用户名: 密码: 验证码:    注册 | 忘记密码?
首页|听力资源|每日听力|网络电台|在线词典|听力论坛|下载频道|部落家园|在线背单词|双语阅读|在线听写|普特网校
您的位置:主页 > 每日焦点 > 社会 >

文化规范的碰撞

2014-04-25    来源:中国日报    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

The tangled web of cultural niceties

每种文化都有自身的规范,有些关于性别和年龄的规范是潜在的。当不同文化之间的规范互相抵触时,问题就产生了。

Every culture has rules - some implicit - about the roles of gender and age. When they collide, predicaments arise.

A few years ago when I was traveling across the Pacific Ocean on a United Airlines flight, I was thrown into the perfect storm of cultural collisions. It was nothing melodramatic, but rather, quiet and imperturbable in a Chekhovian kind of way.

As the aircraft reached a certain height, flight attendants started to serve drinks and then the meal. The one who came my way was an elderly lady. I would say she was past the age of 65, but I could be wrong.

She had the feeble gait that I would associate with someone in retirement, to put it mildly. As soon as she started pouring a drink for me, I had to suppress my urge to jump up and say "Please, you sit down and I'll pour YOU a drink!"

Did I mention she was Asian? In China, children would definitely have addressed her as "granny". It took the Chinese many decades to adjust to the Western way of deliberately calling someone, especially a woman, by a younger term.

There were so many layers of cultural conflicts that I can only untangle them one at a time.

The first is ageism. I've often heard Chinese passengers complain about the age of flight attendants on non-Asian airlines. In China, they are invariably young and often good-looking. But most in such service on Western airlines are middle-aged these days. If a Chinese businessman has flown domestically for years and then, for the first time, gets on a US airline, he would be in for a big shock.

From a pragmatic point of view, I don't think the Chinese practice is sustainable. You can recruit youngsters when you first start, but you cannot fire all of them when they reach, say, 40. Some of them may be reshuffled to positions in administration, but surely not all of them. I'm still wondering where all those "stewardesses" go when they are no longer in the bloom of youth.

Now "stewardess" is considered politically incorrect and has been replaced. In Chinese, the equivalent kongjie (air sister or sister in the air) is actually more sexist. So, when Chinese gripe about their flying experiences on Western airlines, they often change the term to "air matron" and, in my case, probably "air granny".

Perhaps it's just me, but I feel a crucial distinction between being served by a 45-year-old and by a 65-year-old. In Asia, the pervasive Confucian value system ordains that the young obey the old. When you reach the age of 60, you are by age master of the household and elder of the village. You wait to be served by those younger than you.

After that UA episode, I did some soul-searching. I can debate with my compatriots about the rights of the 45-year-old in this line of job, so why not the 65-year-old if he or she can perform the task? If looks should not be a factor in such a judgment, then the age difference should not matter.

If you examine it from another perspective, the woman who served me could have had all kinds of practical reasons for continuing to work. Shouldn't she be applauded for being a contributing member of society?

Maybe it was the slight shaking of her hand that triggered my sentiments. But no, even if she had been steady, I still would have been uncomfortable. The notion that someone old enough to be a grandfather or grandmother walking down an aircraft aisle, which could be caught in sudden turbulence, and serving younger passengers would utterly overturn the Confucian respect for senior citizens.

Since UA is not a Chinese airline and most of its customers are non-Chinese, my culture-specific angst had to be kept to myself in case it created trouble for her. During the flight, I ordered as little as possible and cleaned up my table before she came. I wanted to minimize her workload the best way I could.

I knew it was ludicrous, but I couldn't help it. I was not brought up in a very traditional family, but still that situation unsettled me, to say the least.

The issue is often compounded with sexism. Were the UA flight attendant a man, would I have thought differently? Fundamentally, no. During my first trip overseas, back in 1986, I was placed in a similar but smaller dilemma. Our Canadian host took us, a group of Chinese, to a restaurant and the teenage girls in my group helped serve the food. The host asked me, the translator, whether China followed the "women first" etiquette. I said no, we have the "elders first" Confucian rule.

But I was only half right. Sure, the girls were about 16 or 17, and they were serving a man aged about 40. If we reversed the gender and put a 17-year-old male and a 40-year-old woman in the same situation, the youngster would be the one doing the ad hoc waiter's job.

But most crucial in this equation, as I recalled it, was the man's social position. He was the leader of our group, the highest-ranking official. So, it didn't matter whether it was a he or she. Other people would take care of his or her plate as a courtesy.

