Hsinchu Discussion Transcript: Feminism

Participants: Kevin, Robert, Wilson, Maurice, Angela

Its interesting how the human being society, why it’s always patriarchal. You know ants, they’re not patriarchal. That’s because the female ant has the right to, it’s the females can choose to have male or female offspring.

Yes, it depends what they feed the larvae.

Also bees. So only humans are patriarchal.


Not every country. I read the news, some places, the woman is more important in the family. Like in Vietnam, the women are very powerful there.

So we have a female gvt in Vietnam?



Yes, okay, but they have power at the home.

So that’s why of all the female trafficking in Asia, there’s no Vietnamese wives. I mean, none of the women that are trafficked come from Vietnam, yeah?



So our society is controlled by men, and most of the power is controlled by men. It’s interesting.

Maybe it’s the physical strength.

Oh, let’s not go there, I’m really bored with that argument.

I’m saying that men can lift heavy loads.

Okay, right, if we’re going to go there, let’s get this out of the way quickly. Men can sometimes life heavier loads than women, but women have far more endurance and tolerance for pain than men, meaning they can work harder and longer. So, talking about who is stronger? Sort of not the point, becase if you can lift heavy loads, well, I can probably work much longer than you, so how are men stronger, physically? Okay? So lets talk about what men and women care about, the power relations. I think when people say ‘men are stronger’ they’re saying ‘this justifies that men control things.”

Evolutionarily, men protect women, the men have more power to protect their family, and the female can promote more time to take care their new generation, their children. So it’s kind of like an evolutionary result. So men control most of the power. So the background for the female to support the men. But just for the society of ants, it’s different because their population is very large, so maybe it’s not dangerous for the population, so the female can control all things. You know the ratio for ants to people is like 10 to one.

Yes, if you add up the total mass of ants on this planet, it’s ten times the mass of humans. Talking about volume and weight of the bodies, not number of bodies. Okay, you mentioned matriarchal earlier, let me say something about that here. I heard that there was a matriarchal tribe in Taiwan, the women owned the houses, and the men lived with whoever they were lovers with at the time. If the woman got pissed off at the man, she could kick him out of the house, and he had no right to return. And brothers lived with their sisters and helped raise their sister’s kids, if they had no lover to live with at the time. So what if, if this story were true, maybe the men got tired of not having their own house, of someone else having power over where they could live. And I’ve been speculating that perhaps, where the change happened, why the men are in control now, is that they redefined the meaning of the home. They were like, yeah, you women, you still control the home, no problem, but we’re going to build this bigger society structure, and it’ll be more powerful than the home, so even though women are still in the home, the home has been devalued as not as important as the public sphere of commerce and gvt.

So this question, is feminism important, is it a difficult or easy question?

But I think that feminism, this question, it depends on how we live in this society. It’s just, why today we have such a situation that men usually have a more resources, more powerful than women, is it because that in our culture period, and women, men may have more strength to, how to say that! Er, to feed, like hunting and farming, like that, I think it’s the main reason why men could dominate society.

Okay, let’s address the ‘men brought home the meat, so they were more important’ myth. Actually, what they’ve studied about the diets of previous cultures and primitive cultures, they found that in fact their diet was composed very little of meat. Mostly it was grains, fruits, what was gathered, or later, what was grown. But okay, so why does hunting take hold of the imagination? A well-known author, Ursual K. LeGuin, put it very well when she said that, basically, hunting is a better story. Like: “…and then, the beast roared, and twisted, and Oleg nearly lost a leg, but then Biff threw his spear really hard…” But, she’s like, how do you make a story about gathering? “…and then I found another great clump of really beautiful nuts, and then Trudi found another really nice tree, then we walked and chatted for awhile, then we got to the other nut grove…” You know?
People want to hear interesting things, so if you’re a good storyteller, people will listen to you. So having great stories can be a springboard to power.

Yeah, everyone likes a story. On the TV, it says, everyone needs a drink of milk, so you’ll be more intelligent. So you’re forced to believe that, it’s quite interesting. So if you can tell a good story and make them to believe it, then you are successful.

And the Greeks! They wrote some great stories, but they were these two-bit city states. The Persians, at the same time, were this huge empire, but they weren’t all that interested in writing. And so now we hear how powerful the Greeks are, and how the Persians are pigs, because of the famous Greek stories, but we never hear how wonderful Persian society and culture and ideas were, because they never wrote anything down. Or how about Chinese history? 1000 years of ‘Tien Shia’. [lit. ‘all under heaven’ = all must be united under the heavenly emperor’] How do you combat that, if you’re an island with a mere 300 years of colonized history? How do you talk about Taiwanese indepedence when you’ve got 1000 years of ‘Tien Shia’ to go against.



