Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let Her and Falsehood Grapple: Women's March Taipei (2017)


Please excuse the lack of insight - this is more like personal experience and a bit of straight reporting -  I'm writing with a headache and trying to get it done tonight.

Anyway, every year I say I'm going to take Lao Ren Cha back to its roots - a blog about life as an expat woman in Taiwan, and women's issues in Taiwan and Asia. Every year I fail, instead doing what I've always done which is just to blog about whatever I want. 2017 is likely to be no different, but at least this one time I can post something in line with Lao Ren Cha's original intent.

Today was International Women's Day, and the fine folks at Indivisible Taiwan put together a march from Freedom Square to Da'an Park Station to raise awareness of women's issues in Taiwan and around the world. Perhaps 80-100 people showed up - I'm neither a great journalist nor a great crowd estimator so I'll just run with that. That's pretty damn good for an expat-heavy march not aimed at a specific issue, and I was proud to be a part of it.


That's big for me - I'm usually not free on weekdays, and I'm not much of a marcher (but ask me to hang out at Jingfu Gate for a good cause and I'll be there), and as the years go by my loyalties really have shifted from US issues to Taiwanese ones. This is my home, after all. I don't really do signs, balloons etc., I just like showing up. You know I care about something if I make time - on a weekday afternoon! - for an activity I am not otherwise inclined to do.

Yu Mei-nu speaks at Da'an Park
I spent much of the march toeing the line between kinda-sorta-reporting-on-it and participating, which I think is a fine liminal space for a spitballing, F-bomb dropping feminist blogger to be for something like this. I marched, and I didn't interview anyone because I am lazy, but I kinda hung around with my journalist and videographer friends. All sorts of different folks showed up - some high schoolers, many expats, many locals, a good mix of men and women of various ages. People had different reasons for marching, from supporting women's issues and causes worldwide to a targeted statement from expats in Taiwan to the Trump administration (my reason for marching - and specifically targeting the assault on reproductive rights in the US and globally) to simply wanting to see more expat-local inclusive events with greater international exchanges in the name of women's rights and progressivism generally.

Anyway here's an actual article on the march from New Bloom.


Before the march, I wasn't even sure right up until I got on the MRT at 4pm if I was going to go - I had a lot to get done and I'm just not a marcher. I had felt like I did my part by helping to put together and edit a Taipei Times letter to spread the word about the march. That I went, and am now writing this despite coming down with a headache, says something!

Once we reached Da'an Park station, there were short talks by legislators Karen Yu, Yu Mei-nu and Jason Hsu (you can watch two of those three - with English, in fact Hsu spoke exclusively in English - in the links above - lazy journalist that I am, my phone was low on power so I could only capture two talks).


All in all it was nice to come out, meet some people I'd only interacted with online and some expats I hadn't known in person (though it seemed like everyone knew me? If it weren't for the red hair and being super loud on Facebook that would be creepy, but okay, cool) and walk for something that matters. I don't have any deeper thoughts than that - and I have a headache - so I'll leave you with this:

Even in Taiwan our really not-that-controversial march attracted a religious nutter. As we passed she, an older foreign woman, stood to the side literally thumping a Bible (like LITERALLY thumping itm you guys, I thought that was just an expression but no!) and shouting "Jesus is the only man who can save you!"

Okay, whatevs, Jesus was cool, but who says I need any man to save me? Anyway, God is dead so that's fine.

All I have to say is that it's weird to come across that specific brand of nutbag in Taiwan. They're all over the US, we practically breed them there (literally - they tend to have a lot of kids. Again, fine, whatever). But in Taiwan? Was she a missionary? If so, she wasn't very persuasive. Was she a garden-variety expat who just happened to also be a Bible-thumper? If so, okay, but...really? It just seems like a rare type out here where the expat community I know trends very liberal.

I suppose she was out there thumpin' that Bible for the same reason we were: to come out and demonstrate for something she truly believed in. Sure. It's just, in the war of ideas, I simply don't buy that her ideas are equally valid. One side preaches equality, the other intolerance. One side preaches not judging and giving opportunity to all, the other preaches slotting people into categories based on their genitals. Like, you have a vagina, you go here. Act this way. Be like all the other vagina-havers. Or something. I don't get it. It goes against any real notion of science or ethics.

So, let her thump. We have better ideas. Or as John Milton put it:

“Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”


Christine Lynn Norton said...

Thanks for the coverage and your thoughtful reflections on the march! :) I was just as annoyed by the Bible thumper, but for different reasons. I was marching for gender equality BECAUSE I am a person of faith, and it seems like a no-brainer that the love of Christ is best reflected through inclusivity, not hate and judgment. It kills me when other Christians don't get that. Makes us all look like assholes. But we're not, I promise! :)

Jenna Lynn Cody said...

Exactly! I'm not anti-faith, I'm anti-stupid. As my husband sarcastically pointed out when I told him, "yeah because what she said is totally consistent with the teachings of Jesus. It's basically the same as what he said in The Sermon on the Mount. Whatever."