What if the person helping him with the food was his senior in age but not in position? That would be an interesting situation. If we transform the teenage girl into a 50-year-old woman, would it be culturally appropriate for him to sit there and be served? Maybe, I guess. But if she was over 60, I would say he would have squirmed in his seat.

Adults help children because the latter are small and weak. Youngsters yield to those senior in generation because the latter have earned it and the practice has evolved into a custom here in China and other Asian countries under strong Confucian influence. In China it is being subverted - in actuality if not in name - by the single children who act as "little emperors" and tend to lord it over their parents and grandparents.

I guess it's the same process for women's status in the West. They were traditionally considered weak and the object of protection and chivalry strengthened it into an expectation. Here in China, men do not hold doors for women and the level of equality on a Chinese bus or subway train is nothing short of staggering. What do Western feminists make of that? Is it progress as women are obviously no longer perceived as weaker than men, or is it a gross manifestation of rudeness toward the fair sex?

A recent report of a squabble on a bus may help illustrate the complexity of real life over ordained principles. A young woman had a seat and in came an elderly man who planted himself in front of her.

Good manners by Chinese custom dictate she offer her seat to him.

She did not budge. And she had a good reason, which others could not easily detect. She was two months pregnant. By Chinese etiquette, pregnant women enjoy the right to a seat just as the elderly or those carrying babies. The elderly gentleman, without that piece of information, demanded she give up the seat, and she, probably unwisely, did not reveal her pregnancy until a scuffle had broken out.

Who should have been given priority in this situation, the two-month pregnant woman or the frail gentleman? (I assume he was frail.) There is no rule about which of these two demographics should get more "respect".

The right thing, as I would have figured, was that she told the truth as soon as he asked for the seat and the person sitting next to her should have graciously offered his or her seat to the elderly man.

Culture, unlike science, should have rules but should accommodate exceptions as well.(ChinaDaily)

相关内容

几年前,当我乘坐美国联合航空公司的航班(United Airlines)飞越太平洋的时候,我身处文化碰撞的典型场景。这一点都不夸张,一切都静静地发生了,以契诃夫式的讽刺展现出来。

飞机飞行到一定的高度,乘务员开始提供饮料和餐食。给我提供服务的是一名年长的女士,我估计她的年龄在65岁以上,但我也可能估计错了。

委婉地说,她蹒跚的步态使我联想到退休的老年人。她一开始给我倒饮料,我就想要从座位上跳起来并对她说:“女士,请您坐下来,我给您倒杯饮品吧。”我不得不去压抑这种冲动。

我提过这位女士是亚洲人么?如果在中国,孩子们一定会称她为“老奶奶”。在西方,称呼别人时,人们故意叫得年轻一些。称呼女性时,更是如此。中国人花了几十年的时间才适应西方的这一习惯。

文化层面上有如此多的碰撞,我一次只能理清一个。

首先是歧视老年人这一问题。我经常听到有中国乘客抱怨非亚洲航线的飞机乘务员年纪太大了。在中国,飞机乘务员无一例外地年轻、漂亮。但是,日前在西方航线上工作的飞机乘务员大多是中年人。如果一名中国商人多年来一直都乘坐国内航线,当他第一次乘坐美国航空公司的航线、面对那些上了年纪的飞机乘务员,他可能会很吃惊。

从实用主义的角度来看,我不认为中国聘用年轻飞机乘务员的这一惯例会持久。最开始的时候,你可以招募年轻人,但是当这批人全部都40岁的时候,你不能把她们全部都解雇了。她们中的一些人可能会被再安排去做行政,但不是所有人。我仍然很好奇,当所有的这些风华正茂的“女服务员”容颜不再的时候,她们何去何从?

当今,人们认为“女服务员”一词的政治立场有误,该词已经被汉语中的对等词空姐代替。这个词语实际上更有性别歧视的色彩。因此,当中国人谈及乘坐西方航班的体验时,他们满是怨言,通常称空姐为“空嫂”。对我而言,“空奶”这个词语或许更合适。

不仅仅是我有那种感觉。然而,45岁乘务员和65岁的乘务员服务的感觉是截然不同的。在亚洲,主流价值观儒家思想规定,年轻人要听老人家的话。60岁的时候,你就是一家之主、村里的长老了,你等着那些比你年轻的人去服侍你。

有过在美国联合航空公司航班上的那次经历之后,我进行了反思。我可以跟同胞们就乘务员的年龄问题进行辩论。年龄45岁的人有权利做乘务员,那么,如果65岁的男性或者女性能够胜任这份工作的话,他们为什么不能做乘务员呢?如果长相不应该作为选择乘务员的一个因素,那么年龄差异也不应该。

从另一个层面看,那位为我提供服务的妇女可能有各种正当的理由去继续工作。难道她不应该因为奉献社会而受到赞扬吗?

