Thursday, April 10, 2008

Human Rights Focus: Spotlight on Women and Gay Rights (II)...同志与妇女四月物语....ゲイと婦女の四月お話...

Some articles on gay and women's issues, two topics of interest to me...quite informative and good reads, hope u like them too:)

January 7, 2008
mum, dad, i'm gay
By Dinah Gardner

What’s next for parents? Increasingly in China, parents of gay children are not only accepting their sexuality but trying to help other families in the same situation support each other, Dinah Gardner reports.

Every Chinese queer teen must dread the thought of coming out to the parents. A face off with the demon force of 2,000 years of Confucian traditions is no joke. While China is blessed with a largely secular nation – there is little right wing Christian or Islamic homophobia for instance – mainland parents dream of their offspring getting hitched and carrying on the family name with a child of their own. A gay son or daughter is an unwelcome spanner in the works that can bring on anything from tears to the outright severance of family ties. No wonder so many lesbians and gays keep their sexuality under wraps and even get married to fulfil familial obligations - the ultimate sacrifice.So when 18-year-old Zheng Yuantao in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou told his mother he liked boys, he must have been delighted by her reaction. Wu Youjian didn't cry, introduce him to hot women or disown him. Instead she taught herself how to use a computer, got herself a Sina blog, and put their story online in the hope she could help other gay and lesbian children come out to their parents. In just six months her site had clocked up 100,000 hits and she had earned the affection of hundreds of gays and lesbians who now call her Auntie Wu.Wu, a writer and editor by profession and a self-confessed liberal, said she found it easy to deal with her son's sexuality because by the time, "Yuantao came out to me… I had read a lot of gay-themed books and movies (by his recommendation). Besides he had also been a good boy in school and in the family; he never made us worried."

And therein lies the key, she says. If you want to come out to your parents do some groundwork first and feed your parents information on what being gay is all about before coming out to them. "Always make sure your parents have some understanding and acceptance of homosexuality before coming out to them," she advises. "Coming out to younger, trustworthy members of the family first might also help." It also helps if you work hard in school and, in all ways, are an exemplary son or daughter. "Just make sure you're well behaved [and a good student]," she says. This "can hopefully give you more credit when you try to convince your parents that you are gay and it's fine." But, Wu adds, not all gay children should feel they have to tell their family their sexuality. "If the parent-child relationship hasn't been close then I don't think they should tell." Of course it helps if your parents are bohemian. But their story is not an isolated case. Now, increasingly in China, parents of gay children are not only accepting their sexuality but trying to help other families in the same situation support each other.

When Wu Youjian's was told by her son that he's gay, she started a blog (top) to write about their experience in the hope she could help other gay and lesbian children come out to their parents.

Similarly for Sun Dehua, who went from wanting to literally kill him to launching a hotline for parents to help them understand their gay children.

In 2001, when Sun Dehua - 58-year-old-farmer in China's northeastern city of Dalian - found out his only son was shacked up with his boyfriend, he literally wanted to kill him. Sun was quoted as saying in the South china Morning Post in an interview published in 2005 that he had even bought a can of petrol with the intention of blowing a gay bar which his son, Mu, had owned and operated in Dalian. It was only after his son and partner fled the city that his father reconsidered his position after his son’s friends mediated the situation. He got to know more of his son’s gay friends and began reading some of the free material in his son’s bar (where he also worked) on homosexuality and HIV prevention.“I learned that my son is not mentally ill. It was my fault that I didn’t know my own son well enough before.”In September 2006, he started China's first hotline to help parents understand their gay children. He has also become involved as a volunteer to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among the local gay community.He was quoted as saying in the Post: “I am really glad seeing them together, because Mu is so happy when he’s with him (his son’s boyfriend). Now it feels like I have two sons. And I do hope the law will allow them to get married one day.”

Wu also encourages parents to do their homework on what being gay is all about. "They should seek to find out what science says about homosexuality," she says. "Science can rid them of this unreasonable fear. I feel comfortable that my son is gay because I know being gay is not a crime… or a disgrace." At the end of the day your child's happiness is more important than carrying on the family name, she says.On her blog, 60-year-old Wu offers encouraging words to gays and lesbians struggling with their sexuality and dispenses advice on everything from boyfriend/girlfriend troubles to how to deal with parental pressure to have a conventional marriage. She says she values how far-reaching the web can be."I can actually use my blog to connect to people and express my views – encouraging society and families to accept homosexuality."She has a lot of fans on her site. Many gays and lesbians find her articles and advice a comforting resource. "Auntie Wu, you are so great!," writes one blogger."It must be great to be your son. My mother left me when I was seven years old. I cannot imagine what she would think if she knows I am gay."Not everyone is so appreciative. Homophobes also find their way onto her blog. ""Even animals don't have gay sex," writes one angry blogger."Don't you have any shame? Go to hell!"

Wu told Chinese media that she sometimes deletes hateful comments but leaves others just to create some controversy.Their situation attracted the attention of local media. Two years ago the mother and son team appeared on a Nanfang TV talk show. Wu says she was initially worried about appearing on the show. "I hesitated, because here, in this city [Guangzhou], there are a lot people who know me and what would they think of me if they knew my son is gay. But later, I thought there was nothing wrong with my son to love boys, I am his mother. I am supposed to stand by him." She adds that after the show aired she became a minor celebrity. "Even taxi drivers recognised me and encouraged me."

Below are articles dealing with homosexuality in a positive light in the mainstream media in HK and China..showing how far we have come as a society to accepting homosexuality as a mainstream topic that can be openly discussed and tolerated. The China Daily is the main English national paper in China and it included a photo of two teen chinese boys kissing at a kissing contest at a Beijing Department Store in 2006...i was literally shocked to see the pic...i mean i had underestimated what was considered acceptable publishing material in China and what newspaper readers in China would find as ok..

Pride and prejudice
By Xie Fang (China Daily)

Li Fangyu
Three homosexual Chinese tell of the challenge they face, and their hopes for a day when they will no longer be judged.

Name: Tong Ge
Age: 57
Occupation: Writer and independent researcher
Tong Ge was married to a woman for more than 20 years, and has raised a son.
But Tong is gay.
"If I could turn back time, I would never have married a woman," he sighs.
"Even though my wife has forgiven me, I cannot forgive myself, and feel guilty all the time."
Tong says he has been attracted to the same sex since he was a boy. The son of a rich family, Tong was sent to the countryside to learn from farmers during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).
His best friend, a former classmate, was willing to follow him. No matter how tough the living conditions got, no matter how poor they were, they were always deeply attached to each other.
One day after both had been drinking, they had sex for the first time.
"It had never crossed our mind that we were gay, and also we had no idea how to define our behavior," Tong recalls.
Two years later, his friend was called to the city. It would be the darkest moment in Tong's life - having to say farewell to his first lover.
"It might sound silly nowadays," he says with a laugh. "But I have missed him a lot over the years."
At age 27, Tong went back to the city, where he was astonished to discover scores of secret places where gay men met at night, such as public parks and toilets.
According to Tong, the phenomenon emerged in the mid-1970s when the "cultural revolution" had yet to come to an end.
"The more you try to oppress sex, the more resistance will rise up," he explains.
He says that men rarely used condoms at the time. "They were not available in any shops. Only the birth control offices of Stated-owned companies had them, and of course it was impossible for us to ask," he says.
Tong declined to explain what drove him to tie the knot, except to say "in the past, it was right and proper to get married when people reached a certain age".
Tortured by his double life, Tong studied various medical books, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Finding no answers, he decided that the only way he could live with himself was to confess to his wife.
"I thought she would be furious after I told her," he recalls. "However, she said that she had known it for a long time."
Tong was waiting for his wife to ask for a divorce, but she chose to stay with him. He says that despite their past difficulties, their relationship remains strong.
"A lot of Chinese gay men have had similar experiences," he says.
As an independent researcher, Tong has devoted himself to the academic study of homosexuality, not only from a social perspective, but also how to best combat AIDS.
"My goal is to make a general report on Chinese gay relationships," he says.

Name: Ruo Zhe
Age: 33
Occupation: Webmaster of the first gay website in China
Ruo Zhe used to think he was a monster, because of his attraction to the same sex. He even tried having a girlfriend at university, even though he knew that he felt nothing for her. "It's like your left hand touching your right hand," Ruo says.
The Beijing native decided to leave for Guangzhou after graduating from university, partly because there were job prospects and partly because he didn't want his parents to discover the truth. In 1997, he spent all his savings on a computer, which led him to a bigger world than he had ever imagined. "By visiting foreign websites, I realized that I was not the only gay man in the world," he says.
In order to meet other gay men, Ruo put his personal information both in English and Chinese on the Internet. A few months later, someone responded. Rather than feeling overjoyed, Ruo says that the prospect of meeting anyone face to face was terrifying. "I do care about being called a gay man in public, therefore emails are safer for me," he admits.
Eventually he met more men after being taken by a foreign friend to a local gay bar. "I was shocked to see so many people there. It seemed like a totally different world, where people all looked so relaxed, chatting and smiling," he says.
Ruo then launched the first Chinese website for gay people at the end of 1998, which aims to provide a platform for people to meet each other. The website offers news, health tips, entertainment listings and overviews of gay and lesbian communities in other countries.
Despite being the only full-time staff, Ruo says hundreds of people have offered to help out. The current registered membership has grown rapidly and now stands at 220,000. According to Ruo, most of these are young people aged between 20 and 30, up to 80 percent of whom are college educated.
Ruo has been living with his partner for six years. Even so, they seldom show their affections - such as holding hands - in public. "I know many gay men don't dare to do it either, because of social pressure," he says. "We have to wait till someday when we are accepted."
Ruo hopes to buy a car for his partner, dreaming of the day when they can drive wherever they want, listening to their favorite music.

Name: "Never give up", her online nickname
Age: 26
Occupation: Clinical doctor
For this 26-year-old, telling her parents that she is lesbian is the hardest thing she has ever done in her life. The young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that her mother and father were simply not ready to hear what she had to tell them.
"No parent is able to accept such a fact. That's always been true in China," she says.
Since the young woman came out of the closet, she has hardly spoken to her parents. The young woman says that ever since she was a child she preferred to dress like a male, despite her parents' efforts to make her more feminine.
She loved casual clothes, shunned high-heels and was always playing with boys, even though she felt no sexual attraction towards them. While studying medicine at university in Shenyang, Liaoning province, the young woman actively started seeking female partners.
Oblivious to her sexual preferences, her parents were busy arranging men for her to date.
"The pressure to marry increased dramatically after I graduated from university. At the beginning, I had to obey my parents' wish to date the young men they chose for me," she says. "I would find any excuse to end the relationships."
But this didn't discourage her parents, who worked even harder to find the "right guy".
It was around this time that the young woman's charade began to weigh down on her.
"I didn't want to hurt anyone anymore," she says. So she decided to open up to her family.
"Both my parents believe that I have certain physiological problems," she says. "They claim that it is a natural law for a woman to get married and give birth to a baby. How can I be an exception?"
They even took her to a top clinic in Beijing to seek advice. But the parents were disappointed when the doctor said their daughter was perfectly normal.
"Understanding from your family is more important than that of the outside world, because you have to face them everyday," she says. "If they were willing to accept me, I would be less depressed."
The young woman now has a girlfriend, a former university classmate who has not told her parents about the relationship.
The pair hopes to live together one day but don't have enough money to buy an apartment.
She envies men as their incomes are generally higher, and more jobs are available for them.
What's more, she says that it is traditional for a Chinese family to pay for their son's wedding and first house.
However, money is only one stumbling block for the couple. "Even if we were rich enough to buy a house, would our parents allow us to live together?" she asks.
Yet despite the rift between her and her parents, the young woman says she doesn't regret her decision to be honest with them.
"It is my life, and it is my right to choose the lifestyle I want," she says.

Time Magazine
Postcard: Beijing
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008 By SIMON ELEGANT

The west side of Beijing's venerable Workers' Stadium is ground zero for the capital's party animals. Stretching south of the stadium gate is a row of huge dance clubs with names like Babyface, Coco Banana, Cargo and Angel, each competing with its neighbors to be bigger, brighter and louder. But on the other side of the road, the offices and shops are shuttered by late evening. Only one discreet neon sign is visible above a small stairway: Destination — Beijing's premier gay club.

Despite its unassuming exterior, the long lines of young men waiting for entry on most weekend nights are a giveaway. And inside it's all action. On a recent Saturday night, hundreds of men milled around the outer rooms drinking and flirting. Around the tennis-court-sized dance floor an Eminem concert looped on half a dozen video screens, and pulsing lasers and strobe lights flashed over the writhing, sweating bodies. It has been like this every weekend for the past couple of years, the club's manager says.
Xiao Wang, as he is introduced to me, is propped up against a wall in one of the bars. The 29-year-old architect, who sports a stud earring and a fresh razor cut, looks puzzled when I ask him about the drawbacks of being gay in Beijing, and whether he gets hassled by the authorities. "Hassled for what? Being gay?" He laughs. "Why would they want to do that?"
There has never been a better time to be gay in China, but as Destination's somewhat schizophrenic combination of outer reserve and inner exuberance demonstrates, it still pays to be careful. Beijing's attitude has been described as a "Triple no" policy: no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. That sort of "Don't ask, don't tell" system is emblematic of the delicacy with which the communist regime is learning to deal with many of the personal-liberties issues being raised by the country's growing middle class. For their part, homosexuals in China seem perfectly happy to live within the boundaries allowed by the government, albeit not without the occasional snipe at the authorities. It's no coincidence, for example, that the once ubiquitous term tongzhi — comrade — is now slang among young Chinese for gay men.

Historically, Chinese society was relaxed about male homosexuality, which was tolerated so long as it didn't interfere with the Confucian duty to raise a family. Although an imperial decree was issued (likely under the influence of Christian missionaries) banning homosexuality in 1740, it was not until the advent of the communists that gays and lesbians were driven underground. The communist government once viewed gays as disruptive to social order and strictly enforced laws against homosexuality, imprisoning and even executing those convicted. But as China's economy opened to the world, the authorities' stance softened. A law banning sodomy was dropped in 1997, and in 2001 homosexuality was removed from the country's official list of mental illnesses. "It gets freer every year," says Bernie, a fortysomething who takes a longer perspective.
"And every year more and more gays come out of the closet. In Beijing and the big cities, you can see couples walking around the shopping malls holding hands. In the smaller cities, I hear it's getting better all the time."
Still, Beijing is no San Francisco. Openly gay filmmaker Cui Zien says it's still easy to cross an invisible line when it comes to publicly celebrating gay culture. "I organized a gay film festival and the authorities warned us not to advertise the location and the date, not even on the Internet." Despite the restrictions, the festival was allowed to go ahead (unlike some in previous years) and was well attended. Also, since the SARS outbreak in 2003, the government has become more enlightened about AIDS. Cui notes that "there are lots of education programs on safe sex and HIV prevention in gay communities and on the Internet, and there is also lots of funding available to safe-sex campaigns."
Back at Destination, Xiao Wang is still struggling to explain how things work. A friend in a leather jacket grabs his shoulder and pulls him toward the dance floor, but he hesitates. "If you do something wrong, of course you can get into trouble. But that's not just for gays. That's true for all Chinese. Other than that," he says, turning to follow his friend, "we're free to live our lives."

