Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Status of Women... 婦女的地位 婦女の地位


The status of women and women's rights have always been a huge concern of mine and today i shall write down some of my thoughts and opinions on this issue. It is my first post regarding this issue since i started this blog and hope for comments and feedbck on what fellow readers and bloggers think... a healthy debate is always good...
I have always felt lucky to have been born and grew up in times when women's status and women's rights were and are improving dramatically and am glad that after thousands of years of unjustified and ridiculous oppression of women, in the past decades, the world has finally come to its senses and women have been gradually liberated from the 'second-class status' imposed on them since time immemorial. Indeed, women were denied education and employment opportunities for thousands of years throughout ALL civilisations around the world encompassing the West and the East. When enlightenment came and Western ideas of female emancipation and liberation developed and spread around the world in the early 20th century, hope finally dawned. However, in Asia, old habits died hard. Boys were still prioritised by families in terms of education and employment and girls could only go to schools after the education of their brothers were paid first. Even when girls were educated, in Chinese speaking areas at least, it was thought undesirable for girls to be educated beyond primary school or at most secondary school until the late 1960s as it was thought that too much education would make a girl too argumentative and too independent and thus render her undesirable for marriage and being an obedient wife....sons were also treasured in Chinese families (and i am sure many other Asian families too) and it was widely known that newly married women had incredible pressure to bear at least one son to satisfy the in-laws and be deemed a woman with 'luck'. This pressure and preference for sons lasted amongst Chinese families well into the 1980s and early 1990s.
Thankfully, times have changed since then.However, if Asian women are now sitting back and comfortably thinking that all is relatively equal now, they are DEAD WRONG....cos things are still nowhere near being relatively equal between the sexes....
I have realised alot of women nowadays don't care about the feminist movement nor women's rights and think that the feminist movement is a thing of the past, taking for granted the rights they enjoy today, indeed many girls of my generation (20s) simply do not care much about women's rights when they should since it affects them directly...
i say that things are still a long way off from even 'relative equality' cos of what i have observed...i shall list just some of the more significant inequalities that still exist between the sexes in Asia-Pacific Nations in the 21st Century:
(1) Men still get the top jobs and higher level positions in companies and CEOs of companies are still OVERWHELMINGLY men....this is simply disproportionate to the gender ratios....either this proves men are biologically smarter and more capable than women or that there exists gender discrimination when promotions are given...(let's not forget, since most high level posts and decision-makers men, they could well be unconsciously selecting their fellow male workers for promotions)
(2) The top government posts are still OVERWHELMINGLY occupied by men with cabinet positions being occupied 70% or more in most Asian countries and men occupying more than half of the legislature in ALL Asian countries.
(3) Women are still overwhelmingly the victims of rape, molest,domestic violence and sexual harassment and men overwhelmingly the perpetrators..Laws have been put in place in recent yrs in many asian countries criminalising domestic violence and sexual harassment but the long twisted road it took them with opposition from many male legislators just goes to show the chauvinistic and selfish attitude of many Asian men.
An example of how many Asian men have still not progressed in step with the times and still hold latent chauvinistic views can be seen from the examples of Malaysia and Japan. These are just 2 example countries and it is not accurate to say that these two countries' men are the worst....its just that i am more familiar with them...
in Malaysia, a new Islamic law has been passed making it even easier for men to get a second wife whilst retaining the limited no of reasons a wife can divorce her husband. Further, there is still no sexual harassment law, only a sexual h. code of prac which is non-compulsory and merely advisory in nature. I can't even remember the ludicrous reasons that were given by employer associations on why they opposed any sexual harassment laws, i think it was something to the effect that it would 'encourage' female workers dissatisfied with their employers to falsely accuse them of sexual harassment...yeah yeah, heard all that BS before, women lie and like to falsely accuse men of rape and sexual harassment, whatever...
