Tag Archives: China

Boundaries

9 Mar

~This is the first post in a series of posts I’ll be writing for People Against Violence Org

Certain issues around the globe have come to the attention of the average reader, for a few reasons. First for an awareness cause, and then also for the shock factor, but never purely for the sake of action. I’d like to posit that the two go hand in hand. You as the reader are potentially saying, “Of course.” But few people actually take the steps to take actions, posing the argument that they are powerless to do something, so awareness is the best aid they could possible give.

I don’t agree.

I was reading an article from The New York Times about the surprisingly high rates of violence against women the U.N. is still finding. Still. The article states that the evidence is ubiquitous, that despite the many “gains” for women in education, health and political power, violence against women and girls worldwide “persists at alarmingly high levels,” according to a United Nations analysis that the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to present to the General Assembly on Monday. 

The article goes on to explain that 35% of women worldwide (more than one in three) said they’d experienced violence of a physical nature in their lifetime. The report says that one in 10 girls under the age of 18 were forced violently to have sex. The topic is under heavy scrutiny as delegates gather at the U.N. to evaluate how well governments have done since their meeting in 1995 in Beijing, China.

Now, here are my thoughts on the subject; while strides are made, only those that have benefitted the middle class have even been remotely successful. Only those women with moderate amounts of money have benefitted from whatever regulations created. I know. I know it, because I lived in an apartment in Beijing, China, under a family who threw out their daughter-in law, simply because she said her husband, their son, was hurting her. BUT how could her husband, the man who brought them their “golden” grandson and the man who was their child beat their daughter-in law. Their logic therefore lead them to believe that their daughter was lying. Out she went.

The family eventually took her back. And then it was as if nothing had happened. I met her in the stair well and her face was vacant, resigned to what she’d have to live with for the rest of her life. Divorce is not popular in China, the woman is wrong. The common belief is that the violence against the women in the home was a problem that only concerned the family involved. Outside involvement mean the loss of face.

Cut to me here, sitting at my computer reading the article about the U.N. finding “alarmingly high” levels of violence against women, and I find a series of photographs:

Pittsburgh-based photographer Allaire Bartel’s series ‘Boundaries’ captures what it’s like to experience male entitlement from a female perspective. The model’s vacant expression alludes to how “how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal.” You can find more photography here.

In respect the above, it is no surprise to me that the U.N. is finding the amounts of violence “alarmingly” high. It’s due to the simple pure fact that we as woman have taken it to mean strength if we grin and bear it. The women who have a little power (money) have the confidence to say something, but even then, I believe they’d sugar coat it. Women who indentify with a lower standard of living, with no prospects, and rely on their husband’s family, have an added difficulty of clipped wings. In China such as, if a census were taken women would say they are treated properly, while most weren’t. The woman thrown out, couldn’t tell her friends, they’d say it was her fault, obviously she isn’t pleasing her family enough, that must be why he beats her. Right?

Of course that’s not right. But these are the facts. It’s going to take more than government sanctions to dim the amount of violence occurring against women. I’d posit, awareness, action, empowerment coupled with government sanctions. But that won’t be enough either if the violence stems from tradition, habit or mindset. The solution? I’d like to say I know. But honestly we’d have to answer the  two questions:

1. What goes deeper than government regulation?

2. How do you instil the want in people’s will to follow something which goes against tradition?

*Below you’ll see a three part poem “~toxic”, written about toxic relationships, and the confined space they create. 

IMG_4926

Poetry about a toxic relationship. Instagram: https://instagram.com/tmariadm/

Thank you and Good Afternoon.

Currently a new App is in the developmental stage, that will allow anyone to alert authorities should trouble arise. We are spreading #uAlert everywhere. Please see more by clicking here.

~TriciaMaria for People Against Violence Org

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Clenched Teeth & Baby Faces

6 Dec

English: Beijing subway system Dawanglu statio...

China. Beijing. The land of many many people. They’ve got pulses. Hearts that feel.

So do I.

There’s a soft and steady tap as I walk under the bridge near Guomao (国贸); Dawanglu specifically. My only thought is getting home. “Gotta get home. Gotta get home.”

Guomao

I can’t lie, I’m excited about the 50 kuai bottle of wine I’m carrying in my right hand. It’s from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon, specifically La Cara. Not my favourite, it’s not the best, but it’s a red and I always enjoy hongjiu (紅酒) . Let’s be honest here, it’s a $8 CAD bottle of wine. Ha!  Definitely not the best. But I like drinking wine…what can I say?

