Week 9

This week, we learned about how the Chinese experienced World War II and the Civil War between the Guomindang (GMD) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The 1930’s and 1940’s were a violent and chaotic time in Chinese history. While the GMD and CCP formed a United Front during the war to fight the Japanese, they were involved in a Civil War directly after World War II ended. 

What I found most interesting about the readings from this week was the information about how women were affected by the wars. Chinese and Korean women were sexually assaulted by Japanese soldiers on a massive scale during the Rape of Nanjing. Even today, the topic of “comfort women” (women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II) is sensitive and controversial for the Chinese. An article by Fan Liya that we read for class was about a relationship influencer named Ayawawa who was banned from social media for asking, “Do you think the comfort women were miserable? Have you ever considered that the men might have been worse-off? They were shot dead, but the women survived at least.” Her statement angered feminists because it was very insensitive of her to invalidate the pain that Chinese women went through when the Japanese invaded. Men and women both suffered, and women had to live with their trauma. 

Chinese women also faced discrimination by other Chinese people. The Chinese Communists claimed to support equality and women’s rights, but there was also misogyny in their party. The feminist writer and revolutionary Ding Ling wrote an article on International Women’s Day in 1942 which called out the misogyny of Communist men. According to Ding Ling, men criticized women for “backwardness” (448) when they left the public sphere to marry and have children. By “backwardness” (Ding 448), I think she meant that Communist men believed that women, especially stay at home mothers, were less educated on politics and less fit to lead. However, men also criticized women who chose to stay single. Ding wrote, “It’s even more of a sin not to be married, and single women are more of a target for rumors and slanderous gossip” (447). Women were held to a much higher standard than men, and it seems like they were harshly judged for any decision that they made.

Sources

“Ding Ling: Thoughts on March 8, 1942.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.

Fan Liya. “Weibo Suspends Relationship Guru Over ‘Comfort Women’ Comments.” Sixth Tone. May 22, 2018.

Photo of Ding Ling, a Chinese feminist and writer. She is wearing a hat and a button down jacket and looking at the camera.
Photo of feminist writer Ding Ling

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