“A good woman, they thought, should 1) never go out and express her views to society; 2) provide a son for her husband’s family tree; 3) never lose her temper and always be soft and smile at her men; 4) never burn food when she cooks and never mix colours when she washes; 5) be good in bed and have a good figure to show off.”
When, in her radio program, Xue Xinran asked 1,000 male listeners what their expectations were toward women, most gave these afore-mentioned 5 categories and only a mere 20 of them said they’d actually met a “good woman” before.
I just stumbled upon a new lady-hero of mine and I don’t care whether she mixes colors when does the laundry nor if she gave a male heir to her beloved. It’s Sunday morning, I just finished my hot porridge in this freezing suburban flat which none of the turbo-forced air blowing machines could ever make comfortably warm. Anyhoo, I’m reading quietly, buried under 3 layers of duvets, blankets and towels, and all of a sudden there’s a rush of cosyness as someone is just speaking my mind. A Chinese dissident’s daring opinion speaks to us from the recent past, who reaches me in, from an economic-financial point of view, “modern day” country. In terms of gender equality is something like a reality-show version of Mad Men and the, conservative, 60s.
So it happens that I read this piece, over and over again, in The Guardian by Xue Xinran, published in 2003. Here she is and her “Mission impossible. Is there any female on earth who could meet the five male requirements of a good woman?“. The other reason I like it, besides totally identifying with her train of thought, is because it doesn’t sound angry. It’s a feminine voice that raises a big question mark softly.
While I know there are exceptions out there, I believe that the world (men’s world and their expectations from women) has stood still not only before 2003 of course but, sadly, is still being stuck at a halt. As for someone, who a) has been working on how to fine-tune my ideas to tell the world as precisely as possible how I feel, b) who’s just finished a long article detailing the reasons why I never want to have a baby and c) having “fire in my brain”, I always want to, and do and will, lose my temper and say what I’m thinking, this, I must say, is a reassuring piece of writing.
But where, I ask, lurk Beauvoir, Pankhurst and tantrum-pouted, blood-pendant wearing Jolie in this picture?