Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

13
My Escape from Hardship to a Free Life

Hsiu-ying

THE NEXT four selections are taken from a large number of autobiographical sketches published in Fu-nü tsa-chih (The ladies' journal) 10, 6 ( June 1924), which had been chosen from manuscripts sent in by readers in response to a public solicitation by the editors. Each of the four is translated in its entirety. Since the editors did not supply any additional biographical facts, these few pages are all we know about the authors, some of whom omitted surnames or used pseudonyms and were not specific about where they lived.

Hsiu-ying and Lu Lan vividly describe the misfortunes that could occur to a young wife as a result of an arranged marriage. Both seem to have come from families that, by village standards, lived comfortably, and both suffered economic hardship as a result of the irresponsible behavior of fathers and husbands. Lu Lan's insistence that women must learn that not all males are dependable is another way of saying that not all fathers or husbands lived up to their Confucian responsibilities. Profoundly unhappy in their husbands' families, both women derived psychological satisfaction as well as financial rewards from getting and holding a job. Indeed, they do not separate the two. It should be noted that both found employment in the new industrial sector, in light industries, which typically used cheap female labor. Yet they do not complain of exploitation, but rather communicate their sense of pride in having successfully acquired the skills necessary for their jobs and a sense of dignity gained by earning their own living and becoming

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