Sending Them Off With A Smile
July 17, 2011 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Hiring young women to strip at a funeral ceremony might strike some as scandalous, but for many in Taiwan it is an important part of the grieving process.
posted by empath (44 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
♫ And I think to myself, what a wonderful world... ♪ ♬
posted by mazola at 8:42 AM on July 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


The questions move from:

TT: Are the strippers paid well?
(to next question)

TT: Do the girls undergo any kind of training?


Hence, it is women (or girls) who are stripping. I would the statement 'for many in Taiwan it is an important part of the grieving process' a little more believable if it was not just women stripping.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:48 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is beyond interesting. Thanks for posting.
posted by JLovebomb at 8:52 AM on July 17, 2011


I would the statement 'for many in Taiwan it is an important part of the grieving process' a little more believable if it was not just women stripping.
TT: Have you ever seen male strippers?
MM: No I haven’t, but I’ve heard of them. I’ve seen a video online in which a guy and a gal were dancing together erotically on a large “electric flower car.” And on one occasion I saw a guy singing on an “electric flower car” outside of a crematorium, but it didn’t seem to be a performance that anyone was watching.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pall-barers?
posted by hal9k at 8:57 AM on July 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


His response to that question and a number of others don't give me a lot of faith in the thoroughness of his field work. You'd think he'd have a better answer to "Do the women work day jobs" than "I’m not sure. My impression is that ... the good ones work pretty much full-time. Now whether or not the others are selling betel nut by day or working in coffee shops or libraries is something I’m not fully sure of." Unless of course he never actually talked to any of the women.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:59 AM on July 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Pall-barers?

Pole bearers?
posted by ian1977 at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Asses to asses, bust to bust...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:05 AM on July 17, 2011 [42 favorites]


Why am I reminded of this?
posted by ian1977 at 9:06 AM on July 17, 2011


Hence, it is women (or girls) who are stripping. I would the statement 'for many in Taiwan it is an important part of the grieving process' a little more believable if it was not just women stripping.

This is imprecise and illogical. You have to look at it anthropologically. Backwards or unethical practices can still be important within a culture.
posted by polymodus at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


They say men spend 9 months getting out and the rest of their lives trying to get back in. So perhaps this is fitting.
posted by punkfloyd at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breast in Peace...

Mammorial Service....


Eh, I got nuthin...
posted by hal9k at 9:08 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I am amazed about most, is that someone was able to use their leisure-time/hobby activities and either; get funded to make this documentary, or is able to write-off all of their "research" expenses...

Clever... very very clever...
posted by jkaczor at 9:25 AM on July 17, 2011


That's one way of putting the fun in funeral.
posted by illenion at 9:25 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


looks like New Orleans jazz funerals have some competition...
posted by Bwithh at 9:29 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


*calls attorney; adds codicil to will*
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:34 AM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, from the 2nd link, I think I just found my next Burning Man costume.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:37 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, even I... who have no problem whatsoever with women who voluntarily sell themselves in various sexual contexts; who views death as entirely natural and something most people could use a healthier attitude toward; who loves any excuse for a good party...

I have to admit - This one seems kinda on the weird side.
posted by pla at 9:52 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're not actually strippers, more like Go-Go dancers. You won't see any of them getting nude in public.
posted by secondhand pho at 10:01 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


DEATH MUST BE AS GLOOMY AS POSSIBLE FOR ALWAYS

COVER YOUR SHAME, LADEEZ
posted by LogicalDash at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2011


So a couple of my buddies go on business trips to Taiwan pretty often. There is a tooling vendor building a multi-million dollar piece of equipment for their company that they go to visit. I hear these stories...

Apparently this is very common practice: Vendors like to take their customers out at the end of the day, after all the acceptance testing and negotiating is done. A popular thing to do is to take them to a club with private rooms. There they can buy drinks, eat, and sing karaoke.

A few minutes after they settle in their room, a matron comes in with a lineup of girls. They are aged 18 to mid-twenties. The youngest customer gets first pick and it goes by age until everyone has a "companion." This girl sits next to you, talks with you, and if you're a bit lecherous, well...

So one of my buddies *loves* women. The first time he went, I heard he had a girl on his lap and was bouncing her up and down. This was in a group of at least 5 engineers and their new partners. The second time these two guys visited the vendor, the womanizer buddy of mine was seen making out with one of the girls and staying late.

Yes, he is married. Yes, he has children. No, I don't condone this sort of behavior but I still think it's a funny story.

But anyway, Taiwan is certainly a very different culture from what I know in these United States. They certainly haven't had a women's liberation movement yet.
posted by cman at 10:30 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


cman: same story in China.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:37 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would the statement 'for many in Taiwan it is an important part of the grieving process' a little more believable if it was not just women stripping.

What does the one have to do with the other?
posted by J. Wilson at 10:39 AM on July 17, 2011


Well, now I've seen everything.
posted by Gilbert at 10:40 AM on July 17, 2011


But sweetheart, I was GRIEVING!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:43 AM on July 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Death be not prude.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:49 AM on July 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Grim Fandango
posted by hellojed at 11:05 AM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love to hear what a Taiwan-based MeFite has to say about this.

Recently the "LOL Japan" stories are being replaced by similarly unbelievable ones from China.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:24 PM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I grew up in Taiwan but left when I was still pretty young. I don't look forward to FPPs about Taiwan because even well intention posts (like this one) end up with discussions that are even worse than the disposable LOLJAPAN posts.

So far in the thread we've got people questioning the academic value of the documentary, a couple of dudes claiming that feminism never happened in China or Taiwan, some lame jokes, and of course, doubt about whether or not this counts as "culture".

And of course every time gender comes up with regard to Asian culture, we get stories about hostess bars, and the narrative is always "man, look at how backwards they treat women here, so I might as well join in!" and never "wow I am not that kind of guy so I declined and went back to my hotel room".

It's kind of embarrassingly obvious how Western attitudes about Asian culture are projections of a fiction people want to believe in.
posted by danny the boy at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


Yeah, it's not like there's a shortage of strippers in the United States.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got to join the chorus of people doubting the rigor with which the research was done.

If the person who made the documentary can't answer some of the more basic questions about the subjects of his documentary, then it's definitely time to wonder if we're looking at a serious documentary, or just some guy going for eroticism/exoticism/etc.

This seems to be more an example of what Edward Said would classify as "Orientalism" than any real attempt to look at a cultural phenomenon.

And, of course, we have to ask the vital question "how widespread is this"? What percentage of funerals in Taiwan feature strippers/gogo dancers? More than 1%? More than 20% More than 50%? As with so many other questions, he doesn't seem sure. He might have "impressions", but no data.
posted by sotonohito at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


some lame jokes

The naked truth is that Metafilter is at its breast when it busts out the puns. It really strips away and pokes fun at our own hang ups, much more than it "others" cultures that are not often represented on the site.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some Googling later...

I found this discussion in 1995 by a bunch of academics from H-Asia, a website for scholars of Asia. It's an interesting exchange from professors and scholars from Edinburgh, Michigan, Cambridge, Virginia, etc. Though a lot of the academics talk about artistic depictions of fertility or sexual prowess on walls or temples in ancient times or hundreds of years ago, none mention that this specific activity of dancing harkens back to the 1800s. Here's the opening post:

My research is on the social and religious context of the marionette theatre in Quanzhou, southern Fujian, and the Gaoxiong and Tainan area. As part of my research I collect data on all forms of performing arts in both Taiwan and Fujian. Over the past ten years I have spent four years in Fujian and two years in Taiwan. In Taiwan I have collected some material on strippers and the organization of related entertainment. I interviewed the comic Tuo Xian who was one of the first organizers of strip shows in Taiwan. The performance of striptease at funerals, but also at real estate promotions and other occasion, started some 20 years ago and peaked during the mid-80s I also interviewed strippers and show dancers, who performed during rituals, as well as during secular performances. Some had performed at the Shizi Lin the biggest strip joint in Taipei that is still operating.

The performance of striptease during ritual is probably the result of the changes in the Taiwan entertainment market over the past decades. In my study of traditional Chinese theatre in both Fujian and Taiwan it became clear that overt and crude language with an explicit sexual content were an important part of the performing arts. In funeral performances of the Mulian we also find improvised dialogues on the virility of the deceased in great detail indeed. The performance of striptease may therefore have a function that surpasses that of pure entertainment. The virility of the male and the related production of offspring may be expressed and visualized in explicit language or an erotic dance. There is a strong and potent erotic substratum in numerous Chinese rituals, that are indeed meant to incite sexual activity and the ensuing birth of offspring. I have found at several occasions that soft and hard porn videos are shown at different rituals in mainland China.

posted by FJT at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found this discussion in 1995 by a bunch of academics from H-Asia,

If you translated "H-Asia" directly into Japanese you would get the name of a porn site.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:44 PM on July 17, 2011


cman: same story in China.
posted by ZenMasterThis


The difference in China is that when the bar bill comes there are multiple $10 USD a piece drinks that were never purchased, $40 fruit plates that were never touched and the karaoke price magically increased by 4x.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:18 PM on July 17, 2011


It's kind of embarrassingly obvious how Western attitudes about Asian culture are projections of a fiction people want to believe in.
posted by underflow at 3:20 PM on July 17, 2011


If culture is fiction, it's more powerful than most truths.
posted by absalom at 4:04 PM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's kind of embarrassingly obvious how Western attitudes about Asian culture are projections of a fiction people want to believe in.

