A Young Chinese Woman’s Exposure to the World

As a university instructor in China, I take great delight in mentoring young women who venture outside the traditional ‘women are property’ box. Planting seeds of personal rebellion is my specialty, as is providing validation for the stirrings of feminist thinking that normally get stamped out by controlling parents and concerned friends.

One of my young protégés, a lively English major who took my writing class last semester, had an exciting summer. We had lunch last week and I heard all about it. She had joined up with a volunteer organization that brings young people from different countries together to teach children. I’m not quite clear on what they teach. I thought it was English, but most of the people who came to China to teach were not native speakers of English. Maybe culture? There were young men and women from Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, Egypt, Tanzania, and the US, in addition to the local Chinese.

But I was less interested in the teaching experience and more curious about my former student’s exposure to people from around the world. On the whole, I think it was a good thing. But there were several alarming elements.

First, it becomes quite clear how sheltered and naive the Chinese are. All of the foreigners, save the Vietnamese and the Indonesian, spent time teaching my young friend English slurs and general swearing. And most of it was woman-hating, of course. She learned how to say cunt, bitch, fuck you, retard, etc. And she also got some odd, inaccurate advice from the non-native English speakers. Apparently, “Screw you!” is a very polite form of “Fuck you!” Huh? I worry about a) ESLers, and b) 19-year-olds, teaching the intricacies of language to the impressionable. So, we had an in-depth discussion of nasty words and who they hurt (usually women, and other oppressed groups), and by the end, I think she was much less enthusiastic about hurling insults at people. But swearing is the number one thing most people want to learn when they are first exposed to a new language. I just give a different perspective on it – I do, after all, swear a lot, and put a lot of thought into why and who gets harmed by it.

Second, the poor thing ‘fell in love with’ the young Egyptian dude in the group. She thought he was awesome. Luckily, he was crushing on the properly diminutive and dainty Vietnamese girl and wasn’t interested in my more outgoing Chinese friend. I got to watch a few videos she took featuring him posturing in his macho way, and I wasn’t quite so taken with him as she was. Personally, I don’t find Egyptian men or Egyptian culture all that progressive. The country is, after all, in full support of female genital mutilation – over 90% of the current female population has lost their clits and/or had their fuck holes sewn up in the name of ‘respecting women’. I personally have had way too much experience with the rapeyness and violence of Muslim men (both strangers and a man I had the misfortune of dating) in a few different countries, and I worry about non-Muslim women who get involved or find themselves trapped with men of that persuasion. Men are scary enough on their own, but when they are religious, there is a whole nuther layer of justification for woman-hatred present.

Third, my young friend got an instructional dose of the ‘female dichotomy according to men’ care of the young Tanzanian man. The viewpoint certainly isn’t limited to Tanzania or to black men – it’s universal. But the dude laid the viewpoint out quite clearly and matter-of-factly. And my friend, being young, female, Chinese and naive, didn’t see anything wrong with it. The viewpoint goes something like this:

There are two kinds of girls: the ones you have fun with and the ones you can take home to your parents and marry.

What my friend didn’t understand, because Chinese girls are not educated about sex, was that ‘the ones you have fun with’ translates into: bad girls, the ones you can fuck, but don’t have to ‘respect’. She didn’t see that men have this thing called privilege where they can place value on women. You fuck the trash and then throw it away when you’re done, but you marry the pure. And both types of women are objects. You are a whore one way or the other – either a public whore (the bad girl/slut – girlfriend material) or a private whore (the pure, wifey-wifey material that you can only rape after marriage).

I made sure to explain all of this.

Do I do young women a favour by telling them how the world really is? How men will always enslave us? I don’t know. As a Chinese woman, she doesn’t have options. She must get married. Her parents definitely don’t want her marrying a foreigner – that is just racist, Chinese culture talking. But marrying a Chinese isn’t going to be any better than marrying a foreigner – they are all men, and marriage is the slavery of women. So is it better to go into female slavery naively than going into it with wide open eyes? I don’t know. I’d like to think that being prepared is better than being bitterly disappointed that the fairy tale that girls are force fed from birth isn’t true.

I was much less naive when I was 20 and a budding feminist to boot, but I do so wish I’d had an older woman in my life to open my eyes to reality. It would have saved me a lot (not all) of the grief I went through in navigating a world of woman-hate.


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Feminism, atheism and other stuff

Posted on September 20, 2015, in Education, Feminism, Male Privilege, Misogyny, Religion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A Young Chinese Woman’s Exposure to the World.

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