Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

(Yes, I'm using that title tongue-in-cheek). I'm no lady and I don't have a lot of time, usually, to lunch.

Anyway, Catherine, Kath, Cahleen and I had an awesome lunch today at Booday, talking about all sorts of interesting things (no details, sorry) pertaining to expat life, being female expats in Taipei and being female bloggers generally.

It was great - there aren't enough female expats in Taiwan as I've said quite recently, and even fewer female bloggers (notice my links to the few I've found on the righthand side) so it was fantastic to sit down and chat informally with some of the few who are here. We numbered three Americans/one Kiwi, three Caucasians/one Asian American, three as-yet childless women/one mother, of the Americans we had two West Coasters and one East Coaster (me) but in the end I think we've got way more in common than is different between us - and that's what's important.

We're all serious about building good lives for ourselves and not dithering about in purposelessness, we're all here for the medium-to-long-term (if I end up at Tai Ke Da for Applied Foreign Languages we'll all be here for a longer haul). We're all married and one of us has a kid, but we all enjoy discussing things that don't revolve around husbands and babies (although we talked about those too).

I personally left feeling fantastic - just the chance to talk with other lovely Western women - real women, not the archetypes and stereotypes so rampant in the expat community - about stuff was a sort of Happy Tonic mood lifter and confidence booster. Women, in numbers, supporting and not judging is something we need more of in the Taiwan (and Asian, and worldwide) expat community (and women's sphere generally), and I have been thinking a lot since the post about the dearth of expat women in Asia about how that can be really hard to come by, and what might be done about it.

That's what community is really about - a shame blaster when you need it, a sanity check when you feel like "if women like it, it must be stupid" is taking over the expat world, and a confidence booster to tell you that no, you are not alone in feeling weird about looking different from the vast majority of local women, that no, you are not weird or unwelcome in the expat world because you're not interested in Carnegie's or a Taiwanese girlfriend, and that yes, your needs are also worthy of thought and public discourse.

And I mean worthy of public discourse whether it's something simple like where to buy women's Western-size office shoes in Taipei, without having to wade through hundreds of posts of pure rubbish on Forumosa, or something complex like views on women in politics, moving to Taiwan because of marriage or being pregnant and having a baby in Taiwan.

We all need that - we all need more of that. Maybe if it were easier to come by, there would be more expat women here for the long haul in the first place!


Kathmeista said...

Yay! Nice post. I wanted to write something about it too but you've just summed it up so nicely here that I think I'll just say "Yeah! What Jenna said!" It was so incredibly brilliant to meet you guys and just sit there and chat like we'd been meeting up and chatting for years. Also, it felt like I'd met people who were in the same sort of zone as me - like you said. I sometimes feel that I'm in a bit of a weird space: not an expat wife, not a single guy teaching English.. It is very very good to know others who are doing and living similar sorts of lives to you. I'm still feeling awesome about it.

catherine_sr. said...

(Oops, I accidentally published the other comment under my work e-mail... cam you delete that one and just use this one instead?)

I had such a great time meeting everyone, too! All of you are fantastic, inspiring people. I really hope we can find time to get together again soon.

By the way, have you checked out Fembooks before ( It's close to where I live so I am ashamed to admit I have never gone, but it is a feminist bookstore (like Bluestockings in NYC). If any of you want to check it out together, let me know!

Sandy H. 何聖欣 said...

Sounds fun! Sometimes I wish I lived "north" so I could meet up with more expat women. I live in Pingtung County and have a few younger friends from the US here.

Jenna - nice to find your blog. I'm a IRL friend with Cahleen after finding her blog online a few years ago.

Maybe you can add my blog to your TW female blog list. BTW - Fili is a man. :)

Jenna said...

I'd be up for that!

Do they have selections in English?

I'd never heard of the place until your comment, so a visit and overview would make a good blog post.

Kathmeista said...

Did somebody say "book store"? You know I'd be keen!

Cahleen Hudson said...

Sorry I'm late to the comment party! I was using my laptap as a temporary coaster (yes, that was dumb) and spilled coffee on the keyboard. Now about 6 of the keys don't work and I basically have to wait for my husbands computer to become available in order to write stuff.

Anyway, I loved meeting you all, and we really have to get together again. I mean really really do it! Hanging out with other women, or for me just grown-ups in general, is so refreshing.

Cahleen Hudson said...

I just wanted to say hi to Sandy. Hi Sandy! Also, you forgot to add two dog people and two cat people to the stats. Ha ha! ;)

Jenna said...

The two cat people mentioned liking dogs, though. I love cats and raise one, but I love dogs, too. I'd totally have one of those giant Bernese Moutain Dogs if I had the living space, lifestyle and time to care for one.