Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 8 News List

A roadmap for gender equality in Taiwan

By Su Chien-ling 蘇芊玲

I come from Pingtung County. If it were left off maps of Taiwan, I am sure I would explode with anger. I am Taiwanese, and while the nation might be small, it would be very difficult to accept a map of the world without it.

Following this line of reasoning, how could anyone consider excluding an intersex person like Hiker Chiu (丘愛芝), an effeminate person like Yeh Yung-chih (葉永鋕), a masculine person like Hsu Shu-ching (許淑淨), a homosexual person like Hsu Yu-sheng (許佑生) or a transsexual like Tseng Kai-hsin (曾愷芯) from the gender map?

A diverse gender spectrum gives everyone a place to belong and be seen.

There is nothing wrong with heterosexuality, but if you are the kind of person who thinks that everyone else in the world should be the same as you, or if you are the type of person who, while enjoying the right to pursue and protect your own happiness, thinks that you have the right to decide whether other people should have the same right, then you have an unacceptable authoritarian mentality and should be criticized.

Very few people of my generation were spared physical or verbal abuse during their childhood, but if we are able to raise our own children, or students if we are teachers, in a different way, that is a sign of our ability to progress from generation to generation.

My generation grew up in a society in which men were respected and women were not; double standards could be seen everywhere. Only when we stop denying our daughters an education; no longer feel that life is incomplete without sons, stop being unhappy because our daughters are unmarried or have not had children; are supportive of our daughters if they get divorced; and pay our daughters an equal inheritance, can we say that we have built a new and beautiful society.

My generation was taught that men should be masculine and women should be demure. By worshiping masculinity, many men end up having a hard life and those around them feel the pressure, while docile women are more likely to be taken advantage of when they meet someone with cruel intentions and are unable to defend themselves.

To raise children with a sense of self might be difficult for many parents, because their children might rebel. However, self-respecting and confident children who understand who they are, and understand their bodies, have the ability to differentiate between good and evil and are less likely to meekly follow others.

We must not think that old educational methods protect our children.

A friend, who is also a mother, told me: “Life is full of pain, but this is in no way a tragedy. On the contrary, that pain often breeds strength. Regardless of how far we go to protect our children, they will not go through life without being hurt. Protection will not be a source of strength, only trust, letting go and helping our children gain life experience, and supporting them when they have been hurt, will give them strength. This support must be all-encompassing for social, cultural and systemic change.”

Gender education allows children to find such strength, regardless of whether it is about sex, emotions or sexuality.

Those of us who are older never had the opportunity to learn about these issues. None of us become omniscient just because we are parents. There is not even enough time for parents to learn all these things, so how can they think that they know everything and believe that they have the right to block their child’s pursuit of knowledge?

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