Feminism is important, because of one word, it talks of equal for women. But how do you say equal? Can you really say men and women are the same?

Okay, this is a problem going back to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. When it says ‘all men are created equal’, it sounds like ‘all men are born with the same abilities’. What they were actually saying is: ‘all men are given the same rights, to live, to be free, and to do whatever makes them happy’. So we’re not talking about ability, who’s stronger or so on.
So the Declaration was talking about men. Feminism is talking about everybody: Men, Women, all humans. It’s the idea that every human should be given equal rights, to live, to be free, to do what makes them happy.

So if our law have the regulation to protect or guarantee the equal right for men and women, and then I would say the men and the women, in nature, they are not the same, they have different responsibility.

Responsibility?

If men are stronger than women, generally, they can have responsibility to protect women. And women have ability to generate the new generation, so it is our responsibility to take care our children. So I would say it’s a kind of evolution, it’s our human being living.

Our way of life?

So I would say feminism is not important, its kind of our society rule. So I would say it’s not equal to give the better treatment to female. Our society can change, but it’s not important, but it’s a kind of natural rule, if our society have the right to change the situation, it would change.

The right? The ability, the desire?

The desire. Like the west has a different attitude towards women. Or say, African women. I would say Africa has a very tough situation for women, because they have a tough living environment, and the women have the most responsibility for children, and search for the food for their children. And the men’s job is just for fighting and maybe to protect their family. So its a kind of cultural evolution.

I have another point of view. I think it’s a kind of a, it depends on what kind of a profit you want to grab. Though it’s a kind of lifestyle about how you would like to live in, in today’s, let me say, in Taiwan society, there’s no need to for men to protect women, for technology, with such greater technology development, I don’t think that women need men to protect women. Women can protect themselves with the…the modern device and equipment.

Smith and Wesson!

Yeah, maybe weapon. It depends on what kind of a life you want to live it. I don’t think it’s a kind of responsibly or not, it the life you choose. Men could also decide to educate their children by themselves. It’s not a duty for women. It’s not anymore the duty for women. So that’s my point of view.

But according to your point, for Taiwanese, we don’t need to marriage, because the Taiwanese girl doesn’t need Taiwanese boy to protect them.

But marriage is not just for who protects who! It’s a kind of agreement.

Contract?

Contract. It—

So we have a contract to have a baby.

—it depends on both of you, the wife and the husband, it depends on their consensus. So the role of woman or man is, they can discuss themselves to each other. I still think that modern society, we don’t have to think in the traditional way. Yeah. So I think the author propose such a question is to remind us we can think things in another way, in another side, that’s my point of view.

Wait, I’m sorry, I want to go back to what Wilson said. Forgive me if this is too straightforward, but it sounds to me maybe like you’re saying: “If they don’t need us, why would they want us?” Is that what you were saying?

Well kind of, so why to form a marriage, just to generate a new baby? But it’s not true for our society, the family have a function of our society.

Right.

Yes.

Well, so, what is the function of the society?

We need to have a harmonious society, we need to have a cooperative relationship. And the father and mother have a responsibility, and also the children. So it’s a kind of human being evolution result. I would say evolution is a mystery word. Because we don’t know why we have a male and female, why people don’t have a binary gender—why every creature has a binary gender.

Well, actually, there are a few species who reproduce parthogenically, for instance there’s a kind of lizard, there’s no males, not at all. The eggs are produced in the females, and somehow the genetics works. It turns out, actually, that humans could produce parthgenically, we have all of the codes in the eggs, but a certain section of the genes is switched ‘off’, but they’re switched ‘on’ in the sperm. So if a sperm fertilizes an egg, it goes all the way to making a complete baby, but if the egg does it by itself, then the baby goes wrong, doesn’t fully form, and then aborts. So there are cases where they’ve found a half-formed baby, or at least discrete genetic material, like hair or teeth, and they’ve got a different dna, in a woman’s ovary. But yes, in fact the majority of the species on this planet have male and female.  And that's really interesting, I do wonder why evolution brought us to this point.  I mean, from an evolutionary perspective, why do you really need men?

Okay, wait, you were talking about male privilege, what is the main problem for women?

Constrainment of choices!

Okay, don’t say that. I don’t see how that’s true.

Well, you’re male! You have the privilege to not see it!



I can say, from my marriage, I can say that asking this question, asking is equality important? In marriage, I have learned so much, it’s about mutual respect. I can say nothing is more important than that.

Of course, in marriage you need to respect your wife’s thinking. If she thinks you’re not treating her with a better way, you need to treat her with a better way. You need to respect her thought and treat her better. I say respect is based on what you believe and what you think.

Um, because I’m a homeschooling father, so I find out if I’m not supporting enough, or I’m ignorant sometimes, I’ll see that our family functions less than it should be. So supporting your wife is supporting your family, if you want our family to prosper.

You have the responsibility to take care of your family. It’s not only your wife’s responsibility. You have the right and the duty to teach your children, maybe to grow up to stand beside your children while they are growing up.

Well, I usually see our family as a unit, so I think every family member has their contribution, and, um, I would say that family is the learning center of our first socialization, and I um, hadn’t thought
about that much before I got married. I realized, when I was a father, in addition to taking care of, being a financial support, I also have to educate my children. And sometimes I would ignore my wife’s emotion, and not give enough support to what she’s doing, and I would see that the happiness of the family would not be good. Maybe my viewpoint is very partial, but it’s what I feel.

Something comes up in my brain. I think, cuz the author mention that boy are growing up knowing that one day they will have to function. Today we sit there and discuss the many aspect of this question, it’s because we are well educated. I think is feminism important implies that good education is important, and its because, uh, we are well educated, we are more open minded, and will have a positive manner towards the question or on what you have seen on a lot of events.

Your experience.

Yes! And so the core concept of feminism, I think it will eventually be how we educate our new education, it depends on how you educate your children, and how do they know that we cannot just thinking about yourself. We should think about…it’s something like that we should help others if we have enough ability. There’s a Taiwanese saying, it’s something like, the happiest thing is to help other people.
It’s that, why we need feminism is it comes from there are some inequality between men and women. But it’s just not what I thought, it is not important to just find, to observe sorts of situations we know or we observe, the most important is your manner toward this problem, and a good attitude comes from good education.
It’s like, our education is teach us to believe our society is formed by male and female. So the form of the marriage is to generate a new generation, for our children. So if, the marriage is not for children, for example, two young people they got married, but they don’t want to have children, it’s nothing, they don’t care about their equal status, because the nature of unequal, the factor does not exist, because they don’t want to have baby. They’re only married to live together. I don’t care you are male or female, I just want to live with you. So if this is the situation, then nothing unequal You can declare your right for you living, or anything. I would say, it’s another interesting point.

It really is.

It’s just like lesbian or gay for our society, homosexual is unusual. But in western society, it’s normal. It’s a kind of cultural acceptance. So it’s question of what you want to support. So the most important thing is, we define our marriage is for, you need to have your own children, so you define role of father, and role of mother, so family is for children. So it’s a kind of education system, to give us belief.

Sorry, what I mean for education, is not normal education. Its not just you have to go to school and listen what teacher say to you. My meaning for education, is for our school system, we have teach you to believe something, maybe is for knowledge, maybe is for living style, It’s a process for you learning something. It’s not necessary for education system, just for your learning process.

Maybe you can put that in another way, that you shift your focus to further self development for each individual, instead of devotion to your family, maybe that would be more clear. So everyone deserves to have his or her potential fully developed.

Well, let me say another way. We have equal right to learn, to know our potential, and to develop our own life, and meanwhile we need to communicate and to coordinate, to compromise, to have same conscious then finally we need to cooperate with each other. So that our human society could function well, and could keep going, and will not misfunction at all, and be destroyed.

This conversation is intensely interesting. How do you define family? In my experience, family was very strong when I was a child, then when the children grew up and left home, it’s like the family was dismantled, it was a formal shell, not a living organism. Before modern society, family was your social security, children were how you were cared for in old age. But when families dismantle, your social security is also dismantled. But in modern society, actually, you can create family, from unrelated people. People are choosing to live together in groups, because more people living together is much easier than just dad mom 2.2 children. It’s called ‘intentional community’. You can Google that and learn some interesting things about creating a family not from blood relatives.

I also came from a dismantled family. In my growing up, in my childhood, my family seldom got support from our, from our…my main point is that I come from dismantled family, I don’t got any support from my cousin, my relatives, but I still can live well by myself. That’s why I don’t think family support would mean anything in my life. I think this can be, just be an extra option, if you have a good family network, maybe you can live more well.

I think this is true. A good family network of any sort, allows you to live more well.

It’s a human mystery. There’s some combination, some component that lives in our blood. It’s not removable, even though we don’t live together, we have a relationship, contact.

Who is family???

Good question!

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