Friday, August 6, 2010

Re: Food and Feminism -- China Summer 2010

Diary : Wednesday, August 4, 3:45 AM

What's up in China? Weather's hot, there's lots of people, and I'm enjoying the chance to really dig in and practice my Chinese. Sometimes I can't resist the temptation to watch hulu and browse English blogs like I'm used to, but my Chinese has improved a lot even if not as much as it could have.

Darn characters, I feel like I've learned a lot, and then I realize there's 2000 more (on my list) to go, and I'm already getting them mixed up. Then I have thousands of 词语 (words) I need to learn once I learn the characters that compose them. Meh. (for an amusing rant about learning Chinese, see here:  Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard).

Wait, did I mention the awesome food? Many of my relatives are older-generation Chinese (aka super-客气 《polite》) who will shove insane amounts of delicious food at me, who are and all say "你吃的这么少,回去你妈妈一看瘦了那么多会说我们照顾的不好" 《you eat so little, when you go back home mom will be shocked at how skinny you are and will say we didn't take care of you properly》. I feel like crying (I believe OTL sums it up), 'cos the other thing about China is that it has way more skinny people and the fat people are not nearly as fat as Americans. -____-|| I thought I was average-size, but I can't fit in a vast majority of the pants around here, haha. 

For me, not keeping track of how much I eat and trying not to care much about how I look stems from crackpot readings during my impressionable years about the never-before-possible equality in anonymity that the Internet afforded. Of course, nowadays the Internet seems primarily to have let people air their prejudices without bothering to think at all and spread mass hysteria and just FAIL about Vaccines Are Teh Evil ... Ugh. Some level playing field, more like level spitting field =___=;;

I've never liked wasting food, and in college since I (absurdly, I know, but the truth) pride myself on crufting food (well, actually fellow putzen and the free-food mailing list are more consistent sources than CSAIL's vultures), food has always seemed precious and delightful to me. However, surrounded by relatives who own a beauty parlor and skinny girls and guys everywhere, I may not be able to stubbornly insist on this philosophy much longer. The words of my auntie echo in my head, "青春年都浪费了~" 《youth / pretty years wasted like this》. Also, as a half-putzen once said (roughly), "I'm going to be eating food for the rest of my life." (I still find it impossible to sympathize with that viewpoint though, it's simply too foreign to me).

Oh dear, what would the feminists say? If they could agree in the first place, that is. For me, my freshman roommate, Maja, has reinforced that idea that there's no reason why smart techie girls can't dress up and look girly too. On the other hand, I can see the strings of society tugging me along into dressing up because that's how a girl of my age should act, and it makes me want to bare my teeth and growl at the whole thing. The convention that "you should dress up now to take advantage of your youthful prettiness while you can" doesn't sit well with me.

Also, people like to believe that their society is 平等的 《equal》yet every single adult here who has commented about my major has said something along the lines of "哦,机械-女的学这个还是挺少的" 《oh, mechE... few girls study that》 in a kind of slightly-weirded-out way (though perhaps I am just insecure and they are simply surprised). I must admit that it's worse than America. One time, I mentioned that I was interested in mechE, EE, or bioE, and the guy automatically assumed that I was most interested in bioE. Sorry bioE, point against you, much as I hate to let stereotypes like that influence my decisions. Sometimes I'm afraid that, instead of naturally trying to figure out my own likes and dislikes, I've cast myself into an "anti-stereotype" stereotype.

Ah, I just rediscovered the 2010 i3 EC video on my laptop. I miss EC and MIT a lot. Social stresses abound there too, but at least I don't have to deal with any myths about MIT students being geniuses (uhmm.... no. just no. See #2.) and I don't have to deal with erroneous jabs at Linux versus Windows. (Maybe that's my technical elitism (#9) talking here, but I have to have some superiority complexes to cover up my insecurities =]).

Seriously though, Ubuntu / Linux fits me way better than Windows ever will. Way more customization possible (my putey shiny shiny), powerful bash, clean software installs, zero(-ish) worry about malware, super-easy switching between languages, frequent updates, they more than make up for any mucking about to fix display or Internet or whatever issues.

(Also, I secretly found it fun when I was stuck with a text-only terminal when I screwed around with X back when tablet support was not so great. Linux is self-documented to a very nice extent. I think man man helped me find apropos which helped me find nano and everything was dandy).  >__> <___<

Well, that's long enough for one blog post. I conclude with this pic:
Some of the delectable food available in China ;P
(I purposefully asked for dishes I wouldn't be able to get in America). I think my relatives called them 木虫, although that must be one of several common names. They actually taste quite nice. If you close your eyes, all you can tell is that you're eating something friend, crunchy, and small. :D

The kids I was with were squeamish about eating this dish, actually. But they do really like pig tails (dish visible to the left back).

EDIT: 08.07.10: Entomophagy
Oops, I labeled the pic in the last post incorrectly. They're actually 竹虫,bamboo worm [larvae], not 木虫。I looked it up because someone told me that I'd eaten some sort of precious 冬虫夏草, aka Caterpillar Fungus. Hee.

Or so wikipedia says, at least: