Sunday, March 07, 2010

Arrrghh.... why did I have to go and watch that??!!?? [Updated]

I didn't know why I searched on the Youtube that Tuesday's Report from RTHK TVB in spite of my Internet curfew... Anyway I was weak and I did and I now wish I could gorge my eyes out, so desperate was the show that even as a mere spectator I feel compelled to engage in self-harm just to block out the memory of having watched that crap.

The whole thing is so cringeworthy I actually had goosebumps watching, and that soundtrack, oh my fcukin' god, DIRE would be extremely kind as an adjective. Oh and not to mention the obvious bias when all the women being interviewed have to report their age whilst the only man asked for his view didn't bother having his age reported alongside his profession.

Please get this straight people - the women featured on this show in no way speak on behalf of all women, married or single. So they dated a bunch of bottom-feeding losers who used them to cheat on their wives and/or who cheated on them by using other desperate needy women, but please don't insult our intelligence that they've somehow turned this into a self-empowering "experience" by becoming even more desperate and needy. GET A GRIP WOMAN. You can have a life without trying to constantly attach yourself to a man. Think about it. The market ideology doesn't and SHOULDN'T be applied to relationships. If you see yourself as a product that must be sold, then no wonder you attract numbskulls who only see women as property and status symbols. Don't kid yourself that you'll find yourself a decent partner rather than being treated as the doormat that you've become when you don't even have an iota of self-respect* to begin with. And please do yourself a favour and don't generalise the wankers you've ever met as being the epitome of the entire male of the species.

Christalmighty, it's as if women's lib has COMPLETELY passed the Hongkongers by. Once upon a time (pre-1997) Hong Kong women were among the most liberated among Asian countries and that fact was actually celebrated as an indicator of the progressiveness of Hong Kong society (I distinctly remember watching an RTHK documentary about it). Nowadays Hong Kong society prides itself on adopting highly denigrating "popular slang" from such beacons** of gender equality as mainland China and Japan. What depths could we not plumb given another 10 years, perhaps by then Hong Kong women would faint from being overcome with gratitude and their parents weep with tears of sheer joy if a rich and powerful man so happen to deign to choose them as one of his harem of many concubines/wives?

Oh but hang on a second, hasn't this already happened?

But then what could one expect eh, when the city was handed back to a motherland where girl babies are regularly drowned for their lack of societal value. STILL. IN THIS DAY AND AGE. Accordingly, I guess it is entirely reasonable** to expect Hong Kong women to prostrate themselves in humble humility for being allowed to live past the age of one, not to mention being given the same educational and labour opportunities as their male counterparts (I mean, how dare they compete on the same level as men?**). In this vein it is entirely politically-correct to say that it's these women's own fault for not realising that they exist to serve the needs of men and that without a man in their lives, they are absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch.** And it is good that the Hong Kong women featured in this RTHK TVB show finally saw the error of their ways now, even though it was a bit too late for them.** I mean, gosh, the majority of Kong girls just don't have a friggin' clue how lucky they are, right? They should learn to know their place sharpish if they don't want to be left forever on the shelf like the demonstrably failed women profiled here.**

I'm just soooooo glad I don't live in Hong Kong since I came of age***. Married or single it makes no difference - women are getting a really shitty deal the way HK society is going.

*Not to be confused with the arrogance of youth.
**In case you have a sarcasm detection failure, these words are being stated here with COMPLETE AND UTTER disdain.
***And here I thought Mad Men was meant to be about an earlier time in America. I'm glad I can enjoy the world of Mad Men from a distance afforded by the women's lib movement, a right I didn't realise would perhaps need to be treated as a luxury if one were in Hong Kong, if this RTHK TVB show is anything to go by. But perhaps it really was just an off-day for the RTHK team for producing that tripe ("documentary" could scarcely be applied to this particular output of theirs if one were being honest). I do sincerely hope this is the case even though it is also sad to see the state of RTHK documentary programming sinking to such lows.

Thanks to Nicole and SC for kindly pointing out that Tuesday's Report is actually produced by TVB. Well in that case, it figures. Sad still to think that their news production department seems to have been taken over by their drama department. I mean, ferchrissakes, did they not realise that nobody wants to watch their cliched serials any more, so why would they think applying the same cliches from their soaps to their documentary shows would help? Journalistic ethics aside, it doesn't even make sense from a business point of view, or is TVB so confident about their dumbed-down audience that they think any guff would do?

