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by Felmagre 

Posted: 08 January 2004
Word Count: 288
Summary: Having just read the book ' Good women of China' detailing the plight of women, I was stirred to write this. Interestingly, there are today, more female suicides in China (Zhonggou) than any other country. Sadly world stastics normally show male suicides to be higher than that of women. However, despite China's new openess her female suicide rates, buck this trend.

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Zhonggou, middle kingdom
centre of the universe
an ancient people, cultured and yet!
Your daughters live within a world
where women do not count;
apart, from officially of course.

Death is rife; suicides are commonplace.
If you're a girl, life is touch and go
infanticide, forbidden, yet still practised.
Parents, fathers, not G-d
will choose if you live or die.
undignified your end, no grave no covering.

In a nation, ancient and civilised
gender counts for everything.
Moreso, now family size is ordered.
Not that the law condones of course
though little's done to stop it.
So people watch, they've seen it all before.
Who but mother's value a female child,
so she'll die of hunger or of cold.

Living though is just as hard
as utilities, slaves and servant-hood
is the destiny of women.
In Mao's book it says there're equal
but reality's somewhat different.
Condemned as less than human
a loveless life, no dignity no status
women, destined to serve or perish.

Men are mountains, women water
so the saying goes.
Female identities forged from what men are,
mountains reflected in clear water.
Still, hearts of woman are strong,
accepting that which is their lot.
yet what a cost, suppressing every feeling

The dream of make believe, of love
is a myth perpetuate.
In a land where cultural traditions, face
are paramount;
Zhonggou's people venerate the dead
whilst despising those who live.
A paradox unfathomed.

Women make up half the population,
they are strong, intelligent and able.
Yet still submit to shame and degradation,
as individualism's scorned.
A collective mind-set works against their cause.
Hearts grieve for you Zhonggou
your womenfolk you've destroyed.
As governments and party systems,
hardened, unfeeling and uncaring
have en-calloused women's hearts

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Comments by other Members

Fearless at 10:43 on 08 January 2004  Report this post

A strong, persuasive, passionate piece. Reminds me of other parts of the world where similar injustices occur - India, parts of Africa....


roovacrag at 10:45 on 08 January 2004  Report this post
Loved this,taught me a lot.Well written i enjoyed every word. x Alice

olebut at 11:46 on 08 January 2004  Report this post

what an amazing piece of writing a history lesson, social injustice, poignancy and a work of lierary merit all wrapped up in so few words amazing

thank you for informing us and doing it with such a great piece of writing


david x

fevvers at 17:46 on 01 April 2004  Report this post
It's said Confucious translates to 'The Eater of Women'.

I thought there was some real emotion in this piece, and the facts are certainly terrifying. It reads to me though, more like prose, like journalism than poetry. It's very difficult to write political poetry, to get beyond the facts and look at the truths. But poets deal in the truths and by using a language elevated above the everyday, these truths are given opportunity to be voiced. This poem seems to me to be desperately wanting women in China (and across the world) to have a voice, and that's important. But it's how you offer that voice that's important - think about the responsibilty of giving a voice - even the phrase 'giving a voice' is loaded.

I think you might need to find a metaphor to deal with these issues, or an allegory. If you displace the action into something else, then the passion, anger and injustice will back up the poem and it will be heard. I'd love to see this poem come alive.


Sam Rix at 21:02 on 06 May 2004  Report this post
Hi Felicity,

Wow, thanks for the education here!

From a country with a thousand sayings, teaching ‘higher thinking', generations of non-action cause a seasonal river of tears from their women folk…

When will obvious stupidity be undone?

Sam R

Felmagre at 10:18 on 12 May 2004  Report this post
I apologize for not thanking members and expert for their comments. I have, I afraid, been away on field work and therefore unable to indulge myself in writing.

Thank you all so much for your kind comments. I particularly, found Fevvers comments interesting as when I first wrote Zhonggou is was more 'prose' a rage and sadness at the conditions others still, in our enlightened world endure.

Well, now that I am 'home' I intend contributing again (sorry) but need to catch up with things first.

Thank you again for not -writing me off from the group.


Cornelia at 10:58 on 26 July 2005  Report this post
I liked the poem and its tone very much, but I wonder how much it takes into account the cultural history of China, particularly with regard to the close affinity of family, religion and economics, which, I suspect is what lies at the root of much of the world-wide oppression of women, unquestioned in societies where patriarchy is very strong.

According to ancient Chinese beliefs, the strongest tie a person has is with his ancestors.Ancestors must be continually propitiated throught the performance of various ritual ceremonies, otherwise the prosperity of the whole family come under threat; only men can peform these satisfactorily . When a boy is born he is kept within the family and when he marries his wife will come to live with his family, work for them and bear his sons. A girl will go to another family when she marries, to work and breed for that family. Therefore a girl is regarded as of no use to her birth family and only has status when she has borne a male child.

Girls were tolerated, although not welcomed, when people were free to have as many children as they liked. That was overturned with the introduction of the one-child policy. Now not only is a girl unwelcome on her own account but she stands in place of a boy, the cornerstone of family continuance.

Of course, most families in China adapt, but it's not surprising some find it harder to overturn five thousand years of 'received wisdom'. In fact, the reality is that women are becoming educated in China, hence Xinran and others like her, Jung Chang, for instance, are able to write about China for western consumption. However, the experience of living and working in China give one a much more balanced picture of life for women these days than some of the journalistic writings that the western press encourages.


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