母爱 永远都纯粹 我的儿子是同志
文汇报 文:李卓贤2008-02-23
  谈同性恋道德不道德、罪恶不罪恶,很易会掉落道德高地,或抗逆主流的二元论述当中。我们双手拿出宗教历史经典印证善恶,双腿则站在抗拒主流的边缘土地,纯粹以理性去批评他们,便很难理解他们的境况。支持和反对一样事情,其实都不容易。  累了。今天我们不妨扯远一点。假如,家长发现子女是同性恋者,应如何与他们沟通和自处?早前记者参加了「女同学社」主办的「你们看我们看自己──同志创作展及讲座」,同性恋者小曹(曹文杰)和他的母亲Ann,分享了两代人如何携手处理这伦理价值的冲突。  问题看似复杂,但很值得讨论。虽然人们都说「多一事不如少一事,照办煮碗,抓紧原则,没有他者,消除差异,顺应主流,听从上天指示,一切就很完美……」  有社会学家曾研究爱斯基摩语,发现对冰雪有10至20种的称呼和分类;中国人重视家庭伦理,语言中如「姨妈姑姐」的称谓与分类真是多样复杂、多不胜数。同理,如果同性恋者在社会上有很多复杂的称呼,正好代表了这种倾向和现象,在社会已发展至一定程度,需要多方定性和解读。  当知道小曹是一名同性恋者以后,他的母亲Ann特别介怀身边人对同性恋者的称呼。记者尝试翻查脑海的「辞典」:「基」、「死基佬」、「同性恋」、「孪」、「断袖」、「断背」……同性恋者真的有很多很多名号!在各称号中,「同志」最为Ann接受。 「同志同志,听落多豪爽,内地都是用同志打招呼的。」  Ann完全开怀地谈论同性恋,记者怎样也想不到,她曾一度被儿子的性倾向困扰着。  龙阳之好 始料不及  同性恋一向不容于中国传统人伦当中,儒家说君臣父子和长幼有序,但没有说「男男」或「女女」。 Ann和小曹的小家庭,一向平淡如水,所以最初得悉小曹的性取向时,Ann实在始料不及,甚至感到痛心。  「最初看见细佬(小曹有一名孖生的兄长大曹)和一名男生拖着手在家中看电视,已感到很奇怪。问细佬为什么会这样,他只说他们是『普通朋友』,我没有再追问。」  「细佬一向很斯文,很多女孩对他很好,他对女孩也很有风度。后来哥哥回家告诉我,细佬在网上认识一些男孩,第一件想到的自然是网上交友危险,但当时没有怀疑他是同志。」  在小曹念中四五时,Ann晚上回家,看见儿子还没有睡觉,心血来潮问他是不是同性恋者,想不到小曹直截了当地承认自己喜欢男孩。  「我哭了整个晚上,不明白为什么会发生这样的事。」  首先Ann怀疑,小曹的性取向是不是基于自己婚姻失败。那时候她刚离了婚,害怕会影响孩子的成长。另外,这事实也令小曹哥哥大曹困窘和愤怒,因为他刚刚接受基督教信仰,很难接受孖生弟弟是同志。  他人目光 难以自处  Ann确认小曹是同性恋者后,开始循不同途径去处理难题。她尝试和班主任、驻校社工讨论小曹的个案。有趣的是,Ann想不到小曹比自己更开放,早已和驻校社工及老师分享自己的性取向。后来,Ann和社会福利署的社工谈,但对方也只是叫她释怀一点,再没有跟进个案。  「有段时间我非常难过,不知如何自处,怎样面对家人、朋友、社会的眼光才好,须知道10年前的环境与今天不一样,普通人也不太接受同性恋。」  「我哭着对细佬说:你咁靓仔,点会咁。当时的报纸报道对同性恋者都很负面,我担心有天儿子没人照顾,出来找不到工作,面对很多的敌视。」  Ann一度想过要儿子改变,但最后改变的却是自己。  「当时刚离婚,首先要接受事实,想不到突然又要面对这种事实。我从社工口中得知,细佬曾想过为母亲改变自己,尝试喜欢女孩子,可是失败了。于是我开始想,做父母其实只是想孩子开心,不希望他们有压力,只好尝试从自己出发去改变自己的态度。」  「曾经想过,我会将儿子的妻子当作自己的女儿,如今细佬既然喜欢男孩子,爱屋及乌,也就会当自己多一个儿子。」她笑说。  在这段时期前后,Ann接触很多媒介去了解同性恋者甚至儿子,例如听一些电台节目,也会找一些有关的书籍看,她喜欢一本名为《爱在灯火阑珊处》的书,书中讲述男同志恋爱的例子。  原来屋外也很和暖  Ann虽然接受了儿子的性向,但在人前谈及又是另一个问题,尤其是小曹是一个敢于站在人前,不单公开自己的性向,更是一名为同志们争取权益的知识分子。  「最初不太明白儿子的决定,更不明白他为何要站得这么前。我不希望他主动告诉别人是同性恋,只需要自己知自己事就好了。我虽然不会回避这个事实,但不会向别人强调儿子是同性恋者。」  然而Ann又再感到意外。小曹出现在引起轩然大波的香港电台铿锵集节目《同志.恋人》,他除了在电视上公开自己的性向及现身说法外,也在节目中展示他有关同志的艺术创作。  「那天我和同事在外面吃饭,大家都在看电视。《同志.恋人》出街,那刻我很惊讶为什么细佬会出现在电视上,节目更展示了我们一家的一些生活照,让我始料不及。还好,席间大部分人都觉得没问题,只有小部分人觉得同性恋有问题,接受和不接受的大约七三之比。」  「回家以后十一时,突然接到母亲的问候,最令我感动的是她没有介意孙子,反而替我担心,问我知不知道细佬是同志,令我很感动。」Ann一直担心小曹不被人接受,现在大家看了他也不觉得有问题,自己也就更接受这个事实。  难辨对错 还是妈妈好  「细佬有时去示威,为同志争取权益,有时也带我一起游行,看着那些人喊口号,其实蛮有趣。我觉得这些事情都有一定意义。」  小曹甚至把哥哥带上电台做节目,有时两兄弟也会一起接受访问,这姿态是希望社会了解同志生活及关顾他们。今天同性恋在香港社会受到讨论和重视,部分是因为小曹与一众同性恋者敢于站出来。  小曹一直尽力回报母亲的信任。他由认识第一个男友开始,就把他带回家让母亲见面。小曹生活上也很进取,表现出自己的独立能力,在学术和文化界得到认同,现时在中大修读性别研究课程的博士学位。  后来小曹与男友同居,需要自己照顾自己,令母亲意外的是他竟会煮饭给男友吃,也可以招待母亲回家吃饭,虽然她有点介意没有汤喝。  最让Ann感到安慰的,是她不用向儿子打听太多,他也愿意吐露自己的同居生活,甚至是伴侣的家庭生活状况。大曹虽然成为了基督徒,与弟弟有不同的价值观,但亦开始尝试了解弟弟的境况,两兄弟以理性去讨论同性恋课题。  「只要他身体健康,生活快乐就可以了。」Ann依然疼爱这儿子。无论如何,同性恋者都需要别人关心。(原文刊载于2008年2月23日香港《文汇报》副刊)

路难行 需要家人陪伴
文汇报 2008-02-23
  先天不直,还是后天孪?香港大学学生辅导总监、临床心理学家梁若芊博士指,这个论题背后潜台词是:「家长都不能接受子女的异常性倾向」。他们都认为,如果是先天的话,那只好认命;但后天的话,还有改变的方法。  作为一个实证心理学者,梁若芊认为,所有心理学、精神病学等问题都有先天和后天因素,但同性恋是先天抑或后天其实不重要,最重要是每个人的特质。为何同性恋的年轻人要花那么多时间去表述倾向?其实家长的想法应是如何帮助他们成长,不应一开始便推翻他们的「自我」,企图即时扭孪变直。  不是疾病 只是取向  「现在我们不会讨论同性恋是正常不正常。早在1984年,医学上已不再把同性恋定性为疾病,只是一种性取向。如果有专业人士还告诉你同性恋是疾病,那人就不是透过现代医学的研究、知识和资讯科学去说话,他们看的书可能还停留在70年代。如果一个医生30年来亦无更新他的医学知识,你还相信他吗?」  同性恋的讨论存在了很多年。然而今天同性恋者的家长大都停留在数十年前的社会氛围,都以为一定要从负面态度去面对同性恋者。  「家长大多担心有同性恋的子女的路很难行,怕他们受到社会偏见和歧见。但路再难行,孩子最需要的是有家人陪伴。如果是关心他们,第一个陪他们行的应该是家人。 」  一起走 艰难但快乐  梁若芊指,一些教育工作者曾做了一些实验:如果大部分同学都觉得某件事情正确,个别反对的孩子是不会站出来,提出自己独特的见解。  「我们经常面对一些难题。如果你和大家一样持有不接纳的态度,你便会感到很舒服和安全;相反如果你说自己是同性恋友好者(gay friendly),一些有势力的传统人士会认为你『不合作』,有悖他们宣扬伟大崇高的价值。」  「因此不止是同性恋者本身,这也是支持同志成长人士所面对的问题。」梁若芊认为,要帮助有需要的人,不单向他们提供服务,也要支援他们,与他们一同面对挑战。路虽然难行,但旁观者也要和他们一起走,和他们去群策群力。他们的路愈多人一起行,就会愈快乐。(原文刊载于2008年2月23日香港《文汇报》副刊)

SMH Report...Sad news...really sad news:(

Gay shooting: student's slaying sparks outcry

April 1, 2008 - 12:05PM
Larry King was a gay junior high school student who came to school in make-up, high heels and earrings. And when the other boys made fun of him, he would tease them right back by flirting with them.
That may have been what got him killed.
On February 12, another student, Brandon McInerney, 14, shot him twice in the head at the back of the computer lab at their school, police say.
The slaying of the 15-year-old boy has alarmed gay rights activists and led to demands that middle schools do more to educate youngsters about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But the day before the shooting, King told McInerney he liked him, school mate Eduardo Segure told the Ventura County Star.

McInerney was jailed on $US770,000 ($840,886) bail on an adult murder charge that could put him behind bars for life. Prosecutors also filed a hate-crime enhancement, which could bring three more years if McInerney is found to have acted on the basis of the victim's race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.
The shooting has galvanised Oxnard, a city of nearly 200,000 people about 96 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles. Several vigils for King have been held, including a march that drew about 1000 people.
Like the killings of some other gay and transgender students - such as Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, and Brandon Teena, who was killed when friends discovered she was not a biological male and whose story was the subject of the movie Boys Don't Cry - King's death has drawn national attention and outraged many gays.
Comic Ellen DeGeneres, who is a lesbian, said on her talk show on February 28: "Larry was not a second-class citizen. I'm not a second-class citizen. It is OK if you are gay."
Students at EO Green Junior High said the other kids taunted King, called him names and throw wet paper towels at him in the boys' toilets, and he would fire back by flirting and chasing them.
"He didn't like people insulting him," said his friend Miriam Lopez, 13. "Larry was brave enough to bring high heels and makeup to school and he wasn't afraid of anything."
The school system said that it has tolerance programs in its middle schools, but that sexual orientation is often not dealt with until high school. Since the killing, school officials have been meeting with gay leaders about changing the program.
A 2005 survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network found that more than 64 per cent of gay and lesbian students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school, and 29 per cent said they missed at least a day of school in the previous month out of fear for their safety. AP

And to show what i've been repeating throughout my blog about Taiwan being the most gay-friendly country in Asia, in terms of the government, the laws, and the media coverage, read the below...

"Generally speaking, governments in Asia do not provide such rights for anybody, straight or gay. Half of Asia is still burdened by criminal law prohibitions.
No country has a national anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation.
Taiwan is the exception. There are two non-discrimination laws. The Gender Equity Education Act, 2004, protects both the sexual orientation and gender identity of students in schools. This was the first legislation in Taiwan referring to sexual orientation and different gender temperament or quality. The Employment Services Act, 2007, forbids discrimination against homosexuals.The Domestic Violence Prevention Act includes same-sex couples. This is made clear in an ‘explanation’ under the key section of the legislation.
Same-sex marriage was hinted at in Taiwan a number of years ago, but disappeared from the governments’ agenda.

In other news, Norway's parliament is currently seriously considering a bill to be passed this year approving gay marriage, which has support from all the major political parties, including the government of the day at present. If passed, it would make Norway one of the handful of countries in which gay marriage is allowed in the world presently.

now to women's issues...

The two articles below are FANTASTIC, YOU MUST READ THEM!! Or maybe its the feisty feminist in me...they simply spoke to me and presented both sides to the gender story, allowing you to understand the dynamics of gender in our society today better...

What's a Modern Girl to Do?

