Two Asians and a Selfie Stick

By May Mansour, The Dartmouth Staff | 4/21/15 7:45am

When my editors asked me to profile Lulu Chang’s ’15 blog, “Two Asians and a Selfie Stick,” I immediately pictured two college-aged Asian women jet-setting across Europe, go-pro in hand — an eat, pray, love mission to “find themselves.” To say that I was wrong would be the understatement of the century. Within only seconds of opening Chang’s blog, I read dozens of screenshots that went more or less something like this:

“Two Asians and a Selfie Stick” is a collection of Chang’s cringe-inspiring online dating interactions. It’s an archive of the funniest, lamest and creepiest messages she’s ever received on Tinder, OKCupid and, to a lesser extent, Hinge.

The name "Two Asians and a Selfie Stick" is meant to fool you, Chang said. She was inspired by Asian tourists, who she said are often stereotyped as travelling in pairs and carrying selfie sticks. The name fits part and parcel with her online dating experience, which, Chang wrote, has been "a lesson in stereotypes."

She said that the title also was meant to reflect another facet of her dating life.

"You’re definitely going to read a blog entitled ‘Two Asians and a Selfie Stick,’ but you’re also going to be really shocked by the content,” Chang said. “That was sort of how I felt about my online dating experience."

What began as a funny exchange of Tinder screenshots between her and her roommate became a personal archive of hundreds of online messages. Within a week, Chang said she had enough material to create a living room collage.

When she saw the messages side-by-side, one after the other, she started to see a pattern of objectification and fetishization. Chang, a 22-year old woman living in New York City, says this trend is as true in real life as it is on the Internet, citing her own experiences with catcalling and stalking.

As I continued to scroll through her blog, I began to see this pattern for myself. For every “innocent” message that Chang receives, dozens of predatory messages follow. Complete strangers harass her and address her as a sexual object.

I read on for pages and pages, and it struck me how mentally exhausting it is to see hundreds of these messages, let alone receive them. But there was a part of me that wanted to blame Chang. Why doesn’t she get off of these dating sites? Why suffer these offenses when she doesn’t have to?

Chang said that readers are often too quick to point a finger at the wrong person.

"There couldn’t be a clearer sign of victim blaming," she said. "And I don’t feel as though, as a woman, I should ever be told that there is a space that I am incapable of inhabiting."

Last week, following in the steps of 18-year old student Claire Boniface, who runs the tumblr blog “kingforaking,”Chang decided to conduct a sort of social experiment. The idea was to agree with men who complimented her on dating sites and observe their reactions. The results were horrifying for both Boniface and Chang. The men retracted their compliments, accused her of being outrageously vain or downright insulted her.

Chang wrote, "Women, it seems, are not allowed to validate themselves. That is a task left to men. Any modicum of self-confidence, of assuredness, is met with aggression. Upset the balance, and all hell breaks loose."

Chang also dismissed any accusations of "baiting" men, noting that she would never intentionally seek out such horrible messages. And while her blog aims to expose the depravity of men on dating sites, Chang said that “Two Asians and a Selfie Stick” should not be construed as anti-male.

"I don’t hate men, and I recognize that not all men are like this. It pains me to have to make it clear that I don’t think all men are rapists or harassers," she said.

Chang said male and female readers alike have rallied behind “Two Asians and a Selfie Stick,” denouncing the predatory nature of online dating sites. But one thing is for sure, whether you’re a man or a woman, an Internet troll or a serial online dater, you can agree that this guy is using Tinder wrong:

Chang is a former member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

Correction appended: April 21, 2015

This article originally said Lulu Chang was a member of the Class of 2014. She is a member of the Class of 2015.

May Mansour, The Dartmouth Staff