything. I could speak English. After all.

I was 6.

I could have.

Maybe I should have.


You could say this memory shapes me.

From then on, I became my parents’ voice.

I remember long nights at…

I’m 32. I waited 22 years to speak about it.

So. When people began saying things like “why did she wait so long” or “she’s just looking for attention” at a national level, my immediate reaction wasn’t to remember studies on PTSD or statistics on false allegations or the typically negative impact felt by victims coming forward (I started therapy for PTSD earlier this year and these are items we run through to remind myself it wasn’t my fault). Unfortunately, my reaction was to revert back to feelings of fear, confusion and shame. It’s comically frustrating how little progress I’ve…

“This is Cathy — she put a cigarette out on a bitch.”

As far as introductions go, personally that one’s not my favorite. Most of my friends get a good laugh out of it. And I really can’t complain because…that’s not NOT true.

Over 10 years ago, a drunk girl started slapping my face over and over again. She thought I’d cut her in line to the bathroom or something. I’d never been hit before and I was also about a foot smaller than her so I just…froze. Thankfully, my friend noticed and immediately stepped in. …

My therapist commended me for not putting on makeup before our session — I walk out with raccoon eyes every time so…bout time I learn. I reply in true Daria deadpan fashion — I wore silk tho so…yea. And we both laugh because we know there’ll be salt water all over this goddamn dry clean only outfit within the hour. And we laugh because those tears mean progress.

And growth.

And strength.

I won’t lie and say it’s all giggles. It’s exhausting emotionally and physically. I feel more pain than ever before and am constantly fatigued. But at least I’m…

I was 10. Maybe 11. And I was excited. We were having a family sleepover. Staying at my aunt’s meant we had access to instant ramen and junk food. Those were the things that got me excited. Because again. I was 10. Maybe 11.

I woke up that night to the oversized t-shirt I had on being pushed up and my panties being pushed down. I didn’t understand what any of it meant. I was 10. Maybe 11. Why would I. But something in me knew it was wrong and I was scared and I froze. Held my breath. I…

But honestly…it should. It surprises me that I, or any woman of color I know, have any self-confidence. It’s not noticeable at first, not even to us. The messaging is subtle. Even when not so subtle, our natural response is to accept that we are simply not enough. Questioning the social construct within which you live is a favorite, instinctive pastime of very, very few people.

As a teenager, I was often told how disappointing I was (I was a pretty cute fckin kid with big eyes, so they had high expectations). The words (used in distress by one emphatic…

Even as an associate in investment banking, I was often asked to go above and beyond my skillsets and book a car or make restaurant reservations.

The male managing directors I was surrounded by all seemed far more comfortable asking me, the Asian girl, to take care of typically secretarial duties. They very quickly learned how to use Uber and OpenTable — or to ask literally…anyone else.

I Thought I Left This…

A coworker from a completely different department once had the audacity to ask me if I was hired because I’m Asian (so good at math) and cute (because I’m a girl). Senior men…

Cathy Lee

thoughts that are more or less informing my journey…hoping you find it helpful too

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