Then in Japan, after years and yes i mean YEARS of female commuters in the densha (trains)having to bear with the HUGE problem of chikans (molesters) who take advantage of the rush hours where commuters are literally packed like cans of sardines (believe me, i have personally experienced Tokyo rush hour and it is UNBELIEVABLY crammed), the train companies finally started to tackle the problem from 2004 where women's carriages were introduced such that during morning rush hour ONE or TWO carriages on SPECIFIC lines would be off-limits to men. This is hardly an adequate response to the problem as one or two carriages in a train is simply not enough given the number of female commuters which means that not all women would be able to get into them making those in the mixed carriages even more vulnerable. Given that these women-only carriages only occupy one to two of every line AND only for a specific time period such as 7am to 10am after which they revert back to mixed carriages AND given that the chikan problem has been a HUGE problem for women passengers for many years now, you would think that Japanese men would be more supportive of these new measures.....BUT there has been complaints from some selfish Japanese men that it is 'discriminating' towards them as they can't get into the carriages during rush hour, for example the women only carriages may not be that cramped as many women still choose to ride in the mixed one, and that it is a great inconveniece for men to have to walk to the mixed carriages esp if they are in a rush....i mean how selfish can they get!!!! of course these japanese male complainers don't feel the need for women's only carriages , i mean why would they? They are not the ones having to put up with the weird ojisan or middle aged balding businessman fondling up your skirt or his paws brushing against your bum which japanese women commuters have been putting up with years....they can enjoy their unharassed journey to work everyday whilst their female co-workers have to worry about the possibility of being molested everyday to work, i think what these men need is, and believe me, it would work, put all the straight selfish men who are complaining into a carriage FULL of gay men, make them commute with these gay men and be harassed by the gay men like touching their behinds and bumping into them and rocking up to them and i am sure they would be asking for all-straight male carriages in no time!
Then there is also the age-old habit of men which is having an extra-marital affair, seriously, many men still engage in affairs, and i mean MANY, i have heard of it from my mother's social circle which is wide and many of her friends have had husbands who were less than faithful(women also do commit adultery around the world but the rates are still no where near the prevalence amongst men)....and the thing that makes me angry is the way these women tolerate their husbands' unacceptable behaviour, i mean many women of my mother's generation simply do not want divorces and will try everything to 'win' their husbands back and try to be even nicer and obedient towards their husbands after finding out. I mean there is still a certain acceptability for men to go out and 'fool around' as long as they provide financially for the family and do not divorce the wife...people will actually encourage the wife to 'treat the husband nicer' and that the husband 'doesn't love the other woman, he is just fooling around, you know men, its just a sexual relationship'...i mean what kinda of rubbish is that, if an Asian woman were to go out to just have a 'sexual relationship' with another man but not love him, i doubt many people would advise the husband to 'treat her nicer' , in fact people would be thinking she is 'a whore, a loose woman' and if her husband forgave her, ppl would be 'he is not a man, how can he accept his wife having had another man?' I always encourage women to divorce their husbands immediately if they ever found out that their husbands were cheating, i mean the same standards should apply to both sexes, why should one apply for women another for men? I think women are incredibly stupid to try to 'win' bck their husbands, i mean they are already 'broken goods' why would u want him bck? I mean if it were me, i would be thinking of the best way to hit him where it hurts, how to sap the most money for alimony outta him when we get the divorce....it is also ridiculous how in asian societies all the hatred and condemnation is focused on the 'other woman'...how wicked she is, how she is breaking up a family, how she seduced the family man who would never do such a thing on his own accord...i mean shouldn't all the anger and blame be directed towards the guy?? HE is the one with a family and who swore the vows of marriage, HE is the one most morally guilty as he has emotional feelings and gone thru so much with the wife, HE is more than capable of refusing any seduction from the other woman even if she did seduce him. On the other hand, the other woman often only finds out the man is married AFTER he has deceived her into thinking he is single when he was trying to get her into bed, she is