Do you know that the chinese characters 先生, Mister came from 先 as in ‘First‘ and 生 as in ‘Born‘: First Born? Whereas 夫人, Madam came from 夫 as in ‘Husband‘ and 人 ‘People‘ (Ben Whately). In other words, ‘people owned by the husband.’
For generations in Chinese culture, male is always the first, being prioritised and female is secondary, exists as a form of possession. Imagine a Chinese document signing scenario when a man is expected to answer this question: “What is the name of the person owned by you?”
Reminiscing my childhood in the 90s, I’ve got a smaller share of pocket money compared to my brother. He’s got 60 cents, and I’ve got half of that. Naively, I asked “Why?”. “Oh, because you’ve got a smaller stomach to take in so much.” Does it mean I have to grow larger than him just because I am structurally smaller? How about the other way round? Today, those questions are still playing in my head. Want to hear more?
“Why should I give in when it’s not fair?” I was a curious child who asked many “Why?” Silently with observation, mainly because I was shut down abruptly most of the time. When one doesn’t have an answer, it’s easier to put off questions with rank as obligation. The trouble is, childhood plays a big part in shaping our life, the way we think, act, and do. The values we hold true to ourselves.
It’s not that I like growing up with questions trapped in my head. Economically, life was at just affordable state. I got what was given. Reasoning didn’t exist back then, at least not for me. To earn for one, I thought maybe it’s all about how successful we become later in life. A thought could be a chance, at least.
Honestly, I enjoy pursuing what I couldn’t have. It matters.
Particularly, if he can have it, I can have it too.
Unfortunately, I am just a rational person, not a smart one. I have costed so much of my parents in sending me to a good college, for not earning myself a scholarship. Thank goodness, the idea from my relatives of a daughter doesn’t deserve tuition fee for university was put off by my dad. Totally, a game-changing decision. A step to reality, #metoo became an obsession.
How did all these come about? It’s not my brother. It’s not my relatives. It’s the society as a whole.
The idea of a culture that was created by whoever in the past, and was passed down for generations and spread through migration. Then, society started building beliefs and regulations around that idea that everyone should submit themselves to. No one bothers challenging why Mister is 先生 and Madam is 夫人.
Here I am thinking equality is the now?
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Regardless of ethnicity, shouldn’t a change starts from somewhere – perhaps the root of the problem comes from us submissively adapting to the inherited culture. Even the slightest matter matters. Is this even a culture to begin with or merely a discriminating idea?
Welcome to the new world we are living in, where inclusiveness and equal voice matters.
Photo by Tim Mossholder