Published: October 30, 2005
When I entered college in 1969, women were bursting out of their 50's chrysalis, shedding girdles, padded bras and conventions. The Jazz Age spirit flared in the Age of Aquarius. Women were once again imitating men and acting all independent: smoking, drinking, wanting to earn money and thinking they had the right to be sexual, this time protected by the pill. I didn't fit in with the brazen new world of hard-charging feminists. I was more of a fun-loving (if chaste) type who would decades later come to life in Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw. I hated the grubby, unisex jeans and no-makeup look and drugs that zoned you out, and I couldn't understand the appeal of dances that didn't involve touching your partner. In the universe of Eros, I longed for style and wit. I loved the Art Deco glamour of 30's movies. I wanted to dance the Continental like Fred and Ginger in white hotel suites; drink martinis like Myrna Loy and William Powell; live the life of a screwball heroine like Katharine Hepburn, wearing a gold lamé gown cut on the bias, cavorting with Cary Grant, strolling along Fifth Avenue with my pet leopard.
My mom would just shake her head and tell me that my idea of the 30's was wildly romanticized. "We were poor," she'd say. "We didn't dance around in white hotel suites." I took the idealism and passion of the 60's for granted, simply assuming we were sailing toward perfect equality with men, a utopian world at home and at work. I didn't listen to her when she cautioned me about the chimera of equality.
On my 31st birthday, she sent me a bankbook with a modest nest egg she had saved for me. "I always felt that the girls in a family should get a little more than the boys even though all are equally loved," she wrote in a letter. "They need a little cushion to fall back on. Women can stand on the Empire State Building and scream to the heavens that they are equal to men and liberated, but until they have the same anatomy, it's a lie. It's more of a man's world today than ever. Men can eat their cake in unlimited bakeries."
I thought she was just being Old World, like my favorite jade, Dorothy Parker, when she wrote:
By the time you swear you're his, Shivering and sighing, And he vows his passion is Infinite, undying - Lady, make a note of this: One of you is lying.
I thought the struggle for egalitarianism was a cinch, so I could leave it to my earnest sisters in black turtlenecks and Birkenstocks. I figured there was plenty of time for me to get serious later, that America would always be full of passionate and full-throated debate about the big stuff - social issues, sexual equality, civil rights. Little did I realize that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century.
Maybe we should have known that the story of women's progress would be more of a zigzag than a superhighway, that the triumph of feminism would last a nanosecond while the backlash lasted 40 years.
Despite the best efforts of philosophers, politicians, historians, novelists, screenwriters, linguists, therapists, anthropologists and facilitators, men and women are still in a muddle in the boardroom, the bedroom and the Situation Room.
My mom gave me three essential books on the subject of men. The first, when I was 13, was "On Becoming a Woman." The second, when I was 21, was "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger." The third, when I was 25, was "How to Catch and Hold a Man," by Yvonne Antelle. ("Keep thinking of yourself as a soft, mysterious cat.. . .Men are fascinated by bright, shiny objects, by lots of curls, lots of hair on the head . . . by bows, ribbons, ruffles and bright colors.. . .Sarcasm is dangerous. Avoid it altogether.")
Because I received "How to Catch and Hold a Man" at a time when we were entering the Age of Equality, I put it aside as an anachronism. After all, sometime in the 1960's flirting went out of fashion, as did ironing boards, makeup and the idea that men needed to be "trapped" or "landed." The way to approach men, we reasoned, was forthrightly and without games, artifice or frills. Unfortunately, history has shown this to be a misguided notion.
I knew it even before the 1995 publication of "The Rules," a dating bible that encouraged women to return to prefeminist mind games by playing hard to get. ("Don't stay on the phone for more than 10 minutes.. . .Even if you are the head of your own company. . .when you're with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile.. . .Wear black sheer pantyhose and hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex!")
I knew this before fashion magazines became crowded with crinolines, bows, ruffles, leopard-skin scarves, 50's party dresses and other sartorial equivalents of flirting and with articles like "The Return of Hard to Get." ("I think it behooves us to stop offering each other these pearls of feminism, to stop saying, 'So, why don't you call him?"' a writer lectured in Mademoiselle. "Some men must have the thrill of the chase.")
I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of "How to Catch and Hold a Man."
Decades after the feminist movement promised equality with men, it was becoming increasingly apparent that many women would have to brush up on the venerable tricks of the trade: an absurdly charming little laugh, a pert toss of the head, an air of saucy triumph, dewy eyes and a full knowledge of music, drawing, elegant note writing and geography. It would once more be considered captivating to lie on a chaise longue, pass a lacy handkerchief across the eyelids and complain of a case of springtime giddiness.
Today, women have gone back to hunting their quarry - in person and in cyberspace - with elaborate schemes designed to allow the deluded creatures to think they are the hunters. "Men like hunting, and we shouldn't deprive them of their chance to do their hunting and mating rituals," my 26-year-old friend Julie Bosman, a New York Times reporter, says. "As my mom says, Men don't like to be chased." Or as the Marvelettes sang, "The hunter gets captured by the game."
These days the key to staying cool in the courtship rituals is B. & I., girls say - Busy and Important. "As much as you're waiting for that little envelope to appear on your screen," says Carrie Foster, a 29-year-old publicist in Washington, "you happen to have a lot of stuff to do anyway." If a guy rejects you or turns out to be the essence of evil, you can ratchet up from B. & I. to C.B.B., Can't Be Bothered. In the T.M.I. - Too Much Information - digital age, there can be infinite technological foreplay.
Helen Fisher, a Rutgers anthropologist, concurs with Julie: "What our grandmothers told us about playing hard to get is true. The whole point of the game is to impress and capture. It's not about honesty. Many men and women, when they're playing the courtship game, deceive so they can win. Novelty, excitement and danger drive up dopamine in the brain. And both sexes brag."
Women might dye their hair, apply makeup and spend hours finding a hip-slimming dress, she said, while men may drive a nice car or wear a fancy suit that makes them seem richer than they are. In this retro world, a woman must play hard to get but stay soft as a kitten. And avoid sarcasm. Altogether.
In those faraway, long-ago days of feminism, there was talk about equal pay for equal work. Now there's talk about "girl money."
A friend of mine in her 30's says it is a term she hears bandied about the New York dating scene. She also notes a shift in the type of gifts given at wedding showers around town, a reversion to 50's-style offerings: soup ladles and those frilly little aprons from Anthropologie and vintage stores are being unwrapped along with see-through nighties and push-up bras.
"What I find most disturbing about the 1950's-ification and retrogression of women's lives is that it has seeped into the corporate and social culture, where it can do real damage," she complains. "Otherwise intelligent men, who know women still earn less than men as a rule, say things like: 'I'll get the check. You only have girl money."'
Throughout the long, dark ages of undisputed patriarchy, women connived to trade beauty and sex for affluence and status. In the first flush of feminism, women offered to pay half the check with "woman money" as a way to show that these crass calculations - that a woman's worth in society was determined by her looks, that she was an ornament up for sale to the highest bidder - no longer applied.
Now dating etiquette has reverted. Young women no longer care about using the check to assert their equality. They care about using it to assess their sexuality. Going Dutch is an archaic feminist relic. Young women talk about it with disbelief and disdain. "It's a scuzzy 70's thing, like platform shoes on men," one told me.
"Feminists in the 70's went overboard," Anne Schroeder, a 26-year-old magazine editor in Washington, agrees. "Paying is like opening a car door. It's nice. I appreciate it. But he doesn't have to."
Unless he wants another date.
Women in their 20's think old-school feminists looked for equality in all the wrong places, that instead of fighting battles about whether women should pay for dinner or wear padded bras they should have focused only on big economic issues.
After Googling and Bikramming to get ready for a first dinner date, a modern girl will end the evening with the Offering, an insincere bid to help pay the check. "They make like they are heading into their bag after a meal, but
s on a
California vacation, he looked askance. "She never offers," he replied. "And I like paying for her." It is, as one guy said, "one of the few remaining ways we can demonstrate our manhood."
Power Dynamics
At a party for the Broadway opening of "Sweet Smell of Success," a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties. Will she be critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood?
He had hit on a primal fear of single successful women: that the aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. It took women a few decades to realize that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom, that evolution was lagging behind equality.
A few years ago at a White House correspondents' dinner, I met a very beautiful and successful actress. Within minutes, she blurted out: "I can't believe I'm 46 and not married. Men only want to marry their personal assistants or P.R. women."
I'd been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and powerful men took up with young women whose job it was was to care for them and nurture them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.
John Schwartz of The New York Times made the trend official in 2004 when he reported: "Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and evolution may be to blame." A study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggested that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors. Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them. it is a dodge," Marc Santora, a 30-year-old Metro reporter for The Times, says. "They know you will stop them before a credit card can be drawn. If you don't, they hold it against you."
One of my girlfriends, a TV producer in New York, told me much the same thing: "If you offer, and they accept, then it's over."
Jurassic feminists shudder at the retro implication of a quid profiterole. But it doesn't matter if the woman is making as much money as the man, or more, she expects him to pay, both to prove her desirability and as a way of signaling romance - something that's more confusing in a dating culture rife with casual hookups and group activities. (Once beyond the initial testing phase and settled in a relationship, of course, she can pony up more.)
"There are plenty of ways for me to find out if he's going to see me as an equal without disturbing the dating ritual," one young woman says. "Disturbing the dating ritual leads to chaos. Everybody knows that."
When I asked a young man at my gym how he and his lawyer girlfriend were going to divide the costThere it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent.
"The hypothesis," Dr. Stephanie Brown, the lead author of the study, theorized, "is that there are evolutionary pressures on males to take steps to minimize the risk of raising offspring that are not their own." Women, by contrast, did not show a marked difference between their attraction to men who might work above them and their attraction to men who might work below them.
So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? Do women get less desirable as they get more successful?
After I first wrote on this subject, a Times reader named Ray Lewis e-mailed me. While we had assumed that making ourselves more professionally accomplished would make us more fascinating, it turned out, as Lewis put it, that smart women were "draining at times."
Or as Bill Maher more crudely but usefully summed it up to Craig Ferguson on the "Late Late Show" on CBS: "Women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to. Men want women to shut up."
Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the author of "Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children," a book published in 2002, conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of 35-year-old career women were childless. And among corporate executives who earn $100,000 or more, she said, 49 percent of the women did not have children, compared with only 19 percent of the men.
Hewlett quantified, yet again, that men have an unfair advantage. "Nowadays," she said, "the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child. For men, the reverse is true."
A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.
On a "60 Minutes" report on the Hewlett book, Lesley Stahl talked to two young women who went to Harvard Business School. They agreed that while they were the perfect age to start families, they didn't find it easy to meet the right mates.
Men, apparently, learn early to protect their eggshell egos from high-achieving women. The girls said they hid the fact that they went to Harvard from guys they met because it was the kiss of death. "The H-bomb," they dubbed it. "As soon as you say Harvard Business School . . . that's the end of the conversation," Ani Vartanian said. "As soon as the guys say, 'Oh, I go to Harvard Business School,' all the girls start falling into them."
Hewlett thinks that the 2005 American workplace is more macho than ever. "It's actually much more difficult now than 10 years ago to have a career and raise a family," she told me. "The trend lines continue that highly educated women in many countries are increasingly dealing with this creeping nonchoice and end up on this path of delaying finding a mate and delaying childbearing. Whether you're looking at
Italy, Russia or the U.S., all of that is true." Many women continue to fear that the more they accomplish, the more they may have to sacrifice. They worry that men still veer away from "challenging" women because of a male atavistic desire to be the superior force in a relationship.
"With men and women, it's always all about control issues, isn't it?" says a guy I know, talking about his bitter divorce.
Or, as Craig Bierko, a musical comedy star and actor who played one of Carrie's boyfriends on "Sex and the City," told me, "Deep down, beneath the bluster and machismo, men are simply afraid to say that what they're truly looking for in a woman is an intelligent, confident and dependable partner in life whom they can devote themselves to unconditionally until she's 40."
Ms. Versus Mrs.
"Ms." was supposed to neutralize the stature of women, so they weren't publicly defined by their marital status. When The Times finally agreed to switch to Ms. in its news pages in 1986, after much hectoring by feminists, Gloria Steinem sent flowers to the executive editor, Abe Rosenthal. But nowadays most young brides want to take their husbands' names and brag on the moniker Mrs., a brand that proclaims you belong to him. T-shirts with "MRS." emblazoned in sequins or sparkly beads are popular wedding-shower gifts.
A Harvard economics professor, Claudia Goldin, did a study last year that found that 44 percent of women in the Harvard class of 1980 who married within 10 years of graduation kept their birth names, while in the class of '90 it was down to 32 percent. In 1990, 23 percent of college-educated women kept their own names after marriage, while a decade later the number had fallen to 17 percent.
Time magazine reported that an informal poll in the spring of 2005 by the Knot, a wedding Web site, showed similar results: 81 percent of respondents took their spouse's last name, an increase from 71 percent in 2000. The number of women with hyphenated surnames fell from 21 percent to 8 percent.
"It's a return to romance, a desire to make marriage work," Goldin told one interviewer, adding that young women might feel that by keeping their own names they were aligning themselves with tedious old-fashioned feminists, and this might be a turnoff to them.
The professor, who married in 1979 and kept her name, undertook the study after her niece, a lawyer, changed hers. "She felt that her generation of women didn't have to do the same things mine did, because of what we had already achieved," Goldin told Time.
Many women now do not think of domestic life as a "comfortable concentration camp," as Betty Friedan wrote in "The Feminine Mystique," where they are losing their identities and turning into "anonymous biological robots in a docile mass." Now they want to be Mrs. Anonymous Biological Robot in a Docile Mass. They dream of being rescued - to flirt, to shop, to stay home and be taken care of. They shop for "Stepford Fashions" - matching shoes and ladylike bags and the 50's-style satin, lace and chiffon party dresses featured in InStyle layouts - and spend their days at the gym trying for Wisteria Lane waistlines.
The Times recently ran a front-page article about young women attending Ivy League colleges, women who are being groomed to take their places in the professional and political elite, who are planning to reject careers in favor of playing traditional roles, staying home and raising children.
"My mother always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," the brainy, accomplished Cynthia Liu told Louise Story, explaining why she hoped to be a stay-at-home mom a few years after she goes to law school. "You always have to choose one over the other."
Kate White, the editor of Cosmopolitan, told me that she sees a distinct shift in what her readers want these days. "Women now don't want to be in the grind," she said. "The baby boomers made the grind seem unappealing."
Cynthia Russett, a professor of American history at Yale, told Story that women today are simply more "realistic," having seen the dashed utopia of those who assumed it wouldn't be so hard to combine full-time work and child rearing.
To the extent that young women are rejecting the old idea of copying men and reshaping the world around their desires, it's exhilarating progress. But to the extent that a pampered class of females is walking away from the problem and just planning to marry rich enough to cosset themselves in a narrow world of dependence on men, it's an irritating setback. If the new ethos is "a woman needs a career like a fish needs a bicycle," it won't be healthy.
In all those Tracy-Hepburn movies more than a half-century ago, it was the snap and crackle of a romance between equals that was so exciting. You still see it onscreen occasionally - the incendiary chemistry of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie playing married assassins aiming for mutually assured orgasms and destruction in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Interestingly, that movie was described as retro because of its salty battle of wits between two peppery lovers. Moviemakers these days are more interested in exploring what Steve Martin, in his novel "Shopgirl," calls the "calm cushion" of romances between unequals.
In James Brooks's movie "Spanglish," Adam Sandler, playing a sensitive Los Angeles chef, falls for his hot Mexican maid, just as in "Maid in Manhattan," Ralph Fiennes, playing a sensitive New York pol, falls for the hot Latino maid at his hotel, played by Jennifer Lopez. Sandler's maid, who cleans up for him without being able to speak English, is presented as the ideal woman, in looks and character. His wife, played by Téa Leoni, is repellent: a jangly, yakking, overachieving, overexercised, unfaithful, shallow she-monster who has just lost her job with a commercial design firm and fears she has lost her identity.
In 2003, we had "Girl With a Pearl Earring," in which Colin Firth's Vermeer erotically paints Scarlett Johansson's Dutch maid, and Richard Curtis's "Love Actually," about the attraction of unequals. The witty and sophisticated British prime minister, played by Hugh Grant, falls for the chubby girl who wheels the tea and scones into his office. A businessman married to the substantial Emma Thompson, the sister of the prime minister, falls for his sultry secretary. A novelist played by Colin Firth falls for his maid, who speaks only Portuguese.
Art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into selfish narcissists and objects of rejection rather than of affection.
It's funny. I come from a family of Irish domestics - statuesque, 6-foot-tall women who cooked, kept house and acted as nannies for some of America's first families. I was always so proud of achieving more - succeeding in a high-powered career that would have been closed to my great-aunts. How odd, then, to find out now that being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men.
An upstairs maid, of course.
Women's Magazines
Cosmo is still the best-selling magazine on college campuses, as it was when I was in college, and the best-selling monthly magazine on the newsstand. The June 2005 issue, with Jessica Simpson on the cover, her cleavage spilling out of an orange crocheted halter dress, could have been June 1970. The headlines are familiar: "How to turn him on in 10 words or less," "Do You Make Men M-E-L-T? Take our quiz," "Bridal Special," Cosmo's stud search and "Cosmo's Most Famous Sex Tips; the Legendary Tricks That Have Brought Countless Guys to Their Knees." (Sex Trick 4: "Place a glazed doughnut around your man's member, then gently nibble the pastry and lick the icing . . . as well as his manhood." Another favorite Cosmo trick is to yell out during sex which of your girlfriends thinks your man is hot.)
At any newsstand, you'll see the original Cosmo girl's man-crazy, sex-obsessed image endlessly, tiresomely replicated, even for the teen set. On the cover of Elle Girl: "267 Ways to Look Hot."
"There has been lots of copying - look at Glamour," Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmo's founding editor told me and sighed. "I used to have all the sex to myself."
Before it curdled into a collection of stereotypes, feminism had fleetingly held out a promise that there would be some precincts of womanly life that were not all about men. But it never quite materialized.
It took only a few decades to create a brazen new world where the highest ideal is to acknowledge your inner slut. I am woman; see me strip. Instead of peaceful havens of girl things and boy things, we have a society where women of all ages are striving to become self-actualized sex kittens. Hollywood actresses now work out by taking pole-dancing classes.
Female sexuality has been a confusing corkscrew path, not a serene progressive arc. We had decades of Victorian prudery, when women were not supposed to like sex. Then we had the pill and zipless encounters, when women were supposed to have the same animalistic drive as men. Then it was discovered - shock, horror! - that men and women are not alike in their desires. But zipless morphed into hookups, and the more one-night stands the girls on "Sex and the City" had, the grumpier they got.
Oddly enough, Felix Dennis, who created the top-selling Maxim, said he stole his "us against the world" lad-magazine attitude from women's magazines like Cosmo. Just as women didn't mind losing Cosmo's prestigious fiction as the magazine got raunchier, plenty of guys were happy to lose the literary pretensions of venerable men's magazines and embrace simple-minded gender stereotypes, like the Maxim manifesto instructing women, "If we see you in the morning and night, why call us at work?"
Jessica Simpson and Eva Longoria move seamlessly from showing their curves on the covers of Cosmo and Glamour to Maxim, which dubbed Simpson "America's favorite ball and chain!" In the summer of 2005, both British GQ and FHM featured Pamela Anderson busting out of their covers. ("I think of my breasts as props," she told FHM.)
A lot of women now want to be Maxim babes as much as men want Maxim babes. So women have moved from fighting objectification to seeking it. "I have been surprised," Maxim's editor, Ed Needham, confessed to me, "to find that a lot of women would want to be somehow validated as a Maxim girl type, that they'd like to be thought of as hot and would like their boyfriends to take pictures of them or make comments about them that mirror the Maxim representation of a woman, the Pamela Anderson sort of brand. That, to me, is kind of extraordinary."
The luscious babes on the cover of Maxim were supposed to be men's fantasy guilty pleasures, after all, not their real life-affirming girlfriends.
While I never related to the unstyled look of the early feminists and I tangled with boyfriends who did not want me to wear makeup and heels, I always assumed that one positive result of the feminist movement would be a more flexible and capacious notion of female beauty, a release from the tyranny of the girdled, primped ideal of the 50's.
I was wrong. Forty years after the dawn of feminism, the ideal of feminine beauty is more rigid and unnatural than ever.
When Gloria Steinem wrote that "all women are Bunnies," she did not mean it as a compliment; it was a feminist call to arms. Decades later, it's just an aesthetic fact, as more and more women embrace Botox and implants and stretch and protrude to extreme proportions to satisfy male desires. Now that technology is biology, all women can look like inflatable dolls. It's clear that American narcissism has trumped American feminism.
It was naïve and misguided for the early feminists to tendentiously demonize Barbie and Cosmo girl, to disdain such female proclivities as shopping, applying makeup and hunting for sexy shoes and cute boyfriends and to prognosticate a world where men and women dressed alike and worked alike in navy suits and were equal in every way.
But it is equally naïve and misguided for young women now to fritter away all their time shopping for boudoirish clothes and text-messaging about guys while they disdainfully ignore gender politics and the seismic shifts on the Supreme Court that will affect women's rights for a generation.
What I didn't like at the start of the feminist movement was that young women were dressing alike, looking alike and thinking alike. They were supposed to be liberated, but it just seemed like stifling conformity.
What I don't like now is that the young women rejecting the feminist movement are dressing alike, looking alike and thinking alike. The plumage is more colorful, the shapes are more curvy, the look is more plastic, the message is diametrically opposite - before it was don't be a sex object; now it's be a sex object - but the conformity is just as stifling.
And the Future . . .
Having boomeranged once, will women do it again in a couple of decades? If we flash forward to 2030, will we see all those young women who thought trying to Have It All was a pointless slog, now middle-aged and stranded in suburbia, popping Ativan, struggling with rebellious teenagers, deserted by husbands for younger babes, unable to get back into a work force they never tried to be part of?
It's easy to picture a surreally familiar scene when women realize they bought into a raw deal and old trap. With no power or money or independence, they'll be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors - or vice versa - and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan.
Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

