Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The White Roses

From yesterday's Taipei Times - something worth reading. I intend to go to the protest on the 31st not only to report on it on this blog but to also show my support for the women's movement in Taiwan. 

There was a brief discussion among friends on Saturday after our hike on which party is better for women's rights and women in general in Taiwan.

I still say it's the DPP. It's true that the KMT passed many laws in the late '90s that drastically improved women's legal rights, which has helped pave the way for women's social equality (which we're still working on, but it's getting better). This is right about the time that the rape and abortion laws changed to be, though not perfect, at least more favorable to women. 

One person said - and I don't disagree entirely - that neither party, no politician, around the world, actually cares about issues so you may as well vote for those who have done something about the issue you care about. He has a point, even though it's quite clear that the KMT passed those laws as they saw their chances of election slipping away in the face of the cultural force that was Chen Shui-bian (as much as I don't like the guy, he really was a cultural force) in an attempt to court the female vote. It also seems fairly clear to me that they were laws that would have been passed by the DPP once in power.

That was over a decade ago. Looking at the landscape now, I still see the DPP as the party of women's empowerment. Look at their high-level political figures. How many high-level KMT women can you name? I can't name any (maybe there are a few I haven't heard of, I admit, but I at least know the names of most prominent politicians in Taiwan). Now, how many high-ranking women can you name in the DPP? Tsai Yingwen, Chen Ju, Lu Xiulian...this is the party that is actually aspiring to put a woman in the highest office and the party that already put a woman in the 2nd highest office. This is the party of feminism - the women of the DPP have brought up women's rights as an important platform. 

On the other side, you have a judge nominated by Ma Yingjiu who dismissed a rape case against a six-year-old because she "didn't resist enough" (!!), a rapist let out on bail who then jumped said bail and has only now been apprehended, this mishandling of the Jiang Guoqing case both when it happened and now that the injustice has come to light. You have the party of inertia and seemingly purposeful ignorance and fecklessness. 

Back on the blue end, I hear a lot of rhetoric about how people from the south are "sexist" or "don't respect women" or "are too traditional" and expect women's roles to remain traditional. I don't like to link "south Taiwan" with "DPP" *too* much but, you know, I think in this case I can. It's true that there's still a lot of sexism across Taiwan and a lot of that is linked to traditional values (which you might see more of in the south). But it's also true that those "sexist" south Taiwanese are the ones supporting a female presidential candidate and who voted in a female vice president. And, on a softer more "anecdotal observation" note, considering the power that the obasans of southern Taiwan seem to yield, and the equal stakes that wives have in family business, I find it hard to believe that the "south Taiwanese" (ie those who vote green) "don't respect women" even if there are some ways in which traditional cultural mores could be improved.

So you bet I'll be at the protest, and I do hope to see the women's vote in 2012 coming out to support Tsai for President.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DDP's effort in women's rights reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eojwCmCeUac (or search "Chris Rock black progress" on Youtube.)

There had been some DPP legislators/officials who are despicable chauvinist pigs that openly expressed vulgar, sexist, and sometime obscene remarks towards specific woman or women in general. The most famous one being the "I want to have a date with 陳文茜's..." remark. That must have pulled DPP back 10^5 steps.