usually single and has no emotional feelings for the wife and so is less guilty as she can sleep with whoever she likes....i mean there are so many cases like this taiwanese legislator who hired a prostitute and it got onto the media and his wife forgave him, the thing was he was interviewed recently and you could see the way he said it was like he has already been 'punished' by his wife and didn't want to talk about it, i mean hello? his attitude was one of 'yeah i made a mistake and my wife has already punished me so lets get on with the marriage' other legislators also kept joking with him on the affair and i got really pissed off, i mean if it was his wife who had hired a male prostitute, i sure know that no one would be joking bout it and it would be treated seriously....then there was jackie chan who made the infamous speech regarding his affair ' i made a mistake that all men on earth have made' and he even went on to criticise the woman (a HK actress btw) for coming out and disclosing their relationship after she got pregnant with his baby and even going so far as to say he felt 'tricked' by the actress and felt she had deliberately got herself pregnant with his baby...i mean hello?? I would like to know just how she had tricked Jackie Chan into sticking his thing into her vagina...
In these affairs it is women who suffer the most,
the wife obviously suffers as she had contributed her youth and energy for the family only to be betrayed in such a painful way by the man she loved the most and who she thought had loved her the most.....she would have to accept the cold cruel fact that all the sweet memories they had in the yrs of their marriage could mean nothing now as her husband no longer loved her (contrary to popular Asian belief, most men who have affairs DO love or have feelings towards the other woman, they may be bastards, but they are still human)
the other woman suffers as she usually has to be kept in the dark and hide the relationship from her family and friends as well as lose her real chance for a relationship with a single male as she is with the married man, many men do NOT leave their wives as in Asian society, it is considered irresponsible for men to divorce their wives, affairs are tolerated only if they do not threaten the family unit, and also men generally do not want to risk their reputation and so the woman suffers as she will be left with nothing in the end and have to find someone else whilst the guy has just enjoyed free sex with a fresh woman 'holiday period' and retains his family and career....
the man suffers only in terms of punishment from his wife and having to arrange his time bw the two women and having to come up with clever lies to keep his wife in the dark, wow, he is so pitiful...as if!! sometimes he doesn't even suffer punishment from his wife as his wife treats him even nicer than before as many women pretend not to know even when they find out in the hope that if they do not make a big argument with their husbands the affair will end (in fact my own mother has said that a smart woman will 'open one eye and close the other' and 'should pretend not to know or argue with the husband if she finds out' and a friend of my mother has also said that 'a woman who divorces without a fight with the mistress is dumb as she is handing over all the money and assets to the other woman if she divorces which she helped her husband make by looking after him all these yrs'.....i really worry when many women (my mother's generation)think this way...this will only encourage men to go out and 'have fun' knowing very well that they have their wives under their control...
some common excuses used by Asian husbands to the other woman:
'I really can't stand my wife, we do not have love anymore, we sleep in separate bedrooms' {In a few yrs time, he will think the same way about u}
'i love you, i hate my wife, she is not as gentle as you' {of course she is not as gentle, i mean how can one expect someone to treat you as if it were still the honeymoon period}
'my wife is so demanding and so not understanding of me, she doesn't know my needs' {he means his sexual means}
'i will get a divorce if i could but my children are still small and i don't want them to have a broken family' {he should have been thinking about his children before he got himself into this situation and sticking his thing into places he shouldn't be}
'I love you and you mean more than anything in this world, please understand the pressure on me and how it will affect my career if i divorce my wife' {he doesn't love you as much as you love him, thats one thing for sure, he loves his career and reputation more which is why he is not divorcing his wife}
