Li-Chu Fu

As Interviewed by Edward L, March 10, 2013

Li-Chu Fu: In Her Own Words

When I was little, I had little brothers, and I was a girl, so I was less important than them. When I wanted to eat, eat a meal, I never got my share. The good stuff, like good food, clothes, etcetera, my brothers always ate first. They wore nice clothes first. I wore old clothes and ate the leftovers. When I did get something special, my brothers would steal it. I would hide in a corner and cry. When I cried, my dad would kick me and send me tumbling, or slap me. I had to take the punishment. Back then, I was only 8 or 9. I couldn’t do anything. If I had a meal to eat, I would consider myself lucky.

When I grew up, I told myself daily, “If I can help it, I will never come back to this house again. I will never come back again.” After I graduated from college, I taught for 3 years. Afterwards, when I wanted to marry, my dad said, “If you want to marry, you need him to give 100,000 yuans.” Then, I ran away. I ran far, far away so that my dad couldn’t find me. I went and found a preacher to marry us. Afterwards, I wrote a letter to my little sister, who told my parents where I was. On the second day of my marriage, my dad found me. When he found me, he took a knife and threatened to kill me. The preacher told me to hide in my house and lock all of the doors so he couldn’t find me.

During my time in college, there were five girls in the whole class. Back then, everyone had to deal with some type of sexism. Girls were never precious, only the boys were. Girls had to give birth, do the house chores, do this, do that. The teachers were all male; there was not a single female teacher. The male college students could bully the females. When the girls would report it to the teachers, the teachers would tell them, “Just try to deal with it. This boy is really rowdy.” That’s what happened. It just seemed that they weren’t interested in helping out the female students, and the girls would have to take that bullying forever.

When I became a teacher, I would tell my students: “There are no differences; all are equal.” Most students took it in. When one student did bully somebody else, I would call them out and yell at them. I made them repeat, “I cannot bully girls.” The parents supported it. They told me, “You could help me. Yell at them, spank them make them regret it.” Often, the girl who got bullied would stand there crying. Many of my fellow female teachers were treated unfairly at home. Many of them said that they wanted to run away and never come back again. Most women didn’t want to go home again. The home wasn’t warm or caring anymore. At home, there would be no encouragement.

The discrimination now compared to before seems somewhat different. In the past, the only purpose of women was for them to be married and help their husbands make money. So their husbands didn’t give them too much food, didn’t bother giving them comfort, didn’t give them any money. They didn’t give their wives anything, just mad sure she bore lots of children. But now, it’s different. There are less births, maybe only one or two per woman. It’s not very serious now. The women are now treated kindly. It’s better now. In the past, if you bore two or three girls, it was time for you to be sent to someone else. You would be useless and the husband wouldn’t want to keep you anymore.

My husband also thought women weren’t important. To him, women weren’t special, just there. He would sometimes go out with other women. Once in an office, he used a dress shoe to hit me. His co-workers saw, but they shied away. I didn’t disobey much. When my husband told me to do this, do that, I would do the work. He would say, “Shut up! I don’t need your help!” Then he would take a dress shoe and hit me. All I did was run to the church and cry. I still had to come home and cook for my children. At that time, your mom, your uncle were still little. When I finished crying, I would pray to God, pray to the angels. I couldn’t do anything else. I still had to go home and cook, and do the chores.

The reason women were looked upon as low-class was because of how Taiwanese society evolved over thousands of years. Men had always seen women as low. Tradition was just like that. Women to them were nothing special. The emperors, the presidents, they were all men. Women were all just part of men’s investment. Women to them weren’t anything special or fun. Sexism in Taiwan is a lot less. Women can come out and elect a president, elect a mayor, do anything that men can do, and can also participate in any of the tests. Now, it’s a lot better. The only problem is that in rural areas, they say, “Don’t elect a female. Always elect a male.”

In the government, many of the employees are female. Many of the females are also working in industry. In the past, only males worked in industry. Now, industry wants both males and females. When females speak, they won’t be looked down upon. Before, females couldn’t do anything to get ahead. Now, females can travel, get an education, get a job, do whatever they want.

On television there were many ways women were portrayed that was sexist. The most sexist shows were about the Ming dynasty. Men on those TV shows got a second wife, a third, a fourth, way too many wives. A man would get something like 15 wives on those shows. They just couldn’t believe women had much feeling or value. Many people thought that those shows were ridiculous. The women thought it was ridiculous. “How can you portray women like that?” they asked. Everybody would make a stand. Women would get an education, get good grades, and get a job. They could feed themselves, get a house, and while doing that, never rely on a man.

Now sexism in Taiwan was almost gone. All I did was join some female organizations, that type of stuff. At that point, there just wasn’t much more sexism. Most of the sexism that still occurs is from male bullies that just don’t see much in females. They would taunt them. There’s still this type of occurrences in offices, in schools, but most of those problems are fixed.