The New Party on Tuesday nominated Youth Corps director Yang Shih-kuang (楊世光) to be its presidential candidate, who then gave a rather confusing news conference to lay out his vision for Taiwan.
No surprise, he is strongly pro-unification. He also criticized President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) record, but then struggled to link those two themes based on the fact that Tsai is not a man.
Although New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) said that the party fielding its own candidate should not be seen as a break with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), or trying to upset the pan-blue camp’s apple cart, there was certainly a contrived attempt to differentiate potential and confirmed rivals as either “man” or “woman,” and to equate their characteristics with pro-unification or pro-independence stances respectively.
Thus, according to Yang, Tsai is definitely a woman, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) is not and the jury is out on Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), who “might be a man,” and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is “likely not a woman.”
Once Yang had cleared up the “political gender” question, he set about establishing the rationale for his objection to Tsai: Not only is she a woman, but she is single.
We know how politically dangerous single women are because Yok has told us before.
In a January 2016 interview with China Review News, Yok said: “What is different between Tsai and [former president] Chen [Shui-bian (陳水扁)] is that she is single. Single people do things more ruthlessly because they have less to care about compared with those who have children… One day she might go amok; she might ally with the US and Japan, and start a war against China.”
Despite the preposterousness of this contention, Yang extrapolated on it. His argument seems to be that an unmarried and childless Tsai is not as invested in the nation’s future the way that people who have children are, and therefore she is “unqualified.”
This is blatantly misogynistic. Nobody would think of questioning whether a single, childless male politician is “qualified” to lead the nation or create government policy on promoting a higher fertility rate, for example.
One can only imagine that Yok and Yang’s intention was to generate publicity for their party, its candidate and its policies. To a certain extent, they succeeded. Yet they also handed Tsai a political gift.
The idea is so ridiculous and offensive that Tsai had no need to respond, but she did, the same day, on Facebook.
Tsai wrote of how she had been subjected to this kind of ad hominem attack before, and it was exactly the kind of obstacle many Taiwanese women have to face on a regular basis.
She was able to forward her unique credentials to speak on behalf of half the nation, and then she laid out examples of what her administration had done for the next generation and those trying to start a family: increasing the minimum wage, reducing taxes for families with infants, increasing subsidies for kindergarten education, building more social housing and promoting long-term care for the elderly.
She also called out Yok and Yang for the misogyny behind their statements.
This was all accompanied with a photograph of a smiling Tsai holding a small child and chatting with mothers. Emblazoned across the image was the slogan “Working hard for Taiwan’s next generation.”
Ironically, all Yang managed to do with his news conference was to amply demonstrate that he and the New Party are unqualified to lead the nation into the future.
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