[Update: Tuesday, 9 March, 2010]

Meanwhile, elsewhere, over in America, Kathryn Bigelow, the ex-wife of James Cameron*, became the first female director to win the Academy Award for Best Director since the Oscars were first held some eighty-odd years ago.

Being true to her art, she never let her gender get in the way of her directing a macho war movie. And being the class act that she is, she blithely ignored all the Hollywood gleeful gossipy portrayal of the Oscar competition for Best Director, in which her ex-husband also happened to be a fellow nominee, as being a showdown between the exes.

Does she care what Cameron thinks? No. It's obvious she's moved on ages ago. But in her acceptance speech, she thanked him along other fellow nominees for being an inspiring director. Nothing more, nothing less. She did not let self-pity get the better of her since her divorce. And if she once harboured deep bile against Cameron, she did not let it show. Just the way it should be.

And does she let the fact that she is single and a woman get in the way of her fulfilling her dream? Why would one even ask such a silly question these days? It's finally become a non-issue. Again, just the way it should be.

Moral of the story (especially to pre-enlightened Hong Kong women existing still in the 21st century): Don't become a trophy wife. Go get that trophy yourself gurl!!!!

*I just realised also that it was remiss of me to describe Kathryn Bigelow first and foremost in terms of her ex-husband, rather than as a renowned and respected director in her own right. Sincere apologies. (In my humble defense, I was trying to draw a stark contrast between the divorced women featured on the TVB show, who are clearly still smarting from being dumped by their ex-husbands/ex-boyfriends, versus those who never let their marital status and past relationships become an issue that constrain them from leading a fulfilling life, as in the case of Bigelow). Of course, from now on, no-one would ever dream of referring to Kathryn Bigelow as "the ex-wife of James Cameron" anymore. And what a great thing that is :)

[A further update]

In addition to the Ming Pao article that SC kindly linked to in the comments, I also stumbled upon an informative blog-post by the Duke of Aberdeen on the etymology of the term "中女". Oh, no wonder the market connotations have been bought wholesale in the gender war, when the term itself originated from the meat market of Hong Kong prostitution. In that case, as the Ming Pao author noted, love does not come into the equation at all.

Okay, I have wasted enough of my time on this topic. If I realised it was a TVB production earlier, I wouldn't have bothered catching it on Youtube, thinking it was some ground-breaking documentary (in fact, justifying to myself that I needed to watch it despite my Internet curfew!). Note to self: beware of the source!

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At Mon Mar 08, 03:01:00 a.m. GMT, Anonymous Nicole said...

Actually Tuesday's Report is a TVB program.

At Mon Mar 08, 03:04:00 a.m. GMT, Blogger sc said...

近年久不久就會有這種貌似「探討現代兩性關係」的節目, 骨子裏意識都守舊得很, 而且很多時都如你所言, 是以市場角度看待男女關係. (或許這個社會對待「人」本身就是如此)

小小更正: 那個節目(星期二檔案)是無線新聞部製作的, 不是RTHK出品.(好在!)

最後, 附一篇評論給你參考, 不知可否令你「條氣順番D」

At Tue Mar 09, 05:04:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Btw apologies for the lengthy reply but your article link is quite thought-provoking. Thanks again.

At Tue Mar 09, 05:04:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tue Mar 09, 06:34:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

(Sorry, have to re-edit my last lengthy comment to remove redundant sentences!)

Thanks Nicole and SC for your kind corrections. I'm sooo relieved that it was not by the RTHK.

So Tuesday's Report was actually produced by TVB. Christ! I guess it really does figure.

@SC: Are you See Chuen? If so, so great to see you again man :D (If not, sincere apologies but it's great to meet you all the same :)!)

Thanks for your link to that Ming Pao article. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one thinking what a load of crock that TVB show was!

Quote from the article: "我更不明白為什麼人要把結婚當成人生的一套syllabus,沒有做過,就好像他們的人生不合格一樣。"

Whilst I agree with the above, this "marriage curse" seems to apply more to women than to men. Single men in their 30s, 40s and even 50s are often referred to as "eligible bachelors" (or 鑽石王老五 in Chinese) if they are also professionally successful, whereas professionally successful women are unfairly denigrated if they happen to be single. Given the effect of such a "marriage curse" weigh far more heavily on women than it does on men, the desperation of middle-aged HK women seems more reasonable (though not excusable) in this context.

