I went to a book shop this afternoon and got a very unusual book totally out of my expectation. It’s some sort of treatise from a Japanese scholar, talking about the misogynic tendency in the Japanese society （厭女：日本的女性嫌惡）. The word misogyny means a hatred of women.
I haven’t finished it yet, it’s a Mandarin Chinese translation. But based on what I read, it’s somewhat cruel to learn this part of the reality. I don’t know whether I should take in the discourses and theories there, but something that the author mentioned is bit true to me, some feeling I’ve always had as a daughter/single child in a traditional Asian family living in a society where is also sharing something in Japan.
Studies about gender in school, they often talk about how gender is largely a social construction, something “built" but not inherent. That means men and women are both facing some expectation from the society regarding masculinity and femininity. Over the years we gradually know the dos and don’ts if you are a boy or a girl. Then that’s why LGBT group offends the main-stream society.
For me, I live actually in a very small family and I went to girl high school in my teenage. Only three years I’d lived in an environment with mostly just girls. Some people will secretly regard girl school as a place to nurture lesbians, but I don’t think so. Back then things were not so obvious on the surface, we vaguely knew something–when two girls in my grade took their life by their own choice and left a message saying “this society is not for us." Later in my life when I thought about that tragedy–I personally didn’t know them–I always felt sad, why girls of my age would feel they could not live on?
Later on I went to the college, getting to know more persons, finding out what I want to do, and of course, imagining how a romantic relationship was. And then I started to work, still imagining romantic love…From time to time, I would feel some strange things related to gender. For instance, on some very normal/business occasions, some men still think they need to pay when actually go-dutch is more reasonable. Or, lots of women think men should help them with heavy stuff, or fixing computers, or even buying computer/digital devices… Not to mention some girls can save tons of money on traffic. Long hair and femininity. Beauty magazines telling you how to get men’s hearts through make-up, fragrance, clothes, and underwears. Successful dating tips. Speaking in the way to make people/guys like you more. Women giving up career for family, accommodating themselves to their boyfriend/husband’s new job.
In listing all these things, you may think I agree with oppression from patriarchal society, but actually I feel more oppression from older women, or same aged women in the workplace when they are my supervisors. Most of them actually try to imitate how men work and act according to their imagination, in the end, they become all the more inconsiderate or inhuman. Maybe in a way I’m too buying the stereotype of women in this case, just like the scholar wants to point out, but I think, before the discussion of men/women, we should talk about “people," “human being," something that a person deserves to have. Certain respect is really needed, regardless of gender/age/experiences.
So I think that’s why I feel compassionate to the main character George in Isherwood’s novel A Single Man. When I read the novel, I felt a there is a yearning to get away from his given identity, a construction from the society. That’s something I want in a similar way. Prior to gender identity, I just want to live as a person, being taken as a person, being respected as a person.
Maybe tomorrow I will stop talking about all these things, make here again a loving place with songs, movies, books I enjoy. A treatise can be just another story–I can choose to believe it more or less. Maybe I will feel different when I finish all the chapters. But personally I really feel, to think about people before gender can lead to a better life and society.
Forget about my crow’s feet
Forget about my plain face
Forget about my flat chest
Forget about my tree-trunk legs
Forget about your lower-than-average height
Forget about your round face
Forget about your skinny skelton
Close our eyes, listen to you and me
I can know more about you
You can know more about me