Tag Archives: Women’s RIghts

A paragraph from A Blue Moon in China, musings on the One Child Policy

“I stared up at the billboard and wondered what other choices this country might have to keep its population down other than to regulate the number of children born. I had a feeling, religious belief or not, that having an abortion was a big deal emotionally, regardless of the reason. I totally agreed with the legal right for a woman to choose; it is her body and raising a child is a big deal. I was lucky I lived in the U.S. and had the right to decide for myself what I felt was best.”

A Blue Moon in China

one paragraph of me contemplating the Chinese One Couple One Child policy in my travel memoir set in 1988.


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Filed under 1988, A Blue Moon in China, China

Abstract: Orgasms & Bonding

I wrote an academic paper titled: Orgasms and Bonding for a college course called Human Sexuality.

Here’s the Abstract.


My interest in the inquiry into whether orgasm was sufficient to create an emotional bond was sparked during a lecture in which it was declared there was a ‘predictable bond’ between the two events.  As I have not observed this to be the case, particularly within the context of sexual relations outside the parameters of a monogamous relationship, e.g., sex with prostitutes, hook-ups or casual sex (regardless of its duration or frequency), not to mention the frequency with which adultery has been reported to occur, up to 76% for both men and women (Symons, 1979), I began my research.  My aim to substantiate the claim of this predictable bond led me to the neurotransmitter oxytocin.  As I first read the literature, I surprised myself by conceding that the simple answer may well be yes: the release of oxytocin during orgasm showed considerable evidence for creating emotional or pair bonding.  But these claims were primarily deduced from experiments with animals; humans are far more complex creatures, and thus a simple answer of “yes” to this question cannot suffice.  (Though, alas, such simplicity would save some from a lifetime of either yearning for secure attachment or avoiding the possibility thereof.)  This paper looks to examine to what extent the physiological functioning of the human body affects the nature of an emotional bond or attachment, given that there are extenuating factors in play, in particular those of Ainsworth’s (1972) patterns of attachment: secure, anxious-ambivalent, and avoidant.

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Filed under Essay, From My Archives, Human Sexuality, Men, Relationship, Women, Writers

Women for New Culture, May 4th, 1919. China’s First Feminists


The bas relief pictured above is a depiction of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, and is part of a series of eight on the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square commemorating key victories for the liberation of China from Imperialist and Dynastic rule.

My eye is drawn to the women and, specifically, the mystery of their feet.
They are unbound, natural. Yet the year was 1919.

For centuries it was tradition in China to break the feet of little girls, shape them in the most extreme arch possible, then wrap them with cloth. Ostensibly for marriageability. The result was mutilated feet that became rank with a putrid odor.

When the Manchurians conquered China in 1644, they banned their own women from partaking in the practice and tried to outlaw it for the Chinese. It didn’t work. The Han Chinese found a new value in the old tradition as an ethnic tie to the glory of the lost Ming dynasty.

In the 1898 Hundred Days Reform, the Manchus, who themselves considered educated women a sign of wealth, included in the reformation a school for girls in Shanghai, and another campaign to end foot binding.

Still, in 1919, the practice was more prevalent than not.* (In my own travels through China in 1988, I saw an old woman with bound feet.)

So, I wonder who these flat-footed women in the sculpture are: How were they lucky enough to be unbound in that day and age?

The protest captured in marble was of a movement merely eight years after the Nationalists were victorious dethroning the Qing Dynasty. The women featured in the relief would have been approximately twelve years old at that time, in 1911, And since the binding usually began when a girl was five years old, one would think the feet of these women would most definitely have been bound.

So what’s the explanation?

Perhaps, the answer is simple: That in 1952, the absence of foot-binding in the sculpture was ordered by the Communist Party to demonstrate progress and equality of the sexes?

But there is the possibility the women who protested in 1919 truly did natural feet.

The reason for this may be found in other aspects of the sculpture: One woman carries a book; another passes out pamphlets. This suggests that they were learned, had time to study, which meant they had to have money. Most likely they had access to literature from the West. They probably came from a privileged, progressive class, or at least, from a family who cherished the feminine voice, and valued the education of women.

The women for the New Culture were writers, readers, teachers, and advocates for new attitudes toward marriage, and sex. They were rebels against the confines of Confucian Tradition. They were vocal debaters on the role of the female in the New China. They wanted to have a profession, to contribute to society. They advocated human rights, independence, and the freedom to choose a life they wanted.

They were China’s first feminists. They believed that for China to progress, women had to be included. And they published works that said so.

They were up against a major current.

Historically, there had been mixed messages for females. One of the most famous female writers, Ban Zhao, born in 45 B.C.E., during the Han Dynasty, wrote a book for women that covered the complexities of astronomy yet also taught them how to be submissive to their husbands. Even behind closed doors, there was a dichotomy: Lu Xun, the most famous male writer promoting a break from Confucian traditions, and the emancipation of women in 1919, lived with a liberated, younger woman, Xu Guangping, but wouldn’t support her pursuit of her dreams; he wanted her to support his. (See pg. 65, Women in the Chinese Enlightenment. Zheng Wang, 1999.)

In spite of the barriers, the young women demonstrating on the streets all over the China on May 4th, 1919, demanded equality, a New Culture for China, and the right to attend university. In 1920, the first women were allowed to study at Beijing University. It was a monumental success.

Seventy years later, the women of May Fourth Movement 1989, students of Beijing universities, equally committed to a better China, equally brave, equally determined, took to the streets calling for democracy and freedom. But their protest will likely never be immortalized in stone, honored for generations to come.





Photo: http://www.asiavtour.com/blog/showlist-u19-a209-s10.html

Blog edited by Christopher Ross


Filed under China, Women