Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) reaction to the “One Billion Rising” rally, organized by the Garden of Hope Foundation on Jan. 12, was very disappointing.
When Ko was invited to dance with a group of children on stage, he became angry and scolded Department of Social Welfare Commissioner Hsu Li-min (許立民) on the spot, using foul language. Such a reaction makes one consider the difficulties facing all men in Taiwan. Even if Ko does not like surprises, he should not have reacted that way. Dancing is not “damn show playing,” as Ko said, and dancing does not make him a clown.
Dancing is a matter of innate human kinetic energy and the most commonly shared body language, as it allows us to feel our innermost emotions. The ability to move our bodies to express feelings is the best gift humans could have been given.
This is precisely why the One Billion Rising campaign uses dancing as a medium for participants to find the emotions in their bodies and release them to free themselves. The campaign advocates the idea that human bodies should be free of any fetters or violent restrictions. Dancing allows us to display the vitality deep in our souls and returns our power over our bodies.
The global campaign has entered its third year, and it has called on tens of millions of people to dance around the world. About 13,000 international organizations and countless celebrities worldwide have responded to it, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNiTE To End Violence Against Women, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, the Dalai Lama, the Los Angeles City Council and many more. Many supporters are not only politicians, but also men.
However in Taiwan, most male politicians are quite rigid and do not express emotions easily. They do not like to dance, let alone in front of others, because they worry that they will make fools of themselves. Perhaps the biggest problem lies in the Taiwanese cultural attitude toward the body and dancing. Ko was raised as a typical man in this “macho world.” This culture does not encourage men to dance, and those who like to do so can face various limitations beginning at a young age and be mocked for being “sissies.”
Men who are afraid of dancing might suppress their feelings. Since they are unable to release their feelings, they are missing out on a lot of fun. It is hard for them to speak their mind under such restraints.
The result of long-term suppression might be that violence is used as an outlet, including the use of violent language.
In terms of the “affective education” for boys in Taiwan, the only core ideology is masculinity. However, this ideology might bring up unhealthy men. It is also a source of violence, because the essence of it is to maintain control — or not to lose control. This can turn into oppression or violence. The public seems to believe that a person capable of controlling everything is a hero, and this mentality often exaggerates the importance of standard operating procedures.
In the tight framework boys are raised in, they are told not to cry, not to be gentle, not to share, not to fail, not to be weak, not to be dependent and not to be feminine. They are told to be brave.
They also like to compare their sexuality and achievements, and are taught to make money to support their families and use foul language. Playing the game of “aruba” — in which several boys separate a boy’s legs and rub his groin against a pole, a door or a corner — has become the clearest definition of boys’ gender roles as they grow up.
Joining sports teams, playing pranks on girls and sexual games like aruba are considered “peer games” that form bonds among boys, while girls are not allowed to participate. However, such games can plant the seeds of violence.
When control and aggression in masculine ideology become key values, they are also brought into all kinds of relationships.
No wonder there is so much violence around the world.
According to a 2012 WHO report, one-third of all women experience gender or sexual violence at least once in their lives. Since there are at least 3 billion girls and women in the world, which means that more than 1 billion have been mistreated.
US activist Eve Ensler saw the seriousness of the problem and she stood up first to dance for all girls, hoping that 1 billion people, including men, women and victims of violence, would stand and dance together someday.
The One Billion Rising rally offers an opportunity. Taiwan’s male politicians should take the lead and call on all men to stand up and dance. They should link themselves with more than 10 million people around the world and move, feel and untie their bodies together in order to free themselves. This is something that male Taiwanese politicians can do for female Taiwanese victims of violence.
Chi Hui-jung is executive director of the Garden of Hope Foundation.
Translated by Eddy Chang
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement