Thursday, September 27, 2007

Women and Feminism in Early Sibu

Little academic studies have been made on the sexual and marital history of early Sibu which has perhaps too short a history. But what has happened inthe 100 or so years. Sibu in my opinion has a modern take on women and feminism but it is never too far away from China to leave Chinese influence behind.

Perhaps the attitudes of the early Foochow were a perpectuation of Chinese mores and norms brought over to Sarawak from the Fujian Province by the immigrants.

Thus when the First Foochows arrived in Sibu, they introduced child brides, bond maids, maid servants, indentured servants, and the practice of "buying and selling" of children.

I have not attempted to study deeply the attitudes about sex, sex perversion,and other related topics as I am in no position, academically or financially to conduct this kind of studies, much as I like to.

My interest in foot binding for example has been a sort of touch and go affair with this ancient practice because I had a great relationship with my great grandmother who had bound feet. Her China roots amazed me while her gentleness left a deep imprint in my mind and personality.

Again my very deep interest in and regard for Foochow women and their sexual rights and importance has been maintained ever since I was young because of my western education and some kind of related emancipation through Methodism and the educational thoughts instilled in me through secondary school and Sunday school education.

In the twenty first century, the sexual freedom and psychological injury to children is increasing in the urban areas (40% of the population in Malaysia) with resultant increase in infanticide particularly of little girls (Nurin in Malaysia)has re-fired again my interest in women studies and understanding of the female lot and the atrocities of men.

Feminism in Sibu was brought by the Christian missionaries who were well educated single ladies both from the west and China. Miss Hii and Miss Wong were delightful church workers who were at the same time teachers of the Methodist Secondary School. In their very quiet ways, they nurtured a whole generation of Foochows through their teaching. I felt that those who were not taught by them were "the rough and tough" or riff raffs of the society.

The two ladies and other pastors' wives initiated the Home Science Education Centre for Sibu and to this day, this Institute has provided education for a lot of housewives and young unmarried ladies through their practical training and volunteer work. It is so successful that it has its own cookery publication.

(to be continued)

0 memories:


web statistics