Women all over the world faced gender discrimination that had an enormous impact on their lives. Chinese culture belongs to those societies that often neglected women rights. Maxine Hong Kingston in her literary memoir raises the question of unfair gender roles and prejudiced attitude towards women. Although my life story is not as dramatic as a destiny of no named woman, it is also connected with hard moments of gender discrimination that happened during my early school years.
My mother often told me that I used to be very talkative when I was very young. I was communicative and energetic child that could make everyone smile. I could make up a conversation with everyone regardless of the interest, age and gender. However, my third grade in the school changed everything. One striking situation left a serious footprint on my personality and my outlook. My sincere attitude towards people turned into suspiciousness and fear. When I communicated with people, I felt that something may go wrong, and they will despise me, look down at me or shout at me. Until today, I found it very difficult to start a conversation with unfamiliar people. Moreover, I became rather reserved and quiet. My timidity often troubles me in the moments when I should act quickly and actively.
Everything was as usual. It was an ordinary school day that expected nothing special or dramatic. I woke up from a sound of the alarm clock that waked me up like hundreds of times before. I looked at the dial and saw that I was late. “Get up! Dear! Get up! You will miss the class.” Mum was yelling while walking into my bedroom. Immediately I jumped out of my bed and hurried up to do everything as fast as I could. After a few minutes of intensive brushing, washing and dressing, I was sitting on the front seat in my mother’s car. She always drove me to school and then went to work. When I stepped into the classroom, I realized that something was wrong. A feeling of fear and helplessness filled my inside when I realized that I forgot to bring the ‘red tie’ with me. Some may think that forgetting such a small thing as tie is a trifle, but ‘red tie’ was a symbol of republican of China and its wearing was absolutely compulsory for all students. Every day teachers checked whether we had it or not, and those who were unlucky to forget a ‘red tie’ at home were talked off. Mr. Guo was very strict and serious person who has never been complacent to students. He treated girls rather unfairly. Mr. Guo was convinced that all boys are smarter than girls are. Boys are bound to become leaders in life and women are born only to submit to men. When he noticed that I forgot to bring the red tie, his face turned red with anger immediately. “Jiahui, stand up!” he called my name very loudly and gave me an exasperated look. Suddenly the class stunned in silence, everything became very quiet. All students stopped talking and turned their heads towards me. Everyone knew that it was better not to have problems with Mr. Guo. I stood up shivering as if I was going to be executed. I wished I sink through the floor not to feel that shame and embarrassment.
“Where is your red tie? Why didn’t you bring it? Did you listen to me when I was talking that it is necessary to wear it every day?” He was very disappointed and looked at me as if I was the worse student in the world.
“Sorry, Mr. Guo. I left it at home.” I replied with in a low voice.
“Why didn’t you leave yourself at home? Huh? Go out of the classroom, go home and bring it!”
I spend half hour walking home since my house was very far. At that time, I was only 8 years old, I did not have any money, and I was not able to contact my parents. When I knocked at my house door, there was no one at home. I felt helpless and did not know what I should do next. Fortunately, my neighbor noticed me, and then they drove me to school and bought me a new red tie. I sat in the classroom and tears were welling up in my eyes. Everyone looked at me as if I was cursed. Mr. Guo ignored my presence and did not check my red tie once more.
My mum was shocked and angry when she heard about the unreasonable request made by my teacher. Next morning she went to school with me. She asked the teacher to explain his non-pedagogic behavior, but Mr. Guo denied that he asked me to go home, and of course, he did not mention about his rude treatment and offensive tone. The teacher even asked the whole class whether he made me go home. One of my classmates said that he did. “Are you sure?” Mr. Guo pierced him with a telling look. The class suddenly became very quiet. No one was going to say a word.
Despite the fact that this story happened in my childhood, it has its consequences until now. I faced gender discrimination in the early age and my sensible childish character was transformed by such injustice. Such mean people as Mr. Guo often looked down women because of his biased .preconceptions. Boys were doing much more serious misconducts than forgetting a red tie, but they received no punishment. Maxine Hong Kingston describes, "Women looked like great sea snails- the corded wood, babies, and laundry they carried were the whorls on their backs. The Chinese did not admire a bent back; goddesses and warriors stood straight"(Kingston10). These words depict unfair life of Chinese women. Society had a wrong belief that women should be household slaves, bring up children and satisfy their husbands. The burden of their everyday life made them look like snails that always carry weight on their bent backs. When Mr. Guo shouted at me, I cringed and felt myself miserable and desperate. If a childhood story about forgotten tie had such an enormous impact on me, I can understand a no name woman that “killed herself and jumped into the family well” (Kingston 3). Moreover, even her own family rejects her “We say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born” (Kingston 3). Kingston writes that “The real punishment was not the raid swiftly inflicted by the villagers, but the family’s deliberately forgetting her” (16). The villagers severely persecuted the woman who became pregnant long after her husband left her. Their violent actions provoke suicide of the woman and a newborn baby.
Gender inequality is a topical issue in a modern society. Although women all over the world strive for their rights, discrimination is deeply rooted in the minds of people. Historical impact and continuing masculinity domination invokes unreasonable biases against women. At my school, Mr. Guo always told that boys are smarter than girls are, and they will get a better future. As a result, girls often have an inferiority complex that strongly affects their individualities.