或许是她微微颤抖的双手使我心慌意乱。但是,不是这样的。即使她的手很稳,我仍然会感到不安。一位跟爷爷、奶奶年纪不相上下的人在飞机过道上行走忙碌、给年轻的乘客提供服务,而飞机可能会遇到气流,完全颠覆了儒家所倡导的尊敬长辈的观念。

因为美国联合航空公司不是中国开的,大部分的乘客不是中国人。我并不想给她带来麻烦,没有把自己的文化焦虑对别人分享。在飞机上,我尽可能地少点东西,在她来服务之前把桌子清理干净。我想要尽最大的努力去减轻她的工作负担。

我知道这样做很荒唐,但是,我不由自主。我并没有成长在一个非常传统的家庭里,但是,毫不夸张地讲,飞机上的老年人为我提供服务的情境仍然让我不安。

歧视老人通常跟性别歧视掺杂在一起。如果在美国联合航空公司航班上的乘务员是一名男性,我的想法会有所不同吗?根本不会。回顾1986年,我第一次到海外的时候,我遇到了相似的文化碰撞,但是,那一次的问题很小。加拿大方的东道主带我们一行中国人到餐厅用餐。我小组里的少女们服务我们所有人就餐。东道主问我这位翻译道,中国人是否奉行“女士优先”这一社会规范。我说,没有。中国人奉行“长者优先”这一儒家规范。

但是,我只对了一半。当然,姑娘们大约16、17岁,她们要服侍一名40岁的男性用餐。如果我们把情境中性别颠倒一下,变成17岁的男性和40岁的女性。年轻的仍然会充当临时服务员,在用餐中服务年长者。

但是,正如我回想的那样,这个等式中最关键的一点是被服侍就餐的那位男性的社会地位。他是我们组的领队,级别最高的官员。因此,无论这个官员是男是女,出于礼貌,其他人都应该服侍他或者她用餐。

如果帮助他用餐的人年纪比他大,级别没他高,那将会是一个有趣的情形了。如果我们把少女换成是一名50岁的妇女,让他坐在那里接受服侍,这从文化上讲,合适吗?或许吧。但是,如果她年过60,我要说他该局促不安了。

成年人因为儿童弱小而帮助他们。年轻人应该服从老者,因为老者自身的阅历使人信服,也因为中国等其他的亚洲国家深受儒家尊老爱幼思想文化的影响。在中国,情况发生了逆转。独生子女是家里的“小皇帝”,他们容易对父母、祖父母颐指气使、呼来喝去的。这不是传闻,是事实。

我想,妇女地位在西方的发展进程也大致如此。传统观念认为,女性是柔弱的受保护对象,骑士精神把那种观念强化成为一种预期。在中国,男性不为女性开门。在中国公交车或地铁上,男女平等得惊人。西方的女权主义者都做了什么呢?女性显然不再被视为弱者了,这是社会进步的进程,还是对女性无礼的另外一种表现呢?

最近发生在公交车上的一场口角或许有助于我们看清既定原则面前现实生活的复杂性。一位年轻的女性有座位,一位年长的男性进来后,他站在了这位女性的面前。

中国风俗中合乎规范的有礼貌的做法是,该女士把座位让给那位老人。

她没有让座。她有绝佳的理由去那么做,这个理由一般人轻易看不出来——她怀有2个月身孕。中国礼节中,孕妇、老人及抱小孩的妇女有座位的优先权。不知情这些,那位年长的绅士要求她让座。而她,可能不太明智,直到两人开始扭打的时候才说自己怀孕了。

在这种情形中,谁有座位的优先权呢?是怀孕2个月的孕妇还是身体虚弱的老人?(我假设他的身体虚弱。)没有规范规定这两种人中的哪一种应该获得更多的“尊重”。

我能寻思出来的不错的解决方案是,当老人要求该女性让座的时候,她立马就说出自己是孕妇这一事实,然后坐在她旁边的那位他或她大方的把座位让给那位老年人。

与科学不同,文化是有规范,但是,规范的预期应该同社会现实相符。



顶一下
(0)
0%
踩一下
(0)
0%
手机上普特 m.putclub.com 手机上普特
[责任编辑:Tina]
------分隔线----------------------------
发表评论 查看所有评论
请自觉遵守互联网政策法规,严禁发布色情、暴力、反动的言论。
评价:
表情:
用户名: 密码: 验证码:
  • 推荐文章
  • 资料下载
  • 讲座录音
普特英语手机网站
用手机浏览器输入m.putclub.com进入普特手机网站学习
查看更多手机学习APP>>