This sounds similar to rejoinders of "but but the North is racist too" whenever a discussion turns to entrenched Southern racism.

Yes, Orientalist views will inform and color these observations. There is no way to substantively perceive without projection, especially not in cross-cultural settings. At the same time, using this observation as a tool of deflection is problematic. It's why it's so incredibly hard to have a discussion about complex practices such as veiling. Yet getting upset when people bring up hostess bars? That's ridiculous.

The topic at hand doesn't strike me as beyond the pale of analysis. It's not as though we aren't living through a mainstreaming of a certain view of stripping in the US. We have stripper-robics here. We have toddlers in tiaras performing strip-teases in public. Shutting down critical inquiry is dangerous - especially because uncritical thinking is built into the foundation of many of these trends.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:05 PM on July 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yet getting upset when people bring up hostess bars? That's ridiculous... Shutting down critical inquiry is dangerous - especially because uncritical thinking is built into the foundation of many of these trends.

Actually, I think the issue here is whether or not the story is actually true. It's pretty easy (and pretty common) to take some sort of outlier (in this case, stripping, in other cases panty vending machines) out of context, and then, presto, it becomes matter-of-fact that stripping at weddings is normal in Taiwan (I don't know, maybe it is). The subtext is, of course, that Asians are weird and sexually perverted, and that women do not enjoy the same status as do their counterparts in Western countries. All of this is through the lens of "correct" Western, post-Enlightenment thought, as though our (Western) culture is superior, and is of course the pinnacle of civilization.

It's why it's so incredibly hard to have a discussion about complex practices such as veiling.

We probably agree, at the end of the day. One thing living overseas for 10 of the past 15 years has taught me, is that it is almost impossible to understand a different culture unless you live there, and that 95% of what gets reported is totally incorrect and inaccurate.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:18 PM on July 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


allen.spaulding: "This sounds similar to rejoinders of "but but the North is racist too" whenever a discussion turns to entrenched Southern racism. "

The prevailing narrative about Asian women in the West is that they are docile and accommodating, because that narrative accommodates their role as exotic object of sexual desire.

Nevermind that 'Asian' is label that applies to what, a hundred distinct cultures? Nevermind that within the particular flavor of 'Asian' culture that I belong to, the complete opposite characterization (of domineering women and henpecked men) is the cultural cliche.

I'm not trying to shut down any critical thinking here, I'm observing that these posts tend to result in people having their stereotypes reinforced, and not much more. Which is a shame because we have on Metafilter members from pretty wide selection of cultures that can bear witness to all sorts of interesting stuff.
posted by danny the boy at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is worth doing, if only to weird out my family.
posted by LordSludge at 9:46 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


?????
i am taiwanese and have been to several funerals in taiwan and have NEVER HEARD OF THIS BEFORE... would be wildly inappropriate for any of my family members... or for anyone i know in taiwan for that matter
posted by raw sugar at 12:06 AM on July 18, 2011


Uh... there are lecherous men in Taiwan and there are people and organizations who formed to drain money from said.

There are lecherous men in China, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, there are lecherous men everywhere where there are men. I'm a man and I'm lecherous more often than not There are those who benefit from said, and there are women who choose to play the part. There are women who don't consent to play the part but are coerced to do so.

As long as everything is consensual, ie., the performers are being paid and choose to be in that situation and be paid for it, I don't see a problem. Pro-rights for prostitutes should be an arm of the feminist movement.

Whether this practice, from the ffp, is common, well, <shrug>.

Sure, "Shocking News!" vs "This is something interesting that I found on the internets and I'd like to share."
posted by porpoise at 9:22 PM on July 18, 2011


So it's 4:15 in the morning, my eyes are tired, and for a moment I think I've just read that "...there are leprechauns in Taiwan..." Now that is an interesting piece of culture I did not know.
posted by zoinks at 1:26 AM on July 19, 2011


« Older mama put my guns in the ground -- I can't use them...   |   "Gambiarra refers to an unlikely mend, an... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments