Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Question from Venus

I hate to admit this, but it's true - these days, one thought has come to occupy my mind repeatedly - "Is it better to be a man than a woman?"

I hate to admit this because technically, as far as my short span of life is concerned, I don't think I have come to live a life that is so different from a regular male's, at least with regards to those who who share the same, say, ethnic, national, socio-economic background as mine. I grew up in a family with an elder brother, and except for one year in college, I've gone to all co-ed schools and have always worked with, competed against, and made friends with the male counterparts. I have always studied as hard as them, worked as hard as them, taken trips and embarked on physical adventures as well as mentally challenging tasks just the way they have. I never think I am any less than them; if anything, I sometimes feel that it's not even that hard to be better than some of them.

People like to say - it's hard to be a guy because a guy needs to take upon the responsibility of the family. In a traditional sense, that means being the breadwinner of the family; in a modern sense, that probably means being some kind of leader and anchor for the family providing if not financial security then physical safety or stability.

Now, I don't have a family of my own yet, but even with regards to my original family, I am already picking up more loads than the other male counterpart of my generation. I visit my original family more, spend my holiday time with mom, and I simply call or email more often. I remember to bring gifts home simple omiyage, and if a special occasion occurs, I shop for or mail in something special if not luxurious for my humble grad student financial standard.

Looking ahead, when I do have my own family (if it ever happens, that is), I can even say that there is a high possibility that I might earn just the same if not more than my husband. If circumstances forced me to be the sole breadwinner of the family, I can and have every confidence that I will take upon that role.

And what has brought me such seemingly arrogant confidence to say that I can and I will? The answer is simple - because I have been through everything that a guy in general has gone through (except going to the army for someone living in countries such as Taiwan/Korea/Singapore, of course) - studying hard, developing self-discipline and aiming for full independence, always pushing my own limit and boundary by not hesitating to try the unknown or the less traveled, never giving up until I've given my very best. So if they can do it - to be the sole breadwinner of the family - there is no reason why I cannot do just the same if not better.

Yet, beyond all such shared experiences in the past and equally ponderous responsibilities to take upon in the future, there is one thing I am able to do that a guy cannot - I can give birth to and nurse a baby, and I even possibly raise the baby up all by myself (... with the aid of sperm bank, perhaps, yes).

So given all such equally shared experiences in the past and shared responsibilities in the future between a man and I, why do I still come down with such a feeling that it is perhaps, after all, better to be a man than a woman?

Because the society around me - I think - hasn't really changed itself fully to really see who I am or recognize what I can achieve or what I have gone through. In the meantime, one alone is simply too powerless in face of a whole society of established mindset and traditions.

Certainly, there is the possibility that I am simply in the wrong society at the moment, which worsens this feeling that it's better to be a man than a woman. Perhaps there could be a society where things don't seem to be that hard for women if not better for women (we all know too well the sayings about Shanghai women, right?).

Now, I know some people would say that it's better to be a woman than a man for women can enjoy beautiful dresses and colorful fashion options that characters in Sex and the City so dazzlingly mesmerize the TV viewers or audience in the theater. Women are also treated better in some occasions - being taken out on dates, having the doors opened for them or bills or drinks paid for. But at the end of the day, you know, I think I'd still rather forgo those whatever fluffy, flowery, glamorous dresses (even though they can be nice, yes) or free dates/entry charge to a club for something more concrete and realistic -

Like the possibility of putting my heart into developing a thriving, meaningful career while still fulfilling the desire of being a wife/mother. Such as not needing to take the extra worry when walking home late at night or living in neighborhood of bad crime records. Or like not needing to shake my head and sigh when seeing some politicians who make blatant, public statements that it is their political party policy to always stand against the husbands/wives sharing separate last names - a real pieces of news which I just came across on TV tonight (against the backdrop that the Japanese law currently still holds a system where the members of the same household, i.e., spouses included, are supposed to hold the same last name; a law which results in mostly if not entirely wives changing their maiden names to their husbands)!!!

Even including not needing to always stand in a much much longer line during the intersession of a theater event or when needing to answer to nature's call when shopping in a department store. Or needing to waste an extra piece of tissue just to put the toilet seat down when using a unisex bathroom and seeing ex-users' pee drops near around the toilet itself.

Having said that, I cannot be more happy for my friends C and N who just became new mama and papa of a beautiful girl baby.

Why? Because I know that if all of such frustrating social norms, mindsets, conditions and restraints on women fail to evolve or change themselves, at least there might be a potentially higher hope for my friends C and N to have a more filial child years down the road.

Even though I wonder if this little baby girl would one day grow up and still wonder about the same question that is haunting my mind right now - Is it, in the end, better to be a man than a woman?

Let's hope that she won't.

梅ちゃん at 1:41:00 AM



at 5/5/10, 5:05 AM Blogger refresh_daemon said...

I wouldn't say that it's better. Just easier, because patriarchy still has a tremendous influence in much of the modern world.


Post a Comment