By Wang Ping
Asian Studies/Women's reviews a desirable and haunting exploration of the sure foot in chinese language tradition. Why did such a lot of chinese language ladies over a thousand-year interval bind their ft, enduring rotting flesh, throbbing discomfort, and hampered mobility all through their lives? What forced moms to bind the toes in their younger daughters, forcing the women to stroll approximately on their doubled-over limbs to accomplish the breakage of bones needful for three-inch ft? Why did chinese language males locate women's "golden lotuses"-stench and all-so arousing, inspiring good looks contests for ft, millions of poems, and erotica during which sure, silk-slippered toes have been fetishized and lusted after? As a toddler transforming into up throughout the Cultural Revolution, Wang Ping fantasized approximately binding her personal ft and attempted to limit their progress by way of wrapping them in elastic bandages. even if footbinding was once now not practiced by means of each girl in overdue Imperial China, the classy, monetary, and erotic merits of footbinding permeated all points of language, starting from erotic poetry, novels, and performances to meals writing, myths, people songs and ditties, and mystery women's writing, a few of it hidden in embroidery. In Aching for good looks, Wang translates the secret of footbinding as a part of a womanly heritage-"a roaring ocean present of girl language and culture." She additionally exhibits that footbinding shouldn't be seen simply as a functionality of men's oppression of girls, yet really as a phenomenon of female and male hope deeply rooted in conventional chinese language tradition. Written in a chic and robust type, and jam-packed with own, fascinating, and infrequently paradoxical insights, Aching for attractiveness builds bridges from the earlier to the current, East to West, background to literature, mind's eye to fact. Wang Ping, born in Shanghai, got here to the U.S. in 1985. Her books comprise brief tales, American Visa (1994); a singular, international satan (1996); and poetry, Of Flesh and Spirit (1998). She additionally edited and cotranslated New new release: Poems from China this present day (1999). She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from ny collage and teaches artistic writing at Macalester collage in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Additional info for Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China
Women with natural feet symbolized health, intelligence, liberation, and equalization; therefore, they carried the hope of China's modernization into the new century. Kang and Liang's call was answered by thousands of followers. Natural foot societies began to spring up everywhere as part of a mass movement, first in the cities, then branching out gradually to the countryside, where resistance to such propaganda was strong. The movement was enthusiastically joined by Western women who were living in China.
I got a longer pair of bandages and made bed slippers. After binding, I put them on so that the binding would remain tight. Five days later, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my feet. I unbound the wrapping and saw that the fifth toes were broken and infected. I cleaned and cushioned them with cotton balls. The binding was so unbearably painful that my body trembled all over. I told myself that if I was afraid of pain, all the effort and suffering for the past half a month would be thrown away. My courage came back, and I bound my feet more tightly.
She dances like the wind, leaving no physical trace. Another stealthily tries on this palace style, but feels such distress when she tries to stand; So wondrously small they defy description, Unless placed in the palm. —Su Shi (1036-1101) (quoted in Levy 1992) THIS SONG LYRIC ON BOUND FEET in Chinese literature was written by the popular poet Su Shi in the Song dynasty, when footbinding had just started to spread all over the country. Apart from various sayings and a few records scattered here and there in travelogues, no one knows exactly who started the practice of binding, and no one seriously researched its origin until the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was publicly ridiculed, legally forbidden, and about to disappear.
Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China by Wang Ping