The haunt­ing pa­tri­ar­chal­ism

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Be­cause of the sim­ple fact that I am a for­eigner living in Tai­wan, many na­tive Tai­wanese ask me how I like Tai­wan. And, I like Tai­wan very much. Yet, com­pared to my daily ac­tiv­i­ties while living in the U.S., my daily life has changed dramatically. In hopes of most, if not all for­eign­ers re­lat­ing to my ex­pe­ri­ence, here is a list of 10 daily ac­tiv­i­ties that I never did while living in my home coun­try. So, kick back, re­lax and en­joy! (Th­ese dif­fer­ences are strictly re­lated to the dif­fer­ent cul­ture, lan­guage and lo­ca­tion of Tai­wan.)

To begin with, wear a hel­met and ride a scooter. Yup, I hadn’t rid­den one un­til I moved to Tai­wan. As in most cases in the United States, I drove a car. It was a ne­ces­sity in the area where I lived. Also in Tai­wan, I bravely ex­pe­ri­ence the chaotic and law­less traf­fic on a daily ba­sis. And, I had no rea­son to wear a hel­met while driv­ing a car.

Next, eat with chop­sticks. That’s an­other af­fir­ma­tive. I didn’t eat with chop­sticks un­til I moved to Tai­wan. Even now that I have been us­ing them for five years, still some­times a trail of food from my lunch­box to my mouth can be seen. Even worse, some­times the em­bar­rass­ing drop of food into my lap still hap­pens!

Then, use a squatty potty. Also called a bidet, I didn’t see one — much less use one — un­til I moved to Tai­wan. I was ter­ri­fied of us­ing one un­til I lived in Tai­wan a whole year!

An­other thing that scared me was to say two lan­guages in one sen­tence. One of the dif­fi­cul­ties of learn­ing a lan­guage is that some­times the sec­ond lan­guage just comes out, even while at work or when I’m talk­ing to my par­ents on Skype, who most cer­tainly don’t know Man­darin.

What about us­ing Google Trans­late. I work at a tech­ni­cal uni­ver­sity in Taichung, where the dom­i­nant lan­guage is Man­darin, so I need to use Google Trans­late on a daily ba­sis. It’s a daunt­ing task to un­der­stand an email that’s writ­ten in gib­ber­ish called trans­la­tion.

Next, say “ai-yo.” Some­time in the five years of living in Tai­wan, I learned the auto- matic re­ac­tion of “Ai-yo!” And now I say it all the time.

Re­ceive com­pli­ments and long, star­ing looks. Be­cause of my light skin, blue eyes, light brown hair, and thin body fig­ure, fre­quently women, even com­plete strangers, give me com­pli­ments. Al­most as fre­quently men just stare like they are scared stiff.

Choose a restau­rant based on the em­ploy­ees’ English speak­ing abil­ity. When I am tired and hun­gry, it’s just eas­ier to pa­tron­ize a restau­rant where I have no doubt what I am get­ting, and there are no dif­fi­cul­ties when order­ing.

Watch TV with Chi­nese and English sub­ti­tles. Yup, I watch Amer­i­can TV shows with Chi­nese and English sub­ti­tles. It’s not an­noy­ing … any­more.

Take a nap af­ter lunch. This ac­cepted be­hav­ior at work is a life­saver on those busy, stress­ful and gru­el­ing days of teach­ing. It should be adopted and ac­cepted ev­ery­where. Well, there you have it — 10 ac­tiv­i­ties that I do on a regular ba­sis since living in Tai­wan. Living here is cer­tainly easy and con­ve­nient, yet it does come with some chal­lenges.

In my years rs in Tai­wan, there’s one ne par­tic­u­lar sen­tence nce which never sounds unds right to me: “A big ap­plause pplause to wel­come our r Big Par­ent” (大家長長). The sen­tence suits most cir­cum­stances, like galas, cam­pus games and grad­u­a­tion n cer­e­monies. My most ost vivid and mem­o­rablee one was for the cer­e­mony emony of Dou­ble Ten­thh Day: over­seas com­pa­tri­a­tri­ots long stranded ed abroad were wav­ing na­tional flags and tears were flooded ded their eyes, unanin­i­mously cheer­ingng the name of “The he Big Par­ent,” Pre­sies­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou. eou.

I would say y the is­land, or the na­tion, seems to have a well-founded d democ­racy, and the peo­ple e ex­er­cise the rights and power to act for or their own. How­ever, r, the in­her­i­tance, or the he shade of the to­tal­i­tar­ian regime, gime, never truly dis­si­pates; the old-time in­di­vid­ual-wor­ship­ping ndi­vid­ual-wor­ship­ping still lingers, amongg the older gen­er­a­tions in par par­tic­u­lar, just like how Sin­ga­pore­ans blindly up­hold their dic­ta­tor­ship gov­ern­ment.

It turns out the gov­ern­ment takes ad­van­tage of the pa­tri­ar­chal in­flu­ence to le­git­imize its wrong­do­ings, and the peo­ple re­act like un­der­age chil­dren who ad­here to what­ever their par­ents say. Very oc­ca­sion­ally, peo­ple rise up to dis­obey the wrong­do­ings of gov­ern­ment, yet the gov­ern­ment al­ways leads public opin­ion to view the protests as mis­chievous or naughty deeds of chil­dren. More­over, some are still mired in the false hope of “En­light­ened Despo­tism” and feu- dal­is­tic think­ing think­ing, and hence the rule of law has been grad­u­ally re­placed with the rule of men, and democ­racy and free­dom could well be buried in si­lence.

My take on Tai­wan: Tai­wan must re­con­sider its com­pli­cated sen­ti­ments to­ward the “su­pe­ri­ors” they take for granted and the gov­ern­ment they sub­con­sciously deem as a pa­tri­arch. They must come to know and em­brace the real def­i­ni­tion of democ­racy, lest the democ­racy Tai­wanese fore­bears fought for with blood, tears and sweat may end up a front for despo­tism and dic­ta­tor­ship.

Most peo­ple in the coun­try felt great in­dig­na­tion fol­low­ing the bru­tal killing of an 8-yearold girl at her el­e­men­tary school last Fri­day. An­other cause of in­dig­na­tion was prob­a­bly how lo­cal me­dia and politi­cians across party lines have failed to en­cour­age a de­bate on the death penalty in Tai­wan and pro­pose new mea­sures aimed at de­ter­ring heinous crimes.

If you’ve fol­lowed th­ese re­cent is­sues, why don’t you share some com­ments to be pub­lished in next week’s PrimeTalk? Send sub­mis­sions to com­mu­nity@ chi­na­ and in­clude your real name, na­tion­al­ity, con­tact num­ber, some pho­tos and a pro­file. Spec­ify “Eye on Tai­wan” in the sub­ject line and en­sure your sub­mis­sion is be­tween 300 and 500 words. Writ­ers whose pieces are se­lected for pub­li­ca­tion will re­ceive one month’s free sub­scrip­tion to The China Post.

Sulu Sou from

Ma­cau be­lieves that

old­fash­ioned in­di­vid­u­al­wor­ship­ping

still lingers in Tai­wan

and Sin­ga­pore.

Wear a hel­met and ride a scooter — a first-time ex­pe­ri­ence

for El­iz­a­beth Di­et­rich when she ar­rived in Tai­wan.

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