Thus i always advise women not to give up their careers once they get married as it is simply not a smart choice. A woman should have her own career and have her own independent income as it puts one in a weaker position even in arguements as one knows who ultimately is paying for everything. And given the track record of the male gender, women simply can't depend on their husbands to be faithful to them (this actually applies to men as well, no one can trust anyone else fully cos the only person who is not gonna betray u is yourself)and it makes it extremely difficult for women to get a divorce if she has no income of her own, as i put it, a man has his own career and the woman looks after his family and his children for him, but who looks after the woman's career for her then? If the man gets a divorce, he still has a career, if a housewife gets a divorce, she has nothing. However, it really is a personal choice and i respect women who stay at home as someone has to do it but i hope more men become house husbands supporting the wife and her career as now its like 95% of homemakers are women and less than 5%are men...which is SO OBVIOUSLY disproportionate to the gender ratios, i would hope that it becomes something like 70% women 30% men in the future....which would be tough nonetheless. There are those who think a woman who does not need to work is a 'lucky woman' (my mother's generation) and that a man who does not work is a 'useless man'...i mean why the double standards?? can't a housewife be seen as 'useless' as well and a 'househusband' be seen as 'lucky'??There is simply no reason for this.
There is also the issue of porn, admittedly men need porn (and maybe prostitutes??)and it would be futile to try to ban them, there is just a biological difference between men and women and i am different from some feminist who refuse to see this biological difference and argue for the prohibition of porn. I however do admit that porn often depicts women as sexual beings without subjectivity and that (in Japanese especially) porn, storylines of rape, gang rape, anal rape, etc, sexual torture of women and girls are abundant. I would argue for porn but to set limits such that certain things can no longer be shown in porn which are still being allowed now. For example, gang rape scenes should be banned, sexual torture as well, there should be a limit as to how many guys can have sex with the porn actress, i mean popular gang sex scenes where one woman has to deal with 20 or even 30 men is simply inhumane and absurd, there should also be more of a focus on the male actors as opposed to this sole focus on the womans' body, there should be more attempts to get better looking actors in Japanese porn which i heard love to put ugly men with pretty girls to satisfy (what i see as perverse) the spectators imagination as well as other limits. I guess it would be a give and take, such that men can still have outlets for their lust but there will have to be more acceptable limits on what can be shown in the porn out of respect for women.
For those who have read this far, thanks, i do know this is a loooong post, I just want to clarify that I am not a man-hater, these are just some of the realities which occur even now which i have observed and which i feel are so unjustified. I am not asking for equal rights for men and women, something i used to beleive in but which i no longer think is possible, i am just aiming for a 'fairer, relatively' equal society where the gendered power imbalance is not as great. For example, women do not have to make up EXACTLY half of the government or exactly half of all top positions, what should be achieved is somewhere 'near' half like 40% or 45% as opposed to the current 10% to 25%. I believe it is achievable.
I also hope more men become concerned, involved and angry at the gender injustice and not feel that women's rights ( i would prefer to call it human rights) are 'women's issues' or feel embarassed about being involved in 'women's rights'. I do understand there is an underlying feeling in society that it is abit weird for a man to be concerned about women's oppression and discrimination but i think the only men who should be ashamed are those who do not care about women's issues and the unequal status of women still prevalent today.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... interesting to find a fellow Malaysian law student from the same law school. I guess you are probably my senior by one year. Btw, great blog !

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

hi
do you own a blog too?? if so let me know ya...hcpen

Anonymous said...

Nah .. I don't have a blog. But I really admire people like you and others who can still find the time to blog when there are like so much readings to do for law subjects.
Anyway, I actually got to your site from one of the gay bloggers :)

savante said...

What a gorgeous picture! In the Mood for Love?

paul

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hcpen 彭皓全 said...

anon: well do visit often since we're both malaysian, both law students and both visit similar kinds of blogs...
Paul: yes, it is from the film In the Mood For Love and i have tons of pics from that film cos i simply love cheongsams,hehe

PrinzJ said...

Yup! Shall visit your blog regularly since you're my 'si heng' (elder brother) in law school. And besides, I hardly know any Malaysian guyz in law, as compared to commerce.
I mean as in there are less guys in law that are actually from Malaysia. Don't you think so ? :)