I’m content. Happy. And things are seeming to go my way. Maybe work is not as great, maybe now there are problems and my boss isn’t the best. Maybe the fellow I like isn’t answering my texts, or whatever. Let’s be clear:

I don’t care. Meh…

I come walking at my jet speed; I learned it from my mother, and then I see them. I’m crossing the Dawanglu bridge and I see them. A tall Chinese man, very thin, chasing a shorter man around a small three-wheeled tuk-tuk so to speak.  Another man comes, he’s holding something. Staring is something I’m good at. So I do. I grit my teeth and I stare.

The third man holds a hammer and he starts hitting the shorter man with it. The tuk-tuk belongs to the shorter man. How do I know? He’s wearing knee-pads and his coat barely fits. He’s barely living. He’s surviving.

Soon there are ten short Chinese men running at him and then the short tuk-tuk driver is on the ground and they’re hitting him.  Crow-bars appear from no where, lead pipes seem to pop into their hands. They’re punching him. Kicking him. I’m still staring and they see me.

They say ” Foreigner, she doesn’t understand.” (她不明白.)

I do. I understand. But what can I do? What can I say?

Now these thoughts are floating in my head. After-all I am foreign. I am a woman. I speak Chinese but only on a basic level. Are these excuses?  What should I do? Dear Lord what should I do? I stare. I stare and I stare.

I stare as they carry this man to a van. I turn away and I hear screams. That’s all and there are a few others who are staring with me. They are native speakers. A man and I exchange a long look. But he looks down and continues to walk. There are people who can do something, but it’s not their job. “Why do something that you’re not paid for?” Why stick out your neck for someone who potentially did something wrong? Justice. It’s lacking.

So what’s worse? A land full of people who won’t take a chance? Or a person who could have stuck out her neck and didn’t? I continue to walk. Damn. DAMN. I am so angry.

Subway: Line 1 to Xidan. Subway transfer: Line 4. Renmin University (人民大學). At the Wangfujing stop a baby runs on. His smile is as big as his pudgy face. Soon he’s crying to his mom, stretching his arms up, he wants to be held. Carried.

His eyes meet mine and we begin to make faces, well I do at least. I puff out my cheeks, make a fish face.  Yeah that’s right. I went from witnessing a gang beating, to making a little child laugh.

The cuteness of the situation dissipates and that adorable baby becomes the annoying baby. Spoiled, loud, crying. I transfer to line 4 and then I see a mother and daughter. They are cold to each other. Uncommunicative. They don’t even talk. I think of my family.  I consider my father, my mother, my older sisters and my younger one. How on earth could I not talk to them?

I’m plagued with what I saw. I care. I care a ton. But it’s not enough that I simply care. It’s not enough that I’m crying on the subway home. It’s not enough. My compassion without understanding, doesn’t help at all.

I’m overwhelmed with a feeling. Shame. Shame is all I feel now. Shame then, shame now. Shame at being obsessed with my damn romantic life, with damn money and damn materialism, with my damn happiness. Happiness. I am desperate for it and that short tuk tuk man most likely…won’t know it for a while. That baby’s got boat loads of it, and that mother and daughter will have it but won’t know what to do with it.

Shocked at my nativity, astounded at how ruthless and heartless humanity can be, I won’t pass judgement. I don’t know.  My uncertainty about life is heightened and my humility has deepened. I can decide to be better, but I can’t hide the simple truth; I am humbled.

Die ahead?

Die ahead? (Photo credit: cobblucas)

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This Time

3 Oct

It's another perspective.Around this time last year, I went for a walk in the streets of Beijing. I saw fit to write about it. Express myself and share what I saw. The result was a remarkably poor blog post. Although the content was wonderful, my style was lack-luster; weighed and found wanting.

So I have taken it upon myself to re-write this post, hoping for the forgiveness of those who had read it at the time.

Here goes:

I had decided to go for a walk. Down Zhonguancun, a main street in the northeastern part of Beijing. Maybe I’ve become too sentimental, maybe I’ve always been sentimental. Either way I was in a sentimental mood.

My heart stirred; moved by many things on my short walk. But three stand out in comparison to all the other moving moments.

Scene #1 

A girl, sitting on her haunches. Black hair falls over her face either for shame or fashion. From a distance, I can tell…it’s not for fashion. She wore a tattered school uniform and holes cover her (the unfashionable kind).

A paper in front of her, flutters in the slight breeze and she holds it down with these tiny fingers.

Chinese characters spell out some plea for help, food or money.

A man stands apprehensively in front of her, reading her sign. Absent-mindedly, he dug for his wallet. He pulled out a few kuai and with care placed them at her feet. She nodded her head in acknowledgment.

No eye contact.

Scene #2

I continue to walk. Ashamed that I hadn’t stopped. Why hadn’t I stopped? Too task orientated.

Not too far down the road.

An elderly gentleman pulled out a piece of paper, placed it on the curb and sat upon it. The curb looked clean to me. But then you never can tell.

He crossed his legs, and folded his hands over his knees. Pensive. Here he had decided to sit and watch the world whirl around him. He smiled.

