The haunting patriarchalism
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@ chinapost.com.tw 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
still lingers in Taiwan
Wear a helmet and ride a scooter — a first-time experience
for Elizabeth Dietrich when she arrived in Taiwan.