I very much appreciate the feminist movements worldwide which enable me to be where I am now. However, having grown up in a traditional family and seen different kinds of pressure of being a male and a female, I noticed that I am not interested in the kind of gender talks which does not go deep. I was not particular interested in “me too” movements, which had both potential to bring more quality dialogue, or to misuse it for strengthening the female ego, and I am afraid the later one was often the case...
In Taiwan, most people in my generation have illiterate grandmothers; it was generally believed in the past that it was not needed for the women to receive any education. My mother was the first generation woman in my family who received education, required by the law. My grandfather had 2 wives at the same time. Many daughters in Taiwan do not inherit any money from their families.
Still, I have always thought that it is a privilege to be a woman. Since I was very young I was relieved countless times to be a girl. I gained much more freedom by not having all the attention on me, not mentioning that young boys in my time got much more cruel physical punishments in the school and at home. The boys grow up knowing, later on in their life, they will have to go through the compulsory military service.
My brother received way more pressure from my parents. He had exceptional gifts in literature, art, and music. Yet he was constantly expected to be more exceptional than he already was. His artistic temperament was perceived as being lazy and undisciplined. He was never accepted the way he was.
My brother and I started the piano lessons at the same time, yet we were treated very differently. I could practice alone, but not my brother - he had to be “guarded” all the time. My mother was always knitting besides him when he was practicing, or my mother would ask me to sit beside my brother and be the "piano policeman".
Naturally my brother developed a complicated relationship with practicing and I soon became a better pianist than him, and naturally we couldn't get alone as kids. At age 12 my brother denied vehemently to touch piano again.
Later on my brother was heavily expected to take over my father’s business, even though he found out in his later teenage that, even though he hated practicing, his heart was still in music. My parents anyway chose what subjects he had to study in his high school, in which he had absolute zero interest. Thankfully, he anyway ended up in the music department in a university, after many years of terrible detour.
I saw the psychological torture my brother had to go through because of the social and familial expectation of a man, while I had much less detour because I was not expected to be anything exceptional. My success was more of an “accident”, and I feel very lucky for this accident.
In short, even though it looks on the surface that patriarchal society favors men, it is in deeper levels cruel for men and women. Gender issues are not that black and white, and I believe quality discussions which does not favor only one gender can bring a healthier change.
To be continued.