I smiled. Almost let out a small laugh.

Scene #3

I continued walking and came to a park. Classical folk music drifted up through the trees. A combination of the flute, the accordion, drums, the lute. Beautiful. It wasn’t not Bach, it’s not Chopin either. But it was beautiful.

I peeked through the trees and saw dancing.  Women thrice my age, moved with such agility. Men exemplified chivalry that hadn’t been used in over a decade.

I had found a dream world. A bubble in busy Beijing.

I was enlightened.

What did I learn from my walk?

  • To give more whole-heartedly.
  • Watch where I sit.
  • Observe the world now and then.
  • (Cliche bit) Dance through life.

How Comical

11 Jul
Line10 - Zhichunlu Station

Line10 – Zhichunlu Station (Photo credit: Alun K. Wu)

As it would happen, again I found myself caught in the rain. Funny the way things occur huh?

I went to meet some friends of mine, Leah and Gabby. We decided it would be a splendid idea to eat outside, as the weather was slightly sunny and a little windy, so it was gorgeous. We were sat at an outside restaurant in Zhichunlu, just eating our rice, cabbage and mu’er with some egg.

Then the winds came and what would know, there weren’t any seats inside of the restaurant.  How fortunate for us. Well they gave us an umbrella and just then a great down-pour rained down heaven and earth on us. And it seemed as if it would not stop. So there we were, sat with an umbrella pulled down close to the table, huddled and lifting our feet off the ground to keep from getting wet.

There were a few holes in our make-shift roof and so every so often we were blessed with a pleasant spray in the face. What made this experience all the more interesting was that we were the show for all those who were safe and dry inside the restaurant. “Haha,” they say to each other, “Those foreigners, they don’t know any better, what do they think they’re doing?”

Finally the rain subsided, and we emerged, slightly damp, a little worse for wear, but for the most part dry. Leah and I stood on a little concrete wall and waved proudly to our audience. Each of whom, chuckled and shook their heads. Then we dashed off like the free spirits that we are.

And of course it began to rain again.

Barefoot in Beijing: 没有鞋子在北京北京

10 Jul
An SVG map of China with Beijing municipality ...

An SVG map of China with Beijing municipality highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Montage of various Beijing images

English: Montage of various Beijing images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not only that but caught in the rain; walking in what you think is the correct direction…only to find that indeed its the wrong direction. Whoopsidaisy.

Although you have to admit that walking in the rain gives you a sense of reality. You’re suddenly brought to grips with life and taken out of the fantasy to realize: life its happening now. Its time to stop waiting for it to “start” and realize what you’ve got is your life, you’re living it now! I’m not trying to be prophetic, just stating what I consider to be truth.

Okay so, I went for dinner with some friends, and went home early. Tried to go home early. Caught the subway, and got off to transfer only to realize that the next line I needed to use was under construction and therefore closed. Lucky me.

“No problem,” I thought, “I’ll take a taxi home, only 10 kuai.”

I walked outside, ambitious and independent. I felt a drip on my arm and instantly roll my eyes, because that means…a huge downpour is about to ensue. Great. Sure enough, down comes the rain. And what’s more, there wasn’t a taxi to be found. So I start walking, I was determined now you see.

It turned out that my determination was all for naught. I was walking in the wrong direction. Go me! Yes, so I turn back around and by this time my feet are a little bit bloody, as I’m wearing some new shoes and wanted to break them in. A thought entered my head that I could just take off my shoes and walk without them. But then that would mean I would be walking barefoot in Beijing, and who knows what I’d walk in…who cares? My feet were incredibly sore. So sore.

Off came the shoes and I walked for a good two kilometers home, in the rain, in Beijing. And this is not the only time that its happened sure enough the next night I was walking home from a movie (which was entirely in Chinese, and I am pleased to say that I understood much of it), when what do you know? Yep, the rain. That dear old rain came down like there would never be another day in the span of time.

I’m not a complete loss, so I pull out my umbrella and continue to walk. Thanks to the umbrella, my head remains dry and so do my shoulders. But my legs and feet are soaking wet, soaking wet.

The second time around that I was walking home, in the rain. I’m so blessed. But then as I said walking in the rain gives you a chance to think about reality. Rain has a way of dampening the heat, wakening the senses and let you really see whats what, and what isn’t. Sometimes I’m struck by reality as it were, quite struck.

Simple things like realizing, I’m actually living in Beijing. Or I’m 23 years old. Or that I have three sisters. Yes, they’re all simple things, but they’re things that I forget quite often these little truths about my life, and about the lives about others.

On those two walks home I remembered the reality that people really at the beginning of their lives each day. They decide what they will do each morning, each day you can be a different person, learn from who you were the day before and better yourself for the day before you.

hmmm…so much to think about.

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