Monday, May 28, 2007

The Good Women of China - Book Review

Book - The good women of China. Hidden Voices
Author - Xinran
Publisher - Vintage

Women are a topic, which has fascinated many from the earliest of times. I picked up this book in Bangalore not because of any similar fascination but since I have been living in china for almost 6 months now so I thought it was a good chance to know more about anything Chinese as it always helps in conversing with people in a foreign country about their things.

The author was a journalist cum radio show presenter presenting a show on women called "words on the night breeze". In her search to understand women better she interviews many women across china. The book contains narration from those interviews and thus comprises of real life stories of Chinese women. It is well written but contains only sad stories about women at different levels of society, in different regions of the country and of different ages. Still most of the stories come from the time of Chinese military revolution.

It would be easier to relate to the book if one has been in touch with China for some time. Through the book I realized my observations about Chinese women were not very incorrect since the book articulated on the same lines as well.

1. Women in China are considered as a mere object of pleasure. Though the same is attributed to women around the world but what makes it interesting in China is the acceptance of this fact by women and thus further encouraging this for personal gains.
2. Though in general it seems women are at par with men in China because they can be found in all professions that men are a part of but this remains true only as long as the jobs are the labour level jobs.

I think stories like this about women might exist in all parts of world. But, the author is trying to correct the illusion anybody might have of women in China having a better life than that of women in other places.


Krishna said...

China is notoriusly authorotarian, I guess in a society where free thought is looked upon as dangerous , I am not really surprised something like this was true.
Would be interesting if this was the same case with Communist Russia.
Societies where women have more say , are more socially advanced.
Britan would be a case in point, and even my native state of kerala. :)

Velu Nair said...

Interesting... *makes a mental note to read it some time soon*

Ha Jin is another writer who has totally impressed me. "Waiting" is a a must-read...

ankurg said...

Agreed on point 2 "Societies where women have more say , are more socially advanced."
But not so much on 1. Ismalic countries are authoritarian too and free speech is not so free there too.
But though I feel that women are not respected equal with men in China which is the case lot of place from Islamic countries to including India. But women to not capitalize on this there to gain other benefits other than societal respect.