*Please read the entirety of this post with the inflections of an agitated Chandler Bing*
I haven’t slept, so this post will probably be more disjointed and random than the others (is this even possible? You ask. Yes it is, now shut up shoulder-monkey and eat your bananers, how did you learn human talk anyways?).
We’re getting ready to move again, and this is mostly scary for me instead of exciting like they tend to make it out to be in movies and stuff.
A little bit of it is exciting. I keep getting flashes of random places in Shanghai that I want to go to, like this one spot where there’s a piece of the old city wall still surviving.
Tangentially, I like city walls, they’re bones, reminders of the past. Sometimes I like to think about what the remnants of our civilization will look like. Whether the dolphin-people and magpie-races that rule the earth long after we’re gone will gaze upon the ruins of our great cities with the same wonder and olden-timey feeling I get when I see pitted old bell-towers and city walls.
But then I start thinking about the fact that the sun will eventually expand into a red giant and swallow up the earth, and I just want to crawl under a desk, cradle my head in my arms and whimper.
I JUST found out about this red giant thing a couple weeks ago. At first I tried to shove it out of my head like I do with a whole gaggle of worries, but it was just too big. So I’m stuck having half-awake nightmares about it ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY. Especially after I saw this lovely depiction:
And this artist’s rendering:
The only way I have been able to reconcile myself with my eventual demise was by thinking about how there would still be trees, rivers, squirrels, Halloween parties and life and shit after I was gone. Like I would still be part of this beautiful living system. But now I’ve found out that actually, NO. One day our beautiful world is going to be CONSUMED BY THE SUN. And it won’t even be significant really, because burning up the Earth’s matter will only really power the sun’s ANNIHILATION OF ITSELF for like, a second. And then the sun will eat itself, because it’s a goddamn greedy bastard.
Yeah. Some of you might try to comfort me by saying that someday, somehow, there might be another earth-like planet full of wonder and shit. But it won’t be the same! The plants will have like purple sap or something, and water will be filled with mercury or ammonia or some shit.
What of the dugong? GONE will be the dugong!
And don’t fucking tell me that somewhere out there, somehow, there will once again be a planet where another creature as weird as the Axolotl can come into existence.
Dammit. I only meant to reminisce about places in Shanghai that I like and then move on to the real stuff I wanted to talk about, but I ended up talking about the sun for a million pages.
Stuff I actually wanted to talk about:
1. I hate online games, but I can’t stop.
2. Gender bias in the Chinese language.
1. So I spent another night staying up until 6 AM playing RIDICULOUSLY stupid online games again, because when I’m stressed out, I can’t deal with my problems by confronting them and taking steps to resolve them. Instead, I spend 8 hours clicking on pixels, playing Bejeweled Blitz – easily the most demonic and empty time waster piece of bullshit crap bag Nilbog cudpocket shitshrew of a game ever invented.
WHY? I ask myself. WHY?!
And the answer is simple. When I have a pile of stuff I urgently need to get accomplished, instead of taking steps toward long-term solutions that have no short-term rewards, I choose to get miniscule, empty-calorie bursts of short-term satisfaction in the form of levelling up, and completing matches, because deep in my soul, I am an albino lab rat, and I will push that button to get that orgasm until it kills me, KILLS ME DEAD.
Usually I am able to numb my mind enough so that the truth of the above paragraph is not apparent to me while I’m playing, but last night, I knew exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it.
But I kept on. Until 6:30 AM.
Then I went to bed. And tried not to think about the sun slowly expanding. In my head, it went like this:
Think about nice things…think about rivers…so nice and cool…sluicing, flowing…the sun’s going to dry up those rivers, and all the fish will burn, and the beavers will fry up….fry…sizzle…fried chicken…I could eat some fried chicken right now…no, FATTY, no! No fried chicken for you….you haven’t been to the pool in ages…where did I put those goggles? What other shit have you lost? Let’s make a list! buttons. coins. that bag of miso soup mix that was two dollars more expensive than the regular kind…This is why we can’t ever have anything NICE! No no no no. It’s getting light outside! Work is in 3 hours! You need to sleep! Think hard about nice things! Trees….Nice and leafy, waving in the wind, green and…CRISPY FROM THE SUN EXPANDING TOWARDS THE DEATH OF ALL THINGS….
You get the idea.
I’m insane and you should stop reading.
On the off chance that you’ve stuck with it:
2. Gender bias in Chinese. Woohoo. Education!
So everyone knows about gender bias in the English language. The examples are many, and the attempts to neutralize them are just as numerous:
Stewardess –> Flight Attendant
Women –> Wimmin
Fireman –> Firefighter
You get the idea.
How I feel about these is a whole other blog post that I will probably never do, because honestly, I feel ambiguous and don’t really give a crap as long as no one is like, in my face about it.
