The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices


Xinran Xue

Central Theme
Women in China are living lives of quiet desperation, unable to live up to societal expectations for a ¢â‚¬Ëœgood woman.”

Xinran was in the right place at the right time. As China loosened its restrictions on broadcaster’s she launched a radio show titled “Words on the Night Breeze” heard from 10PM to midnight M-F. The anonymity of radio allowed women to call and talk about their experiences. Then they began writing. Soon Xinran’s off-air conversations were longer and more disturbing than those on-air. Women told stories of sexual and physical abuse. They told stories of feeling inadequate. In a society where talk about sex, politics, religion or personal relationships was forbidden, they displayed a touching naivety about these most basic of life issues. In 1997 Xinran left China for England and wrote down some of the most stirring stories. Her 22-country tour is a stunning success as she offers rare insights into a culture presenting a gentle public faƒ§ade with great sorrow not far beneath the surface.

Beliefs num
–A good woman doesn’t need to go out.
–A good woman gives a husband a boy.
–A good woman never loses her temper.
–A good woman makes no mistakes in the kitchen.
–A good woman is good in bed and has a good figure.
–Given these standards, there are no ¢â‚¬Ëœgood women’ in China.
–Most men persist with the perpetuation of these standards.
–Many Chinese women valiantly persevere while feeling inadequate.
–With greater freedom has come a desire for ultimate answers and Chinese are turning to religion.
–Their religious exploration is messy in that they often want to believe in more than one God at a time, tend to think religion is for the poor, and seek the religion that is fashionable

Questions Worth Discussing num
–How are Chinese standards about women different from the expectations of men in the West?
–How would a Christian influence change the roles and relationships of men and women in China?
–How do these stories illustrate the importance of ones worldview?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Of course, life is more important than a book. But in so many ways my books was my life.
==Xinran on risking her life to save the manuscript from an attacker.
–There is an old crippled man of sixty here who recently bought a young wife. The girl looks very young I think she must have been kidnapped. This happens a lot around here, but many of the girls escape later. The olds man is afraid his wife will run off, so he has tied a thick iron chain around her. Her waist has been rubbed raw by the heavy chain the blood has seeped through her clothes, I think it will kill her. Please save her.
==A letter Xinran received from a boy on a village.
–I had believed that I understood Chinese women. Reading their letters, I realized how wrong my assumption had been. My fellow women were living lives and struggling with problems I had not dreamed of.
==Xinran after hearing so many sad stories.
–So many people in the world believe in Jesus and Christianity, I think there must be something in it.
==Chinese girl on why she is visiting a church.
–If I’m rich, I won’t believe. If I am still this poor, I’ll believe.
==Young woman on whether she’ll have religion at forty.
–Fashion in China has always been political¢â‚¬¦The Chinese have never followed a trend by choice they have always been driven into it by politics.
–There is a book in every family that is best not read aloud.
==Chinese proverb.
–These are stories that must be read. The lives of these anonymous women
are so moving that when I finished reading their stories I felt my soul had been altered.
==Amy Tan

Posted in Books, Staublog in October 8, 2002 by | No Comments »

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