And to be fair to these HK women, it's not as if they didn't try to stand up on their own two feet. They did. That was why they are professionally successful. But they are also bombarded day in day out by the mainstream media (chief of which is indeed TVB, not only in its soaps, but now, it seems, even in documentaries that are meant to be "fair and balanced") with the kind of sexual morality that harked back to the 1950's. And so, on second thought, I don't think I can just blame the women for being stupid and naive. Hong Kong as a society is regressing, and that's what is really sad.

Couldn't agree more with you there. The ultra neo-liberalism of HK these days frankly scares the bejaysus out of me, having grown up in a country where the principles of solidarity and freedom go hand in hand. Dignity of the individual seems so quaint and old-fashioned (or "out" in HK slang) against the mainstream ethos of money and power. Over here, corruption and the insidious influence of money on the public sphere do occur, but there is a political consensus that social progress is important and right-wing politics is anathema to the values held by most Irish people (the only right-wing party here, the PDs, got destroyed at the polls at the last general election).

Sadly, I'm not sure to what extent ordinary Hong Kong people realise the corrosive effects of market fundamentalism on both public life and in the private sphere, and unfortunately the levers of power are all held by those who benefited and benefiting from the existing system.

But getting back on topic, gender equality is one of the key strands of progressive politics. A lot of social protection in the West were achieved by an alliance that include both suffragettes and labour unions. To quote MLK, the existence of injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. People who are genuinely concerned about gender inequality also care about class-based inequality.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media in HK seems to relish pitting different disadvantaged groups against each other, perhaps to make it easier for the ruling class to continue to sit prettily in their mid-level mansions. And so we see the sad situation in HK of under-class males being pitted against middle-class women, and both lower and middle-class women try strenuously to mould themselves for the delectation of upper-class men. In the process both men and women are being degraded, their individual self-worth being trashed in a race for the bottom. When would people see that they are not helping themselves when they adopt the market as the gospel for everything?

At Tue Mar 09, 10:18:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Alice Poon said...

Hi Snowdrops,

I can absolutely see why you are frustrated by the TVB's rubbish program. Some of its soap operas like "The Gem of Life" actually try to promote the value of money-worshipping as some kind of noble ideal. Prostitution to money and power, both literally and figuratively, is the rule for most people in both Hong Kong and the mainland, while those who don't practise it are the exceptions.

As portrayed in "The Gem of Life", many young women actually get the idea of "marrying above themselves" from their mothers. If you've watched the mainland TV series "Dwelling Narrowness", you'll know what kinds of values are embraced by mainland women.

Maybe Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" should be made required reading for all Chinese female high school students!

At Thu Mar 11, 05:01:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Hi Alice thanks so much for your message, and sorry for the delay in replying as I want to respond to you properly as well. I'm sooo glad that you understand exactly where I'm coming from!

I'm really taken with your statement that both men and women "literally and figuratively" are prostituting themselves to money and power in much of HK society today. That's a very powerful statement and although initially I didn't think it perhaps went as far as that, but on reflection I do agree very much with you. How to change this is the next big question, and your suggestion of incorporating de Beauvoir in post-primary education is absolutely brilliant!

I haven't seen The Gem of Life (it took me a while to realise which show you're referring to), but my family did, and that's what made me angry about the state of TVB programming as well, as it's poisoning the minds of young ones like my little sister and my little brother, who do watch TVB shows at home with my parents. The only saving grace is that we don't have access to mainland Chinese TV here. Thank goodness!

My mum is moulded in traditional C9 values (she is of the generation that is vastly different from the new generation of enlightened C9s in HK who I've come across on the blogosphere). But at least we've finally managed to agree to disagree now on a lot of these things, and hopefully I'm showing my younger siblings that there are alternatives out there.

Oh thank you for mentioning the Second Sex! It's been on my bookshelf for ages and it's a great reminder for me to re-read some of my favourite passages from it again. In fact, you've given me an idea for a blog-post for sharing these quotes here :) The only thing I would add is that de Beauvoir's masterpiece should be compulsory reading for BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS in secondary school - if the whole book is too much to handle, then at least excerpts of it should be given as part of the syllabus.

Well, we could dream :)

At Fri Mar 12, 03:18:00 a.m. GMT, Blogger sc said...

