Three Chinese Women

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Three Chinese Women

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:58 pm

My wife's Auntie

When Auntie was born, he parents were disappointed she was not a boy. Boys can do physical work, help the family and bring in money. Girls have to be fed and are only an expense. "Better to raise geese than girls," the Chinese say. So they sold her to a family with some money who intended to raise her as a servant. Auntie never went to school, she only learned to scrub floors and such. To this day she is completely illiterate. When she became a young woman a man wanted to marry her. He paid the family some gold as compensation for the loss of their servant.

Sometimes my wife and her sister, as children, would visit Auntie. When the subject of the West came up, she advised them to keep an open mind because there may be some good ideas there. She was unusual.

Once I was visiting, and she and I took a walk through her hometown. We stopped at a hawker's stall for some iced tea. Suddenly her husband came walking by. He was surprised to see us. I had never met him before. He was a tall and slender Chinese man with leathery brown skin and a headful of spikey white hair. He was charming and funny, easily one of the most likable persons I've ever met. Afterwords I learned he cheated on Auntie many times, gambled away their savings, drank a lot, and when drunk was physically abusive to Auntie. Later he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The Malaysian universal health care system said it was cost effective to let him die rather than treat him. Near his end he was very sick, and his daughter shoved him in the back seat of her car and her boyfriend drove them to the hospital. He died on the way. They arrived at the hospital with the daughter clutching her father's corpse. The daughter told Auntie he died at the hospital rather than in the car. That way she would not think the car was haunted, and would still ride in it.


My wife and her sister

When my wife came to school age, it was time to register her. Her father had either been up late gambling with his friends at the coffee shop or had been up late fighting and arguing with his wife, and was slow to get up. He put her on the back of his motorbike and they took off for the Chinese School. The Chinese School is the one with all the prestige, as it teaches the Chinese Classics and related subjects all educated persons should know. When they got there they saw the line was long because they were late. Her father didn't want to wait. Across the street there was no line at the Catholic school, so he took her there. Later, my wife's younger sister went there too. Since they were daughters, their education was not important---both their brothers went to the Chinese School.

Now, as adults, one brother works in a machine shop in Singapore operating a drill press putting holes in motherboards. He wants to get a job in a hardware store. The other brother makes screen doors at a factory in Sarawak. Both my wife and her sister attended college in the U.S. The school said they had never seen an ESL score as high as my wifes sisters. Both girls made the deans list, both graduated with honors, my wife asa member of a sorority associated with Phi Beta Kappa. Her sister is now an RN in California, working as a dialysis nurse. My wife is an internal auditor for a health insurance company. She writes, also. She has had stories published in literary magazines, has a childrens' book coming out soon, and a local theater group will be putting on a play she wrote.

Their fate as girls ironically lead them to a better, more useful education.
Last edited by Giant Communist Robot on Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby Shapley » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:46 pm

Most interesting. Thanks for posting that.
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby dai bread » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:26 pm

Reminds me of a comment passed on by the Chinese woman who used to be my Private Pianist. Her uncle said to her father "Why are you wasting money on a girl?"

She graduated last year with a Bachelor's degree from the University of Auckland, and is working on her Masters, in some biotech. field. Whether NZ or China reaps the benefit is yet to be decided. She's very Chinese (Han), but she's been here a while now and may not want to go back.

She's also a first-class musician. Not that hot as a pianist, looked at objectively and considering talent like John Chen, who is only a year older and plays concertos with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (among others), but I liked her interpretations and I enjoyed her playing, mistakes and all.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby jamiebk » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:38 am

My "Sister-in-Law" (Brother in Law's wife) is full Chinese. My Brother-in-Law (Lell) lives in Shanghai and has for many years working for John Portman architects. Judy (Sister-in-Law) owns and manages a number of clothing boutiques called "Cat" in Shanghai and, in every respect, is a very modern woman. I can only imagine the struggle she has had to achieve that in that society. Lell and Judy are very well off in China and enjoy things there that I could not imagine myself having (deep high-societal connections, the finest clothes, servants, maids, and a very cool apartment in the Shanghai Center). Still, I would not change roles for the world. China is still very repressed and oppressed. Judy and Lell are the "haves"...the "have-nots" outnumber them by the millions. I asked Lell one time why he wasn't on Facebook...Answer: the government there blocks most social networking sites. He went through months of hell and paperwork to get permission to bring their 1 year old to the US for the first time. Yes, Lell the "fourth" (our new nephew), is a US citizen. For all its wrongs, the US has more "rights" than any country I can think of. Look around the world and take a poll on womens' rights...we aren't doing too badly.

Thanks for sharing those stories GCR.
Jamie

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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby Schmeelkie » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:10 pm

And my mom was told in about 1958 that: ' why should she bother going to college - she was just going to get married and have kids anyway...' She never did go to college, but is very well self-educated. She's a voracious reader (runs in the family) and while maybe could have gone back to college and done more with her job - she's very happy working in the HS library - an opportunity to work with and talk with students in a low key way. And of course, be near all those books...

She made sure my brother and I got lots of encouragement to read and do well in school. I grew up with the assumption that of course I was going to college - it just wasn't a question. hoping to instill the same sense of importance of education in my kids. I know it's not easy to strike that balance between encouragement and pressure, but I hope I had a good enough model.

Love the story of the brothers that went to the 'good' school ended up in manual labor fields and the sisters who went to the 'bad' school going on to college etc. Don't know if the schools were just stereotyped, but makes a good case for: if you're determined you can make the best out of less than ideal situations.
"Up plus down equals flat" Pumpkin, 3 yrs, 10 mo, July '07
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby dai bread » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:55 pm

And yet despite all the above, a Chinese trade fair I went to several years ago was run by a woman. I'm sure there's a lot of development going on with respect to Chinese women's rights that we're not told about. I know my ex-Private Pianist won't be pushed around if she goes back to China.

There are a lot of female Chinese students in Western countries who will take Western attitudes back with them. Possibly the parents who sent them abroad didn't realise that, but they probably did.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby piqaboo » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:00 pm

[quote=giant communist robot]has a childrens' book coming out soon[/quote]

Do tell! Title and subject matter? Target age group?
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:06 pm

piqaboo wrote:[quote=giant communist robot]has a childrens' book coming out soon


Do tell! Title and subject matter? Target age group?[/quote]

The title is "Plenty Saimin" and the theme is harmony amongst diversity...I think. Age group would be very young, its a picture book. Here's the story: a young boy is going to have a birthday. He goes with his mother to the market to buy saimin (noodles) for his celebration. Along the way he meets some of his friends, all with a different racial background, and invites them to his party. His mother is uncomfortable as she does not have the money to buy food for everyone he invites. Each child shows up bringing a food item to add to the noodles and in the end there is enough for everyone. My synopsis sounds like "Stone soup" but I think it is a little different.

My wife signed the contract July of last year, and we are still waiting. The wait may be due to the illustrator, who has fallen behind schedule. His day job is animation for the studios in Los Angeles, but he does an occasional book too. He asked for a photo to use as a model of the little boy--we could not use our own kids as they are "hapa" and not full Chinese, so my wife sent him a picture of our nephew; his drawings look exactly like him. Since saimin is a noodle, there will be a noodle starting at the front of the book and running through each page 'till the end.

Later this month wifey has a meeting with the publisher (Island Paradise, a local publisher). Notice the title is Pidgin. Local themes.
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Re: Three Chinese Women

Postby piqaboo » Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:37 am

Keep us posted please. It sounds very interesting.
I am always looking for interesting presents for children, and stuff to donate to the preschool (and now Kindergarten :eek:).
thanks!
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