Mon, Jan 26, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Dismal ‘dance’ of macho culture

By Chi Hui-jung 紀惠容

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.

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