The shift in Gender Roles: Daughter of the Nile (1987)

The shift in Gender Roles: Daughter of the Nile (1987)

Asian society is one that is majorly patriarchal. In this setting, it is the men that take up all the roles, and the women seem only to follow in. In the film Daughter of the Nile (1987), Directed by  Hou Hsiao-Hsien, one follow the story of young men that are trying to move away from the old ways of life and jump into a future where they define their roles and find meaning in new things. These are young people that are only working hard to try and see some version of the life of their own. They define culture as something between the past and more of the present. While these young people have a commitment and a sense of hope that is aimed at driving the future, they eventually realized that the future that they are running after is doomed and that they cannot get to the present that they are seeking after. It is a clear image of how the quest to change the gender roles in this society such as these might seem futile. While this is a patriarchal society Lin’s is keen to try and change the way things are done and find a direction different from her parents.

One of the things that the director seems to take a keen interest in is to show how society is experiencing a change in gender orientation. Lin lives with her family in the outskirts of Taipei making a living as a waitress in the fast food restraint. This is something that is not common within the Taiwanese society. The framework of this society is that women are not the breadwinners of the family. There is a sharp contrast to how society is waived and how Lin leaves her life. While she is engaged in a job that earns her a living her brother is trying to make money through robbery. Their transition to a different model of life is occasioned by the death of their mother and the departure of their father. These young people have to look for ways to survive. Therefore, Lin is forced to move away from the old tradition where she has to sit home and wait for things to be done and has to be the one to go out there and bring about the food on the table. It is a clear sense of change in societal gender roles (Linnarz).

The author seems to present a view of how western culture is influencing the traditional ways of life in this part of the world. The circle of friends for Lin and his brother is breaking apart and while some are moving to other countries, the two remain here. However there staying behind forces them to reshape their lives. In one hand Lin becomes responsible with his life as she tries to focus on education and saving money. After work, he attends night school a phenomenon that is common in western culture.

On the other hand, there is evident destruction of her brother’s life. He has continuously involved in gang violence an issue that makes him be a target of the gang members. However, of much importance here is the way Lin is trying to reshape her life in a way that transcends the traditional approaches. She believes that she can make a difference by trying to be educated and working hard. Most of the women within this society would not have focused on such goals since it is not what their gender would allow them to. However, for Lin, it is a diversion from the tradition and finding a new meaning for life.

In looking at the way Lin lives her life, she seems to detach from the traditional gender roles of parenting. In this society, the part of parenting is often left to the mother, and the fathers are often detached from much involved in taking care of the children. It is with this reason that the death of the mother spells doom for the family. The father who does not know anything about parenting seems lost and absent leaving the children to chart their course in life. In this lack of role model, Lin appears to focus more on listening to music and other things. She spent most of her time with friends rather than being at home. In the way that the director seems to present this actions, he seems to criticize the ideas of life of Lin but creatively, he appears to argue that this might seem to be the new way of life for the new generation. In her old culture, Lin should not be spending time out there but focus on staying at home and learning how to be a good parent and a homemaker. On the other hand, the man would be focused on other things including his can of bear. However, Lin seems to defy all this. Although it seems odd for her, the father does not even tend to focus on her and allow her to do whatever she pleases. It is an apparent diversion from the ideal Taiwanese society. While this it might be hard to understand the gender roles within the community as presented by the film it might be possible to know that Lin is trying to break out from some of them. These family is living on in the Urban setting were the western influence is seemingly sweeping through. The life of the people in this urban setting is including meeting friends, partying and celebrating life. The city itself is lit by neon lights and Giant impression of logos of KFC and coca cola. The Asian ways of life seem to be absorbed into this western frenzy. However, one of the outstanding things that one might tend to ask is whether the influence is for good or for worse. From one view it seems that these influences are negative. This might be characterized by the life that Lin’s brother is living. It is clear that his future is bilk and that he might not live long. However, on the other hand, it seems to be a positive transition for Lin. She appears to organize her life and focus on things that might ensure that she has a better future far away from her parents. The two things that seem to emerge here are both the positive and the negative aspects of the western imperialism.

While we must agree that society is an experience so many changes, one thing that seems to trouble the Taiwanese society is the western influence on cultural values. While some of the impacts of the west might be seen as detrimental to the community, in some case, these influences are positive. In the instances witnessed in the film, there is a clear view of the western culture seems to be affecting the gender roles in the Taiwanese society. Being a patriarchal society, the author seems to show that the system is utterly failing (Cole). He first shows how the father absconds his duty to the family after the death of the mother. Later he also indicates how Lin’s brother is drawn into crime. Even when he brings home a wife the father does not seem to care so much since he is absorbed into drinks his liquor. Therefore, the one thing that seems to emerge here is that there is a need to shift the gender orientation of this society. Women can no longer wait for the man to be the breadwinner of the family. The men in this society have lost the understanding of their role, and they seem to focus so much on trivial issues. However, Lin is a classic example of how western culture is providing room for women in this society to take things into control. The idea of trying to find work and focus on education would provide liberation from the women of this society.



Works Cited

Hsien, Hou Hsiao-. “Daughter of the Nile 1987 MoC BluRay 1080p X264 LPCM CMCT.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2019.

Cole, Jake. “Blu-ray Review: Daughter of the Nile.” Slant Magazine. N.p., 2018. Web. 4 Mar. 2019.

Linnarz, Rouven. “Film Analysis: Daughter of the Nile (1987) by Hou Hsiao-Hsien.” Asian Movie Pulse. N.p., 2018. Web. 4 Mar. 2019.