Otiose Blog : Jan 2006 post: What’s a modern boy to do?

There’s no doubt that while the feminist movement sent stock prices in armpit hair removal companies spiralling, it did do many wonders for the sisterhood.In addition to enhanced rights and legislation that made it illegal to sexually discriminate, the symbolism that was bra burning set fire to the notion that women were more or less dependent on and socially subservient to men. The first stage of modern feminism, led by working women during World War II, taught the world that women were just as capable of men at traditionally male jobs. The second stage, around the late 1960s, focussed more on equality between the sexes in all spheres, whether it be social, cultural, sexual or whatever.But by far, the biggest change of all in the history of women came not with a realisation of gender imbalance or cultural awakening, but through a scientific breakthrough – the pill. Overnight, and I do mean overnight, women (and to a far lesser extent, men) were no longer subject to the liabilities that their sexual urges might entail.

Dovetailing with the corresponding women’s right movement, dependency on men dropped off faster than the skirts and trousers of the cavorting masses.Acting out on libidos was one thing, but female empowerment also gave us a grave new world of high-achieving women, creating expectations that any type of occupation (and level within that occupation) should be attainable and that there should be equal pay for equal work. Indeed, modern education emphasises equitable achievability. For example, girls routinely outperform boys in matriculation exams, and there are far more female law grads.For the first time, it became acceptable for women to retain their maiden name, to pay for their own way on dates and even, God forbid, to ask men out. These assertions of individuality sought to proclaim a sense of independence from men.But a fiery world of women with newfound independence has a lot to answer for other than hairy armpits and singed busts. The problem is how these values sit with age-old notions of chivalry.

One example involved a high-powered female executive at my office. A young male colleague, imbibed with old-school politeness, gallantly stood aside to hold the lift open for her. Instead of acknowledgement, she vented a tirade of acerbic abuse along the lines of her own capability of seeing herself through the door.The age of men is deadAs J.R.R. Tolkien once famously put it, the age of men is dead, only this time it wasn’t because of a dark overlord and some feral orcs but a coven of over-achieving women. Funnily enough, throughout this bitter struggle, the endgame was also about a ring.Old habits die hard, if at all, and genetic hardwiring plays a manifestly strong hand against any prospective bets against the house of tradition. Men have maintained the status quo until relatively recently. Our situation, not having changed for 20,000 years, is now under continued threat by the emergence of woman mark II. The jist of the problem is thus: apart from a brief period in the Amazon, society’s expectations of men to hunt and gather remains, but now, new expectations have emerged. First, there was the SNAG, the sensitive new age guy who had apparent mastery of weird and wonderful concepts such as emotions and empathy. The model evolved further with the metrosexual, which is essentially a heterosexual exhibiting characteristically homosexual tendencies.Apart from being absolute bastardisations of the Neanderthal, (a time, I daresay when things were so much simpler), these new modes of masculinity represent an ongoing threat to man, and are living casualties of the gender wars. Indeed, the new world order that has emerged is far from utopic; it’s unisex.Like its older brother, globalisation, and its cousin, global consumerism, the growing homogenisation of the world has blurred the lines between the sexes, as it has done socio-cultural identities. What started with women wearing ties in the ’70s, is now David Beckham wearing sarongs or Ian Thorpe designing nipple rings in the new millennium. Does that make the growing feminisation of men the disfigured twin brother of feminism? It might be pushing the fraternal metaphor one step too far, but the fact is, it’s a by-product of the new age and a reaction to contemporary events.

Full circle or a different path?Jane Austen once stated that it was a truth universally acknowledged that men of good fortune were in want of a wife. It did not follow, however, that all women were therefore in want of a good fortune. For Jane Austen, happiness in love – and the trappings that go with it such as the ability to pick and choose a partner – was a key ingredient in marriage and represented a groundswell of change for its time.While Jane Austen is well and truly dead, she was a pioneer for more modern renditions of the art and process of courtship. The movie “Clueless” is premised on Austen’s novel, “Emma” but as far as women’s liberation is concerned, does not do it justice. While Alicia Silverstone’s character obviously feels a similar level of self-assuredness and assertiveness as Emma, she does not nearly possess the same wit or intelligence and most importantly, does not have the matriarchal level of control over the household that characterised Emma. The end result is that “Clueless” offers a less modern, even regressive idea of female empowerment.“Clueless” is but one manifestation of a swing backwards.

As NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd succinctly puts it, it took only a few decades to create a brazen new world where the highest ideal for a woman was to acknowledge her inner slut. In her world, the feminist cause hasn’t quite regressed, rather it’s reverted to a point where equality isn’t an ideal and is in fact seen as anachronistic. She cites the example of the decision on footing the bill on a date – where the man is expected to pay – as proxy of the times.The gains of the hairy armpit movement were replaced by a new feminism, where women sought to feel empowered by their sexuality and use femininity to their advantage. In the new sex-obsessed culture, women’s magazines which once taught the virtues of being a lady, knitting techniques and crochet patterns now teach the virtues of being brazen, fellatio techniques and crotch patting. The creed of Germaine Greer was replaced with “Sex in the City” and Paris Hilton has led the evolution of celebrity glamour to the pornstarification of public and private life in a time where pole dancing classes have become New Feminism latest act of emancipation.Moving from seeking objectification instead of fighting has meant more than just the abandonment of old-school feminism. Instead, replenishing the charred remains of bras with lacy underwires and push-ups places the focus firmly back to a male perspective of women. Kitchen utensils are out only to be replaced by plastic surgery gift vouchers.That is not to say that the hard-fought gains of liberation have been tossed aside as carelessly as expired silicon implants. And herein lies the crux of the problem.Men are from MarsWomen are from Venus, Neptune or Alpha CentauriThe pill has meant that women increasingly want their cake as well as eating it. Where in the old days, women were expected to marry before they reached their mid-twenties or forever be a spinster, modern-day times have presented women with the ultimate dream, the ability to build and maintain a career, get married and have children – the social trifecta.Of course, not all women are inclined towards building careers. And not all women share equal views on feminism or for that matter, femininity. But the casting aside of traditional roles on the one (ring-less) hand, where it relates to careers and independence, has not necessarily meant commensurate expectations of equality in the world of courtship on the other.

For example, some of my friends insist on paying for everything for their girlfriends or prospective partners, regardless of financial or social situation. Taking it further, there are some who, like the man in the lift, will insist on old-fashioned notions of chivalry, such as opening the car door for a lady. While quaint, these actions are often seen as charming. However, many girls would certainly not expect, nor want a man to consistently pander to their girlfriend in either a financial or social sense, and would perhaps take such actions as an insult.The dilemma for men then is not only knowing what a modern girl wants, but what values she lives by and from which ideals of feminism she draws from, if any. Should a man always pay if he is courting someone who earns more than him? What if she earns the same? Does this impinge on her sense of independence? Moreover, should he pamper her or will she break his balls if he does? Or worse yet, break his balls if he doesn’t?Asserting and acting on women’s rights have not emasculated us, they’ve just confused us. It seems that some women may want to follow a more traditional path to matrimony, others will be dispassionate towards marriage and pursue a means to their own happiness while others will want it all. As us men are stereotypically binary beings, with things either black or white, it’s that last one that really throws a spanner in the works, especially where the modern girl wants the best of both worlds: equality in the boardroom (and bedroom) but not in the art of courtship. A modern couple may be partners, but that doesn’t necessarily entail a partnership.It’s no wonder that, as many women lament, many men end up with women that exhibit less formidable traits who hold values their mothers would have held; women who are nurturing and are in professions that enact such values, such as their personal assistants. This is best summed up in “Love Actually”, where various disenfranchised men end up with maids, PAs,
or secretaries. Without denigrating non-career women, at least men can read, or think they can read, such women like an open book. There’s a greater degree of transparency about they want in life, and when they want it.For me, I accept only one of the gains of feminism. Armpit hair should be removed because it’s hideous and makes armpits smellier, but in my opinion, the only underwear worth burning are those with skid marks.

The above was written in response to the article “What’s a modern girl to do?” by Maureen Dowd and acknowledgement goes to JL for providing it.

Asian men seek brides from poor nations

February 29, 2008 INCHON - Changing attitudes about love and marriage in rich Asian countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are pushing many desperate bachelors to seek out brides in other, poorer nations around the region.

Many Asian men, particularly those in rural areas, tend to seek traditional wives who will stay home, doing chores and raising children, says Mika Toyota, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute, and other experts who study the region. An economic boom in recent decades means women have options their mothers didn't. Better educated, they can have careers - and opt to stay single until Prince Charming shows up, if he ever does. "Most Japanese women would prefer to live and work in the city," says Jeff Kingston, author of Japan's Quiet Transformation. "A guy out there in the boonies . has a tough job selling the wonders of being a farmer's wife." Instead, the men increasingly seek women from countries such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines, where income levels are much lower. The practice has led to some complaints of abuse and exploitation, particularly when the unions are arranged by third-party brokers, although some couples say their marriages are as happy as any other. The men "have more bargaining power" when they travel to poorer countries, says Gavin Jones, a sociologist at the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute. "Some of these men are looking for the sorts of women they can't find (in their own countries) - women to wash their clothes, submissive women." The trend marks a significant shift in countries that have long been ethnically homogenous. Some local South Korean governments, eager to improve the birthrate in an aging country, even subsidize trips abroad for men seeking foreign wives. In South Korea, the number of marriages in which one spouse is non-Korean tripled from 2001 to 2006, the U.S. State Department reports. Overall, one in eight South Korean marriages involve a foreigner, according to the Korean Statistics Office. In rural areas such as Gyeonggi, along the North Korean border, the figure rises past 30%. In Japan, the percentage of mixed marriages rose from 1.88% in 1986 to 6.1% in 2006, according to the government's population survey that year. Until a few decades ago, marriages in these countries were often arranged by local matchmakers who "would show pictures to a man and say, 'Which one do you want?' ," Kingston says. These days, cultural and economic changes mean that "media and books tell everyone the wonders of love marriage," he says. More than half of Japanese women in their late 20s are single, up from about 30% two decades ago. A survey by the Japanese insurance industry a couple of years ago found that most single women ages 35 to 54 have no plans to marry. Marriage brokers charge up to $20,000 to fly lonely men to places such as Vietnam to inspect potential wives, says Mary Kim, vice president of the Inchon Women's Hotline, which offers language training and counseling to foreign brides. "They meet each other in the morning and get married in the afternoon," Kim says. "Then they go to a hotel. It's a very abnormal way to get married." In one newspaper ad, a South Korean broker advertises "very beautiful" Vietnamese women: "100% virgins with health certificates for husbands to check." "It's a different kind of prostitution," Kim says. South Korea passed a law in December cracking down on unscrupulous marriage brokers, imposing jail sentences for those involved in the sex trade. However, Kim says, foreign brides are often too confused and frightened to complain to South Korean police when they are beaten at home. The appeal for the women involved is usually economic, at least at first. Rachelle Lim earned $210 a month as a sales clerk in greater Manila until she was paired with a South Korean suitor. They met on a Friday, were married that Sunday, and she flew to South Korea when her visa came through three months later. She didn't know what she was getting into. Her new home was cold, the language difficult. The pungent cuisine took some getting used to. And her husband's job as a factory manager kept him away from home six days a week. "I cannot say I am happy now," says Lim, 29. "Sometimes I think I want to go back to the Philippines." Culture clashes are frequent, says Fe Gimarino-Kim, a Filipina who married a South Korean in 1996. In the Philippines, women often run the household and enjoy their own careers. In South Korea, "the man runs things. If you're a Korean wife, you must serve your husband." Money is often a problem, too: Many foreign brides want to send money to their parents and siblings back home; if their husbands refuse, they sometimes do so surreptitiously. "They keep secrets and send money to their families," Gimarino-Kim says. Gimarino-Kim formed the Filipino-Korean Spouses Association to lobby on behalf of foreign brides. Four years ago, she successfully lobbied for a law ensuring South Korean citizenship for foreign brides who get divorced after being beaten by their husbands. Some mixed couples try hard to make their marriages work. South Korean autoworker Kang Ho Kyu, 40, doesn't speak a common language with his Filipina wife of six months, Marilon Royo - so they often communicate using an electronic English-Korean translator. "We try to work things out," Kang says as his wife, seated next to him, breaks into a beaming smile. Gimarino-Kim says she's one of the lucky ones, too. She has been in a happy marriage with a South Korean for more than a decade: "It's a gamble," she says. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."


Anonymous said...

Gawd, that was a super long post. Read bits of it.
Things have turned out rather strangely, good in some ways (increased acceptance and awareness of gay rights, better employment opportunities for women) and bad in others (anti gay violence, stereotypes, unintended consequences of the feminist revolution). I think we are making progress though.

There was an article in the SMH recently about how in Aust at least, women with uni degrees are now more likely to get married than women without them, though this only happened in the last few years. Whether it's a sign of progress, or just a temporary thing we'll have to see. Wonder if there is a similar trend in other devloped countries.

hcpen said...

aimlesswanderer: oh yeah, the post was mostly copy-and-paste from my 'articles of interest' collection so i didn't write most of it! When u have the time, read thru everything, especially 'what's a modern girl to do?' and the male response 'what's a modern boy to do?'... i thought it was really thought-provoking and insightful!!:)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remembered reading one of the articles at another site. The more things change themore they stay the same? I wonder if we will ever sort out most of this stuff, though we have come a long way in the last century.

I sometimes wonder if some advanced aliens were observing us, seeing us so confused, antagonistic and divided, and were wondering how we managed to get so advance without wiping ourselves out.

Maybe it's just my IE settings, but your page gets turned into a column about 1/4 of a page wide, and, man, this post was a helluva lot of pages of a real skinny column of text!

hcpen said...

aimlesswanderer: yeah! interesting thoughts..your alien bit..haha..i think its prob ur IE, does anyone else have the same settings? Do let me know:) I hope not!! n thanks again for reading my looooooooong post, hehe, u're becoming a loyal reader aimlesswanderer!!