But there’s a ton of gender bias in Chinese too, but as far as I know, people don’t really talk about it, and nothing is really being done. So I want to talk about it because feminism or original content or whatever.
There’s two kinds. The kind that is inherent in characters, and the kind that is expressed through sayings or idioms.
Ok. The character for female is 女. Let’s see how many insulting words contain this radical!
奸 – Rape, evil, adultery
妖 – demon, monster
婪 – Greed
嫉 – Envy
嫌 – dislike
妄 – Presumptuous
泼妇 – bitch/shrew
姦 – Rape. This is literally three women stacked together. When you stack three characters together like this in Chinese, it means “a lot”. So basically, the word “rape”, is just, “lots of women stacked together, do what you will!” in Chinese. Think about how outrageous it would be if “hysto-fem-gyn” meant RAPE in English.
There are also half a dozen different words for prostitute.
Typical insults that men trade with each other are phrases like – 你妈、你妹 (Fuck your mother. Fuck your sister). Rape is built right into the language．What a convenient way to permeate culture with misogyny!
Then there are the idioms. I’m only going to go over three. But there are more. Oh so many more.
妇人之见 lit. A woman’s opinion. Used when the speaker wishes to discredit someone’s opinion for being weak-willed, mediocre, or cowardly. In other words: “That just goes to show what a woman’s opinion is worth!”
Here’s a quote from Confucius, that great and revered
“A good and noble man shall find no place to shelter himself if he listens to a woman. He may incur the demise and defeat of his nation if he spoils and favours his women.”
To illustrate its use:
Sally: I think the Republicans and Democrats should try to work together to resolve their differences.
Bobby: 妇人之见! That just goes to show what a woman’s opinion is worth. Let’s get rid of the government all-together! Who needs it?
嫁鸡随鸡嫁狗随狗 lit. If you marry a chicken, you’re a chicken. If you marry a dog, you’re a dog. Used, usually by the woman herself, to show that she’s with her husband through thick and thin.
Normally, this would be a nice sentiment, it’s not materialistic, it’s a show of solidarity. However, if you look at the first word 嫁, you might note that the radical for woman reappears. This word means marry, but really it means a woman marrying or giving herself to a man. In marriage, a woman 嫁给 (gives herself in marriage to) a man, but a man 娶 (takes or accepts) the woman.
A surefire way to make a room full of Chinese people break out in laughter is to confuse the two verbs. Jenny 娶了Pete/Pete 嫁给了 Jenny. BWAHAHAHAHA. Stop it! Foreigner! You are such a Joker! A woman doesn’t take she is taken!
In other words, it’s not reciprocal. If the man is a criminal, the woman marrying him should lower herself to his station and accept his illegal activities, but it doesn’t work the other way around. If the woman is a prostitute, there’s not a chance in hell her man gonna be a gigolo yo!
好男不跟女斗 lit. A good man does not fight/argue/match wits with a woman.
Seemingly a noble sentiment on the surface. Actually quite patronizing and infuriating because it implies something like “A good man doesn’t worry himself about insignificant details, unlike a woman, who has the pettiness typical of her gender, pecking away at this and that like a nit-picky hen-shrew.”
Once in a while, it’s used when a man is beating on a woman. Someone might step in and be like “Dude, a good man doesn’t fight a woman.”
But more often than not, it’s used when a man doesn’t want to argue with a woman anymore. Usually because she’s winning the argument.
I’ve had students actually use this on me when I’m trying to get them to use their language skills to expand on a topic in class.
It went something like this:
“if you found out your wife had gotten a ton of plastic surgery prior to meeting you after you were already married, what would you do?”
“I’d divorce her”
“Our baby would be ugly.”
“But what if she was in love with you?”
“She lied to me.”
“Sure, she never told you about the procedures, but is that an adequate reason to break up your marriage?”
“But she is a fake.”
“Maybe she had her reasons. Maybe she was afraid to tell you.”
“I could not stay married to her knowing the face before me is a fake one.”
“Ok, this might sound ridiculous to you, but what about her personality? Would you have married her if she was still ugly?”
“Well then, clearly she was right in keeping you in the dark, because you are obviously a shallow human being.”
“Why can’t a good man argue with a woman? Are you saying women are intellectually inferior to men?”
Nervous laughter from class. Silent frown from student in question. Unwieldy change of subject to “your favourite foods!” by Teacher Fei.
There was a pretty interesting article on Chinasmack about a Chinese feminist who proposed some gender neutralizing changes for the Chinese language. Some of the Netizen responses were thoughtful, but most of them ranged from “don’t fuck with the sanctity of our noble language with its 5,000 years of history.” to “This is bullshit.”
I don’t know. I get mad about stuff like this, so I talk about it, but what does it really achieve?
Now I’m thinking about futility and eternity, and feeling very insignificant and miniscule.