It’s hard to know what’s happening in Shangsha, but stories are flying, people are being admonished not to spread rumors, and weibo accounts are being closed. This morning, Shangsha residents who had been locked in their buildings to prevent illegal exits and entries during quarantine were posting to Weibo, Douyin (Chinese Tik Tok), and We Chat, that their food wasn’t being delivered. They also claimed that people living in next door Xiasha were getting fat, eating five times a day (three meals, afternoon tea, and a late-night snack). The focus of ire for one building was their “nexus person (网格员)” who was responsible for food deliveries. Nexus persons are volunteers, who are navigate between administrative levels. Their job is to make sure that food and supplies delivered to a community are brought to the doors of the quarantined. However, this particular nexus person posted statements to the effect he couldn’t make deliveries because the people in charge wouldn’t let him do his job, despite tears and reminders of the people’s well-being. Then, abruptly, he posted he was quitting.Continue reading
Tag Archives: xuzhou mother
signs of conflicted times
Borders are breached, daily. Breached despite guards, despite fences, despite and through raging anger, which accumulates like garbage, no longer hidden from sight. Stupid plastic bottles, we scream, 打！As if the bottle we threw away yesterday was the cause of our suffering.
Anyway, images from a Shenzhen, where some imagine themselves as under siege, and others find themselves working even harder (yes, the city is involuted) to keep the boat steady.Continue reading
on motherhood: xuzhou report #4, vietnamese ‘brides’ and the 2022 olympic games
This past week, the story of Xiao Huamei, the woman who gave birth to eight children under suspicious circumstances has unleashed other stories about human trafficking in rural China and the complicity of low-level government officials, who have overlooked obvious violations of Chinese law to facilitate…what? Chinese public opinion has focused on the Xuzhou government’s inept handling of the case, outraged at their indifference to the rights of women and children. Family life, they rightly assume, should be a safe place for all members. I’ve been thinking the question is worthy of a dissertation: Why has it been so important for marginalized rural men to marry that local and regional officials, not to mention family and friends, have ignored the illegality of these households for decades? Xiao Huamei’s videotaped answer is quite clear, “This world doesn’t want us.”
My inner North Americanwants to snark: are these incels with Chinese characteristics? But this is bitter humor, a laugh that obscures as much as it reveals about cultural difference and demographic transition. On the one hand, China’s rural wife-purchasers, like North American incels seem to truly believe that they are owed a woman, albeit to satisfy different desires. And in both China and North America questions of women’s roles continue to be framed in terms of men’s needs. Sigh.
On the other hand, these Chinese and north American forms of male chauvinism and misogyny are cultivated in and deployed to sustain different communities. In rural China, for example, the network of traffickers who have supplied women and the family, friends and officials who have made sure (both actively and through negligence) women don’t escape share beliefs about the filial obligation to continue family lines, which are traced from father to son. In these narratives, women are means to masculine ends–the birth of a son and social coming of age. It is a generalized value judgement, held by many who oppose human trafficking. For example, rural wives who don’t give birth are known as “hens who can’t lay (下不了鸡蛋的).” It is an ugly, dismissive label that emphasizes a woman’s reproductive function without or despite her rights as a human being. In contrast, participants in north American online forums where young men are groomed and radicalized share ideas about how sexual intercourse makes men out of boys. In these narratives, women are means to masculine ends–by ejaculating into a vagina a boy comes of age. It is also a generalized value judgement, held even by those who maintain that consent is fundamental to healthy sexual relations. A north American woman, for example, who doesn’t put out is known as a bitch. And yes, the short linguistic jump from not putting out to being put down hovers at the tips of our collective tongues. Incels, many now suggest, are terrorist threats, even as Chinese intellectuals and urban residents continue to frame the nation’s problems in terms of improving the quality of its rural population.Continue reading