Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Gender policy should wait

By Kevin Larson

Over the past years I have read a few articles in the Taipei Times regarding gender issues, but outside of stating the need for some type of gender policy, the points that were made were vague. This alone should provide evidence suggesting that Taiwan is not ready to implement a gender policy.

In a society built on filial piety, one that makes no bones about having bikini-clad betel nut beauties selling their wares all over Taiwan, gender issues remain a profound mystery, a Western enigma.

First, there needs to be an awareness of "gender" and "gender stereotypes."

Next, laws pertaining to divorced couples in Taiwan must be abolished and remade with gender equity in mind, otherwise a gender policy would be for naught.

As an example of the hypocrisy surrounding gender policy, let's look at a couple of examples. On Taiwanese TV commercials, when was the last time you saw a man doing the laundry, washing floors or changing a baby's diapers?

In particular, a new commercial in which a fortune teller reads lottery numbers in a crystal ball floored me. This commercial only perpetuates the old myths that women only want money, that women cannot be trusted, and that men are only good for their money.

And the ubiquitous skin-whitening commercials for women only teach women that their true skin color is something to be ashamed of and, moreover, that white skin is the supreme beauty standard.

The commercials for household cleaners only reinforce the concepts that women are solely responsible for cleaning the home, that men are lazy about performing household duties, and that women are only good for one thing -- keeping a man's castle clean and taking care of his heirs.

Gender policy in Taiwan? What for? At this point in history, a gender policy implemented in Taiwan would not be worth the paper it was printed on.

Politicians that visit other countries and attend gender symposiums come back with some good ideas, but cannot possibly implement them because of Taiwan's unique culture, religions and traditions.

I could run off a litany of other gender issues here, but the time for implementing a gender policy is not now.

Instead, it is time to implement a program to teach students what "gender issues" are. When there is a visible and palpable change in Taiwanese society toward stereotypes of men and women, that will be the appropriate time to implement an official gender policy for the good of all.

Kevin Larson


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