還在唸書的時候, 以為我們這一代人對性別角色應該會很開明了吧, 誰知, 當同代人長大, 面對愛情婚姻, 世界依然老土, 周遭的眼光銳不可當 -- 更令人絕望的是, 他們也會以同樣的眼光看別人/看自己. 究竟我們吃甚麼奶大的?

近年興講通識, 也有人很熱心推動gender mainstreaming, (雖然與此同時又有團體不遺餘力講貞潔…) 但, 流行雜誌和電視的影響, 足以抵銷大部分良好意願的教育? 我永遠搞不懂, 香港八卦雜誌對女性的侮辱可以超乎想像, 但消費者卻又是女性居多 (甚至據說連生產者都是...)

嗯, 迫學生看de Beauvoir也不知有沒有用呢, 播下種好過冇?… 說起來老家的確也有本Second Sex, (某年暑假雄圖大志在書店買了本英文版如今連書店都執笠了 我都只是看了幾頁 -_-“), 留在腦裏的也只是那一句 One is not born, but rather becomes a woman. (其實把woman改做man也可以?)
好呀你quote吧, 讓我也補補課~

有時倒是想問問周遭的人, 自己的性別觀念是如何形成的? 是自小的潛而默化, 還是突如其來的「啟蒙」? 是甚麼時刻開了眼, 突然醒悟: 世界不是/不該是這樣的! 女人/男人不是這樣的! 許多講法是搵笨的!...

(是呀我是思存 :)

At Tue Mar 16, 11:29:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Hi See Chuen (ha, so glad indeed that it was you!), thanks for your reply comment. I did quote my favourite bits from de Beauvoir but perhaps not her most famous quote, as I've always had a little problem with her statement of a woman as the kind of being which is wedged between a man and an eunuch.

But yes, I do agree that her line about how one becomes a woman could equally be applied to a man. In fact, it puts me in mind of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" (, which is about how one can become a real man but Kipling's advice could equally be applied to becoming a real woman.

I was at a debate last night actually that was chaired by our former President Ms. Mary Robinson (Ireland's first female president - I remember that Presidential election well as it was the first one I've ever experienced. She was also the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) on the Irish women's movement, and this point about how to educate modern Irish girls and boys about feminist issues was also raised. Sadly, it was only mentioned in passing.

I don't know much about educational theories, but personally I'd love to see some proper civics education in Hong Kong, juxtaposing political and social philosophies from the West (Paine, de Beauvoir, Arendt, Rousseau, Wollstonescraft, Marx and Engels, etc.) with those from the East (sadly you would have to help me out there in terms of key thinkers as I'd only really studied Confucious thought and even then it was only in English!) in post-primary education. But perhaps, as you say, the key thing is to rein in the influence of TV on young minds (see below example!).

Anyway when I re-read my earlier post just now I noticed how many typos there were in my hasty copying of de Beauvoir's passages from the books, I was going to correct them but then I thought, hey, it's probably a good thing for people to try to spot the typos and in the process make them to actually READ the sentences!

"我永遠搞不懂, 香港八卦雜誌對女性的侮辱可以超乎想像, 但消費者卻又是女性居多 (甚至據說連生產者都是...)"

Yes, tell me about it. We watched in horror when we were channel-hopping on the hotel TV when we were in Hong Kong last summer that there was an ad for one of those beauty salons or weight-loss clinics, where they showed a chubby girl going in, and a skinny girl coming out. A GIRL OF LESS THAN TWELVE YEARS OF AGE. Just when their body consciousness is at the most vulnerable. Here in the West there are campaigns against size zero models on catwalks as they give out the wrong messages to young girls. Yet in Hong Kong they have no qualms about targeting young girls with such damaging messages when similar ad campaigns would have been banned in the West (apart from the size zero models, there was also furore over Apple's "you can't be too thin or too powerful" slogan when their Macbook Air came out in the States, but no one would probably bat an eye-lid if such campaigns are aired in HK...)

Anyway, this is a really huge topic, and we'll never get to the end of this (coincidentally, the debate last night was won overwhelmingly by the opposing side, which was against the motion that "There is no longer any need for an Irish women's movement", so even over here there are still lots of work to be done, not least when our Constitution still enshrines the rightful place of women as being in the home). But anyway, I'm glad to see you surfacing again, hope to see more of your writing in the blogosphere soon :)

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