Friday, March 9, 2018

From The Island of Women to #MeToo: my latest for MyTaiwanTour

Years ago, I was an administrative assistant at a perfectly okay company. Every year our perfectly okay branch president gave us generous gifts - usually fairly hefty gift certificates - for "Administrative Professionals' Day", which is the rebranded way of saying Secretary's Day without it coming off as quite so demeaning. Because I was not well-paid - I could barely pay my rent and couldn't save at all until I got a second job - I couldn't afford a quality professional wardrobe, so I always used my gift certificate on that.

It was nice enough to receive recognition for the okay job I did (I was no all-star, mostly because I just didn't like the work very much, but that's on me) at this okay company. I was grateful for the gift itself.

But on some level, regarding the holiday, it felt like a consolation. Sorry you're doing a job you don't want for low pay. Sorry that most corporate jobs are just "okay". Sorry that, while there is room for growth, none of the  jobs you might get promoted to are great either. Sorry that to even get those better jobs you still don't want, you have to not only do amazing work at a job you are not suited for, but you also have to pretend you love it. Sorry you can't save anything so you can't afford to do us and yourself a favor and quit so we can find someone who wants the job and you can find work you care about. Sorry that what you actually want to do, despite being more meaningful, doesn't offer the same route to financial security. Sorry. Here's a gift certificate. 
I didn't want to be recognized for Administrative Professionals' Day. I didn't want the day to apply to me at all, because I didn't want to be an "administrative professional".

Yes, this sounds whiny, but I was in my early twenties. Life is better now.

I'm telling you this because I often get the same feeling about Women's Day, which was yesterday.

So, I didn't write anything about it here yesterday because, to be honest, I just wasn't feelin' it. I know all the arguments for the existence of the day, I don't disagree, and I even went to last year's march.

But this year it feels like a consolation prize - like, "we can't stop the world from being so horribly sexist, so here's a holiday for you? Sorry? Now let's talk about some inspirational women who were also crushed under the eternal wheel of patriarchy."

Eh. I don't want a holiday. I don't want a radio program about inspirational women who were never recognized by a sexist society, because I want such cases to cease to happen in the future.  I want there to be no need for one on the first place.

With that in mind, but trying to be a bit more upbeat - lol - I did write something for MyTaiwanTour's Taiwan Scene. I like the final product more than I thought I would - It's not overly optimistic but tries to find the gold amid the rubble, which just about reflects how I'm feeling these days.

"The Island of Women" was once meant to be an insult, a backhanded way to call a place uncivilized or savage (as compared to the "civilized" repressive patriarchy of China, especially from the late Han dynasty onward). Now, I hope Taiwan can take that heritage, passed down from indigenous women who had more autonomy and routes to leadership than their Chinese counterparts have historically had, and use it to its advantage to lead Asia in the fight for women's equality.

I have my doubts at times, though - the old democracy movements were heavily influenced by women, but I don't see the same number or visibility of female luminaries in contemporary social movements and activist circles.

So...#metoo? We'll see.

No comments: